HC Deb 16 June 1986 vol 99 cc740-1
3. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will report on his Department's initiatives in the light of the agreement reached at the Tokyo economic summit recommending that an international convention be drawn up committing the parties to report and exchange information in the event of nuclear emergencies.

Mr. Peter Walker

The board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency at an emergency meeting on 21 May agreed, with the full support of the United Kingdom, an outline programme of action to improve co-operation in nuclear safety following the Chernobyl accident. This included the establishment of an expert group to draft a binding international convention on reporting and exchange of information on nuclear accidents with possible transboundary effects. The United Kingdom attaches the highest importance to this and will participate fully in this work.

Mr. Chapman

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that information. Does he agree that in all matters relating to civil nuclear power it is essential that agreements, understandings and exchanges of information should be organised on an international basis, not least for our country—perhaps my right hon. Friend will confirm this—as there are 13 foreign reactors within 100 miles of the shores of Britain and a further 14 within 200 miles?

Mr. Walker

Yes, it is very important that the subject is organised on an international basis, and I believe that the International Atomic Energy Agency is the right forum for that. I assure my hon. Friend that we shall give every support to its activities.

Mr. Barron

Does the Minister agree that, after the Chernobyl disaster, we should start looking at the situation at home in view of the discrepancies that emerged between the reports and diagnoses from the tests on the fall-out cloud that came over Britain? Does he agree that we should sort out our own nuclear industry so that people do not feel the present distrust?

Mr. Walker

I do not share the hon. Gentleman's view. I believe that careful study will show that the various organisations and services in this country acted very efficiently and well, but there is certainly a need for greater international collaboration.

Dr. Michael Clark

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there should be an exchange of information among all countries operating nuclear power stations, not just when nuclear accidents occur, but at all times in the course of routine operations, so that experience gained in one country can be passed on for the benefit of others?

Mr. Walker

I very much share that view. That exchange has been taking place effectively between certain countries of the European Community for quite some time. Chernobyl showed the importance of doing that on an international basis.

Mr. Orme

As the Secretary of State will be aware, the CEGB is engaged in a detailed review on safety of the elderly Magnox stations. When will that review be completed, and will the right hon. Gentleman publish it so that the country can see all the details?

Mr. Walker

The review is being carried out by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, not the CEGB. The inspectorate has that task and the CEGB is collaborating fully. It is up to the inspectorate to decide what to publish.

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