HC Deb 11 December 1957 vol 579 cc1238-9
11. Mr. P. Williams

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will make a statement on the research and development work which is proceeding on the possibility of building an atom-powered merchant ship.

Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith

Research is going forward on the problem which is to develop a system able to hold its own with conventionally powered ships. There are a number of basically different reactors which might prove suitable. One of the most promising of these possibilities is to develop an advanced form of the existing Calder Hall type of reactor.

A considerable programme of work will be necessary before the stage is reached at which the building of a ship would be practicable. This work is proceeding with all speed.

Mr. Williams

Is my hon. Friend aware that those of us who wish to maintain this nation as the premier maritime Power of the world are extremely interested in the commercial application of this new method of propulsion? Will he give the House an assurance that this nation will not become too interdependent with its allies, but that we shall be able to develop our own methods of propulsion for our ships?

Mr. Galbraith

We are examining a type of reactor which is different from that of the Americans.