Hinkley Point C Statement BBC Parliament on BBC Two

Hinkley Point C Statement

Business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Greg Clark MP makes a statement on Hinkley Point C, followed by highlights of Transport Questions, from Thursday 15 September.

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Order, the Secretary of State for business, energy and industrial


strategy. Secretary Dr Greg Clark. Thank you very much and with your


permission, I would like to make a point on the Hinkley point. As the


House knows on July 28, following the decision by the board of EDF to


approve the investment decision of the ?18 billion project to build a


new plant in Somerset, I announce that the Government carefully


consider all elements of the project before entering into a contract with


EDF and that we would make a decision by the early autumn. This


decision is made with two important changes. On the Hinkley project, the


Government can prevent the sale of EDF's controlling stake prior to the


construction. The agreement will be confirmed in an exchange of


Government and the EDF. Existing legal powers and the new local


framework will mean that the Government is able to intervene once


it is in operation. Further more, and even more importantly, we'll


reform the wider legal framework for future foreign investment in British


critical infrastructure. The reforms will have three elements. Firstly,


after Hinkley, the British Government will take a specials


share in all future nuclear new build projects. This will ensure


that significant stakes cannot be sold without the Government's


knowledge or concept. This will allow the Government to advise or


direct the ONR to take action to protect national security as a


result of change. Thirdly, the Government will


significantly reform the ownership and control of critical


infrastructure to ensure that the full implications of foreign


ownership are scrutinised for the purposes of national security. This


will include a review of the public interest regime and theEnter prize


Act 2002 and the introduction of cross-cutting national security


requirement for the continuing Government approval of the ownership


and control of critical infrastructure. These changes will


bring Britain's policy framework for the owner and control of critical


infrastructure into line with other major economies. This will allow the


UK Government to take a fair and consistent approach to the national


security implications of critical infrastructure, including nuclear


energy in the future. These changes mean that while the UK will remain


one of the most open economies in the world, the public can be


confident that foreign direct investment works always in the


country's best interests. This ?18 billion investment in Britain


provides an upgrade in our supply of clean energy. When it begins


producing electricity in the middle of the next deckate, it will provide


7% of the UK's electricity needs giving secure energy to six million


homes for 60 years. Furthermore, it must be stressed that the contracts


negotiated shows all of the construction risk on I vestors


alone. Consumers will not pay a penny unless and until the plants


generate electricity. The proposed strike price of ?92.50 reducing to


?9.50 constains insurance against any crossover rollover of


construction and future high gas prices which have been volatile. It


compares broadly with the costs of other clean energy, whether offshore


winds with the additional costs of intermittency, or gas with carbon


capture and storage for example. # Hinkley has it long overdue in the


UK creating 26,000 jobs and apprenticeships providing a huge


boost to the economy, not only in the south-west but in every part of


the country through the supply chain of firms big and small that will


benefit. EDF have confirmed that UK businesses are set to secure 64% of


the value of the ?18 billion investment being made - the biggest


single capital investment in the UK today. But as the first of a wave of


new nuclear plants, we expect the experience of rebooting the nuclear


industry to mean that this should... The cost should reduce for future


new nuclear power stations of which another five are proposed. Mr


Speaker, in any consideration of nuclear power, safety will always be


the number one consideration. The construction of Hinkley Point C will


be under the close scrutiny of the Office of Nuclear Regulation, which


is independent of the industry and of ministers. The Office of Nuclear


Regulation has the power necessary to halt construction or have


amendments to any part of the plant if at any point it is not completely


satisfied with the safety of any part of the reactor and its


associated construction. Unlike in the past, the long-term


decommissioning costs for the plant will be provided br explicitly as


part of the funded decommissioning programme at a level that has been


assessed independently as prudent and conservative. Mr Speaker, any


investment at that provides significant electricity supplies for


the next two generations of British people and businesses requires and


deserves serious consideration. It was right that the new Government


should have taken the time to consider all components of the


project. Having reviewed the project, they said that the other


changes announced today will, for the first tie, remedy the weaknesses


of the previous regime for critical infrastructure. It's important that


the right balance between welcoming foreign investment and ensuring it


serves the national interest is made. That is exactly what the


changes will achieve. The investment will secure 7% of the UK's


electricity needs for 60 years, helping replace existing nuclear


capacity, which is due to be decommissioned in the decade ahead.


The electricity generated will be reliable and low carbon and so,


completely compatibility with our climate change objectations and


Hinkley Point C will inaugurate a new era of UK nuclear power with


UK-based businesses benefitting from almost two thirds of the ?18 billion


value of the project with 26,000 jobs and apprenticeships created.


All of the jobs are good for Britain. It's now right that we


support the major upgrade - the first of many to the infrastructure


on which our future depends and I commend this statement to the house.


I think the Secretary of State for the 13 minutes notice of the


statement. Let me be clear. This is an important project that must now


go forward without any further interruption or delay. The Secretary


of State is aware that by intervening on July 28 after EDF's


final investment decision, the Government put at risk 25,000


well-paid jobs, well-qualified jobs. He know that is the delay not only


risks the ?18 billion of investment into UK jobs and infrastructure, but


also rocked confidence in investors who now believe that the Prime


Minister doesn't understand the significance that companies attach


to the taking of a final investment decision. He's aware of the Ernst


and Young index which shows that Britain has fallen from fourth to


13th in terms of attractiveness for low carbon. This has unsettled


investors further. I now have a number of specific questions. In the


meeting with the President, did the Prime Minister attempt in any allow


to isolate the building of the reactor from the deal at Hinkley C?


Two - if she did? What was the Chinese response? 4 - every member


of this house will agree that the Government has primary


responsibility to safeguard our national security. But neither the


Secretary of State nor the Prime Minister have ever been clear about


what they consider to be the security risks associated with the


current deal. So will he set these out now so that the House and the


public can take a decision as to whether the modifications he is


proposing adequately reflect the risks he believes exist? 4 -


specifically, can he set out specifically whether the Government


was concerned with the intellectual property of the EPR reactor? And if


so, is he aware that two such reactors are already under


construction in China. And 5 - were they concerned with the potential


for a cyber attack? And if so, did he not consider that given the


importance of the Chinese as having the kite standard in order to market


the technology around the world, that would undermine the reason why


the Chinese wanted to be involved in the project in the first place. Six


- the Secretary of State wishes to dodge the questions. If he does by


pleating that he doesn't wish to discuss security matters. Then how


can he assure the House and the public that the' mendments he is


proposing are sufficient to meet the risks and challenges that justified


a near fatal delay of the project. But, Mr Speaker, we must address the


sole argument that the Government has actually presented as well as


those that they have not. They have claimed that they have introduced


significant new safeguards into the package, in particular that they


will be able to require notification from owners or operators of nuclear


sites of any change of ownership or part ownership. But Mr Speaker, the


Secretary of State already has such powers. Will the Secretary of State


acknowledge that he concurrently -- can currently prevent the sale of


any of the UK's critical infrastructure, and if this is the


case, can he explain why he believes that the proposed new powers add


significantly to the public interest regulations in the Enterprise Act


2002, or are they merely window-dressing to make it appear


that the Government's intervention has achieved something, no matter


how much appearances may indicate to the contrary. Is he aware of the


House of Commons briefing paper entitled Merges in the Public


Interest Test. This particularly highlights that energy security is


already covered by national security and the Government already has the


powers to prevent such a sale. Is he also aware that in the House of


Lords during the passage of the Energy Act, my nobel friend Lord


Putnam introduced an amendment to introduce energy security as a


public interest. Government lawyers then advised that in cases where a


merger posed a genuine and serious threat to what is described as


societal needs such as energy supply, this would be covered by the


existing provision in the 2002 Act regarding national security. So


ministers would be empowered to directly intervene? Mr Speak erk,


the Government created a crisis -- Mr Speaker, the Government created a


crisis and had a dispute with one of the key future trading partners and


in the end, all they've done is pretend to give themselves powers


which they already possessed. This statement is window-dressing. It is


face-saving by a Government who talked big and eventually backed


down with a whimper. The Secretary of State should explain whether he


has reviewed changes to technology that have occurred in the past ten


years and in particular Smart Grid's battery storage technology and


energy efficiency levels to manage the electricity supply in such a way


as to reduce the base for low base power that Hinkley supplies. Order,


I think that the honourable gentlemen has concluded. His time is


up. Secretary of State. Thank you very much. The Honourable Gentleman


raised a number of points, a large number of points and I will address


them. I think that we share the view that


we should have the views and be a world leader in the important energy


industries. But I don't think that he will think of me as churlish that


it was the absence of a long-term energy policy, during the 13 years


in which Labour were in Government in which our nuclear fleet was known


to be coming to the end of its life and no decision was taken to replace


them. It's fallen to this Government to make the long-term decisions for


the security of this country. And instead of the approach of making


like the ostrich and hoping that the problem would go away, this


Government is looking to the future, providing the upgrade to the


long-term energy security that we need. In terms of his position


today, I'm afraid, Mr Speaker, I'm as confused by it as ever. His


position is no more credible. He seemed to be criticising the Prime


Minister and the Government for taking the serious decision to


review the components of a very important deal. That seems to be the


input of the intervention. However, he said that this had damaged our


confidence. But when the announcement was made on July 29th,


the Honourable Gentleman told the BBC, "I'm hoping that what they, the


Government will do, is take 2-3 months to seriously review it".


