HC Deb 14 May 1993 vol 224 cc581-2W
Mr. David Atkinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he has any plans to privatise the Northern Ireland electricity service; what estimate of asset proceeds he has made; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins

The first phase of the privatisation of the electricity supply industry in Northern Ireland—the trade sale of the four existing power stations to three private sector companies—was completed in March 1992. The personnel employed with respect to each of the subject areas outlined in "MAFF NR 143/91" in nominal and real terms for each year since 1978.

Mr. Gummer

Research projects are not classified routinely in the terms specified in the question. However, near-market projects, by definition, would seldom, if ever, be expected to fall into the strategic or basic research categories.

My Department's expenditure in cash and real terms on environmental R and D by subject area is set out in the table. The number of projects is shown in brackets. Individual projects differ in value.

second phase—the floatation of Northern Ireland Electricity plc on the stock exchange—is due to take place in June 1993. The sale of the four power stations realised some £350 million. It is too early to provide an estimate of proceeds from the floatation of NIE plc, details of which will be announced in due course.