HC Deb 31 March 1958 vol 585 cc848-9
38 and 40. Mr. Moss

asked the Paymaster General (1) to what extent he anticipates that the development of nuclear power stations will be more rapid than was formerly anticipated; and what effect this will have upon the nation's need for coal;

(2) to what extent he proposes to increase capital investment in nuclear power stations and decrease that in the coal industry.

Sir I. Horobin

The nuclear power programme was recently rephased as part of the general revision of capital investment, so that it now provides for the installation of 5,000–6,000 MW of capacity by the end of 1966. This re-phasing will increase power station consumption of coal by some 3 million tons a year, but no further change in the programme is contemplated at present. As regards capital investment in the coal industry, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) on 24th March.

Mr. Moss

Is it not a fact that it is confidently anticipated by Sir Christopher Hinton, Sir John Cockcroft and Lord Citrine that the capital cost of nuclear power stations will be reduced by something like 40 per cent. and that nuclear power stations will become increasingly efficient? In view of all that has been said this afternoon about the coal industry, surplus coal and stocks of coal, is it not time that the hon. Gentleman considered the whole question, including that of capital investment?

Sir I. Horobin

This whole question of energy and capital investment in the different branches of energy production is periodically considered, but one cannot change too frequently settled programmes or one will end with each separate section of the fuel industry either wasting money or not, in effect, producing anything except plans which will have to be altered. It is perfectly true that we do anticipate savings in the capital cost of nuclear stations, but it is not the fact that anything is yet sufficiently certain to warrant a major change in the programme in the immediate future.