HC Deb 02 March 1960 vol 618 cc1189-90
1. Mr. D. Price

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether he will make a statement on his Department's future policy for the development of nuclear marine propulsion.

The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing)

My noble Friend's Explanatory Statement indicated that we are putting a substantial effort into research and development on propulsion machinery for nuclear submarines; and the shore-based prototype test reactor at Dounreay will provide essential facilities for the development of British submarine reactor equipments. Studies are also being made of possible applications of nuclear power to surface warships. The Admiralty continues to take an interest in the studies of nuclear propulsion systems for merchant ships which are now being made under the sponsorship of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport.

Mr. Price

Would not my hon. Friend agree that nuclear propulsion will eventually replace steam as inevitably as steam replaced sail? Will he ensure that research into these possibilities has the very highest priority in the Admiralty?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I will certainly bear in mind what my hon. Friend has said and draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport to his remarks.

Dame Irene Ward

May I have an assurance that all this knowledge which is to be developed by the Admiralty will be widely spread all over the country and not concentrated in one area?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

There is no desire within the Admiralty to have a closed shop on nuclear knowledge. The more widely it is spread, the more competition will exist, and I think that that will be better for the industry and for the Admiralty as well.

Mr. Shinwell

May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether the Admiralty is in consultation with the Chamber of Shipping? As he is well aware, ship-owners are concerned about the possibility of adapting nuclear propulsion to merchant ships.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

No, Sir. We are in touch with the Ministry of Transport, and I have no doubt that the Minister of Transport is in touch with the Chamber of Shipping.

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