HC Deb 04 November 1959 vol 612 cc1024-5
7. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will make a statement about the development of nuclear propulsion for British merchant ships.

47. Dr. Mabon

asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on the progress of the Departmental Committee dealing with the development of nuclear-propelled merchant ships.

64. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will make a statement on the marine application of nuclear propulsion which has been the subject of consideration by a technical committee for some months.

Mr. Marples

The sub-committee which was appointed to make a technical appraisal of the different reactor systems designed for use in merchant ships has presented its Report and the Government are considering the recommendations made to them.

Mr. Wall

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we have been waiting for this Report for some months? Would he agree that we cannot achieve much more by experiment until we get a nuclear reactor at sea and real, practical tests? Will he undertake that these tests will be carried out as soon as possible?

Mr. Marples

Yes, Sir.

Dr. Mabon

In view of comments made by Rear-Admiral Wilson in Glasgow on 30th October, can the right hon. Gentleman give a more precise date when this experimental ship will be afloat?

Mr. Marples

No, Sir. I have not seen the remarks referred to, but if the hon. Member will send them to me I will look into them.

Dame Irene Ward

Would I be right in assuming that, when the Government have pronounced on the technical committee's Report and accepted or denied some of its recommendations, it is the intention of my right hon. Friend to proceed with a prototype ship to collect a little more data which one hopes will be of great value to our shipping interests in the future?

Mr. Marples

I agree with my hon. Friend that the great thing in these matters is to have an experiment and to see how it goes. The question is what shall the experiment be? I agree that the first thing to do is to try something out. If it fails, it is too bad; if it succeeds we should build on that.

Mr. Brockway

Can the right hon. Gentleman indicate when the Government are likely to come to a decision on this matter?

Mr. Marples

No, Sir; but there will not be any undue delay.

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