HL Deb 06 December 1989 vol 513 cc968-9WA
Lord Williams of Elvel

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are satisfied that the advice they have received from the CEGB on the safety of nuclear power stations is reliable; whether the CEGB safety arrangements will continue to operate in the new plc; and whether the Secretary of State will take powers to issue directions to the new plc should an emergency arise which is liable to endanger the public.

Viscount Ullswater

I can assure the noble Lord that the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) provide satisfactory advice on the safety of their nuclear power stations; and I am confident that, following the privatisation of the electricity supply industry, and the retention of nuclear generating capacity in the public sector, the new nuclear company, Nuclear Electric, which will inherit the CEGB's nuclear assets and personnel, will maintain this record. Moreover, the Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) will continue to ensure that operators work to the highest standards of safety and comply with the law. In the unlikely event of an emergency, the task of restoring a nuclear power station to a safe condition both rapidly and competently is the legal responsibility of the operator and would be monitored in the NII. The issuing of directions by the Secretary of State would achieve nothing, and would undermine established chains of responsibility and command.