HC Deb 26 June 1989 vol 155 cc690-1
12. Mr. Hannam

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is the total number of jobs in the United Kingdom dependent on the nuclear power industry.

Mr. Michael Spicer

The total number of jobs in the United Kingdom dependent on the nuclear power industry is estimated at about 180,000.

Mr. Hannam

Does my hon. Friend agree that this figure shows that one in every 144 jobs in this country is dependent upon the nuclear power industry? Does that not demonstrate that the Labour party's commitment to phase out nuclear power by the year 2000 makes absolutely no sense at all when one is considering future employment in this country?

Mr. Spicer

I agree with my hon. Friend. I should have thought that the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) would be particularly concerned about the threat to his party's fortunes if his party's policy, which does not favour the nuclear industry, were to be implemented. While I was researching the answer to my hon. Friend's question, I discovered the interesting fact that close to the constituency of the hon. Member for Sedgefield, 1,000 people are employed on a £9.5 million contract for Sizewell B and that in Stockton, South, which is also close to the hon. Gentleman's constituency, there is a £31 million contract for Sizewell B. One of the people who would be extremely worried, I should have thought—if the Labour party's policy on nuclear power were to be implemented—would be the official energy spokesman for the Labour party.

Mr. Eadie

Since the hon. Gentleman is giving statistics relating to the nuclear power industry, and the energy industry in particular, will he confirm that in the last seven or eight years between 150,000 and 155,000 jobs have been lost in the mining industry?

Mr. Spicer

I confirm that—or at least around those figures. However, the output from the mining industry in that period was almost identical to what it was before, when there was all that extra employment. We very nearly doubled productivity in that period. That is one of the reasons why our coal mining industry will be able to compete against the rest of the world.

Mr. Douglas

Following that answer, do the Minister's figures include those for employment in the South of Scotland electricity board's nuclear capacity? Will he compare and contrast that with the figures relating to coal production for electricity in Scotland? When will an agreement be concluded to safeguard the remaining jobs in the coal mining industry between the South of Scotland electricity board and British Coal so that we may retain some jobs in the coal industry in Scotland?

Mr. Spicer

I think that the hon. Gentleman is straying away from the question, which relates to jobs in the nuclear industry. However, I confirm that the figures that I gave are for the United Kingdom as a whole. As to the specific point that he raised, that is currently the subject of negotiations. The Government very much hope that the result of the negotiations will be to the benefit of the coal industry and of electricity consumers. That has to be part of the equation.