HC Deb 21 July 2004 vol 424 cc38-9WS
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Margaret Beckett)

In my statement of 16 July 2003, I announced that Government was looking at the best way of making Nirex "independent of industry and under greater Government control". I would now like to make a further statement, concerning the means of moving forward with this, that I have agreed with my Right Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

The Government, through DEFRA and DTI, intend to establish a new company limited by guarantee (CLG) to hold the shares in Nirex, and oversee its business operations. The transfer of Nirex shares to the new CLG will be covered by an appropriate commercial transaction with existing Nirex shareholders. The CLG will, effectively, provide a means of placing Nirex assets and intellectual property into trust, whilst enabling it to continue with its important work that includes setting standards for the conditioning and packaging of radioactive waste, until the Government can take their decision on policy for the long-term management of the UK's higher activity radioactive waste, and the means of its delivery, in light of recommendations from the independent Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM). The funding will be by contract, primarily through the NDA. Nirex will be separate from, and independent of, the NDA.

The new arrangements will achieve both the objectives stated in my previous announcement, to make Nirex independent of industry and bring the company under greater Government control. The aim is to agree the detail of them by about October/November of this year for them to come fully into operation from 1 April 2005.

Successful implementation is subject to a significant amount of more detailed work currently being undertaken by DEFRA and the DTI in conjunction with Nirex and its present shareholders, including an ongoing programme of due diligence work. All parties are committed to achieving a successful outcome to this process.