HC Deb 09 November 1953 vol 520 cc588-9
34. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Supply what steps he is taking to survey for deposits of uranium and other similar materials in the United Kingdom in view of the requirements of atomic power production; and how far it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to rely on deposits overseas.

Mr. Sandys

The geology of the United Kingdom has been mapped in greater detail than any other area in the world of comparable size. The most promising region for uranium discoveries is in Cornwall. Pockets of uranium ore occur there, but the quantities so far found would not justify the expense of mining and treatment. The Government's decision to rely on uranium deposits overseas is, therefore, not a question of policy, but of necessity.

Mr. Nabarro

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the Gas Council have recently announced their intention to spend £1 million on boring to depths of 6,000 to 7,000 feet in searching for resources of natural gas? In view of the fact that geological exploration has never been carried to that depth before, will the Minister bear in mind the possibilities of searching for uranium at the same time as the Gas Council are searching for supplies of natural gas?

Mr. Sandys

I have no doubt—and I am glad that my hon. Friend has drawn my attention to it—that care will be taken to ensure that in the course of any exploratory work that is undertaken we shall look out for any other valuable resources, but I have explained to my hon. Friend and to the House, that, so far as we know, the only area in which there may be worth-while quantities of uranium ore is in Cornwall, in the copper and tin mines.

Mr. Manuel

In view of what the Minister has said regarding a survey of the United Kingdom, can be tell the House what geological survey has taken place in the Highlands of Scotland?

Mr. Sandys

What I said was that there had been a very thorough mapping of the geological formations in the United Kingdom. We know that uranium ore is likely to occur in certain formations and that these formations exist, in particular, in Cornwall and also to some extent in the Isle of Man.