HL Deb 13 February 1989 vol 504 cc8-9

2.57 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy (Baroness Hooper)

My Lords, in commending the Atomic Energy Bill to your Lordships' House, I wish to add a few words in appreciation of the careful consideration given to this Bill and of the help provided during its passage from all sides of the House. When I moved the Bill on Second Reading, I remarked on its nature, it being a technical and somewhat disparate measure. It is a tribute to your Lordships that this description did not deter a detailed consideration.

In particular, the Government were pleased to propose an addition to the clause relating to the Mutual Assistance Convention which clarified the position and responded to concerns expressed by your Lordships in Committee. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a third time.—(Baroness Hooper.)

Lord Williams of Elvel

My Lords, the House will be most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, both for introducing the Bill and indeed for the way in which she has conducted the Bill from the Government Front Bench. We are most grateful to the noble Baroness for her kindness and her openness in discussing the issues involved.

Your Lordships have had an opportunity during this Bill to discuss a number of points that are perhaps not related, but we have discussed interrelated matters. We have been able to probe the problems associated with British Nuclear Fuels Plc—the shutdown problems and the nuclear waste problems. I am sure that we shall come back to those on later occasions.

We, on this side, have been able to welcome the enhanced role of the Health and Safety Executive. We are very pleased that the Government have taken this very important measure of allowing the Health and Safety Executive its own direction in making sure that we are as safe as we possibly can be as regards nuclear matters. But it is anybody's judgment as regards how safe that really is.

Finally, we welcome the Government's signature and the putting into statute of the effect of the Mutual Assistance Convention. Three Mile Island and Chernobyl are still fresh in our minds and we want to make absolutely certain that everything possible is done internationally to ensure that the damage inflicted by such incidents is mitigated to the greatest possible extent. The Government, the Opposition and all your Lordships are, I think, at one on that.

We are grateful to the noble Baroness for having conceded our thoughts on publicity. Perhaps she did not go quite as far as we should have liked. No doubt that matter will be taken up in another place. Nevertheless, I must record my gratitude and the gratitude felt on these Benches for her openmindedness on this issue. We are glad that something has been written into the Bill. In short, we wish the Bill well. On the whole it is a good Bill. But no doubt there are some matters to which we shall return on other occasions.

On Question, Bill read a third time.

An amendment (privilege) made.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Baroness Hooper.)

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.