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Sizewell B

Volume 177: debated on Monday 23 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Energy how much public money has been spent on Sizewell B to date, how much is committed currently, and if he will make a statement.

A total of £1,510 million has been committed, of which £920 million has already been spent. both figures are at 1987 prices.

Does the Secretary of State recall the statement made at the Hinkley inquiry by Mr. Brian George, chief executive of the PWR group of Nuclear Electric, that if we did not build a family of PWRs, expenditure on Sizewell B would be extremely doubtful? Is not the reality that the nuclear industry will not only fail to make a profit but will not break even and that if it were in the private sector it would have gone bust long ago? What prevents the Government, when they are casting around for money to save the public purse, from considering the most obvious candidate—Sizewell and the nuclear industry?

Much of the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question will be contained in the response that I shall shortly be making to the Select Committee report and from which it would not be right to quote at the moment. I have made a thorough review of the costs of Sizewell B. On an avoidable cost basis—the only basis which matters for my decision—Sizewell B output is comparable with that from a combined cycle gas turbine, on central assumptions, and cheaper than that from a coal-fired plant. That is the essential decision that I have to take.