Sohail much for the -- so, so much for the suggestion that we shouldn't


have had the review in the first place. However, I'm not sure what


the purpose of the two or three months would be, because the very


same day, as I have it, he said that he'd already made his mind up. He


said, "I wouldn't scrap the proposal, the project, because I


welcome the jobs and I welcome the 7% of electricity that this will


produce for the nation." So this is the honourable member that was


urging the Government to take longer to review something. The conclusions


of which he'd already had in the first place. Mr Speaker, the


contrast between the seriousness and the forensic approach that this


Government has taken is, I think, marked. The points that the


Honourable Gentleman raises, I will address. In terms of the powers on


to the enterprise act, they're subject to thresholds, takeover


thresholds and what we are doing is ensuring that any change in


ownership or control of whatever size will be covered by a national


security test and that seems to be sensible. On the particular point of


Hinkley, of course, it was the case until we had negotiated or proposed


the changes to the this, that EDF was at liberty to sell its stake,


its majority stake in this very important investment without even


needing to have the permission of the UK Government. So it seems to


me, no more sensible and prudent to have agreed perfectly and straight


forwardly with EDF that the consent of the British Government be


required. And I'm surprised that the Honourable Gentleman, who I would


have thought would take a prudent view of matters of national


security, should suggest - and again it's not clear what he is suggesting


- that we should not make these changes. When we come to debate


these things in future, he will set out whether he opposes the measures


that we're taking to safeguard and to entrench the same kind of regime


for national security that we have in this country that other advanced


economies enjoy. In terms of future investments, I was very clear in my


statement that this is the first of what we hope will be a series of new


nuclear investments. It is very important that we replace the 20% of


power generated by nuclear power with another contribution to a


diverse energy mix from nuclear, and in so doing, we are creating new


jobs, new opportunities and major advances for the UK economy. Mr John


Redwood. I welcome proposals to make it more difficult for foreign


interests, especially national interests and governments to buy our


national infrastructure. And does the Secretary of State agree with me


that future power stations would be much better financed by private


sector British investors or even on occasion by Treasury investment,


rather than foreign investors who will now be able to take enormous


sums of money out of our country for 25 years or more while the project


is up and running, which is a cost on the balance of payment that is we


really don't want. I would say to my Rt Honerable friend that I look at


the investment into the UK economy. I hope as we develop our nuclear


programme and we develop the skills and the supply chain that there


will, indeed, be British companies that will invest in the various


parts of the supply chain of new nuclear. In fact, we expect that to


happen. 64% of the value going to UK companies. But I think that it is an


important part of the deal that the consumer and the taxpayer will not


pay a penny for the construction costs, unless and until it generates


electricity. Now, knowing the record that there has been of cost overruns


and delays to new nuclear power stations, I think it is prudent that


that risk is held by the investors rather than by the taxpayer in this


case. I'd like to thank the Secretary of State for the advance


copy of the statement and for the courtesy call this morning to


explain the Government's decision and welcome the fact that we are


having this statement before the recess to allow the opportunity for


questions. I do think that it is unfortunate, though, that the


Government has decided to take the gamble with Hinkley. There are


improvements that the Secretary of State has outlined but the deal


still remains a rotten one. The ?30 billion that it will cost the


billpayer. He may say that the risk is with EDF and construction


companies but 25% over budget and four years late and it will still


make a profit for Berkley. That will be at the expense of the billpayer.


If we don't pay a penny until it is built, or even if it is built late,


what fills the gap? We know that coal is due to come off the system


by 2025 when this is meant to be coming on. If the gap is there, if


the gap is five years. What will fill it? And at what cost? So I


think that the cost of this project, possibly the biggest single object,


most expensive object in history is too much. But what really concerns


me is the opportunity cost that we have here because we can't spend the


money twice. We can't have the engineers working on things twice


and we can't have the grid producing the electricity to be consumed


twice. And we could spend this money better. We could use our expertise


better and we could use it to develop an industrial strategy which


this Government has said is part of its new strategy. But that


industrial strategy will mean foreign ownership. It will mean


foreign investment and it will mean foreign profit and indeed, we --


instead, we could be developing the home-grown industries that would see


our country flourish, investing in clean carbon capture, investing in


offshore wind, investing in storage, investing in solar. These things


would all be better spent. So can I ask the Secretary of State to invest


in the energy of the future, not the energy of the past? Mr Speaker, I'm


grateful for the courteous words that the Honourable Gentleman


started the words with and he started talking about investing in


the future energy sources rather than the past. I would point out to


him that given the SNP's record of energy forecasts in recent months


that perhaps they might keep their crystal balls to themselves, if I


can put it that way! And again, in terms of understanding the


injunction that the Honourable Gentleman gives to invested review.


