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Nuclear Safety Committee/Nuclear Research Advisory Council

Volume 578: debated on Monday 31 March 2014

I am today announcing the start of the triennial reviews of the Defence Nuclear Safety Committee (DNSC) and the Nuclear Research Advisory Council (NRAC). Triennial reviews are part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that non-departmental public bodies continue to have regular independent challenge.

The DNSC’s remit includes all safety aspects relating to the naval nuclear propulsion plant and nuclear weapon systems, including related issues of design, development, manufacture, storage, in-service support, handling, transport, operational training, support facilities and capabilities, and the safety of workers and the public.

The NRAC is responsible for reviewing the atomic weapons establishment (AWE) nuclear warhead research and capability maintenance programme, including the requirement for above ground experiments and other facilities and techniques necessary to develop and maintain a UK nuclear weapon capability in the absence of underground testing; NRAC also examines AWE’s programme of international collaboration.

The reviews will examine whether there is a continuing need for DNSC and NRAC’s function, their form and whether they should continue to exist at arm’s length from Government. Should the reviews conclude there is a continuing need for the bodies, they will go on to examine whether the bodies, control and governance arrangements continue to meet the recognised principles of good corporate governance.

I will inform both Houses of the outcome of the reviews when they are completed.