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Nuclear Power

Volume 976: debated on Tuesday 20 November 1979

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On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During the proceedings on Tuesday, the Secretary of State for Energy made a statement on nuclear matters, and I put a number of questions to him, one of which was directed to the proposed atom plant at Portskewett. He replied:

"The CEGB has informed me that it does not intend to press its application to build an advanced gas-cooled reactor at the Portskewett site."—[Official Report, 18 December 1979; Vol. 976, c. 299.]
That statement was received with great relief throughout Wales. Unhappily, immediately after the announcement was made public, the CEGB made a considerable number of statements, all of which flatly contradict what the Secretary of State said. In a press report this morning the CEGB board spokesman said:
"We are not making any application for an American-type water-cooled reactor at Portskewett but we are pressing ahead with our original application for a gas-cooled reactor."
On any view, there is a huge gap between what the House was told and what was said outside. I fully appreciate, Mr. Speaker, that you cannot be held responsible for what the Secretary of State says in this House, but—

Order. I hope that the hon. Member is about to raise a point of order that I can deal with and is not just making a personal statement.

My point of order is that large numbers of people involved in organising protests at a public inquiry are in confusion because the Secretary of State has misinformed the House. I trust that it is at least possible for me to ask you, Mr. Speaker, to encourage the Secretary of State to make a statement to the House because of the flat contradictions that exist about a project costing £1·5 billion.

Order. The hon. Member knows that I exercise no discretion over statements made by Ministers. I allowed the hon. Member to make his point to the House, which is what he wanted.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The statements of the Secretary of State are a matter of concern to the whole House. They are causing considerable embarrassment to hon. Members and many of our constituents—

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but I explained earlier that it was not a point of order. Both hon. Members have drawn attention to the anxiety in their area about the matter, and I am quite sure that that will be noted. I am anxious that we should move on to the main business, as there are many hon. Members who want to speak. I hope that the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Hughes) will accept that he has expressed his anxiety and that there is no point of order on which I can help.