House of Commons Debate: Engagement / Oral Answers to Questions – Prime Minister – 23 March 2011

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire, Liberal Democrat)
Our hearts go out to the people of Japan as we watch their horror unfold and see warnings today about heightened radiation in Tokyo’s water supply. It is not just earthquakes and tsunamis that can threaten the cooling systems of nuclear reactors, so does the Prime Minister agree that what has happened at Fukushima will have consequences for the new nuclear power stations proposed for the UK.

David Cameron (Prime Minister; Witney, Conservative)
I am sure that the whole House will want to join the hon. Lady in sending our condolences to people in Japan and to express our admiration for their incredible bravery and resilience in dealing with this immense crisis. Of course we must learn any lessons that need to be learned about nuclear power, which is why the head of the nuclear safety inspectorate is looking at this issue. As I have said before, the power stations we have in Britain are of a different type from those in Japan. We are not planning to build any like those, and we are not in an earthquake zone or a zone subject to tsunamis, but of course we have always got to test against all eventualities. I am sure that there is further testing we can do on nuclear power.

Japan is doing a good job in dealing with this problem and the signs from the nuclear station are a little better than they were a few days ago, but it is certainly not out of the danger zone. What we should do is make sure that we give the correct advice to all British citizens in Tokyo-that is what we have done and what we will continue to do.

Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West, Labour)
In a newspaper interview last weekend, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change cast doubt on the viability of investment in the civil nuclear energy industry. Given the strategic importance of the industry and the need for certainty and commitment from the Government, can the Prime Minister reassure the House and business that his policy is unaltered in that area?

David Cameron (Prime Minister; Witney, Conservative)
I can do that, and the point I would make-the Energy and Climate Change Secretary would say exactly the same thing-is that what we have done is to create a fair playing field where that private investment can come forward. What we should not be doing is having unfair subsidies. We are making sure that on issues such as planning and carbon pricing the situation is very clear, so that nuclear, which is part of the energy mix in this country, can go on being part of the energy mix in our country.

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