§ 7.50 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (LORD DRUMALBYN)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Drumalbyn.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]
§ Clauses 1 to 18 agreed to.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES moved Amendment No. 1:
§ After Clause 18, insert the following new clause:
§ Duties of Board and Secretary of State as to radiation hazards and safety precautions
§ ".—(1) Nothwithstanding anything contained in section 1 of the Radiological Protection Act 1970, it shall be the duty of the Board therein referred to, in addition to carrying out the functions and exercising the powers referred to in that section, to carry out the following additional functions:—
- (a) from time to time as and when necessary to inquire into and examine the proceedings and undertakings of the Nuclear Fuels Company and the Radio-Chemical Company (in this section referred to as the said companies) and all premises in and plant and equipment by the use of which
1450 such proceedings and undertakings are carried out by the said companies and for that purpose as and when necessary to require the said companies to afford the Board all proper facilities for inspection including inspection of any documents and records in the possession or control of such companies, and
- (b) to provide information and advice to the said companies and make any recommendations that the Board thinks desirable as to the steps to be taken by the said companies for the protection of the community as a whole or the protection of any particular sections of the community (including particular individuals whether or not in the employment of or likely to be employed by the said companies) against radiation hazards, and
- (c) the said companies shall afford all such facilities of inspection to the Board and shall have regard to all such information and advice provided by the Board and shall comply with all said recommendations made by the Board.
§ (2) The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and President of the Board of Trade (herein referred to as the said Secretary of State) shall as soon as may be after the transfers of the undertakings of the Authority referred to in sections 1 and 2 of this Act and thereafter from time to time as and when necessary give directions to the said companies requiring them to take such safety precautions as seem to the said Secretary of State to be appropriate in the conduct of the said undertakings in order to prevent risk of injury or harm to the community as a whole or any particular sections of the community (including particular individuals whether or not in the employment of or likely to be employed by the said companies) or of damage to property as the result of the conduct by the said companies of the said undertakings and the said companies shall comply with any said directions.
§ (3) The said companies shall afford to any person duly authorised in writing in that behalf by the said Secretary of State all facilities for inspection, including inspection of any documents and records in their possession or control, as may be required of the said companies by notice in writing by such duly authorised person."
§ The noble Lord said: I apologise for the length of this Amendment. Its purpose is quite simple, but when put into what appears to be appropriate language it seems rather long. The first subsection of this new clause is concerned with the function of the body set up last year under the Radiological Protection Act. The National Radiological Protection Board was set up to deal with all dangers which arise from radiation. This first subsection makes it clear, I hope, that that Board should at all times be brought in in connection with the work of Nuclear Fuels Limited and of the Radiochemical Company, so as to advise 1451 them and to ensure that all their work is done with the minimum danger from radiation.
§ I should perhaps explain that the Radiological Protection Act, under which was set up the National Radiological Protection Board, removed from the Atomic Energy Authority and from the Medical Research Company the work concerned with radiological protection and transferred it to this new Board. Thus, this particular subsection proposes that the work of guarding against radiation should be handed over to this body, which should be able to intervene at any stage in the proceedings and undertakings of Nuclear Fuels Limited and of the Radiochemical Company.
§ The second subsection deals with an allied matter, but one that has not been dealt with by legislation. After the well-known Windscale accident, and after the Report of the Fleck Committee, there was set up within the Atomic Energy Authority a body called the Health and Safety Branch. This branch was in part responsible for dealing with risks from radiation. It was also responsible for design and safety in design of reactors. The first part of its work has been hived off to the National Radiological Protection Board, but the second part of its work remains under the Atomic Energy Authority, as the Health and Safety Branch of the Atomic Energy Authority.
§ Under the Atomic Energy Authority Bill, by which Nuclear Fuels Limited is set up and will concern itself with installation, there is no longer any provision for direct contact between the Health and Safety Branch of the Atomic Energy Authority and this new body, Nuclear Fuels Limited. This House agreed with the general principles of the Atomic Energy Authority Bill, and there is no question of raising the general matters with which the Bill is now concerned. But this particular point is the crucial one of safety in design. It is not a matter of protection against radiation, which is covered by the bringing into being of the National Radiological Protection Board.
