HC Deb 21 June 1961 vol 642 cc1464-5
2. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Transport if he will now make a statement about the award of a contract for the prototype nuclear-propelled merchant vessel.

32. Mr. Wiley

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will make a further statement about the construction of a nuclear propelled merchant ship.

43. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Minister of Transport if he will state a date when he will announce his findings on the building of an experimental nuclear-powered ship for commercial purposes.

Mr. Marples

I regret that I am still not in a position to make a statement.

Mr. Wall

Will my right hon. Friend agree that the design study of this nuclear-powered tanker has been in hand since 1958, three years ago, and that he has now had tenders for at least eleven months? In view of this delay and the importance of this project, can my right hon. Friend undertake to make a statement before the long Recess?

Mr. Marples

No, I should not like to do that. We have got only limited resources, and it is my duty to use them to the best advantages. It may well be better to use the available money to try to find out what is a really economic reactor.

Dame Irene Ward

Has my right hon. Friend now decided that none of the reactors for which tenders were submitted is satisfactory? Is he now waiting for a new reactor either from the Atomic Energy Authority or from some of the private developers? Will he undertake to make a statement so that we shall all know where we are? We certainly do not at the moment.

Mr. Marples

I am surprised to learn that my hon. Friend does not know where she is. I am bound to say that at the moment there is little to be gained from any such ship, as The Times leader said. It may well be so. Experts have agreed that the reactors proposed would not be economic and show little sign of being so. What I am concerned with is doing the best we can with the limited financial resources at our disposal.

Mr. Chetwynd

Has the right hon. Gentleman made a policy decision not to go ahead with this, or is he dissatisfied with the design he has in hand?

Mr. Marples

No. No decision has yet been made. The whole of the factors are being studied.

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