HC Deb 03 August 1962 vol 664 cc986-1004

1.24 p.m.

Mr. Airey Neave (Abingdon)

In March of this year, Her Majesty's Government applied to open negotiations with a view to joining the European Atomic Energy Community, which, for the purpose of this debate, I suggest we should refer to as Euratom. The object of the debate which I am initiating is to discover, first, on what basis they intend to negotiate that treaty, and, secondly, what it will mean in practice for the British nuclear industry, both in the public and private sectors.

I assume that if the Treaty of Rome is signed by the United Kingdom, Her Majesty's Government intend to sign the Euratom Treaty. I say that for the purposes of my argument today, but I should like to receive certain assurances before the negotiations begin. Several complex questions arise, and I am glad to see here the Undear-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who is to reply, as well as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Science.

I should like to refer to some of the general aims of that treaty, the first of which is to establish a nuclear industry in Europe. I cannot refer to them all, but will refer to those con-cerning the points I want to make. They are, first, to develop nuclear research and the dissemination of technical knowledge, to facilitate investment in the Six, to assure a regular supply of ores and nuclear fuels to all users within the Community. This is very important. Secondly, to guarantee by appropriate measures of control that nuclear materials are not diverted for purposes other than those for which they are intended. Thirdly, to establish with other countries any contacts likely to promote progress in the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

In this last case, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority has had collaboration with Euratom in many fields, and this is instanced especially by the Dragon high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor project and the joint programme on the Norwegian boiling water reactor at Halden. There is also the United Kingdom Euratom Joint Working Group. That is what the United Kingdom authority has been doing, and so far it has opposed, until very recently, joining Euratom, because the interchange of information was sufficient for its purpose. Now, however, I think we are approaching a different phase, and, therefore, we should examine how Euratom is working.

Europe, after the signing of the Euratom Treaty, discovered that it was not, after all, entering a long period of critical power shortages, and the great enthusiasm for nuclear power of those days began to wane. The United Kingdom has suffered similar miscalculations on fuel supplies, and suffered much more seriously, in view of its large nuclear power station programme, which has had to be drastically reduced. No such nuclear power station programme exists in Europe.

None the less, Europe in general seems to agree that nuclear power may be just as important in 1970 as it was thought it was in 1957, and I thank that we, generally, hold that view here. For that reason, Euratom has been mainly concerned with nuclear research and development rather than with a commercial power station programme. It is essentially a scientific organisation, and, since the departure of its former president, M. Hirsch, is run much more by scientists than it is by politicians. M. Hirsch is a Frenchman, and it was very much under French influence.

In February, the Economist published an article which my hon. Friend may have studied. It claimed that this position which Euratom has got itself into was due, first, to the attitude of France, which has always wanted to go her own way, especially since she decided to make nuclear weapons, and, secondly, and perhaps most important, the existence of plentiful supplies of uranium. This is of great importance to the United Kingdom, and I shall seek to show how it would affect the United Kingdom if we were to sign the Euratom Treaty.

One of the principal functions of Euratom in the field of nuclear research is the placing of contracts with private industry, and this appears to be far more extensive than anything we see in this country. The Euratom Commission has a number of research centres of its own, but it has a staff of only 1,977 people. By April, 1962, it is said that 240 research and development contracts had been placed with public or private organisations in the member countries of the Six. These contracts cover numerous different projects, such as radio-isotopes, thermo-nuclear fusion and new types of reactor.

I have found it impossible to discover how many contracts have been granted in a similar period by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary may be able to tell me but, having some knowledge of this subject, I realise that civil and military research in the nuclear field in the United Kingdom are very difficult to separate, and he may find difficulty in answering me. The information is relevant when we come to the structure of the two organisations with which we are dealing—Euratom, on the one hand, and the United Kingdom set-up, on the other. Also, in this country we have the largest nuclear power station programme in the world—as distinct, of course, from nuclear research.

It is my obligation to the House to disclose a financial interest in a firm engaged in nuclear power station construction. Our industry depends almost entirely on the scientific information we receive from the Atomic Energy Authority, and the Authority's control of that information is necessarily very tight. On the other hand, the atomic energy commissions in the member States of the Six rely much more heavily on private industry than do we. Therefore, there are certain distinctions which I suggest the Government should bear in mind when considering how they should negotiate in the best interests of the Atomic Energy Authority, with its dustry, with its consideraible "know-how."