It is very important and he will know that Scotland has a very high


proportion of renewable investment. But I'm confused by his party's


position on this. Because the SNP, as I understand it, has stood on a


platform of nuclear-free Scotland, but it seems to be with their


fingers crossed behind their back because they're happy to rely on the


two nuclear power stations funk functioning in Scotland which are


producing low carbon electricity. The former lead of the party wrote


to EDF to say that he was happy to extend the life of the power plants


well into the 2020s. So he wants to condemn his cake and eat it and then


have another slice, it seems to be. In terms of the point that he made


about overseas velt, we do want to attract over -- investment, we do


want to attract overseas investment, a vote of confidence in this country


that investors are working with us to have this major upgrade of our


infrastructure. We welcome that across different sectors and he's


wrong that this is at the expense of opportunities that we have in this


country. Because, of course, one of the features of this deal is that it


doesn't burden the public balance sheet and the Chancellor and the


chief secretary have been wise to make sure that the UK balance cheat


remains able to support other investments because this is provided


through that. Mr Speaker, thank you. With your indulgence, please could I


thank the Secretary of State and my Rt Honerable friend for making


exactly the right decision in how important it is that the Bridgewater


and West Somerset constituency. I ib invite the Secretary of State to


visit the the Hinkley power station and look at what we need to build at


Cannington. But future to the letter that I sent him, that we need the


last bit of funding to ensure that the infrastructure to deal with this


in the local area is up to scratch so we can deliver the power plant on


time and on budget to the benefit of the United Kingdom. Can I return the


compliment and thank my honourable friend for his level-headedness and


patience while the review has been conducted. It is an extremely


important investment for his area. I am looking forward greatly to coming


with him to visit Hinkley and he's absolutely right that investments


such as the college that will provide these skills that will going


to charge ahead the whole of the south-west and the rest of the


country, the supply chain extends to all parts of the United Kingdom and


my honourable friend for Suffolk Coastal will also be a beneficiary


of this. It does require an upgrade to the local infrastructure and I


will respond to the LEP on that. I had a very positive conversation


with the Somerset Chamber of Commerce earlier this week who were


very clear that the benefits of what was then the proposal would be


considerable and game-changing for Somerset. He will be aware that


Britain's two most respected economy and finance publications, the


Financial Times and the Economist have both out very stronkly against


Hinkley on value for money and on energy grants with the Economist


describing it just last month as a white elephant before it is even


built. Can he confirm that nothing he has announced today is an


improvement on the dreadful deal negotiated by the former chancellor


on guaranteed price? Absolutely dreadful. Well, I don't agree with


the Honourable Gentleman. I think that it is a good deal and it


secures 7% of our energy into the future and it incumbent on him and


his honourable friends to say that given that the 20% of nuclear


capacity will be decommissioned over the next ten years, how are they


going to replace it if they're not going to be forward looking and make


positive decisions like we've made. Can I welcome my Rt Honerable


friend's statement which is good news for the sector and my


constituents in Brad well-on Sea. Can I assure him that my


constituents welcome the prospect of Chinese investment with the long


history of nuclear investment. Does he agree that any nuclear power


station will be staffed by British employees and that the cyber


security evaluation centre, which he says is technology provided by


Huawei, provides a good precedent for providing security concerns? My


Rt Honerable friend is right. And it seems that it is important to


welcome overseas investment but we should have a regime of powers that


other economies benefit from. That is something that mature countries


would expect to have and that is what we're going to have as a result


of the changes. Mr Speaker, having pressed the pause button, why is the


Secretary of State now pressing the fast forward button? Doesn't he


recognise that this project does not represent value for money, as the FT


have pointed out? Does he accept that the cost to consumers has gone


from ?6 billion to ?30 billion and that now, his Government are willing


to put in public subsidies - something that they said under


Coalition would not happen. And of course, this is happening at a time


when the cost of renewables is plummeting? No, Mr Speaker. I've


said that the construction costs are entirely financed by the private


investors in this site. And again, I think that it is important that we


do have a long-term, consistent approach to energy policy. And I


think that in so far as this could be cross-party, I think that that is


beneficial. It is especially ironic that two Liberal Democrat energy


secretaries were closely involved in the negotiation of the deal. We have


a different view already. Mr Speaker. Could my Rt Honerable


friend confirm that at the end of its life, this new power plant will


have generated the most expensive energy in the history of energy


generation. Can you tell us if you agree with the National Audit Office


that in its lifetime, consumers will have ended up subsidising EDF to the


tune of $30 billion. And what's going to happen to the mountains of


nuclear waste that this will generate? What I will say is that


the securing for 60 years, a reliable source of energy is a good


investment in the future of stability for our energy supplies


and that's worth having. And it is impossible to know what the


alternatives would be during that time and we have seen very volatile


energy prices. Sir Winston Churchill's policy on energy was


that diversity and diversity alone was the key. I think that that is


the right approach. When it comes to decommissioning, as I said in my


earlier answer, this is provided for explicitly in the contract. EDF say


that this will mean 1,500 jobs at offices in Bristol as well as the


jobs associated with the plant and I'm meeting with them on Monday and


going down to Hinkley to discuss that. But these are incredibly


expensive jobs given what we've already heard about the deal. Does


the minister really think that this is value for money? And would it


perhaps not be better spent investing in the renewable sector,


which would mean jobs in the south-west. I do and I'm slightly


confused to the demeanour of the party opposite who, it seemed in the


rather confusing reply of the shadow minister, to be welcoming the


project going ahead. Certainly, the trade unions in the south-west and


across the country, which I would imagine the honourable lady speaks


to, are very positive. The National secretary for energy for the GMB


said "giving a thumbs up to Hinkley is vital to fill the growing hole in


the UK's energy needs." Frances O'Grady welcomed it. I think when


she goes back to her constituency, she might talk to some of the unions


who are delighted on behalf of their members. Thank you Mr Speaker. Can I


welcome this announcement that it brings ?465 million worth of


contracts to south-west businesses and a ?4 billion boost to the


south-west economy. But would be the minister agree, or the Secretary of


State agree that we've got to look at the decisions in the context and


the fact that we have a fleet of nuclear power stations from the '60s


and '70s that are going to close over the next ten years and these


decisions aren't about either or, it's that we need both? That is


exactly why long-term planning is essential. We have around 20%, 19%


of our electricity generated by nuclear power. If we don't renew it,


it will fall to 2% by 2030. It seems to be the prudent thing to do to get


on with replacing it. Thank you Mr Speaker. I welcome the decision


that's been taken. It's been a long time coming and it's a shame that


it's been delayed over and over again. My constituency has more that


will be built hopefully in the not too distant future, which is


incredibly important for economic development. Can the Secretary of


State assure me that the future nuclear programme will not be beset


by delay after delay after delay. One of the reasons why we're so keen


to inaugurate this new programme of nuclear engineering in this country


is to be able to replace the nuclear power stations that have been


decommissioned but to build up in communities like hers, the skills


that can make a valuable contribution to local life and to


our national economy. Mr Speaker. I welcome the building of the new


fleet or the starting of the new fleet of nuclear power stations. The


opportunity that it provides for British manufacturing. Will my Rt


Honerable friend do all he can to ensure that in the deals, we'll buy


the best of British? Indeed, I've agreed with EDF in the last 24 hours


that they have made a commitment to me that 64%, by value, of the


contept, will be spent with UK companies, which -- content, will be


spent with UK companies which shows the tangible benefit to the economy.


The minister said that the Hinkley decision won't burden the national


balance sheet, so could he clarify the status of the offer made by the


previous chancellor of the exchequer to give EDF a Treasury guarantee of


?2 billion to supplement the company's liquidity and something


that they say puts the taxpayer at risk. I'm delighted to answer that.


