§ Mr. Wall
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we are getting behind very many of the leading maritime nations in the development of a nuclear ship? Is he aware that only two days ago his right hon. Friend said that the A.E.A. was ready to design a reactor for trials at sea and that it admitted that we will not get any further until we have a nuclear reactor at sea?
§ Mr. Mason
Technically, the Atomic Energy Authority has said that we can go ahead. The point is that the Authority has not yet completed its review. We started three months ago to find out whether (a) it should be a test bed at sea and further money should be spent on research and development, or (b) whether there is an economic nuclear unit available and, if that were so and we took a decision to go ahead, whether we could by-pass other nations who use nuclear propulsion units.
§ Mr. Wingfield Digby
Surely it is well known that there is no economic reactor at present and that the whole argument is that we need experience of how these things work at sea and how to cope with the problem of screening, on which other nations are making rapid strides?
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Would not my hon. Friend agree that it was the long period of shilly-shallying on the part of the previous Administration which has left us so far behind today?
§ 18. Mr. Wingfield Digby
asked the President of the Board of Trade what study he has made of shipyards overseas which build or plan to build nuclear 589 merchant ships; and if he will take the results of this study into account before reaching his decision on the British nuclear powered merchant ship.
§ Mr. Mason
The right hon. Gentleman should get his facts straight. First of all, it was the Padmore Committee which the previous Administration were responsible for setting up. He was himself responsible for debating the Padmore Committee Report on the Floor of the House. No doubt he will remember that he defended their conclusions, which were inconclusive.