HC Deb 27 February 1989 vol 148 cc10-1
12. Mr. Norris

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the Atomic Energy Authority constabulary.

Mr. Michael Spicer

The latest annual report of the chief constable of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority constabulary was published in August 1988. Copies are available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Norris

Does my hon. Friend share my concern that the constabulary is armed? If he can confirm that that is the case, will he indicate which Secretary of State of the time first authorised the arming of the authority's constabulary?

Mr. Spicer

Yes, I confirm that the constabulary does carry arms when required. The Secretary of State who, in 1976, took the decision to arm the Atomic Energy Authority constabulary was the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) or, as he then was, the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce

Will the Minister acknowledge that Liberal Members at the time voted against the arming of the Atomic Energy Authority constabulary? Will he also say whether he is prepared to give an assurance to the House that when either the authority on the nuclear industry is privatised, there will not be an upsurge of private armed police forces in this country?

Mr. Spicer

In answer to the hon. Gentleman's question, we have no plans to privatise the Atomic Energy Authority. As to the hon. Gentleman's first question, the Liberal party was ill-advised, as usual, in taking that particular decision—as in so many others that it takes.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Does my hon. Friend accept that if the Central Electricity Generating Board persists in sending spent nuclear fuel to Morecambe, the authority will have to increase its constabulary? In view of British Nuclear Fuels' vast profits that my hon. Friend has just referred to, will he consider asking BNF to spend some of those profits on enabling each advanced gas-cooled reactor station to build stores for its own spent nuclear fuel, so that the CEGB will not try to send it all to Morecambe?

Mr. Spicer

That is a matter for the CEGB, and for planning procedures.