HC Deb 26 November 2001 vol 375 cc734-6
Mr. Llwyd

I beg to move amendment No. 51, in page 38, line 41, after "commission", insert— 'the Scottish Executive and National Assembly for Wales'.

The Chairman

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 52, in page 39, line 14, at end add— 'In respect of the regulations, the Secretary of State shall be required to make regular reports to Parliament on the security of the civil nuclear industry, on each occasion as regulations are made, and on a cycle of no more than six months since the last regulations have been made.'.

Mr. Llwyd

I am still champing at the bit. I had a go earlier just to put my marker down.

The wording of the amendments is self-evident. They would place on the Government a duty to consult the Scottish Executive, Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. In respect of the regulations, the Secretary of State would be required to make regular reports to Parliament on the security of the civil nuclear industry. The Minister might say that because the report is so sensitive it will go to the Intelligence and Security Committee, but it is only right that scrutiny should be applied to this important aspect of the Bill, especially when we take into account the attitude of the Government of the Republic of Ireland towards Sellafield.

Those who know more about this subject than I do estimate that even with the 5 km no-fly zone it would take about 14 seconds for a rogue aircraft to hit Sellafield where there are pools of nuclear waste. The ultimate dirty bomb could be created on site. It has also been estimated that that would create a fallout about 10 times the size of that of the Chernobyl incident. I have to declare an interest: there is one decommissioned nuclear power station in my constituency within 15 miles of where I live. By coincidence, my constituency still suffers from the fallout of Chernobyl, so naturally I am greatly concerned about this problem. There is also an extant nuclear power station on Anglesey.

The problem is that there is insufficient discussion or supervision of what is proposed. I know that the Minister will say that he cannot specify what is being done, and I pray to God that something is being done post-11 Sept. I have heard the hon. Gentleman make that point several times on the radio and television, but the amendments are vital. I hope that he will give them due consideration.

Mr. Wilson

The hon. Gentleman has tabled two amendments and I can reassure him on both. Amendment No. 51 would require the Government to consult the Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales prior to making the regulation on nuclear security, for which the clause provides an enabling power. Amendment No. 52 requires reports to be made on the security of the civil nuclear industry.

Let me deal with amendment No. 51. As regards Scotland, nuclear security is a reserved matter. In Wales, too, it is a non-devolved function. It is dealt with on a United Kingdom-wide basis I assure the hon. Gentleman that administrative arrangements at a working level are set out in the concordats between my Department, the Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales. They involve consultation on some reserved and non-devolved matters. Under those arrangements, my Department will consult the Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales on the nuclear security regulations that we intend to introduce shortly.

On amendment No. 52, I agree that it is important for the Government to report regularly to the House and the other place on key security matters in the civil nuclear industry, which is why that is already happening. I am not going to say what the hon. Gentleman suggested I would, although I will explain the mechanism for reporting that was in place prior to 11 September. The director of civil nuclear security makes an annual report to me. He is responsible for setting security standards for the industry and for enforcing compliance. His first report covering the Office of Civil Nuclear Security's first full year within the Department of Trade and Industry will be issued at the end of the current financial year. I assure the hon. Gentleman that it will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report will also cover the work of the standing committee on police establishments, through which the director of civil nuclear security reviews and reports on policing at licensed nuclear sites that are policed by the UKAEA constabulary. The director made a report on the standing committee's work in June 2001 which was placed in the Library of both Houses.

As there will be consultation with the two devolved Administrations and as a report will be made to Parliament through the mechanism that I described, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be reassured and feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Mr. Dalyell

Could I bring to my hon. Friend's attention the question that I asked the Prime Minister on 29 January 1980 before the days of these ridiculous open questions? I asked if she will make a statement on her latest discussions with Mr. van Agt, Prime Minister of Holland, on security at the joint conference project at URENCO, Almelo, Holland". Almelo is one of the institutions specifically named in the Bill. Margaret Thatcher replied: I have not spoken to Mr. van Agt since our meeting on 6 December 1979, when I made my concern about the Khan affair very clear to him. As I told the hon. Gentleman on 17 January, we will remain in close touch with the Netherlands and German Governments through diplomatic channels"—[Official Report, 29 January 1980; Vol. 977, c. 1122.]

The Chairman

Order. I am not sure that I understand the relevance of the hon. Gentleman's comments on an amendment that deals with the Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales.

Mr. Dalyell

I apologise. I went out to check the details and thought that we were still on the subject of security.

The Chairman


Mr. Llwyd

Briefly, I am in broad terms encouraged by what the Minister says, although placing a copy of the report in the Library is not the same as consulting Parliament. I hope that we can build on that and ensure that there is a better dialogue. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 77 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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