Clause 51

Energy Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:45 pm on 4 March 2008.

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Funded decommissioning programmes: verification of financial matters

Amendment proposed: No. 40, in clause 51, page 44, line 29, at end insert—

‘(3) Regulations may establish a Nuclear Liabilities Financing Assurance Board (NLFAB) to provide independent scrutiny and advice on the development, approval, implementation, modification and maintenance of funded programmes for the designated technical matters mentioned in section 41(5).

(4) The NLFAB shall—

(a) be appointed by the Secretary of State;

(b) report to Parliament annually on the implementation of all funding of designated technical matters as specified in approved funded programmes;

(c) review all programmes on a five year cycle, including coverage of all designated technical matters specified in approved funded programmes, estimates for costs for all matters under section 41(5) and of security provided in connection with those costs;

(d) give advice on alternative arrangements where designated technical matters are not specified in an approved funded programme.’.—[Martin Horwood.]

Question put, that the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 2, Noes 13.

Division number 3 Nimrod Review — Statement — Clause 51

Aye: 2 MPs

No: 13 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Minister of State (Energy), Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform

Let me say a few words on the clause, although I was tempted to let it go, given the hour. The clause allows the Secretary of State to make regulations setting out the circumstances in which he may rely on advice provided by a third party to verify financial aspects of a programme. The regulations might apply when the Secretary of State is considering whether to approve a programme or when a modification to a programme that has already been proposed is being considered. The Secretary of State will not be an expert  on the financial matters that might relate to a programme, so it is important that he can call on expert and independent advice when seeking to verify such matters.

In addition to the clause, and as detailed in the nuclear White Paper that we published in January, we intend to create a new independent advisory body—the nuclear liabilities financing assurance board. Aside from providing independent scrutiny and advice on the suitability of decommissioning programmes submitted by the operators of new nuclear power stations, the board will advise the Secretary of State on the financial arrangements that operators plan to put in place to cover waste management and decommissioning. Our debate just now illustrates the importance of those plans.

The board will also advise the Secretary of State regarding the regular reviews and ongoing scrutiny of funding arrangements once programmes are approved and new nuclear power stations are operational. Given the importance of providing the taxpayer with adequate protection, it is appropriate—indeed, necessary—to have an additional level of scrutiny on those financial matters, because they are fundamental to ensuring that operators meet the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management costs.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 51 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 52 ordered to stand part of the Bill.