HC Deb 07 July 1986 vol 101 cc12-3
13. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he remains satisfied that the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate has the staff and the resources to fulfil the responsibilities in respect of which it reports to him to appropriate standards of competence and expedition.

Mr. Goodlad

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate is able to meet its essential commitments. The Health and Safety Executive is now seeking to recruit over 20 per cent. more well qualified inspectors to deal with further work.

Mr. Hardy

Is the Under-Secretary of State aware that I recall his categorical and emphatic response to a question that I asked on 14 April, when he assured me that there were no deficiencies in the staffing and resources of the inspectorate? Does he accept that that answer was an extremely grave example of misleading the House on a matter of great importance? Can we be absolutely sure that the Government's responses to our questions will be accurate in future, especially when we are dealing with a matter of such importance and concern?

Mr. Goodlad

There were and are no deficiencies in the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate. As the hon. Gentleman knows, matters about the strength and recruitment of nuclear inspectors are for my right hon. and learned Friend the Paymaster General. As I said to the House, the Health and Safety Excutive is to start a recruitment exercise this month to recruit up to a maximum of 20 more inspectors. In addition, discussions on the pay of nuclear inspectors are going forward.

Mr. Richard Page

I thank my hon. Friend for that encouraging reply. Is it not true that the supply of energy has a price? Every year in the coal mining industry tens of people are killed, 400 are injured and thousands suffer from lung-related diseases, and in addition we have problems with acid rain. Of course, that is an improved safety record compared with a few years ago. Therefore, would my hon. Friend like to compare that with the safety record of our nuclear industry? Would we not need a Chernobyl incident every three or four years if we were trying to match the safety record of the coal industry?

Mr. Goodlad

My hon. Friend is right. The safety record of the nuclear industry compares favourably with other forms of electricity generation.

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