§ The second subsection deals entirely with the question of design. In the past, when reactors have been designed the Health and Safety Branch has been brought in order to help in the design, 1452 and to advise on details with regard to the design. These details may not be matters directly concerned with the radial elements that are being used in the nuclear reactor, but they are concerned with those factors of safety which are essential to guarantee that the working of the reactor shall be as nearly as is humanly possible free from the danger of accident. Unless we ensure that this is done, I submit that we take the risk of an accident occurring: we are failing to take all reasonable precautions.
§ This is a reasonable precaution; it is one which has been taken in the past, and it is one which can be controlled by means of a body such as the Health and Safety Branch, which will now be an independent body. It will no longer be an actual part of the company which is dealing with installations, nor indeed with any private contractors; it will be directly under the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. Therefore, the second subsection proposes that the services of this body should be utilised. That is the purpose of subsections (2) and (3) of this proposed new clause.
§ If I am asked whether it is necessary to have any provision like this, I submit that in the past it has proved extremely useful and that the evidence at the present time is that, however carefully reactors are designed, something may go wrong. It may be said that this is unlikely; but, on the other hand, in the last year two things have gone wrong. In one case some bolts corroded. I cannot speak with absolute certainty, but I guess that these were mild steel bolts and that they were corroded because of carbon dioxide, which will attack iron if the temperature is high enough.
§ More recently, with regard to the Hartlepool reactor, it has been found that the caps for the pressure chambers have to be replaced—this is after design. I believe I am right in saying that the Health and Safety Branch suggested in the early stages of the design that the caps ought to be differently constructed. Their advice was not taken and the construction went ahead. The Inspectorate have now condemned the caps, and I am told that the Inspectorate have made certain suggestions which involve even more radical changes. It is not cheap to alter construction after you have commenced it. It is surely more reasonable to have 1453 the best advice at the earliest possible stage. You may still make mistakes, but at least you minimise the possibility of making mistakes. Therefore I believe it to be important to ensure that what we have already built up should not fail to operate in the best possible and the most intimate way at the earliest stage. I beg to move.
§ LORD SHERFIELD
I yield to no one in my desire that nuclear installations should be entirely secure, and I sympathise with the general position of the noble Lord on this matter. However, I seriously doubt whether these Amendments are necessary. It seems to me that the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 sets up fully adequate machinery for licensing, inspection and the protection of the public, and that includes the matter of design of reactors, to which the noble Lord particularly referred.
Therefore, it is, as I think, undesirable to set up parallel machinery, with all the proliferation of reports, inspections, and bureaucratic procedures, which would, if I am not mistaken, involve reporting to a different Minister. The nuclear fuel companies have a very heavy job to do, and I do not think that they should be subjected to more red tape than is absolutely necessary. I raise this doubt because I think that one does not want two separate lines of authority, advice, report, and so on, when the Nuclear Installations Act, as it appears to me, fully safeguards the position.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
May I ask the noble Lord where, in the Nuclear Installations Act 1965, these safeguards were introduced? I failed to find them.
§ LORD SHERFIELD
Under Section 4(1)(b), the licence may in particular include provision:with respect to the design, siting, construction, installation, operation, modification and maintenance of any plant or other installation on, or to be installed on, the site.I do not want to go into details on this. I merely raise this doubt in my mind as to whether these Amendments are really necessary. If they are not really necessary, then I do not think that they should be included in the legislation.
§ LORD DELACOURT-SMITH
If I may, I should like very briefly to support the Amendment which has been put 1454 forward by my noble friend, and to express at any rate the hope that the Government will give some further consideration to it, if they do not at this stage feel able to accept it. It appears to me that it is in line with the Amendment which the Government themselves are proposing to Clause 19. In the light of that. I hope that the Government can look favourably upon this Amendment.
§ 8.4 p.m.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, for raising this very important question of safety, and for taking the immense amount of trouble that he obviously has taken in inquiring into this, and drafting the Amendment that he has put down. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, and the Government entirely accept the purpose of the Amendment; but I hope to be able to convince the noble Lord that all the necessary machinery already exists to achieve that purpose.
The noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, was quite right in saying that the Nuclear Installations Act really governs this matter. Before anyone other than the Atomic Energy Authority can construct, or operate, a nuclear installation, a licence is needed under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965. This applies to all installations with potential radiation hazards, including plants for processing nuclear fuel and irradiated matter. Thus, all the plants to be transferred will need to be licensed before the new companies can lawfully operate them. Such licences are not transferable; only the licensee can operate such plants.
