HC Deb 09 May 1983 vol 42 cc619-20
11. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he has now had an opportunity to study the Central Electricity Generating Board's memorandum on the relative costs of power generation.

Mr. Lawson

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Taylor

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the evidence in the memorandum and many other documents submitted to him shows that it is essential that a future Government should press en with an extended nuclear power programme to ensure that we have a reasonable supply of electricity in the next century?

Mr. Lawson

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. As he points out, the paper is more thorough and detailed than anything that the CEGB has put forward previously. It shows that a new pressurised water reactor is expected to produce electricity at 2.61p per kW hour, over its lifetime, compared with 3.15p per kW hour for a new AGR and 3.88p per kW hour for a new coal-fired station. My hon. Friend is right. If we are to have low-cost electricity for future generations, it is essential that we press ahead with the nuclear power programme, which must be safe—as our nuclear power programme has been and will continue to be. That is why the Government are pressing ahead with the nuclear power programme.

Mr. Hooley

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the new 15 GW nuclear power programme that we heard about three and a half years ago will take as long to implement as the previous programme, which dates back to the early 1960s and has still not been completed?

Mr. Lawson

There has never been a 15 GW nuclear power programme. The hon. Gentleman should look back and see what was said at the time. As for the existing nuclear power programme, it is true that power stations have not been built to time and to cost in this country. I am happy to say that the nuclear power stations now under construction appear to be running to time and to cost, and that is a most important improvement.

Mr. John Wells

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the South-Eastern electricity board appears to be the only regional board that has failed to implement his policy of charging less than 50 per cent. for standing charges? Is that because of generating costs in the region, or is there some other excuse?

Mr. Lawson

My hon. Friend is right, and there is no reason connected with generating costs or anything like that for the board's decision. I have no power to compel it to implement the 50–50 scheme, but it is the only board that has chosen to ignore the scheme, and I deeply regret that, because pensioners and other small consumers of electricity throughout the rest of the country are enjoying the benefit of the rebate, so that they pay no more than half their total bill in standing charges. That is not the case in the south-east, and I earnestly ask the South-Eastern electricity board to think again about its decision.

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