Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): Will the Secretary of State take into account the forecasts that after 10 years we may have to depend on Soviet and middle east supplies for up to 70 or 90 per cent. of our needs? In light of her remark about secure supplies, that is a daunting prospect. Can some of us be forgiven for being in favour of Hunterston C as well as new nuclear power stations at Sizewell and, probably, at Hinkley?
Mrs. Liddell: My hon. Friend makes an important point. That is a daunting prospect. The motion in the name of the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan commits the SNP only to the use of indigenous energy supplies. One of the jobs of the Energy Minister is to keep the lights on; SNP policy would not get anywhere near that.
Sir Robert Smith (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine): Does the right hon. Lady recognise that the prospect may not be as daunting as it first seems? First, the premise of the energy review was an over-pessimistic view of the growth in energy demand that is not matched by any previous projections. Secondly, the forecasts underestimate the potential for the North sea to continue to provide the country with considerable gas reserves. Finally, we must recognise that the European Union is supplied from many diverse gas sources.
Mrs. Liddell: If the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, I will not be diverted down that route. We discussed that in the Scottish Grand Committee, and a consultation exercise will follow the PIU report. The successor to the oil and gas industry taskforce looked at all those issues, and they are not as clear-cut as the hon. Gentleman suggests.
Naturally, as always, the SNP wants to turn this debate from a matter of common sense into a constitutional wrangle. It sees conspiracy in everything because, as it emphasised again this weekend, it lacks vision and, indeed, the commitment to devolution that allows mature reflection on issues that require further analysis. SNP Members need to learn to leave their paranoia in the cloakroom if they wish to be taken seriously.
What is more, the United Kingdom has international treaty obligations on energy and the environment, and as a responsible Government, working with a responsible Scottish Executive, we need to ensure that we do not build in obstacles to meeting those obligations, which are not devolved. These are complex matters requiring mature consideration. Responsible Ministers have to seek clarity in these complex areas before specific issues arise. There must be no question of the United Kingdom being restricted in meeting our international obligations, for example, in relation to Kyoto and the liberalisation of European energy markets.
As part of the DTLR review, we must be prepared to look at all the issues that are raised. That is what makes us a competent Government, and indeed a Government committed to ensuring that the devolution settlement workssomething that the SNP is fundamentally opposed to. That is exactly the position to which my hon. Friend the Minister of State was alluding. He made it explicitly clear that Scottish Ministers have full planning powers on the siting of nuclear and other power stations. As an experienced and senior Minister, he made it clear that there are broader issues that it would be remiss of the Government to ignore.
Mr. Alan Reid (Argyll and Bute): Before she turns to Wales, will the right hon. Lady answer a simple question? If a planning application for a nuclear power station in Scotland were submitted, who would have the final say over whether it should be builta Scottish Minister or a UK Minister?
Mrs. Liddell: The hon. Gentleman plainly has not listened to what I have said. Planning consents are devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Areas of executive devolution under the Electricity Act 1989 have been passed to the Scottish Executive. However, legislative responsibility for nuclear energy rests with Westminster.
Existing procedures for certain projects in Wales are a matter for the National Assembly. They involve a planning decision committee receiving an inspector's report following a public inquiry. The report brings together the relevant issues, including environmental concerns, and an environmental statement produced by the developer where necessary to meet environmental impact assessment requirements.
Cross-border infrastructure projects involving Wales are normally the subject of an application under the Transport and Works Act 1992. Decisions are normally taken by Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, and the Assembly must approve a draft order before a final order confirming a project can be made.
Planning responsibilities for major projects, such as power stations over 50 MW, are reserved to the United Kingdom Government and are not subject to the Transport and Works Act. Planning procedures for major projects
Mr. Roger Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire): The Secretary of State has addressed Wales, but, for example, the Cefn Croes application for a large wind farm in Ceredigion was determined by a Minister at the Department of Trade and Industry. The Minister had the option of holding a public inquiry and there was considerable concern in Wales about the effect of the proposal on the landscape. He decided not to do that and issued permission. Should not the Government respond to the views of the people of Wales and hold public inquiries for contentious applications of that sort?
Let me return to the motion and examine energy policy. The whole House should thank the SNP for the information that we can glean from the motion. It provides rather more information about SNP energy policy than has hitherto existed. We can contrast its approach with the Government's approach to energy policy, which has been thoughtful, considered and mature. The SNP has nothing more to say about its energy policy than that it is an avowedly anti-nuclear party. Its decision to depend only on indigenous sources of supply puts in jeopardy the certainty of energy supplies.
The motion fails to take account of the maturity of the North sea and the certainty that we will soon be dependent on imports of gas. There is only one deep mine in Scotland, and it is experiencing geological difficulties. The SNP pays lip service to renewables, but in virtually every constituency where renewables issues arise, SNP activists campaign against them. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State pointed out at the Scottish Grand Committee that the proposal for Dailly in his own constituency is opposed by SNP activists on the not in my backyard principle once so loved by the Tories. The SNP's position is illogical, ill thought out and incompetent.
Mr. John MacDougall (Central Fife): Does my right hon. Friend share my concern about the programme proposed in the SNP's indigenous resource strategy? I recently received a letter from the chief executive of Shell regarding the petrochemical plant at Mossmorran. Does my right hon. Friend agree with the chief executive that such a policy, and the loss of access to the rich Norwegian gas fields, would have a catastrophic impact on Mossmorran? Is not that another example of the loss of jobs that would result from an ill-considered policy?
Let us ignore for a moment the questions that the SNP will have to answer about how uncertainty, high taxation, insularity in the global marketplace and increased expenditure on defence, foreign embassies and re-fighting the cod war could possibly be good for Scottish business. Let us consider instead how its energy policy would radically hamper Scotland's competitiveness. While the rest of Europe seeks liberalised energy markets and the lower energy prices that would result from that, the SNP would take us back to tallow candles and gas lights.