Under Section 4 of the Act the Secretary of State is obliged to attach such conditions as he considers necessary, or desirable, in the interests of safety. He may at any time thereafter attach such further conditions as he considers necessary, or desirable, in the interests of safety. He may also vary or revoke those conditions at any time. He may at any time attach to a nuclear site conditions with regard to the handling, treatment and disposal of nuclear matter.
The mandatory conditions attached to a site licence, as my noble friend Lord Sherfield said, cover the design, siting, construction, installation, operation, modification and maintenance of any plant or 1455 other installation installed, or to be installed, on the site as well as to emergency measures. The hazards of radiation are recognised as being so important, and so serious, that nothing can be done on a nuclear site except either by the Atomic Energy Authority, or with the express permission of the Secretary of State, and subject to the conditions he prescribes in writing. There are specified penalties under the Act for any contravention.
The question is how this works in practice. It may be that it does not work perfectly, and that improvements are taking place all the time; but it does mean that licences are granted, and the conditions may be imposed in relation to each separate stage. The conditions are not granted once and for all. Such conditions as are necessary, and that need to be imposed, can be imposed by the inspectorate, in the name of the Secretary of State, at any time during the course of the construction of a nuclear plant of any kind. The Inspectorate has to be satisfied that before any plant starts to be constructed the design is safe. All the relevant details, with supporting calculations, have to be submitted, and designs are stringently checked by the Inspectorate in independent safety assessments before construction is allowed to proceed.
The licensee has to meet all the conditions in the licence which may relate to, among other things, approvals at various stages. Apart from that, it is for him to decide at what stages the design should be submitted for safety approval. The licensee has every interest in ensuring the safety of the equipment and the plant he operates, and has every interest in getting the best possible advice for that purpose. On him is placed an absolute liability for any damage from radiation resulting from the operation of any plant of his. Moreover, any modification or alteration required by the Inspectorate, as the noble Lord himself said, can be very expensive, and this again is a consideration that the licensee is bound to have in mind. He will certainly want to have the best advice at all stages, and to have the continuing approval of the Inspectorate.
It has also to be remembered that the design of nuclear plant owes a very great deal to the research and development carried 1456 out by the A.E.A. itself at its various plants. I pointed out on a previous occasion that within these plants—quite a number of them, Windscale and Spring-fields, for example—there will be enclaves of Atomic Energy Authority personnel and they, in turn, will be working on the advice of the Health and Safety Branch.
There is one point I should like to make in passing. The noble Lord said that the Health and Safety Branch, as I understood him, will, for the first time, be independent. This is not so. The Health and Safety Branch has always been independent. It has always had direct access to the chairman of the Atomic Energy Authority himself, and it is upon this independence that its value very largely depended.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
If the noble Lord will forgive me for intervening, I was aware of that point. I am sorry if I did not make myself clear. I did not mean that it would be independent of the Authority, or not independent, in the sense of having access to the Minister, but rather that for the first time it would be separated from the constructional side. In the past, when any construction was carried out, it was necessarily carried out in conjunction with the Health and Safety Branch, whereas with the setting up of the new Nuclear Fuels Company that is not inevitable.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I do not quite understand the argument that it is not necessarily independent vis-à-vis whoever it is advising. It seems to me that the whole essence of an adviser in these matters is that he should be independent, and the Health and Safety Branch is independent in this respect. It is independent in advising the A.E.A. and it will be equally independent in advising anybody else.
I hope that I have convinced the noble Lord that the appropriate advisory and controlling body is the Inspectorate. He has put forward an Amendment which places upon the Radiological Protection Board an obligation to do certain things. He is quite right in saying that that Board was set up for research, to give advice and as a source of information. But it was not set up to inspect, and it does not have the machinery to inspect. It is not the Board's function to do so, and I do not think it would be effective if it 1457 did. In any event, it would be anomalous for such duties to be exercised only in respect of these two companies.