EDF have confirmed that they will not be taking up that ?2 billion


guarantee so that the taxpayer is fully insulated from the cost of


construction. I welcome the Secretary of State's statement


today. Can he confirm that he will work with businesses and the Chamber


of Commerce in the UK to build on this nuclear partnership and attract


new business into the UK? I will, indeed. We do want to have good


investment opportunities for countries around the world and China


right across the United Kingdom has been an important and valued source


of investment and it's important that we build on it. In light of the


announcement today, is the Secretary of State now admitting that when the


Government entered into the original contract, they failed to protect


national security and critical infrastructure? You know what I


would say to the honourable lady. Despite the injunction of her


colleague on the front bench is that taking the opportunity seriously to


review before signatures were given has allowed us to improve the


security of the arrangements. That seems to be a wholly good thing that


I hope she'd welcome. Mr Speaker, the Secretary of State is right to


point out that nuclear energy provides a valuable part of UK


energy security. But that's only provided we have the fuel in order


to put in them. The fuel for reactors in the UK are made in the


constituency and filed. Can the Secretary of State assure me that


all efforts will be made to ensure that nuclear fuel, four new reactors


for UK will be made in the UK where at all possible? Indeed and I had


he's be happy to visit my honourable friend's constituency to see for


myself the production there. I very much welcome the review but I've got


to say that I'm astonished that a review of the strike price was not


part of it. A strike price that will close to ?120 per mega-Watt hour and


rising with inflation. Can I ask the Secretary of State, was there


serious examination of the cost for bill payers as par of the review? Of


course, we looked at every component part and for a new nuclear power


stationing the first in a generation for this country, to have it


constructed at no risk to the taxpayer or the bill pair, I think


is a considerable achievement and represents good value. Mr Speaker,


this is good news for my constituency as it means now that


we're going to have a third nuclear power station built. Good news


travels fast. I've already had the local radio station desperate to get


an interview and also to congratulate the Secretary of State


for all of the hard work of what he's done for my constituents. Would


he agree with me that we could meet together very shortly to have a


meeting of how to speed up the five proposed reactors in the future? And


also would he help me as quickly as he possibly can? I would be very


happy as always to meet my honourable friend and I consider the


invitation accepted. Mr Speaker, we have an excellent Secretary of State


and he's come to this House and made a very full statement. But... He


gave details of the statement quite rightly to the Opposition spokesman


and the SNP statement, but he also gave it in advance to the BBC. I


read all of this on the BBC website. That's not how this House works. And


it may be that -- precious spin doctors are still prevalent in


departments. That has got to stop. The House has to be informed first


and would the Secretary agree, that is the convention of this house? I


understand the point that my Rt Honerable friend makes and I hope


that he will concede that I've come to the house at the earliest


opportunity. Decisions like this have consequences for financial


markets and it is the norm to, at the opening of the markets to


disclose them. He can be absolutely assured and I'm sure that he will


accept this, that my sense of responsibility to this House is very


clear m my mind, but we need to have an orderly conduct of business when


it comes to important implications of financial markets too. Thank you


very much Mr Speaker. I welcome the announcement on golden shares and I


also very much support what my Rt Honerable friend said about future


British investment perhaps through a UK investment bank and UK pension


funds as being very important. But can he confirm to me where the


currency risks, particularly on the subsidy payments in the future out


of the C if. Ds will arise? The contract is expressed in pounds. And


the construction risk is entirely with the investors. I very much


welcome the long-term investment in the low carbon energy and the 25,000


jobs this will create. Could the skeact confirm EDF's commitment --


Secretary of State confirm EDF's commitment to jobs for smaller


businesses such as James Fisher Nuclear in my constituency? I'm sure


that that particular firm will attest to that. Certainly the


Somerset Chamber of Commerce were very clear that the orders that had


been placed already during the period of preparation of the site


has been very beneficial to that county. Thank you Mr Speaker. This


is obviously a massive infrastructure project and I welcome


that the Secretary of State has had to say around the opportunities for


supply chains and I hope that that will extent to the steel industry


and I strongly urge the Secretary of State to get out there and make the


case that all of the steel used in this should be British. And can I


put in a particular plug for Corby Tubes. Which are of excellent


quality, I know. I think that the commitment that EDF have given me


that 64% by value of the work will be with UK firms will be of


