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In the context of renewable energy, we are clear that further measures will be needed once the final shape of the target is known. The Secretary of State and I listened carefully to the various suggestions that were
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made, which we will consider very seriously. We have already invested about £500 million between 2002 and 2008 in capital grants and research and development for emerging renewable and low-carbon technologies, such as offshore wind, biomass, solar, photovoltaics, and wave and tidal. Wave and tidal is still a new technology, but we could become a world leader in its development, for obvious reasons. By 2010, alongside exemption from the climate change levy, the renewables obligation will be worth about £1 billion each year in support of the renewables industry. Some say that we are not doing very much, but I think that £1 billion a year represents a great deal.

We are already seeing a dramatic expansion in our renewable generation capacity. For example, we have recently given consent to the world’s biggest biomass plant in Port Talbot and to one of the world’s largest offshore wind projects: the London Array. We have also set out plans for up to 33 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2020, following the Secretary of State’s recent announcement. Today, the Secretary of State announced a feasibility study into a possible Severn barrage. That renewable source could provide some 5 per cent. of the nation’s energy, but we need to approach it scientifically and environmentally to assess the benefits and any possible disbenefits.

Let me address the issue of nuclear waste because it has excited some debate. I am always surprised by those who say that they do not like nuclear and also that it will never be built in Britain. If they are so confident that it will not be built in Britain, I wonder why they are so worried.

I shall be absolutely clear to the House. The recommendations of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management followed more than two and half years’ work and stakeholder engagement. The Government have accepted the committee’s recommendations: geological disposal is the best available approach to the long-term management of the UK’s higher activity waste, coupled with a robust programme of safe and secure interim storage.

Let us be clear that quite apart from the question of new build, we have a duty and responsibility. There is a waste; there is a legacy. When I visited Sellafield a year or two ago, I came away with two feelings. I had a sense of real shame that, for several decades, different Governments and Parliaments had neglected the issue, which was a gross act of irresponsibility. However, I also felt proud—albeit not on my own behalf, because I did not initiate this—that this Government were finally tackling this great legacy. We have a duty to do so. The Government believe that it would be technically possible and desirable to dispose of waste from new build in the same facility. We will further explore that through the managing radioactive waste safety process, which is under way. However, the Government believe that nothing has emerged from the managing radioactive waste safety consultation, which closed on 2 November 2007, to change our view about the feasibility of geological disposal.

Alan Duncan: Our concern is that the problem of waste should not be dumped on future generations. If there is to be new build, there has to be complete clarity
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now about the regime, which must include waste. We are concerned that the White Paper suggests that storage above ground might go on for 50 or even 100 years before a decision is taken. When does the Minister think that he will be morally obliged both to describe and implement the regime so that new investors will know exactly what they will have to do?

Malcolm Wicks: There is a great deal of material that can help to inform the hon. Gentleman on that point. We have said that, in principle, geological storage is the answer in the long term, and we have a process to bring that about; that is absolutely clear. On safety, there is nothing wrong, scientifically and environmentally, with interim storage for several decades. That is what is happening in many countries; I have seen it in France and in Britain. The issue is the long-term storage, and we have a strategy in place for that.

There are many doubting Thomases, so I want to emphasise that we are absolutely committed when it comes to who pays for new nuclear power. The answer is the companies—full stop. It is not the taxpayer. That is an absolute commitment. We can discuss the issue in Committee, and I look forward to that, because I want to reassure colleagues on that point. Operators of new nuclear power stations will pay the full costs of decommissioning their stations, and their full share of waste management costs. By “full decommissioning costs” we mean the dismantling of the plant at the end of its operational life, and returning the site to a condition agreed on with the regulators. The “full share” of waste costs means the costs directly attributable to the disposal of new-build waste in a geological disposal facility and, furthermore, a contribution towards the fixed costs of building a geological disposal facility. We are conducting a cost-modelling exercise to determine estimates of waste management and decommissioning costs. That is significant, and I understand that there will be 100 questions about that.

Martin Horwood: Will the Minister give way?

Malcolm Wicks: That makes it 101 questions. I will give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment. We will deal with the questions in Committee, as I want to satisfy Committee members, and therefore the House, on the subject. In a few weeks—in February, I think—the Government will consult on two sets of draft guidance that set out what an approvable funded decommissioning programme should contain. That will assist business to understand its obligations under the Bill.

Martin Horwood: Will the Minister clarify whether the fact that companies will bear a share of both the cost of waste and the cost of the final repository means that the new nuclear programme will still leave the British taxpayer with an unlimited liability?

Malcolm Wicks: I do not confirm that; indeed, I deny it. By a full share we mean 100 per cent.—the absolute cost that is produced. That is what we mean by the share. Perhaps there is a linguistic problem for Liberal Democrat Members, but I can satisfy even the Liberal party in Committee.

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I have mentioned energy security and climate change, but there is a third important issue to discuss: fuel poverty. While we talk about global warming, we have a duty to make sure that our elders and betters and other vulnerable people are warm in their homes. That is why the Government have set a target. I am not complacent, but I am proud of what we have done. The winter fuel payments, totalling £2 billion a year, are again helping some 12 million people this winter.

May I say to the hon. Member for Wealden (Charles Hendry), with as much politeness as I can muster at this hour, that I cannot take seriously all this concern about fuel poverty on the part of Tory Members? I find it difficult to do so. [Interruption.] I will tell the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone) why: when we took office— [Interruption.] Hon. Members say that I am doing well, but I will do even better now: when we took office 10 years ago, the Conservative Government expected a single elderly woman to live on £69 a week in income support. We introduced pension credit and winter fuel payments, and our energy efficiency programme has helped 2 million people with loft insulation, heating appliances and new boilers. I am proud of that, but I repeat that I am not complacent, because rising energy prices are now hurting the vulnerable. I recognise that people are worried about that. That is why we have urged companies to improve their social tariffs, and why the Secretary of State has said that if companies do not do the right thing, we will consider legislation. This is an important Bill and the issues at stake—energy security and global warming—are significant. We need a clean, diverse energy policy to address them. I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 83A(7)(Programme Motions),

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The House divided: Ayes 274, Noes 85.
Division No. 51]
[10 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Cooper, Rosie
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley

Hutton, rh Mr. John
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McGrady, Mr. Eddie
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh Edward
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Tami, Mark
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Tom Watson and
Mr. Wayne David

Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baron, Mr. John
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bone, Mr. Peter
Bottomley, Peter
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burt, Alistair
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Fabricant, Michael
Farron, Tim
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Hague, rh Mr. William
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heath, Mr. David
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Horwood, Martin
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Leech, Mr. John
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Main, Anne
McCrea, Dr. William
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Russell, Bob
Selous, Andrew
Simpson, David
Smith, Sir Robert
Spink, Bob
Stanley, rh Sir John
Stunell, Andrew
Tredinnick, David
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Stewart Jackson and
Jeremy Wright

Question accordingly agreed to.

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Energy Bill [money]

Queen’s recommendation having been signified——

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 52(1)(a) (Money resolutions and ways and means resolutions in connection with Bills),

Question agreed to.

22 Jan 2008 : Column 1469


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 52(1)(a) (Money resolutions and ways and means resolutions in connection with Bills),

Question agreed to.

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