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Energy White Paper

Volume 461: debated on Tuesday 12 June 2007

5. What assessment he has made of the impact of the proposals in the Energy White Paper on energy production in Scotland. (140956)

But as we have seen, the White Paper may lead to a loss of investor confidence. We have lost the carbon capture and storage project in Peterhead. We need clarity from the Government for investors. To that end, will the Minister rule out entirely any liability for nuclear waste or nuclear decommissioning from new generation plant falling on the public sector?

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry said at the Dispatch Box on Thursday, in response to a question from the hon. Gentleman, I think, we are sorry that BP is not going to continue with the competition, but there are seven other important players in that competition. It was never the case that the Government could simply hand out the necessary awards to one particular company. Even if BP had stayed in with the Peterhead project, there is no guarantee that it would have won the competition in any event. However, the Government’s position on new nuclear build was set out comprehensively in the White Paper. It is not for the Government to build nuclear power stations. It is for industry to come forward to Government and say that it would like to build a new nuclear power station. At that point, the discussions can take place.

I too pay my tributes to Lord Ewing, who was a good friend and colleague and a great parliamentarian. He will be a loss to both Parliament and Scotland. I send my best wishes to his wife Margaret and his family.

May I press the Minister to accept that, in view of the utterances from the new leadership in the Scottish Parliament, an important issue such as the energy White Paper would be better discussed by the Scottish representatives at Westminster in the Scottish Grand Committee? I cannot think of anything more important to discuss in the Scottish Grand Committee than the energy White Paper.

My hon. Friend’s tenacious advocacy of the Scottish Grand Committee reflects well on him. It is a matter for the usual channels and the House authorities to instigate Grand Committees. I point out that since the Grand Committee stopped meeting regularly, it is possible to hold one and a half hour debates on important issues in Westminster Hall, and it is open to my hon. Friend to apply for such a debate.

Following on from the discussion of nuclear power in an earlier question, if a company wished to build a new nuclear plant in Scotland, would it be up to the Scottish Executive to make that decision or would it be up to the Department of Trade and Industry?

The situation is crystal clear. The Scottish Executive would have the final say on any application for a new nuclear power station in Scotland or even for any non-nuclear significantly large power generator, both under the Electricity Act 1989 and under planning legislation.