particular benefit to firms such as the one he mentioned and to the


supply chain right across the country. I'm grateful to the


Secretary of State. Order. Minister of State for the Department


of Transport. Mr Speaker, the assessment of the impact of the for


transport investment and internationally respected analytical


framework for schemes which includes the impact on jobs, growth and


regeneration. May I welcome the minister to this place and say how


pleased I am that the department has the benefit of his experience and


wisdom of my Lincolnshire colleague, and I'm not just saying that because


I'd like his help with the road, please!


(LAUGHTER) Every day this summer, my


constituents, tourists and I had to wait up to 45 minutes to pass


through the traffic lights at Horncastle where the very busy A 153


crosses the busiest A 158. The single carriageway roads cannot cope


with the volume of traffic between the city of Lincoln, the market town


of Louth and the east coast. Will my Rt Honerable friend meet me and


local councillors to discuss what can be done to get rid of the bottle


next, to help local residents and businesses and to encourage even


more tourism to the wonderful Lincolnshire coast. The honourable


lady is a an articulate campaigner in the interests. She will know that


all counties of our great country are dear to my heart, but none more


so than my own county of Lincolnshire. I am familiar with


this part of the county. I do understand the pressures on the


roads there. I will be more than happy to meet her councillors to


discuss it. Indeed I will go further, Mr Speaker, because that's


alone not good enough. I want to hold a round table meeting with all


concerned parties in my department and ask my officials to look at


specifically what she said. And if I might say so, her complimentary


words were most welcome. She could have added, for future reference,


dexterity and determination in the light of recent events, duribility!


Will the minister give a firm commitment for high speed 2 to go


ahead with a very clear timetable? And will he accelerate work in


Trans-Pennine links from Liverpool to Hull so that the UK's economy can


be supported and this can assist in the rebalancing of the economy


across the whole of the UK? The honourable lady and I, Mr Speaker,


were together earlier this week at a meeting discussing a whole range of


issues and the takes of the IPPR Report, including the significance


of the Trans-Pennine connection. It is very important that we see all of


our transport needs, not just in terms of north/south links but also


in terms of east/west links and I know a number of members who


represent constituencies on the east of England like I do and the west of


England like she does to recognise that. I'm more than happy to look at


the options. She will know that we are considering a range of ways of


making those plings real. She in her role as the select committee


chairman will want to test me further on the subjects when no


doubt she calls me beforehand. Will my Rt Honerable friend have


particular regard to the reports from the Great Eastern and West


Anglian task forces chaired by two of his colleagues about the


contribution they can make to the future prosperity of the Anglian


region so that there can be a reliable rail structure on which the


splendid new trains that are to come can run more efficiently? Mr


Speaker, as you know, I have a deep regard for the past and my


relatively recent past reminds me that the reviewed tested me on these


matters in my last incarnation in the Department of Transport when he


made similar arguments about the importance of the links. I do look


forward to receiving and studying that report and when I do so, I'm


more than happy to have further discussions with him on the


contents. But no-one can argue that he hasn't made his case powerfully.


I hope that the Rt Honerable member realises how lucky he is to have


further conversations with the Minister for Transport! Not all of


us have that. Infrastructure is important. Which is why that the


highways has announced the closure of the A 34. This stretch of road is


the main access route to the Freeport shopping centre,


much-needed works are required, but it's due to start next week until


December 23rd at a cris mass shopping centre. Will the minister


endeavour to work with me to work with the Highways Agency to see the


error of their ways? If I might make a general point rather than


specific. The first day I was in this particular job, I met the


Highways England, as they're now called and was very clear that one


of the things that they have to do better is to give proper notice of


plans, which they have and to communicate with all interested


parties, including members of this house, and to be very clear about


the length of time, particularly with decisions they make and their


implications will take. And obviously the case in point is


there. On the specific, I wasn't aware of it, but this is what I'm


going to do. I will meet the Highways England today, this day,


and I will raise that particular issue and by tomorrow, I will speak


to the honourable lady about it. My Rt Honerable friend is decks


terrous, determined and extremely distinguished. The A 34 is one of


the most important roads for the company taking freight from the


south coast to the Midlands. It is becoming increasingly dangerous. Two


recent crashes caused fatalities. Will my Rt Honerable friend, now


that I've called him determined, hold a round table with me and other


Oxfordshire MPs to discuss the safety and free running of the A 34?