There are other kinds of inspection involved besides the Nuclear Installations Act. The Factories Acts and the various orders made under them provide for the protection of employees in the atomic field, and under these Acts there will be appropriate inspection. There are other provisions controlling the discharge of radioactive effluents and the transport of radioactive materials. As regards reactors and nuclear plant safety, I should make it plain that the Bill does not affect the reactor design and construction companies, or the Generating Boards. The effect here is upon the companies to which the undertakings are being transferred. Nor does it affect the way in which they get the best advice they can in order to satisfy the rigorous standards of the Inspectorate of Nuclear Installations. The nuclear safety record in this country gives no grounds at all for apprehension. It is a fact that no new technology has ever been introduced with the attention that has been given to safety in the nuclear industry. Of course the potential hazards justify this attention, but the successful efforts of those responsible in all sections of the industry are attested by the excellent safety record.
There are 16 power reactors operated by the Generating Boards, and 11 operated by the A.E.A at the present time; and altogether, I am told, they have accumulated over 200 reactor years of operational experience. A further 10 reactors are under construction for the Generating Boards. All that the noble Lord's Amendment would do is first, to place on the Radiological Protection Board an obligation which it is not in a position to carry out; and, secondly, to place on the Secretary of State an obligation to do something which he is already doing. The Amendment does not mention the Health and Safety Branch, but the Secretary of State can get such advice as he requires from a number of sources. He can get it not only from the Safeguards Division, but from the Nuclear Safety Advisory Committee, which is able to advise him on all aspects of nuclear safety.
In these circumstances, I do not think that the noble Lord can argue, from the 1458 fact that there have been some technical failures through corrosion which was not foreseen—or even that there has perhaps been a hold-up in the construction of the Hartlepool generating station—that the present safety provisions are in any way defective. Nor, I suggest, has he established that they are likely to be any more ineffective when the Nuclear Fuels Company and the Radiochemical Company are set up: because in each of them there will be very close control of what may be done at each stage. As regards the handling of radioactive materials, there are conditions attached to this, and if the method of handling is modified or altered in any way it will have to be approved by the Inspectorate. I hope that I have succeeded in convincing the noble Lord, first, that the safety precautions will be adequate; and, secondly, that in any case his Amendment would not do what he thinks it would do.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
I must thank both the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, and the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, for taking the trouble to deal with this matter seriously and in detail. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has asked me whether I am satisfied, and the answer is, not completely. He has certainly reassured me that it is the Government's intention to take all precautions. I have been trying to suggest that one important precaution is to make use of the existing Health and Safety Branch at the design stage, which is a very important matter, and I am still not happy that that will be effectively done. I used the word "independent", and may I explain once more, since I failed to do so earlier, that what I meant was that so long as one had one body, the Atomic Energy Authority, which included within itself the Health and Safety Branch with an independent right of appeal to the Minister and direct access to him, that Branch was still within the Atomic Energy Authority and was therefore necessarily brought in on all matters of design carried out by the Authority. With the hiving off of the commercial side of the Authority's work, there is now a break for the Health and Safety Branch, and that was the sense in which I used the word.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
In so far as there is a break, that has already taken place because of the setting up of the nuclear construction companies, and to a large extent it was for the purpose of regulating the commercial industry that the Nuclear Installations Act was enacted.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
Yes, but I think one does not improve matters by having a further divorce. I should have preferred to see a still closer link brought in, and to have this health and safety branch brought in also with the commercially constructed reactors. But that, unfortunately, is not within the Bill which we are discussing to-day. It would not, I think, be possible for me to raise it in a wider way at the present time; I am doing the best I can. Obviously, if the Government are not prepared to do this, I shall have to be content with whatever the Government are prepared to do. I do not propose to force the matter further, but I suggest to the Government that it is highly important that all precautions are taken, and are seen to be taken, because we are going to be faced (and I suspect that the oil position to-day is going to make it pretty rapid) with a considerable development of nuclear energy stations. I should like to see our production of electricity going over as rapidly as possible to nuclear stations. I am very much in favour of them, just as the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, is; and it is precisely because I am enthusiastic about them that I want to be certain that there will not be any accident and that all precautions are taken.
I would urge the Government to pay some attention to this matter, because although I am not involved in it and am really ignorant about it, I can say that I am informed by the Institution of Professional Civil Servants that they have been worried about it and that they have been pressing this very same point. They are people who are engaged, or some of them are, in this very work: I am not. They know much more about it than I do. I consulted them only to-day, so I raised the matter quite independently, without having consulted them in the first place. But, having started the thing going, I felt I must pursue it as much as I could, and the more I have pursued it the more satisfied I have been that every precaution should be taken and that there is still some unease that precautions 1460 which could be taken may in future lapse. Therefore, while appreciating that the Government are unlikely to accept all that is in this new clause, I would urge the noble Lord to do all that he can to make certain that these precautions are taken. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 19 [Application of security provisions to companies established in connection with agreement on gas centrifuge process]:
LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 17, line 13, leave out ("5 and") and insert ("and 4 to").
