HC Deb 01 November 1955 vol 545 cc843-4
43. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Works whether he will make arrangements to publish the fullest possible figures indicating the economic basis upon which the Government's plan for building atomic power stations has been drawn up; and whether he will include in that information an estimate of the value of the plutonium which will be produced in the atomic reactors.

Mr. Birch

The hon. Member will find the information for which he asks in the White Paper "A Programme of Nuclear Power" (Cmd. 9389). Information on the value of plutonium from atomic reactors is contained in a paper read to the recent Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy on behalf of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. I have had a copy put in the Library.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is my right hon. Friend aware that at the British Association, Sir Robert Robinson said that the value of the plutonium to be produced would be nil and that, therefore, the production of atomic energy would not be economic? Would my right hon. Friend refute that idea?

Mr. Birch

I think my hon. Friend will find that the paper to which I have drawn his attention is very interesting. In this paper it is concluded that the minimum price of plutonium over the next 20 or 25 years will not sink below several thousand £s per kilogramme.

44. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Works the policy of Her Majesty's Government for the development of atomic energy for civil purposes in this country; and whether he will make a statement setting out precisely what scope there is and will be for private industry to participate in this field, and how far the development will be retained as a Government monopoly.

Mr. Birch

Research is the responsibility of the Atomic Energy Authority, under the general control of the Lord President. The Authority is not responsible, however, for the development of atomic energy for civil purposes beyond the stage of the design and trial of new forms of plant and equipment. Commercial development will therefore provide scope for the participation of private industry, or, in the case of the generation of electricity from nuclear power stations, for the electricity authorities and private industry working together.