§ Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent attention, namely,the need for an independent inquiry into the safety of continued operation of Hinkley Point nuclear power station.
The matter was highlighted today in the front page piece of The Guardian written by Mr. Paul Brown. The issue is specific because it refers to admissions of falsification of quality assurance records for welds in pressure pipework at a nuclear establishment. Nondestructive testing is the best means yet developed to ascertain the integrity of' butt-weld joints. The reliability of recording such procedures is crucial and has been called into question, not for the first time, but on this occasion with a specific and verifiable history.
The issue is important because if these admissions are substantiated they call into question similar procedures applied during the construction of similar establishments throughout the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Having worked in the industry, I can state emphatically and without fear of contradiction that, although actions of a kind similar to those of Mr. Brookes were not commonplace, they are by no means unique. What is unique in this instance is that we have an individual who has summoned up the courage to lay aside the threat of revenge and the fear of intimidation to square his maturing conscience with a threatened community.
The matter should be given urgent attention because there are three needs. First, there is the need for a truly independent inquiry conducted without prejudice of any kind. To highlight that, I can do no better than refer to the second paragraph of Mr. Brookes' letter to the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate. He stated:I am concerned that you do not intend to involve your department directly in the investigation and I am sure that the public will he equally concerned. You are after all the independent body whose concern is meant to be for the safety of the industry. It would appear from your letter that your primary concern is merely to investigate the possibility of bringing a prosecution against me.That brings me to the second need for urgency—the need to grant to Mr. Brookes immunity from prosecution. If we can do that for supergrasses, can we not do it for infra welders?
The third reason why we need urgency is to offer amnesty to others who live with a similar burden of conscience. We need to do that not only to liberate them from personal guilt but to allow them to identify approximate times and locations where such malpractices may have planted the timebombs of flawed technology in reservoirs of nuclear spite.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter which he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,the need for an independent inquiry into the safety of the continued operation of Hinkley Point nuclear power station.I have listened with the greatest care to the hon. Member, but I regret that I do not consider that the matter which he has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20. Therefore. I cannot submit his application to the House.