HC Deb 21 April 1993 vol 223 cc317-8
13. Mr. Tipping

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will announce the timetable for the 1993 nuclear review.

Mr. Eggar

The Government set out in the White Paper, "Prospects for Coal", their intention to bring forward the review of the future prospects for nuclear power originally scheduled for 1994. A further announce-ment about the review will be made in the summer.

Mr. Tipping

Does the Minister understand the real anger in Nottinghamshire and throughout the country arising from the fact that, while nuclear electricity receives a subsidy of £1.3 billion, half the coal industry has been closed down? Will he bring forward the review of nuclear electricity as quickly as possible so that mothballed collieries such as Bilsthorpe, Calverton and Rufford will at last have a chance to compete on equal terms?

Mr. Eggar

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware that large numbers of trade unionists very much welcome the decision on nuclear power. The trade unionists for safe nuclear energy came to thank me for the decisions announced in the White Paper, and agreed with the hon. Gentleman that the review should be brought forward so as to end the apparent fear of some uncertainty about the future of the nuclear industry. At the time of the review, we will look at a large number of issues that relate to the future of the nuclear industry.

Mrs. Lait

Is my hon. Friend aware that nuclear power is clean, safe and good value? Is he further aware that the project team at Sizewell B is bringing in that project on time and at cost, which will make it a world-beating project team for further nuclear power stations? Will he assure the House that the benefits and achievements of our nuclear industry will be borne in mind when he undertakes the review?

Mr. Eggar

Certainly we will. My latest information is that Sizewell B is likely to be brought in under project cost and ahead of time.

Dr. Kim Howells

Will two critical decisions affecting the future of the nuclear industry be delayed until after the publication of the nuclear review? I refer to the deep repository for spent nuclear fuel and to the start-up of the thermal oxide reprocessing plant project. The Minister will know that it has already cost the taxpayers of this country £2.8 billion and it is costing British Nuclear Fuels plc a great deal of money every week because is is not starting up.

Mr. Eggar

I am aware of the widespread concern on all sides of the House about the delays to the THORP project.

BNFL estimates that the delay in the start-up of the project is costing about £2 million per week. Of course, the matter is being considered urgently by my right hon. Friends.

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