I shall not dwell on the aspects of private industry, because I mentioned those in our debate on science and industry on 12th July, When I was told by my right hon. Friend the present Minister of Education, then Financial Secretary to the Treasury, that if the United Kingdom joined Euratom it would be open to any undertaking to compete for the supply of equipment and services to the Euratom Commission or its projects. That does not get us very far, unless we know on what basis those negotiations will proceed.

If we take our own nuclear ship propulsion programme, for which a number of British firms were asked to tender, we find that Euratom is financing two design studies, in Germany and Italy, into small nuclear-powered ships. If we take research and development in the nuclear chemical field, we have, so far, not joined the organisation known as Eurochemic, because we say, probably quite rightly, that we have our own processing plant at Windscale, under the Atomic Energy Authority's control, and do very little through private industry.

I therefore seek an assurance from the Foreign Office, which will have to negotiate this treaty, that when the Lord Privy Seal negotiates he will see that these matters are seriously considered. A Board of Trade Committee is at present discussing the points about private industry, but unless this matter is looked into I do not think that private industry will have a very good chance of being competitive in Europe.

My main point is the effect of the Treaty on what might be called the State's interest in atomic energy—the position of our Atomic Energy Authority. It may well be right to say that the Euratom Commission will give a good deal of work on the research side to the Atomic Energy Authority, if we sign the Treaty. Personally, I would welcome that, because I have some knowledge of its staffing problems, and I think that our skill and experience could contribute enormously to a European programme, and by that means our manufacturing industry would eventually benefit—perhaps in the 'seventies—by being able to get into the nuclear business in Europe

To discuss this rather difficult point, one must refer to the Lord Privy Seal's White Paper, which hon. Members may have seen, in which he gives the text of his statement to Euratom on 3rd July. My right hon. Friend then said three very important things. He said that we accepted the substantive provisions of the treaty as it stood. He said that we would have to fit in to the research and development programme of Euratom adopted from 1963 to 1967. He said that we assumed that the Community is not, and will not be, involved in the military uses of atomic energy, and that we would not be required to disclose classified defence information to Euratom.

I am sure that the House will not take exception to any of those statements, but what, in fact, are we to disclose to Euratom on the civil side? That is really the purpose of this debate. How will we harmonise our research and development programme with Euratom? Our knowledge in many fields of atomic energy is far more advanced than Euratom's. The Atomic Energy Authority, at Harwell and Ris-ley, and at many other establishments, has made enormous advances as a result of our need for a nuclear power station programme, and I am not sure that some of the critics of Euratom are not right in saying that Euratom's technical advances have not yet been very impressive.

Can we afford to give away all this information without some contribution from Euratom? I ask because it is certain that it will exact a financial contribution from us to the Euratom Commission, if we sign, in the same way that the other members of the Six contribute. Will Euratom give us sufficient research business to get that money back? Is there any intention that Euratom should contribute to some of our research projects in this country? I ask Her Majesty's Government to strike a fair bargain here, because we really are the leaders in atomic research, and are entitled to fair terms. Therefore, when my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal says that he accepts the substantive provisions of the treaty as it stands, I accept it, as long as those terms, or something like them, are negotiated.

The Lord Privy Seal refers in paragraph 25 of his White Paper to uranium supplies, and this is very important, indeed, for the Atomic Energy Authority. It is said that at the present time the Authority has sufficient stocks in hand for many years; that, in fact, there is a surplus, owing to the cutting down of our atomic power station programme— because we were preparing for a very much larger programme in 1957. As a result, it is probably correct to say that some of the Authority's production facilities are under-employed. I am very much concerned with this problem, as I have said, from a constituency point of view.

Can that surplus uranium be sold to Europe? At present, the price that the Atomic Energy Authority is asking is much too high to enable it to sell the surplus in Europe, and I suggest that the Treasury and the Authority should work out some pricing policy before we actually enter into negotiations with Euratom. They might consider footling, as the Economist suggests, some separate atomic trading company. I do not know whether or not that would be practicable, but I hope that they will look very seriously at the position.

