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UK Atomic Energy Authority

Trade and Industry written question – answered on 28th November 2001.

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Photo of Tom Levitt Tom Levitt Labour, High Peak

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will announce the outcome of the Quinquennial Review of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

Photo of Mr Brian Wilson Mr Brian Wilson Minister of State (Industry and Energy), Department of Trade and Industry

The Government have now considered the recommendations made by the Review Team in its second and final report.

The report focuses primarily on arrangements for managing public sector civil nuclear liabilities on a more open, transparent, efficient and sustainable basis and on UKAEA's place within any new arrangements which might be put in place.

The conclusions we have reached are set out in the statement which the Secretary of State made to the House earlier today in which she announced the Government's intention to put a sharper focus on nuclear clean-up by setting up a new Liabilities Management Authority responsible for providing the strong strategic control and direction which is essential; developing a supply base capable of sustaining the clean-up programme over the long term; and enhancing safety and environmental performance while securing management efficiencies and best value for money. Working with the LMA, UKAEA will have a key role to play in delivering these objectives in relation to the liabilities for which it is currently responsible, building and improving on what it has achieved to date.

In relation to UKAEA's other activities the report recommends that:

UKAEA, in conjunction with the other public sector bodies on the site, should evaluate options for the future development of Harwell as a basis for decisions on a long term strategy for the development of the site as a whole; the UKAEA Constabulary should be established as a stand-alone force employed by a statutory Police Authority;

UKAEA should retain responsibility for managing the UK's fusion capability and for operating the JET (joint European torus) research facility at Culham under contract to the European Commission but that a Fusion Advisory Board should be established to give fusion a more distinctive identity within the UKAEA, bring a broader perspective to its thinking on fusion strategy and drive forward action on science and industry out-reach; the Thurso pensions office should remain part of UKAEA for the foreseeable future but that options for outsourcing offering the prospect of additional work for the office should be kept under review.

The Government have accepted all these recommendations. Those relating to the development of Harwell and fusion will be implemented immediately. Legislation to create an independent Constabulary and a statutory Police Authority will be brought forward at the first available opportunity. Views will be invited in due course on the precise detail of the legislative provisions involved.

The Government believe that fusion power has the potential to make a real and valuable contribution to meeting energy needs in the medium term. We are therefore concerned to maintain and make best use of UK expertise in fusion research. To this end, responsibility for funding the UK fusion programme will be transferred to the Research Councils as a further means of encouraging integration with the wider science base and ensuring continuity in the UK's research capability in this area.

I have arranged for copies of the QQR Team's Stage 1 and Stage 2 reports to be placed in the Libraries of the House. The reports can also be accessed via the DTI website at www.dti.gov.uk.

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