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Nuclear Materials (Transport)

Volume 21: debated on Wednesday 31 March 1982

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4.22 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the dangers of transporting nuclear materials".
The subject is specific and important. Both nuclear waste and nuclear warheads are transported along the Aire Valley railway line through my constituency.

On 10 March a derailment took place near Leeds and I put questions about the accident to the appropriate Minister. An empty nuclear material flask was involved. The importance of the matter is emphasised by the fact that, although the flask was empty and the Central Electricity Generating Board and British Rail claimed that there was no danger, the area was cordoned off and, according to the current issue of New Statesman, police threatened photographers and reporters with arrest if they entered the area in which the train stood. There has been no formal inquiry or published report on that accident.

I have been informed today that a further derailment has occurred at Healey Mills in West Yorkshire, again involving an empty nuclear fuel flask. That emphasises the urgency of the issue.

Many local authorities have declared nuclear-free zones, yet the transport of nuclear materials is continued, without any special precautions being discussed or called for from those authorities or any others.

The matter is urgent because the public have a right to know what has caused those potentially extremely serious accidents. They have the right to know urgently before a serious accident occurs, and they have the right to break through the cloak of secrecy that surrounds the subject. A debate would be an important means of ensuring that that was done.

The hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) gave me notice before 12 o'clock this morning that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the dangers of transporting nuclear materials".
Everyone who heard the hon. Gentleman will realise that he has drawn our attention to a very serious matter, but he and the House know that my powers are limited. Under Standing Order No. 9, I am directed to take into account the several factors set out in the Order, but to give no reason for my decision.

I do not underestimate the importance of the matter that the hon. Gentleman brought to our notice, but I must rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.