HC Deb 18 February 1964 vol 689 cc1019-20
Q1. Mr. Albu

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make arrangements for the technical and economic considerations on which the Powell Committee's Report on the Future of the Atomic Energy Programme will be based to be made available to Parliament.

The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

No, Sir. As my right hon. Friend the then Prime Minister said in reply to a Question about this Committee on 11th. July, 1963, details of the work of Cabinet Committees are not normally disclosed.

Mr. Albu

Is not the Prime Minister aware of the increasing concern at the mystery surrounding this Committee, especially in view of rumours now circulating about the intentions of the Generating Board? Is he aware also that firms in the manufacturing industries have been asked to give evidence to the chairman of the Committee, although they do not know the terms of reference of the Committee or the names of the rest of the members? Is it not time that Parliament was given some information on this very important problem which greatly affects our country's future economy? Will the Prime Minister consult his right hon. Friend who, the other day, told me that he would consider the point?

The Prime Minister

The Report is based on information which was obtained in confidence and, therefore, the Report cannot be published. On the other hand, when we have studied the Report, we shall support our conclusions by argument and justify our arguments to the House. I shall consider with my right hon. Friend what facts can be supplied to the House.

Dame Irene Ward

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, so far as I, at least, am concerned, there is a great deal of mystery surrounding the operations of the Atomic Energy Authority? For seven years, it seems to have been examining the nuclear reactor project for marine application, without success. We were told that we should be selling our nuclear power stations to the world, and this certainly does not seem to have been right. Is it not about time that we knew what this body was doing and that the mystery surrounding it should be exploded? I am not at all satisfied with the answer.

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend may not be satisfied with the Answer, but this was a Question about a mystery surrounding a Report, not the Atomic Energy Authority.

Mr. Crossman

Will the Prime Minister consider giving us more information, in view of the fact that we are having leaks and counter-leaks from the A.E.A. and from the C.E.G.B., with a vast amount of irresponsible information coming out? Have we not a right to know in the House of Commons something about these huge organisations with hundreds of millions of £s of capital engaged?

The Prime Minister

I have said that I shall consider with my right hon. Friend what can be made available to the House on which we can base a judgment. What I cannot do is to publish the Report, because it was a Report to the Cabinet.