My table grows ever more round! (LAUGHTER)


I'm none the worse for it by the way. But I am familiar with that


road. He will know that it is a scheme which has had a number of


suggestions made for its improvement. It is important that


the house understands that there are always demands on different roads


and different ideas about how those demands be met. And the process that


we're enjoidge gauged is that we -- engaged in is to study it carefully


and the kind of consultation that the Honourable Gentleman recommends


and I'm happy to talk to him. The Government talks about rebalancing


the economy and it's interesting that the minister just said about


improving east/west links in the north. Can I make one suggestion


that I hope he'll take forward. Can we extend the M 65 all the way to


Scotch Corner. This needs to be done. There are millions of people


in the north-east who need connecting directly to the


north-west in the Manchester region and this would be vital to rebalance


the economy. Again, the Honourable Gentleman is known for making that


case and the case of the links that would be sufficient to give further


boosts to his economy. There have been scurrilous suggestions that the


northern powerhouse has falted in some way. Let me tell you this. The


northern powerhouse is not only alive and well, it will thrive under


this Government and that will include the kind of infrastructural


investments necessary, not only to provide transport links, but to


boost economic growth, build skills and spread opportunity. That's the


kind of Government we are, Mr Speaker. A Government with big ideas


that puts them to action for the benefit of our people. Number two Mr


Speaker. Thank you, following the this, we have remobilised the team


and working towards the final design for the enhancement programme as set


out in the review last year. Work to increased capacity on the route has


already started. Mr Speaker, the East Midlands regions have the


lowest level of rail spending per head in every one of the last six


years. We've discovered that the pausing and unpausing of the elect


riification of the Midlan Mainline wasted almost ?40 million and cost


countless jobs in the supply chain. Now there are rumours that it could


be cans EDF have confirmeded again. Can he take this opportunity to


confirm that the line will be electrified all the way to


Nottingham and Sheffield by 2023? And will he commit to real action to


ensure there will are no further delays or broken promises? I


congratulate you on carrying that out when she might return to the


front bench to continue in that role. She makes an important point


about the importance of the east line to the East Midlands. In my


view, the supply chain in the East Midlands doesn't just depend on the


one project, but the investment of 660 trains for East Anglia is just


one way of safeguarding that particular supply chain. But the


wider points that she makes about the work on this line is that it is


worth bearing in mind that we've already completed ten kilometres of


new line in this stretch. Nearly nine kilometres of the new existing


line improved as well. Over 3,000 new piles put into place. Ten


kilometres of new earth works. Ridges, a new via duct, so the work


is ongoing on this particular line and we will be looking to improve


capacity as well through the franchising arrangements. I'm


delighted to hear that the Northern Powerhouse is alive and well and


would the minister agree with me that if it is to have real effect,


then it is important that the investment in connectivity, not just


between cities but also between the towns of the north, is made? And I'd


like to thank ministers for the initial investment in the by pass,


but would ministers also look at the business case for the reopening of


the railway station? As someone born and bred in a town very close to one


of the salt town, I am very well in my 40 years of the connectivity at


the heart of Cheshire. I know the road good and the planned station


and I look forward with working with you on the business case. Before the


pause, the elect riification was due to be completed by 2020. That is


also the date when all trains have to comply with the new disability


lem slayings. What is the Government now going to do between 2020 and


2023 when the old trains on the line with the slam doors don't comply


with the legislation? Is he going to abandon the legislation or put in a


temporary rolling stop? We take accessibility issues on the railways


extremely seriously and the gentleman is right to point out the


commitments that we made. We're currently examining how best to


increase capacity at the line, particularly at peak hours when


there is a risk of standing on some stretches so we're looking carefully


at how to deliver on this. In the plans to re-enter guise the


electriification, can the pair say that the stations in my


constituencies, haven't been missed out of the original one? I am not


familiar with that particular branch line at this stage but I will


certainly look into it and discuss it with my officials and write to


the Honourable Gentleman. The faster line speeds that electriification


will bring, will the minister look to increase the half hourly service


to Keterring, that was reduced to half hourly? There are always a


number of timetabling and scheduling opportunities that come about


through any reprofiling of the line and the changes of the works in it


so we will, of course, feed that into all of the consultations that


occur as to how best to make shoes use of the reprofiling of the line.


Mr Speaker, Mr Speaker, the safety of the public is the top priority


and we're looking to understand the safe use of drones and we're


continuing to adapt and strengthen the use of regulations of the use of


drones, the current regulatory framework and the clear rules on


safety and strong penalties for misuse with the commercial


commission system which ensures responsible use of the emerging


technology. That thank you Mr Speaker. I asked him what assessment


he made of the effect on aviation safety. How real is the risk? I know


that he knows it was discussed at the trade union Congress this week


and there's great concern about it, but we really need to know what the


risk is and what steps the Government is taking before we end


up with the inevitable ministerial statement about lessons learned.


Well, the Honourable Gentleman is right. He's right about the TUC


discussing it yesterday and we had a word about that earlier. They have a


right to raise this too, because of course, it is an emerging technology


and the risk is dynamic. We need to keep constant analysis in place


about what that poses and it's not just irresponsible use. It could be


manelevent use. They could be used by all kinds of agents to do all


kinds of things. So the assurance that I give him is that I will make


sure that my department is continuing that an l a sis, making


sure that the -- analysis, making sure that the regulatory framework


is fit for purpose for the analysis and the best thing for me to do with


that is to come back to the House and give regular reports on how


that's going. The Honourable Gentleman always takes a diligent


interest in the affairs of the house and he's raised an important issue


which is entirely bipartisan but one that we need to take importantly. My


constituent tells me that drones are not only an issue of danger to


aircraft, but also it affects privacy, it affects copyright law.


And also, is a danger to people who might be visiting the castle and


then the drone running out of power and falling on people's heads. So


when are we going to see tighter instructions and education about how


to use drones? Intellectual property rights, Mr Speaker, incidentally, is


the phrase I was looking for earlier. And you found it! Just to


be absolutely clear, Mr Speaker, we do take drones very seriously as I


said in answer to the first question. And anyone who "reklessly


permits their drone -- recklessly permits their drone to cause damage


to property or person can face a fine of imprisonment"". So we're not


taking this lightly. But the point that we made is that because this


tech the House of Lordsingy is evolving, it's very important that


we do proper work to look at the scale and type of danger we face and


then the regulatory framework can be fit for purpose. Thank you Mr


Speaker. Just wondering if the department have any co-operation


with the MoD in relation to a security and the threat that the


drones pose for security? Indeed. Obviously given that I've recently


arrived back from the Home Office where I was the minister for


security, that was something that the MoD and the Home Office took


very seriously indeed. So he can be absolutely sure that across


Government, we're looking at this matter because, as I said earlier,


it's not just about irresponsible use, it could be manolevent use like


you imply. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I will answer this


question together with question 7. The Government is committed to


delivering the important infrastructure projects that this


country needs, including delivering runway capacity in the south-east on


the timetable set by the Airport's Commission. We're currently


undertaking further work, including assurance of the airport's


commissions evidence and on airport quality and the decision will be


made shortly. The new Transport Secretary, a fierce advocate of the


UK exiting the EU has done more than enough already to wreak economic


havoc. Because he could take the new position to mitigate some of the


damage to putting an end to the stud runway debacle? And if not, will he


apologise to businesses and commuters in Scotland for putting


their economic interests on the line? Mr Speaker, I would remind the


honourable lady that some of the things said about our economy have


not proved to be the case. And that actually, under this Government, our


economy continues to do well. What I'd also say to her is that this


Government retains and will always retain a commitment to the economy


and the people of Scotland as part of one United Kingdom and the


decision we seek to take on runway capacity in the south-east, whatever


it may be, Mr Speaker, will be the decision that is also designed to


benefit the whole United Kingdom by improving our connectivity so the


world. Thank you Mr Speaker. When reminded of his words, "no ifs, no


buts, no third runway". The previous Prime Minister said this summer. I


think the current position from the Government is October for a decision


on Heathrow, although the current Prime Minister seems to be erasing


all evidence of her previous position to this. After ?20 million


and the Davis debacle, it does look like it's going to be a free vote.


Can you confirm or deny this? Because to my constituents, it looks


like it is protracted. Order, we do need shorter questions. Mr Speaker,


the honourable lady is going to have to wait for us to set out the plans.


I've said today, we're committed to taking the decision shortly. I


regard this as an important decision for our nation, one we need to get


on with. We have, of course, seen a significant change in the


administration across the summer. It is right and proper that the Prime


Minister and I are sufficiently prepared to take the decision we


need to take and we will make sure that we are suitably prepared. Will


my Rt Honerable friend agree with me that if we want to keep London as


the hub airport for western Europe, it is crucial that we deal with the


capacity problems that currently affect Heathrow in particular? This


saga has been going on for so long. Can I ask my Rt Honerable friend


that he ensure that is we don't have any further delays in reaching the


conclusion on the Davis Recommendation, and that that can I


tell him - there is only one obvious answer, and that that is Heathrow.


Mr Speaker, as you know there, are delivering opinions across this


House. It is right and proper that the Government looks at all three


options recommended to us by the Davis Commission in a way, to assess


the strengths and weaknesses of what is offered and take the right


zpition in the interests of our nation and I can -- in the right way


in the interest of our nation and I can assure you that that is what


we'll do. As Britain leaves the European Union, we'll have to


develop more markets in Asia and the Far East. That will mean more


passenger traffic and freight traffic. Is it then not possible


that we preserve Manston as an airport in the national interest? Mr


Speaker, I obviously understand how people feel about the future of


Manston and I know how controversial it is and has been. I can simply say


to him that this Government would be perfectly supportive of proposals to


develop a freight hub at Manston, but it has to be a matter for the


local community, the owners and the local authority and I hope that the


right decision in the interest in of the nation.


MUSIC: Powerful by Major Lazer


Business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Greg Clark MP makes a statement on Hinkley Point C, followed by highlights of Transport Questions from members of the House of Commons, from Thursday 15 September.

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