HC Deb 11 December 1950 vol 482 cc809-10
47. Sir Ian Fraser

asked the Lord President of the Council if, in view of the prospective shortage of electric power, His Majesty's Government will revive the Severn Barrage project.

The Minister of Fuel and Power (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)

I have been asked to reply. A Severn Barrage could make no contribution to the supply of electricity during the next few years, since the work of construction might take eight years to complete. But the Government regard the scheme as being of great interest, and arrangements were made some time ago to begin the preliminary work for the necessary model of the Severn Estuary.

Sir I. Fraser

In view of the expected shortage of coal and the expected demand for electricity over many years, will the Government have a fresh study made of this and of other means of getting electricity from natural sources?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I agree with the hon. Member in thinking that the long-term importance of tidal power may be very great, but the first requirement is a tidal model of the Severn Estuary. After we have that, we can see what to do next.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a model was made at Manchester University in 1931, and that all the leading world authorities on hydro-electrification consider the Severn Barrage one of the world's best business propositions for development?

Mr. Paget

Would the recasting of the capital investment programme necessary for the Severn Barrage affect the housing programme?

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

Is not this one of those cases where the necessary capital might be raised through the ordinary machinery of the money market, and is not this also an example of where expenditure now might lead to economies in the future?

Mr. Noel-Baker

However the capital was raised, we should need labour and material resources, and the return in this case would take a very long time. We might get more power more quickly by other means.

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

Face the future.