HC Deb 11 July 2002 vol 388 cc1087-8W
25. Norman Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much public expenditure on matters relating to the nuclear industry there has been since 1 May 1997; and what estimate she has made of future identified public liabilities in respect of existing activities. [66396]

Mr. Wilson

Public expenditure on matters related to the nuclear industry in this period related primarily to the activities of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and BNFL. Regulation of the industry and the activities of UK Government Departments and the devolved Administrations with policy or other responsibilities relevant to the industry also necessarily involve public expenditure. However, precise information on the total expenditure involved in each of the years in question could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

For UKAEA, funding was provided in the form of grant and grant in aid to support fusion research and to discharge nuclear liabilities arising from past programmes. The sums provided in each year were as follows:

£ million
Grant, and grant in aid
1997–98 199.1
1998–99 302.6
1999–2000 212.1
2000–01 241.2
2001–02 311.9

BNFL is classified as a public corporation by the Office of National Statistics. Its expenditure and income is recorded in the public sector in the national accounts and so it contributes to the statistics that monitor the Chancellor's fiscal rules. BNFL's total gross expenditure in the financial years 1997–98 to 2000–01 as reported in "Public Bodies" was as follows:

£ million
Total gross expenditure
1997–98 1,733
1998–99 2,056
1999–2000 2,968
2000–01 2,694

The equivalent information for 2001/02 is not yet available.

At 31 March 2002 the total undiscounted cost of dealing with the nuclear liabilities of BNFL and UKAEA was estimated to be £47.9 billion. The White Paper "Managing the Nuclear Legacy—A Strategy for Action" published on 4 July set out the Government's proposals for establishing—a new Liabilities Management Authority with a specific remit to ensure that these liabilities are dealt with safely, securely, cost-effectively and in ways which protect the environment.