If we join Euraton, we shall increase the efficiency of the nuclear industry in Europe, and when nuclear power be-comes competitive there will be great gains for us. In any event, this decision will profoundly effect the course of nuclear research, and I therefore ask my hon. Friend to draw the attention of the Lord Privy Seal to what I have said.

1.40 p.m.

Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)

It is a pity that so important a subject should be left for debate till this day of the Session—the day of the Summer Adjournment. Whether or not the negotiations at present being conducted in Brussels by the Lord Privy Seal come to fruition—or whether we will have to find an alternative—we would still have to consider whether the existence of Euratom necessitates any change in our nuclear energy policy.

I think that the Lord Privy Seal was perfectly right on the question of safeguards when we made our decision to apply for membership. Despite the safeguards which are being sought on defence, if one reads the Euratom Treaty one finds that a considerable number of safeguards already exist. Chapter 2, Section 1, Articles 12 and 13, deal with the dissemination of information while the provisions of Section 3 deal with security. In that Section one sees, in Article 24 (3), that the provisions covering the dissemination of information in general specifically safeguard all matters regarding classified information.

Classified information, of course, is specifically stated under an earlier paragraph of Article 24. Therefore, on defence, there is no automatic obligation by which our membership of Euratom would oblige us to share all our atomic defence secrets with the other members. There is, however, one important distinction which must be made. This is set out clearly in paragraph 56 of the Gibb-Zuckerman Report on the Management and Control of Research and Development. I can best explain this matter by quoting the paragraph.

It states: The authority's"— that is, the British Atomic Energy Authority's— powers in the field of atomic energy are comprehensive, and cover the production, use, and all forms of research into, atomic energy and radioactive substances and the disposal of radioactive waste. Its major tasks are to produce fissile material for the defence programme;"— that goes at the top of the list, and the paragraph continues: to conduct basic and applied research and development work in its own establishments for the nuclear power programme; and to manufacture fuel elements for its own nuclear reactors and for those of the electricity generating authorities". The paragraph concludes: On the defence side the A.E.A. develops and produces atomic weapons or components by agreement with and on behalf of the Ministry of Aviation. This means that the Atomic Energy Authority is deeply concerned with defence matters, whereas Euratom is not.

It seems to me that this is one of the troubles which, sooner or later, will have to be considered. If we go into Euratom and if we wish to ensure that our Atomic Energy Authority, from the civil point of view, can co-operate to the fullest possible extent, what will happen to that part of its work which is concerned with defence? It would be a great pity if the work of Britain's Atomic Energy Authority had to be split in two, with the work on defence having to be done in secret, and so causing any exchange of civil information the Authority had with Euratom to be on a superficial basis.

I hope that the Government have seriously considered this matter. I am sure that we wish to keep sufficiently up to date on the defence front with America in atomic and nuclear energy. However, we may find it difficult to do that and, at the same time, to keep our Atomic Energy Authority—which is at present responsible for maintaining that liaison at an adequate state of efficiency —maintaining good relations with Euratom on the civil front. This is an immense problem and I am not expecting a fully studied reply to it today. I hope, however, that the Minister will give some assurance that the matter has been thought about and that, if it has not, it will be.

I strongly support what my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) said about the basis on which we are to negotiate and also his remarks about what we shall be prepared to give away and what we shall require to keep secret. I notice that Sir Christopher Hiniton, in a recent study of nuclear power—and he is, of course, the chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board—said, when referring to commercial development: In order to maintain a satisfactory position, what is necessary is not that a country should make every invention in a field of technological development but that, in that field, its general scientific and technological development should be at least abreast of that in every other nation. He went on: Whether the best channels for such commercial negotiations are the semi-government organisations which are charged with the responsibility for atomic energy in most countries or whether negotiations might not better be done between engineering firms who are used to negotiating in such fields is a matter to which thought must ultimately be given. It would be nice to know what the Minister for Science feels about that. My view is that, as in practically every other field in which the Government is now somewhat involved, a partnership is necessary and that it is essential that Government and industry should work side by side. I hope that we shall maintain that position in our negotiations with Euratom and that we shall not, should Euratom be so disposed later— and I am not suggesting that it is at this stage—prefer that all those sorts of developments and negotiations should go on only through the offices of the various bodies directly controlled by Euratom. If that were done we might find ourselves unnecessarily hampering our own civil use of nuclear energy, and that would be a pity.

I feel that the chairman of our Atomic Energy Authority is already fully aware of the need to co-operate internationally. To prove this one has only to read the Eighth Annual Report of the Authority, published on 2nd July this year. This shows, under a great number of headings, how international relations are carried on. We have the International Atomic Energy Agency, the European Nuclear Energy Agency, Euratom itself, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, the Central Treaty Organisation of C.E.N.T.O. and a great deal of other co-operation with other international organisations between the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth countries, the United States with their American Atomic Energy Commission, and with the U.S.S.R. It is interesting to see that we had an interchange with the U.S.S.R. in May of 1961.

This co-operation also exists with Japan, France, Sweden, Greece, Spain, Denmark, Poland, Brazil, and many people from overseas have visited the Atomic Energy Authority's establishments in this country. It is, therefore, necessary that we should be given some assurance that our joining Euratom will materially improve the international co-operation that is already going on.

It might be said that there is just as big a danger in our approach to Euratom as there is to our joining the Common Market. Some have painted the picture to indicate that unless we go in nothing will happen. That is a totally false picture. To suggest that if we do not join certain bodies there will not be any co-operation is creating a false impression, for there is a wealth of co-operation of various sorts, technical and otherwise, going on all the time. It is very unlikely, in the nuclear field, that we shall get very much in return for joining Euratom from the European countries, certainly not civilly.

There is quite a possibility that they will benefit a great deal. That, in my mind, should not necessarily rule the whole thing out, for it might be a good reason for our joining. I am all for our playing a full part in international co-operation, whether it be in Europe or anywhere else. If we have something to contribute which will be for the benefit of mankind, let us do it. As I assess the position at the moment, the Europeans are going to gain far more from us than we shall gain from them by our joining Euratom. I hope that we shall make that clear, as my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon said.

We should not go cap in hand and say, "Please let us in". We should say, "Because we may consider negotiating with you an agreement on the economic front, leading later possibly to political co-operation, we think it is a good idea at the same time that we should contribute what we have to offer to you in the hope that you will be able to offer us something in return in the field of nuclear energy". That is the line of approach that I would take in this matter, and I believe such an approach to be perfectly honourable and one which would meet with considerable acceptance in this House.

When it comes to sorting out how the association with Euratom would work, there are some big problems for us to solve. One of them will be whether we are to make over, as it were, to Euratom some of our stocks of uranium, whether we are to have not a big "white sale" but a big "black sale" of uranium at out prices, because we bought more than we required ourselves, and whether we are to put it into the common pool of Euratom and perhaps save ourselves a little subscription until it is all disposed of.

Perhaps that is one way of approaching the matter, but certainly we have far more uranium than we need for a considerable time to come. As my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon said, it will be extremely difficult to dispose of that without some loss to the public purse. I hope that in this House we shall not make the position of the Atomic Energy Authority too difficult through our Committees on Public Accounts and Estimates, so that the Authority does not have to retain stocks which it does not need even if it has to dispose of those stocks at slightly below cost.

Then there is the question of what relationship there will be as between Euratom and our establishments that we still keep under the control of the Atomic Energy Authority. Are we to have representatives of Euratom stationed in every Atomic Energy Authority plant in Britain or not? Do we conceive that if we were to agree to that, we must at least have similar rights in all the other countries? I should have thought that this was definitely a case for a fair sharing of obligations. We must not be the only people to accept the idea of having representatives from countries which may well prove to be our competitors in the long term, if not in the short term. Therefore, we have considerable problems and they will sooner or later give rise to problems of employment, involving such matters as who has the right to work, what should be the scale of salaries, and so on. As my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary will probably say in his reply, just as the negotiations over the Common Market are proving long drawn out, so the negotiations over Euratom to get all the details tied up will take a considerable time. I should prefer to see them take a longer rather than a shorter time, because I am certain that this is a very intricate matter.

I gave a quotation from Sir Christopher Hinton just now, and I should like to make a further quotation from him: One sees, therefore, that in each and every country the initial development of reactors has been based on considerations which are logical and well-founded in that country. Philosophy in adolescence is likely to be based on the experience and influence of childhood years. The technique of reactor design is still only adolescent and it is natural that we should all be subject still to the influences to which we were subjected in our early days of reactor design. Each of us still thinks that our own philosophy is right and that the line of development to which it leads will ultimately prove to be best for our own problems. Only history will prove which or how many of us are right. Here there is a very real danger of going too fast in pooling everything and agreeing to do what everybody else wishes us to do. The field is wide open. We are in a pioneering stage. It would be a great pity if our application to join Euratom were to result in a stultification of experiment, in a restriction of enterprise the end of which cannot possibly be foreseen. If this country's history means anything at all, it means that we shall have a part to play in the foreseeable future, quite as great as, if not greater than, anything we have done in the past industrially or scientifically.

For that reason I hope my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary will be able to assure me and the House that in approaching this Euratom problem we are very conscious indeed and will make very clear to the other countries in Euratom that we are aware of the part that Britain has played, is playing and we know can continue to play provided we ensure that, whatever association we join in, Euratom is sufficiently free to allow real enterprise to operate.

1.51 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Peter Thomas)

I welcome the opportunity to say something about our membership of the European Atomic Energy Community and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) on having raised this matter. Indeed, I am grateful to him and to my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) for their contributions to this debate. I can assure them that everything they have said will be carefully considered by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal and, indeed, by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for Science. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for Science for being here, because he has been a great sustaining force to me not only in the preparation for this debate but also during the course of the debate over the last half an hour.

My hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon said that he assumed that if we were to join the European Economic Community we would join Euratom. I think that is a fair assumption. We have always recognised that the three existing Communities form part of a single whole and that they are each in their own fields components of the movement towards closer European unity. It therefore follows that if we join the European Economic Community it is both logical and right that we should join the European Coal and Steel Community and Euratom as well.

Our prospective membership of Euratom must, therefore, be considered against the broad political background of our decision to apply for membership of all three Communities. The political factors which led Her Majesty's Government to take this step have been explained to the House and discussed by right hon. and hon Members on many occasions, including our debate on 1st August. I know that the House would not wish me to deal with the political aspects again, but I should like my hon. Friends to bear them in mind in considering the commercial and technical aspects of the Euratom Treaty.

The statement which was made by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, which has already been referred to, at his meeting with Ministers of member States of Euratom at Brussels on 3rd July marked the formal opening of the Euratom negotiations. While the negotiations for OUT entry into Euratom, taken as a whole, are unlikely to be as complicated as the European Economic Community negotiations, they do nevertheless, as my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal said in the White Paper, involve at least three points which are of major importance to us.

The first concerns co-operation in atomic energy matters between the members of an enlarged European Atomic Energy Community and other West European countries. My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely referred to the importance of international co-operation. We believe that arrangements should be made to enable those of our partners in the European Nuclear Energy Agency who do not make separate arrangements with Euratom to continue to co-operate with the enlarged Community.

As the House knows, the E.N.E.A. was set up within the framework of the O.E.E.C. in order to promote co-operation among all Western European countries in nuclear matters. It has done much useful work. My hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon referred to the Dragon, an example of co-operation in the E.N.E.A. If we and others join Euratom, the existing arrangements, of course, would have to be reviewed. I am sure that everyone will agree that ways must be found of ensuring that the wider European effort in this work of great importance to all countries continues. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely referred specifically to that.

The second point is that we shall have to discuss with the Six the procedure to be followed in order that Euratom's five-year programme of research and development is reviewed in the light of the new circumstances which would be created by our accession, The third point is that we should have to make sure that the Euratom Treaty would be applied to the United Kingdom in such a way that our nuclear defence programme remained outside the ambit of Euratom—another matter spoken to by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely.

