HC Deb 10 March 1964 vol 691 cc236-7
19. Mr. Albu

asked the Lord President of the Council and Minister for Science if he will make a statement about the future of the development of marine nuclear propulsion by the Atomic Energy Authority.

Mr. Hogg

I have nothing to add to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) on 28th January.

Mr. Albu

The Parliamentary Secretary said in another place that the integral boiling water reactor has been abandoned because it entailed a long-term development programme for fuel elements. Does this not imply that such factors do not apply to the other system? Does not the reply given in another place mean that the Government have given up the idea of developing a nuclear-powered ship in the foreseeable future?

Mr. Hogg

The answer to the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is, "No". The Government have not taken a decision on that matter. The position regarding the integral boiling water reactor is as stated by the Parliamentary Secretary. Our work on the Vulcain and an associated type of reactor continues.

Dame Irene Ward

Since the Americans have gone off the "Savannah" and the Admiralty seems to have gone off a British reactor, can my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that the Government have gone on with the development of a nuclear reactor for marine propulsion? What active operation is to take place to that we get on with the job and let Britain take the lead?

Mr. Hogg

The Americans are, think, less keen on the "Savannah". The Admiralty is concerned with a different type of reactor than that to which the Question refers. The supplementary question about a Government decision on the development of a ship is not for me but it will be a decision for the Government when it comes.

Mr. Crossman

There is considerable alarm about these researches. They began in 1961 and already about£3½ million has been spent on them. The total is due to reach £5 million by the end of the year. Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman really nothing to say about the expenditure of all that money? Cannot he give some information?

Mr. Hogg

Full information on what the money has been spent on has been available, The experiments on Vulcain have technically been very successful but whether or not, as a matter of commercial judgment, we should develop a nuclear ship out of the reactor experiments which have so far been successful is not a question to be addressed to me.