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Volume 637: debated on Tuesday 13 March 2018

14. What assessment he has made of the effect of the UK leaving Euratom on (a) the economy and (b) scientific research in Oxfordshire. (904337)

I know that the hon. Lady has a keen interest in this subject, and we have met to discuss the impact on many of her constituents working at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy. As she knows, our assessment was detailed in the “Nuclear Sector Report” at the end of December last year, and in an impact assessment for the Nuclear Safeguards Bill, which was first published on 18 December. We continue to engage with stakeholders, and the hon. Lady knows that my door is always open if she wishes to discuss this matter further.

I thank the Minister for his response. We know that the Government are seeking a close association with Euratom, but with just 109 days until Austria takes up the presidency, Oxfordshire needs clarity now to plan for the future. Can the Government categorically say they are seeking an associate agreement, and can they guarantee that they will kick-start the process before 1 July?

I can confirm that, as the hon. Lady knows, we are seeking the closest possible association with Euratom. We are working very hard to achieve that objective.

Does the Minister agree that at the recent meeting of the all-party group on nuclear fusion, which I chair, the Government’s attitude to expanding their collaboration in nuclear activity was greatly evident?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. He also has a keen constituency interest in this, and I am very keen to represent the interests of his constituents.