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8 Feb 2011 : Column WS11



8 Feb 2011 : Column WS11

Written Statements

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Office for Nuclear Regulation

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): My right honourable friend the Minister for Employment (Chris Grayling) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government intend to bring forward legislation to create a new independent statutory body outside of the HSE to regulate the nuclear power industry. The new statutory corporation would be known as the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and would take on the relevant functions currently carried out by the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Transport.

The ONR would be a new independent regulator, formally responsible in law for delivering its regulatory functions. The creation of the ONR would consolidate civil nuclear and radioactive transport safety and security regulation in one place.

The proposal will not affect the current regulatory requirements or standards with which industry must comply, and the vast majority of the costs of the regulator would continue to be recovered in charges from operators in the nuclear industry rather than funded by the public purse. Additional organisational costs will be entirely met by the nuclear industry.

Pending the legislation, the Health and Safety Executive is taking steps to establish the ONR as a non-statutory body from 1 April 2011, signalling our commitment to securing an appropriately resourced and responsive regulator for the future challenges of the nuclear sector.

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The Government will review the functions and processes of the interim body in order to inform their planned legislation.

Search and Rescue Helicopter Service

Statement

Earl Attlee: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Philip Hammond) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

On 16 December I and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced that information had come to light regarding the preferred bid in the search and rescue helicopter competition which required clarification.

In mid-December, the preferred bidder in the SAR-H competition, Soteria, voluntarily came forward to inform the Government of irregularities regarding the conduct of its bid team which had only then recently come to light. The irregularities included access by one of the consortium members, CHC Helicopter, to commercially sensitive information regarding the joint MoD/DfT project team's evaluations of industry bids and evidence that a former member of that project team had assisted the consortium in its bid preparation, contrary to explicit assurances given to the project team.

Since December, our two departments have been working with Soteria better to understand the situation and its implications for the procurement process. In addition, the Ministry of Defence Police are investigating how the commercially sensitive information came to be in the possession of the bidder. It would be inappropriate to comment further on the details of the investigation until it has finished.

However, even without the outcome of that investigation, the Government have sufficient information to enable them to conclude that the irregularities that have been identified were such that it would not be appropriate to proceed with either the preferred bid or with the current procurement process.


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