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Windscale

Volume 976: debated on Tuesday 18 December 1979

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Q2.

My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.

If the Prime Minister visits Windscale, will she explain to the Atomic Energy Authority workers how nuclear inspection standards can be maintained when the Department is reportedly undermanned, and even further cuts are on their way? Is he aware that many people are gravely concerned at the dangers of nuclear generation, and that there is concern about the Government's repeated attacks on the trade union movement? Each year industrial injury causes twice as many lost days as strike action. Is not the message that we should spend more on safety and inspection?

As I think the hon. Gentleman will know, the Health and Safety Executive is undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of safety at Wind-scale. The review team does not expect to complete its task for some time, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that its findings will be published.

Before my right hon. Friend considers visiting Windscale, will she commission an inquiry into the degree of starvation that is likely to result in Third world countries if agricultural production goes over to producing alcohol fuels instead of food, because the developed countries refuse to produce energy from nuclear resources?

I would be wise to say that I shall call my hon. Friend's remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

As one who has visited Windscale, may I ask the Home Secretary if he will recognise that we do not need to doubt the safety record or the thoroughness of our nuclear industry to be, none the less, concerned about the Government's priorities in putting so much dependence on the expansion of nuclear energy? Is the Minister aware that the Kielder Dam, which is being built near the right hon. Gentleman's constituency and my own, will not have included in it any electricity generating capacity?

The right hon. Gentleman will know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy will make a statement at the end of Prime Minister's Question Time and I ask him to await that statement.

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that it is conceivable that the enemies of this country would dearly like to see us, in the years ahead, totally devoid of any adequate power sources? Does he not agree that there is at least a case for looking into the attempts made by some to exploit the natural concern that is felt about nuclear energy for their own ends, which have little to do with the welfare of this country?

I agree that our future power resources are enormously important. It will be to that precise point that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy will direct his statement later today.