Project ISOLUS

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:46 pm on 6th January 2004.

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Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence 3:46 pm, 6th January 2004

I think that I can give those guarantees. I know that my hon. Friend has been closely engaged in the matter. She has followed it not only because of her constituents' interest but because she is interested in the subject as well. I understand that, with my hon. Friend Rachel Squire, she will be meeting my noble Friend Lord Bach, who has direct responsibility for the matter, and I am sure that the issues that she has just raised will be discussed. The need to guarantee public safety remains a high priority, and the agencies that are involved also become important players in both the process of consultation and the final determination. Their views will have a significant impact on any decision. I completely take on board my hon. Friend's point.

For the latest round of consultation, we again engaged Lancaster university to advise on and run the process, and my noble Friend Lord Bach wrote to all those hon. Members whose constituencies would be involved, offering informal meetings in advance of the formal consultations. I understand that several, including the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute, took him up on his offer. Lancaster university organised public events in consultation with local authorities in all the areas that could be affected by the industry's proposals. The hon. Gentleman referred to the stormy meeting in Strone. It is always stormy in Strone. However, as I want it to do well with tourism, I had better say that it is very sunny on occasion as well.

Clearly, the meetings generated a great deal of public debate. Part of the underlying drive of Project ISOLUS was to initiate such debate. That we asked the public to review outline ideas did lead to some misunderstanding, which allowed ill-informed views to gain currency. For example, there were suggestions that a decision had already been taken on how and where the defuelled submarines would be processed and where the waste from the reactor compartment would be stored. I assure the House that that is not the case. No decisions have been made. We are still consulting on and considering the options.