§ The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is to improve security arrangements under the Bill in one particular aspect. Under this clause, the Secretary of State is empowered to make an order designating any company registered in the United Kingdom which appears to him to have been formed in pursuance of the Tripartite Gas Centrifuge Agreement between this country, the Netherlands and West Germany. As sub-section (1) of the clause is at present drafted, the effect of designating such a company will be to apply to it the security provisions at paragraphs 2, 5 and 6 of the Schedule. The purpose of this Amendment is to apply paragraph 4, also, and the reason for it is this.
§ Under the centrifuge agreement, two international companies will be formed. The prime contractor, whose headquarters will be in Germany, will co-ordinate research and development and will design and install enrichment plant. The enrichment organisation, whose headquarters will be in this country, will operate centrifuge plants and sell an enrichment service to customers. The enrichment organisation will require a permit under the Amendment in Clause 17 to the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 and, once a permit has been granted, it will be possible for the Secretary of State to direct that the security provisions in the Schedule shall apply. But it is expected that it will not be until a year to 18 months after the enrichment organisation has been established that the stage will be reached at which it could apply for and receive a permit. During this interim period the organisation will be receiving classified 1461 information from its shareholders under the centrifuge agreement. Thus, to enable the Government to fulfil their obligations, an additional provision is required in the Bill to enable the appropriate security paragraphs of the Schedule to be applied to the enrichment organisation during this period.
§ The Government now believe that the present wording of the clause does not go quite far enough, in that it fails to provide for special constables of the Atomic Energy Authority constabulary to guard the premises of the enrichment organisation during the interim period to which I have referred. This, therefore, is the purpose of the Amendment, and I beg to move.
§ LORD DELACOURT-SMITH
I am sure the Committee is grateful to the noble Lord for the explanation he has given of this modest but useful and necessary Amendment, and we are of course glad to see it incorporated in the Bill.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 19, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 20 [Pension schemes]:
§ 8.27 p.m.
LORD DELACOURT-SMITH moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 19, line 10, at end insert ("as well as to
(c) officers and other persons taken into the employment of the Science Research Council subsequent to 31st March 1969 to work on research in astro-physics at the Authority's Laboratory at Culham or at any Science Research Council establishment (whether or not while in the employment of the Science Research Council they cease to be engaged in those activities).")
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move the Amendment standing on the Order Paper in the name of my noble friend Lord Diamond. The clause before us deals with the superannuation provisions for astrophysics staff employed by the Science Research Council, and this modest Amendment widens to a limited degree the discretion which the Council will have in dealing with the superannuation of this group of staff. Until April, 1969, work on astrophysics was the responsibility of the Atomic Energy Authority and was done at their Culham establishment in Oxfordshire. As from that month the responsibility for the work was transferred to the Science Research 1462 Council which also took over the astro-physics staff. But both the work and the staff remained, and remain, at Culham, forming, in effect, a small S.R.C. enclave within the establishment there.
§ Clause 20(6) as written at present allows for the S.R.C. astrophysics staff who were employed by the Authority prior to March 31, 1969, to remain in the Authority's pension scheme. There has been, I am informed, one person recruited since March 31, bringing the total staff engaged on this work up to 35; but he, and of course future recruits, would be given Civil Service pension conditions. The case which I wish to put forward is that all the Science Research Council staff employed on this work should be covered, or there should be scope for them to be covered, by the Atomic Energy Authority's superannuation scheme, including those recruited after March 31, 1969.
§ Now the Science Research Council employs some 2,000 staff. Approximately half of them, I understand, are currently in the Atomic Energy Authority's scheme; half are covered by Civil Service terms. There exists a very clear precedent for what I am seeking to establish by this Amendment. That precedent was established when the Science Research Council itself was established in 1965 and took over, among other staff, 1,200 who were employed in the Rutherford Laboratory and the Daresbury Laboratory, which until then had been part of the National Institute for Research into Nuclear Science. In 1965, the Government accepted that it was reasonable for Science Research Council staff to retain A.E.A. superannuation terms both in the case of existing staff and—this is the vital point—in the case of new entrants.
