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Defence Nuclear Safety Committee and Nuclear Research Advisory Council (Triennial Reviews)

Volume 586: debated on Monday 13 October 2014

I am today announcing the publication by the Ministry of Defence of the findings 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 (NDPBs) continue to have regular independent challenge and to improving the accountability and effectiveness of public bodies.

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 concluded that DNSC and NRAC not only provide a valuable source of independent advice, but that they also undertake a vital challenge function on behalf of the Government, and that both bodies should be retained as advisory NDPBs. The reviews also noted that the terms of reference and governance arrangements for both bodies are entirely appropriate.

The reviews also looked closely at the option of merging the two bodies, but concluded that, although their scope is complementary, they do examine different aspects of the deterrent programme, and that there would be no advantage in merging the two.

The review was carried out with the participation of a wide range of internal and external stakeholders and I am grateful to all those who contributed to these triennial reviews.

The Triennial Review Report: Nuclear Research Advisory Council (NRAC) and Defence Nuclear Safety Committee (DNSC) has been placed in the Library of the House. It is also available at: