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Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, does the Minister agree that one aspect of keeping the nuclear option open is to have in place effective and reliable arrangements for the long-term storage and disposal of nuclear waste when power stations are decommissioned? What is the present position for the safe management and long-term storage of nuclear waste?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, those are very important considerations. Of course the noble and gallant Lord will recognise that the White Paper paid due regard to them. I reiterate a point I made earlier: we have no intention of allowing the skills which are necessary to guarantee that we can produce nuclear energy and process its waste products successfully to be lost. Our investment in skills and in the necessary research to ensure that this work can be carried out is guaranteed by the Government.
Lord Ezra: My Lords, if the Government should decide not to go ahead with further nuclear plant, how would the resultant electricity generation gap be filled, bearing in mind that, in addition to the progressive withdrawal of nuclear plant, some of the ageing coal-fired power stations might also have to be withdrawn? Do the Government have a Plan B?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I should like to reassure the noble Lord that the Government plan well beyond Plan B on such an important issue. He will recognise that intensive efforts are being made to ensure that the supply and new development of gas resources guarantees more than just our present supplies. Further, the development of liquid nitrogen gas to ensure that our energy needs are met through fresh sources is being pursued. These issues are all being examined. However, the noble Lord is right to point out that it is important that we look at the energy needs of the country and to consider all the sources from which they will be derived. I shall reiterate an earlier point: for the foreseeable future, nuclear energy has its part to play in these plans.
Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, can I gently draw the Minister's attention to the Question on the Order Paper and ask him if he realises that my noble friend Lord Peyton asked not only what the Government mean by,
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the Government are making resources available to ensure that sector skills for the nuclear industry are developed. Turning to research costs, for example, we have made available £5 million towards research into sustainable energy sources, directed in particular towards the investigation of nuclear fission research. However,
Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, does the Minister accept the estimates set out in the current edition of The Engineer? Those estimates suggest that within the next six years, the safety cushion of excess energy capacity will drop to as low as 3 per cent. Is it not therefore essential for the Government finally to make up their mind and so ensure that we do not face a terrible catastrophe over energy supplies in this country?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, it is important that some aspects of the industry should call attention to the needs of the future. As the noble Baroness will recognise, we are operating within the framework of a market where intelligence about the future is of the greatest significance, particularly where such intelligence is projected not only over years but over decades. When there is a narrowing of the gap between need and provision, that is a signal to the industry to bring more resources on stream. We have seen that during the course of the past few months in regard to electricity generation. We therefore welcome all informed sources to the general debate on our future energy needs.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): My Lords, the Government support the work of the Financial Services Authority as the independent body that regulates the financial services industry in the United Kingdom. The FSA published a discussion paper in February of this year on the issues for with-profits business arising from the Sandler review. Responses were requested by 16th May. The FSA has not yet published its consultation paper on these issues and so it is not possible for me to comment further.
Lord Newby: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the FSA proposals appear designed exclusively for companiesplcsnot mutuals, and if carried into effect would have the effect of ending mutuality in the long-term savings industry? Therefore, will the Treasury ensure that revised proposals are made which
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I should preface any further comment by saying that this is of course a matter for the regulator. I am aware of the concerns to which the noble Lord, Lord Newby, refers. They have been expressed to the FSA. The consultation paper that I mentioned will be published after the FSA board meeting on the 20th of this month. It is my understanding that the mutuals will be asked to set out what they are doing to achieve the Sandler objectives of transparency, with which I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Newby, agrees. It is recognised that the problem for mutuals, which have only a single fund, is different from that for other insurance companies.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I have tabled Amendment No. 1 to fulfil the undertaking that I gave to the House on Report to table an amendment to Clause 3(3) at Third Reading. Its acceptance would mean that, following the reclassification of cannabis to class C under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the police would have a power of arrest under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 for the offence of possession of cannabis or cannabis resin but not for other class C drugs.
The amendment reflects the Government's consideration of the views expressed in this House and another place as to the scope of the provisions set out in subsection (3) and our decision to agree to amendment of the clause by applying the power of arrest in respect of class C drugs only to offences of possession of cannabis and cannabis resin following their proposed reclassification.
It also reflects the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, and the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, on Report in this House. Their amendment, which has the same purpose as this one, we accepted in principle. However, it sought to delete the words "within the meaning of that Act" which, from a drafting perspective, we would wish to retain. The amendment I am now moving addresses this point.
On Report I also undertook to bring forward appropriate amendments to Clause 7 which would clarify the position on keeping records of a detained person's property. Amendment No. 2 reflects the principle of Amendments Nos. 11A and 11C, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and the noble Baroness, Lady Harris. It would explicitly indicate the ability to record a detained person's property but that the officer has a discretion as to whether or not this should be carried out in every case. It would also enable the custody officer to determine if such a record should be kept as part of the custody record elsewhere. Amendment No. 124 would insert a new Schedule 35 which would amend Section 54(1) of PACE to effect the proposals in Clause 7.
I should like to put on record that during Report stage in your Lordships' House, when I said that the Government would accept Amendments Nos. 11A and 11B, I meant Amendments Nos. 11A and 11C. I hope that that was clear from the content of what I said because I was of course referring to the previous numbering allocated to those amendments. I have written to both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord to apologise for any confusion and to set the record straight. We resisted Amendment No. 11B because imposing an absolute requirement to record property when requested would open the door to deliberately obstructive requests.