§ Mr. Cousins
To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many uniformed staff are in the Atomic Energy Authority police force; what powers these police have of arrest and to carry arms; and whether he intends to privatise this police force along with the rest of the Atomic Energy Authority.
§ Mr. Eggar
The current strength of the Atomic Energy Authority constabulary (AEAC) is 499. Officers of the AEAC are appointed as special constables and have powers of arrest in premises in the possession of or under the control of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and British Nuclear Fuels plc, and, in respect of their property, within a radius of 15 miles of these premises. The powers of the AEAC were extended by the Atomic Energy Authority (Special Constables) Act 1976. This Act gives authority for officers to be armed both in the general course of their duties and in relation to safeguarding of special nuclear material in storage and transit throughout Great Britain.
The Act also authorises officers to exercise their powers in any place where it appears to them to be expedient to go in order to safeguard nuclear material or to pursue persons they believe to have removed or to have attempted to remove it unlawfully.
No decisions have yet been taken on whether to privatise the AEA or any part of it. I am considering the results of the consultancy study I announced on 1 April, Official Report, column 407, as well as the AEA's own views, and an announcement will be made in due course. The future of the AEAC will be considered in the context of decisions about the future of the AEA as a whole.