INDEPENDENT Labour peer Lord Stoddart of Swindon has questioned the point in having a British Government, after he asked why the European Commission may decide whether a nuclear power plant is subsidised through state aid.

His comments follow the Government’s confirmation to Lord Stoddart that it needs the permission of the European Commission for such funding and the commission’s announcement the funding could be ruled illegal state aid.

Lord Stoddart asked how long the European Commission’s inquiry into the state aid for Hinckley Point would take; whether the investigation is likely to delay the start of the project or affect its cost; and whether the UK will be required to take account of that report’s conclusions.

Baroness Verma replied: “The European Commission has sole competence to determine our notification for State aid approval.

“The UK Government will need to abide by the decision once made by the commission following the investigation.”

Lord Stoddart said: “This appears to be a prelude to the European Commission refusing to allow the Government to provide state aid for a nuclear power plant at Hinckley Point, undermining a project vital to our energy supply.

“If true, you have to ask what is the point in having a British Government, when it can no longer decide which industries it wishes to subsidise, in the interests of the British people?”