§ This was effected by the terms of a clause in the Science and Technology Act 1965. What I am in effect urging is that the Science Research Council should be allowed the same powers to extend the Atomic Energy Authority Superannuation scheme to recruits after March 31, 1969, in the Astrophysics Group at Culham as they already have in relation to the staff at the Rutherford and Daresbury laboratories. Indeed, the working of this Amendment is closely modelled on the comparable provision in the Science and Technology Act. It resembles the provisions of that Act on this point in being permissive and not mandatory. The 1463 grounds for applying the authority pension scheme to all the staff employed in the Rutherford laboratory are equally applicable, indeed, more applicable, in the case of the staff who are the subject of this Amendment. In the case of the Rutherford laboratory it was an important factor that they were working very close to the staff at Harwell; in the present case the new staff concerned will actually be an enclave in the establishment at Culham.
§ I have been putting this, in a sense, on the grounds of substance. I want to underline the fact that the Amendment proposed is permissive and not mandatory. Indeed, its purpose and effect is to leave the door open for this matter to be determined by the Science Research Council in consultation with the appropriate trade unions. If the Amendment is not included, then the door is closed to the consideration of entrants after March 31, 1969.
§ Two arguments appear to have been used in resisting this proposal. The first has been that on the previous occasion in 1965 the predominant consideration in the mind of the then Government in making the provision to which I have referred was that this gave a recruitment advantage. Without going into this in detail, I think that if one looks at the record it will be clear that the recruitment argument, although one of those which carried weight with the then Government, was not the sole consideration in their mind. The second argument has been that it is not normal practice for the staff of one employer to be covered for superannuation purposes by the scheme of another employer. Again, I think one could deploy arguments at considerable length on this subject. In fact, there have been a number of cases where this has happened in the case of staff who were formerly with the Atomic Energy Authority; and in several cases when the staff have been put into other organisations the principle has been accepted of allowing them to continue to be embraced within the Atomic Energy Authority scheme. I can give examples of that if necessary.
§ If you look at Clause 20(3) of the present Bill you see that it permits those companies to establish superannuation 1464 schemes, separate from the scheme of the Atomic Energy Authority, but it does not compel them so to do. This is a modest Amendment. It is one on which there is feeling by the staff organisations concerned, and I hope that the Government will be able to accept it. I beg to move.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I should like to thank the noble Lord for the lucid way in which he has moved this particular Amendment. I think that he has summed up the arguments on both sides. I have read the arguments put forward in another place on this question, and I have also had the benefit of a discussion with representatives of the Institution of Professional Civil Servants. I am not persuaded by all the arguments which have been advanced in favour of allowing future recruits to the Science Research Council unit at Culham to enter the Atomic Energy Authority pension scheme. It seems to me that the arguments which the noble Lord put forward apply very much to the staff formerly with the A.E.A. but that the extension to other staff is another matter. It is also a fact that people who are not employed by A.E.A. can enter A.E.A. pension schemes only if there is statutory permission for them to do so.
I can see the force of the argument that the Bill should leave this question open, in the same way that it is still left open at the Science Research Council establishment at Daresbury, under paragraph 4 of Schedule 3 to the Science and Technology Act 1965. For that reason the Government are preparing an Amendment for tabling at the Report stage. The reasons for not accepting the Amendment put down are, first, that it is rather widely drawn by its reference to any Science Research Council establishment and, second, that the wording and structure of the Amendment do not fit very easily into the present wording of subsection (6). The purpose of the Government Amendment will be to provide an enabling power and it will not itself imply any judgment on the merits of the question whether recruits to the Science Research Council unit at Culham after March 31, 1969, should be able to join the A.E.A. pension scheme. With this assurance of a Government Amendment, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his Amendment.
§ LORD DELACOURT-SMITH
If I have understood the noble Lord correctly, it appears that the Amendment that is being prepared will completely meet the substance of the case that I was seeking to put forward. That being so, I should like to express my appreciation to the noble Lord for his consideration of the matter and the action he proposes to take, and to beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 20 agreed to.
§ Clauses 21 to 25 agreed to.
§ Schedule agreed to.
§ House resumed: Bill reported, with the Amendment.