HC Deb 02 April 1957 vol 568 cc212-3
11. Wing Commander Bullus

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, whether, in view of the importance of rare metals for nuclear power applications, the Government is satisfied that sufficient is known of our own native deposits; and what steps have been taken to see that the best use is made of these resources.

Mr. H. Nicholls

We can never be satisfied that we have sufficient knowledge of such matters. However, geological and geophysical investigations of mineral resources in the United Kingdom for nuclear power application have been in progress for a number of years and are still being carried out by the Geological Survey of Great Britain in association with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

The second part of the Question will not arise until the existence of new deposits has been proved.

Wing Commander Bullus

Can my hon. Friend say whether we can hope in the future to have any home-produced uranium or thorium?

Mr. Nicholls

There are no natural resources of thorium in the United Kingdom and at the moment there is no extraction of uranium ore in the United Kingdom. I understand that there are small deposits in the West of England, in parts of Cornwall and in some parts of Devon, but the yield from those sources, as far as we have been able to establish so far, would not warrant the expense of setting up all the paraphernalia for extraction.

Mr. S. O. Davies

Would the Parliamentary Secretary inform us to what extent North Wales in particular has been prospected for uranium, and with what results?

Mr. Nicholls

The Geological Survey covers the whole of the United Kingdom. I have no knowledge at present that any of these rare metals have been discovered in any part of Wales, but now that the hon. Gentleman has put the question. I will certainly follow it up with the officials.