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Committee (2nd Day) (Continued)

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 2nd February 2012.

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Photo of Lord Maclennan of Rogart Lord Maclennan of Rogart Liberal Democrat 4:30 pm, 2nd February 2012

My Lords, I support the thoughts lying behind this amendment. When approached recently by an American company which indicated the desire to establish a small nuclear research plant in Scotland to develop nuclear power on a small scale, I was rather shocked to be advised by the Department of Energy and Climate Change that, because of the planned powers for the Scottish Parliament and the declared expression of intent to allow no nuclear developments in Scotland, this approach, which would have brought significant employment to Scotland, was to be denied.

I know that there are different attitudes to nuclear power in different parts of Scotland. I know, for example, that my noble and learned friend's former constituents were always a little unhappy about what was happening across the Pentland Firth at Dounreay. Equally, my noble and learned friend will recall the satisfaction of my former constituents that nuclear power was being developed and researched on the north coast of Britain as part of a strategic policy on energy development. It is rather unfortunate, to say the least, that the good will of those in that particular area towards nuclear power is to be overlooked and that the possibility of replacement in the research field is to be denied when the Dounreay nuclear establishment is finally decommissioned.

My comments, like those of the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, are probing. It appears that the original intentions of devolution in respect to energy policy have been effectively stymied by matters which will not necessarily proceed to be related directly to the strategic questions. Having policies for different parts of the United Kingdom in relation to energy, which transcends even existing national frontiers, is almost certainly unwise. Indeed, I think that when the Prime Minister came back from the European Council the other day, he talked about enlarging the scope of the European Union in respect of energy policy. Therefore, we seem to have two standards here-one relating to how we deal with Europe and one relating to how we deal with internal matters-and I think that these anomalies need to be sorted out. However, as I said, this is merely a probing inquiry.