Labour plans to spread risks in privatising nuclear industry

MARY FAGAN

Industrial Correspondent

A Labour government would increase the financial risks for accidents and decommissioning borne by the soon-to-be privatised nuclear industry, striking a "fairer balance" for the tax-payer, according to Brian Wilson, opposition spokesman on trade and industry.

Mr Wilson also warned that it would "be incumbent" on any Labour government to cons- ider the issue of competition in the electricity generating industry, with a view to a possible inquiry by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

Speaking at a London conference, Mr Wilson said that potential investors in the privati- sation should be aware Labour would consider shifting much more risk to the private sector in the event of a nuclear accident. He also said that taxpayers must not be left to shoulder an open-ended bill for liabilities relating to the ageing Magnox reactors - which are excluded from the privatisation plan - which could amount to many billions of pounds.

His statement will fuel the controversy surrounding the Magnox plants. The Government has said it will transfer the stations to state-owned British Nuclear Fuels, but BNFL has warned that it will refuse to take them on unless ministers make clear that funds will be available to cover decommissioning and waste management costs.

Mr Wilson said: "We cannot endorse a situation where shareholders will benefit from the ownership of the assets of the nuclear industry but where the taxpayer shoulders the liabilities. At the moment we don't have any clear statement from ministers of how future Magnox decommissioning is to be funded."

Mr Wilson also attacked the timetable for the sale - due for completion next summer - as "irresponsible" for such a sensitive industry.

He warned investors that a future Labour administration would reserve the right to review safety arrangements agreed prior to the privatisation and would, if necessary, take remedial action.

"There is a long way to go before privatisation is in the bag. There are questions which potential investors will be asking. Even more important, they are questions which the electorate will be asking with increasing curiosity as the weeks and months go by," Mr Wilson said.

Every opportunity would be taken during the forthcoming Trade and Industry Select Committee inquiry to raise the issues and he promised ministers a rough ride from Labour. The inquiry is regarded as a particularly important process in the case of nuclear, as no new legislation is needed for the sale.

Mr Wilson said: "We will alert public opinion to the dangers and deficiencies inherent in the privatisation case. And we will develop every option available to us in coming to office - if indeed privatisation has taken place."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas