HC Deb 28 February 2001 vol 363 c706W
Helen Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the progress of the Quinquennial Review of the UKAEA. [151889]

Mr. Hain

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, the review is being carried out in two stages. I am now in a position to make an announcement about the outcome of Stage 1 and the basis on which work will be taken forward.

The review team recognises the progress which UKAEA has made since 1996 and commends its performance and commitment to improvement across the full range of its activities. However, it identifies a number of options for organisational change and raises fundamental issues relating to UKAEA's primary role in managing nuclear liabilities on behalf of the taxpayer and restoring the environment at the sites for which it is responsible over the next 60 years—for example about funding arrangements, the regulatory framework and the way in which it operates, waste management and the long-term availability of relevant knowledge and skills.

The Government consider it essential that nuclear liabilities should be dealt with safely, cost effectively and in a way which inspires public confidence. Significant challenges are involved and there is an absolute requirement that the public should have confidence in the arrangements in place for dealing with them. The ideas and issues raised by the review team will therefore be explored further with a view to establishing whether there is a case for changing present management arrangements. The review team will also consider what action might be taken to attract more companies into the nuclear decommissioning market and to promote competition for decommissioning contracts let by UKAEA.

As regards other UKAEA activities, Stage 2 of the review will focus on testing options for: accelerating the commercial re-development of UKAEA's Harwell and Winfrith sites through partnership arrangements with the private sector and for further improving UKAEA's performance in property management; the future management of the fusion programme at Culham; the future organisation of the UKAEA Constabulary; further improving administration of the UKAEA pension schemes, which will continue to be run from Thurso for the foreseeable future, and for securing additional work for the Thurso pensions office.

This represents a considerable work programme which will take some time to complete. Given the importance of these issues, it is essential that the correct conclusions are arrived at. UKAEA staff, Trade Unions and other interested parties will have the opportunity to contribute views as the work proceeds.

I will make a further announcement once the Stage 2 work has been completed and decisions have been taken on the review team's recommendations.