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British Energy

Volume 402: debated on Thursday 3 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will undertake a review of the liabilities of British Energy to examine what cost savings can be made. [106060]

Under the restructuring proposal announced by British Energy on 28 November 2002, the Government is taking financial responsibility for the company's historic spent fuel liabilities under contracts with BNFL, and underwriting new and enhanced arrangements by the company in the form of a new Nuclear Liabilities Fund (NLF) to meet decommissioning and other back-end liabilities.Under the operation of the NLF, the Government propose to put in place a series of controls and incentives to ensure that British Energy runs its nuclear power stations as though it were exclusively responsible for the discharge of nuclear liabilities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what information she has received since 9 September 2002, which indicated that British Energy was offering electricity contracts for sale at below the wholesale market prices. [106513]

The Department receives regularly representations about the operation of the electricity market from a variety of sources. The implementation of the trading strategy announced by British Energy on 28 November 2002 as part of its restructuring proposals is a matter for the company.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with British Energy on financing the cost of installing flue gas de-sulpherisation of Eggborough power station since 9 September 2002; and if she will make a statement. [106514]

My officials have discussed a wide range of matters with British Energy during this period. The installation of flue gas desulphurisation of Eggborough is an operational matter for British Energy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her statement of 28 November 2002, Official Report, column 488, on British Energy, (1) if she will publish the evidence to support the statement that it was necessary to underwrite financial assistance to British Energy because it was the best way of securing the safety of the nuclear power stations; [106580](2) if she will publish the evidence to support the statement that it was necessary to underwrite financial assistance to British Energy because it was the best way of securing the security of electricity supply to the grid and customers. [106579]

Nuclear safety and security of electricity supplies are our main priorities for British Energy whether or not the company's restructuring proposals is successful. Our decision to support the company's proposal involved complex assessments stretching over many years. The detailed calculation of those assessments contain assumptions which are commercially confidential, under Exemption 13, Third Party commercial confidences of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her answer of 26 March 2003, Official Report, column 221W, on British Energy, whether an application has been made to draw on the current facility to finance the cost of installing flue gas de-sulphurisation at British Energy's Eggborough Power Station (a) directly and (b) indirectly. [106581]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 18 March 2003, Official Report, column 685W, on British Energy. Details of individual applications are also commercially confidential, under Exemption 13, Third Party commercial confidence of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.