The United Kingdom has been deeply involved in the development of nuclear energy. We have the largest nuclear power programme in the world, which has been under way since 1955. Its operation has given us much experience in the field covered by Euratom—that is, the peaceful development of nuclear energy. This experience should enable us to make a major contribution to Euratom. On the other hand, the benefits will not be all one way. As my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal pointed out in his original statement, there are so many ways along which atomic energy can be profitably developed and so many problems which need to be solved that no one country can hope to pursue them all successfully. Progress will be surer and more speedy if we co-ordinate and combine all our efforts. The great nuclear tradition in Europe is still very much alive. It is out view that, if we join Euratom, we shall benefit from it.

I come now to some of the matters which have been raised. As my hon. Friends will appreciate, it is extremely difficult to answer without preparation many of the points which they have raised. I assure them that we shall consider carefully what has been said, and, if I do not deal with all the points now, either I or my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for Science will reply to them later. My hon. Friends will understand that, in replying to some of these points, I cannot go into detail on matters which might be prejudicial to our negotiating position. I must make clear that my remarks today are based upon our own interpretation of the Euratom Treaty, During the negotiations, which we hope will begin in October, we shall have to ask the Six whether our interpretation of certain parts of the treaty is correct.

The treaty was constructed, after much discussion, as the best framework which the member States could devise for co-operation in the development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. This framework should not need much alteration to accommodate the United Kingdom. Indeed, the only amendments to the treaty itself which we think we shall have to suggest are those which are the necessary consequence of the accession of a new member, for example, in the voting provisions. Any other arrangements which may be needed on our accession could, we think, be dealt with by protocols or other forms of understanding.

It follows that we do not think that the treaty needs to be changed to accommodate the interest of our nuclear industry. I am sure that our industry, with its extensive experience of the development of the British nuclear programme, can oompete favourably with its counterparts in the Community countries without the need for special arrangements.

The Euratom Treaty imposes certain obligations and limitations on its signatories. Certain of these will affect the British nuclear industry, and it may be helpful if I try to explain what we think their impact will be.

As we see it, the Euratom Treaty does not give the Euratom Commission power to impose commercial decisions on enterprises in member States; nor does the treaty require that all the results of research in member States will automatically be pooled. The powers given to the Euratom Commission are designed to achieve four main objectives in a way consistent with the treaty: first, co-ordination of nuclear programmes and activities; second, encouragement of the dissemination of information; third, equal access for all users to supplies of nuclear materials; fourth, the maintenance of a security control.

The first of these objectives—coordination of nuclear programmes and activities—is secured by three sets of provisions. The Euratom Commission may ask enterprises in member States, both public and private, to submit details of their research programmes. Enterprises undertaking major new investment projects in the nuclear field are required to give to the Commission advance notice. The Commission may obtain details of agreements made after the treaty came into force toy persons or enterprises in member States with a third country, an international organisation or a national of a third country. It may discuss a research programme or an investment project with the enterprise undertaking it.

The Commission, with its experience, will be able to make valuable comments, and the enterprises may often wish to be guided by them. But, in the last resort, the Commission cannot insist upon changes if an enterprise decides to stick to its ideas. On the other hand, if the Commission thinks that the provisions of an international agreement are incompatible with the treaty, it may refer the matter to the Court of Justice for a ailing, but the decision rests with the Court and not with the Commission.

The provisions of the treaty about the dissemination of information envisage that this will normally be achieved by voluntary co-operation between the Commission and enterprises working in nuclear energy. In extreme cases, where voluntary co-operation fails, the Commission may order the granting of a compulsory licence for the use of nuclear patents. The Commission's decision can be challenged by the patent holder, and the matter is then decided, at the patent owner's choice, either by a specially constituted international arbitration committee or by the competent authorities of the patent owner's State. In the latter case, the Commission may appeal against an unfavourable decision to the Court of Justice.

I understand that the Commission is chary of using these compulsory powers. In fact, I have not heard of any such case. Of course, if a compulsory licence is granted, the patent holder is entitled to compensation. Normally, this will be agreed between him and the licensee, and, if they cannot reach agreement, the amount of compensation will be settled, again at the patent owner's choice, either by the competent authorities in his State or by the international arbitration committee.

