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Nuclear Power

Volume 649: debated on Tuesday 20 November 2018

The Government believe that nuclear power has an important role to play in our energy system as part of a diverse range of low-carbon technologies. Our intent is clearly visible in the form of Hinkley Point C—the first new nuclear power station to be built in this country in a generation—as well as in the launch in June of our landmark nuclear sector deal at Trawsfynydd.

I thank the Secretary of State for his response. It is reassuring to me to understand this Government’s commitment to new nuclear, but with Toshiba’s recent decision to wind down NuGen, can he assure me that he will meet any developer who is interested in building their reactors at Moorside in Copeland?

I can indeed give that assurance to my hon. Friend, who is a great champion of one of the bastions of skills and innovation in the nuclear sector in this country. The circumstances behind Toshiba’s wind-down of NuGen are well known—it was because of the move to chapter 11 bankruptcy of its subsidiary—but that site is now available for other investors.

The future of nuclear power is not just about building reactors; it is about having people with the skills to work in those reactors as well. As we have a skills gap in defence nuclear, can the Secretary of State set out what actions the Government are taking to support the growth of nuclear skills in both defence nuclear and civil nuclear?

I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman takes such an interest in this. He will know that the nuclear sector deal provides for training, new institutions and new apprenticeship and scholarship opportunities for nuclear engineers in both the civil and defence sectors. This is all part of an agreement across the industry with Government to ensure that the next generation of nuclear power is supported by new-generation nuclear engineers and technicians.

The Government were very keen to emphasise that the Toshiba-Korea Electric Power Corporation negotiations over NuGen were a commercial matter. If the Chinese nuclear company CGN—China General Nuclear Power Group—agrees to develop Moorside on a commercial basis, with no Government subsidy, would the Government support it?

As my hon. Friend knows, in each case the proposals are developer-led, so it is for proponents to come forward. As I have said to our hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Trudy Harrison), I am very happy, with my officials, to meet anyone who has an interest in doing so.

The demise of Moorside and NuGen underlines how the Government’s nuclear policy hinges on overseas investment, particularly from energy companies that are owned wholly by other states. Is the Secretary of State having a really good look at the other planned nuclear power stations to make sure that there will be enough nuclear power to maintain energy integrity in the UK in future?

The answer is yes. I am grateful to the hon. Lady’s Public Accounts Committee for examining the model for financing nuclear new build. With her colleagues, she has made some helpful suggestions, which she knows we are committed to taking forward to see whether they can be viable.