HC Deb 12 April 1948 vol 449 cc621-2
44. Major Bruce

asked the Minister of Supply what progress has been made in the endeavours to harness atomic energy for industrial purposes.

The Minister of Supply (Mr. G. R. Strauss)

The low energy experimental pile, which has been in operation at Harwell since August, 1947, and the larger experimental pile, which will come into operation there this summer, are basic tools for the study of the many problems to be overcome before atomic energy can be harnessed for industrial purposes. The production of fissile material at Sellafield is a further essential preliminary. At the same time work is going ahead on planning alternative designs of experimental piles for power production.

Major Bruce

Does my right hon. Friend still have the same estimate as his right hon. Friend a year ago—that it will be about five years before it is possible to utilise atomic energy for productive purposes?

Mr. Strauss

The consensus of scientific opinion now puts the date rather further forward and it is considered that it will be at least 10 years, and some hold considerably longer, before atomic energy can be used on any considerable scale for industrial purposes.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Would the right hon. Gentleman take the opportunity of disposing of the rumour which appeared in the Press during the weekend that the ancient and dilapidated village of Imber is to be exposed to the lull force of atomic energy?

Mr. Strauss

That is rather a different question, but there is no truth in the rumour.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the approximate sums spent on atomic research for industrial and war purposes, respectively?

Mr. Strauss

That is an entirely different question.