The treaty contains extensive provisions to ensure equal access to supplies of nuclear materials by all enterprises in member States. A supply agency has been set up for this purpose. When these provisions were drafted, it was thought that there would be a scarcity of nuclear material. As both my hon. Friends have said, there is now a surplus of materials like uranium, and, as far as we can see, this will continue for many years. Because of this surplus, the Euratom Commission and the supply agency made arrangements in 1960 under which the most important of the provisions dealing with supplies are put into force by a simplified procedure which leaves it to the parties concerned to negotiate contracts for ores and source materials, subject only to the formal approval of the supply agency Moreover, we understand that in practice the supply agency is operating many of the other provisions flexibly.

Finally, there are the security control provisions. These are designed to ensure that nuclear materials are not diverted from the purpose for which they were stated to be required. The main importance of these provisions is that they constitute a safeguard against the unauthorised diversion of nuclear material to military uses. Enterprises working in the civil nuclear field will have to maintain certain operating records and to grant full access to Euratom inspectors. These safeguards are inevitably, and desirably, a feature of a multilateral agreement like the Euratom Treaty which involves close international co-operation in the development of nuclear energy.

Although our proposed accession to Euratom would impose certain obligations on the British nuclear industry, these should not, in our view, in practice prove very onerous. Moreover, these obligations must be weighed against the benefits. Broadly speaking, our accession should enable our industry to play a full part in the nuclear development of Europe. Crystal-gazing on this subject is perhaps less within my province than that of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, but it seems to me that in the long term there is every reason why developments in the field of nuclear energy should at least keep pace with the developments in other sectors in Europe's economy. Nuclear energy is, after all, a new technology with tremendous potentialities. While, like all technological developments, its exploitation may have its ups and downs, the pace of scientific research in the twentieth century has been such as to encourage the hope that there will be many new and momentous discoveries in the field of nuclear energy.

United Kingdom enterprises, including the Atomic Energy Authority, the Electricity Generating Boards and private firms will be entitled to information obtained from the Euratom Commission's own research programme and from programmes in which the Euratorn Commission shares. They will also be able to exchange technical information on a commercial basis and on much the same lines as at present, although the scale of the exchanges should increase.

Membership of Euratom will mean that British firms will be able to sell nuclear equipment without the handicap of the common external tariff which will face third countries. Moreover, they will be able to compete for Euratom research contracts and for orders for equipment for Euratom research centres. Euratom's research programme is a very large one. For the five years 1963–67, 425 million dollars have been allocated to it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon asked a question about A.E.A. research contracts. I do not know whether I have sufficient information to give a full answer to this question, but perhaps I can give him such information as I have. I am informed that the Euratom Commission announced in May that in the first four and a half years of its life Euratom concluded 250 research contracts involving a total outlay of 156 million dollars. Forty of these contracts, including some of 'the largest, have been awarded to national atomic energy organisations. Another batch has gone to universities and public and private research institutes. The remainder have been awarded to industrial firms.

The A.E.A. has a much larger research establishment of its own than the Euratom Commission. Nevertheless, the atomic energy estimates for 1962–63 provide for an expenditure of nearly £4.9 million on research contracts; £3.5 million, or nearly 10 million dollars, is being spent with private firms. This expenditure in one year alone compares quite favourably with Euratom's expenditure over the past five years.

I understand that arrangements are being made to ensure adequate consultation with industry during the Euratom negotiations, and that the Board of Trade is already in touch with trade associations and firms concerned.

Finally, my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon referred to Euroehemic. As my hon. Friend knows, this is not a Euratom undertaking but was set up under the auspices of E.N.E.A. We did not join when it was set up in 1960 because we felt that the balance of advantage lay against our doing so. This was primarily because we already had atomic chemical processing plant capacity here and it seemed pointless to duplicate it. But we shall have to review our position if we join Euratom. I do not know what the outcome of this review is likely to be, but we will certainly keep in mind the advantages to British industry of being able to compete for Eurochemic orders for equipment.

This short debate has been useful. I hope that my modest contribution to it has made it clear that, in addition to the major political advantages of our membership of all three Communities, Euratom would provide a framework in which we and the other members would share our common experience, skill and resources to exploit a significant and comparatively new field of science. I could not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon when he said that we should not gain much advantage from joining. I feel that our industry, scientists and the country as a whole stand to gain from the major advances which should follow from this co-operative European effort.