HC Deb 17 June 1965 vol 714 cc885-6
Q2. Mr. Ian Lloyd

asked the Prime Minister what is the total value of natural and processed uranium and other fissile metals or materials, other than those irrevocably committed either to nuclear weapons or the reactors of nuclear power stations in operation or building, held in Government, Atomic Energy Authority or private stocks in the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister

It would not be in the public interest for me to give the information asked for in the hon. Member's Question.

Mr. Lloyd

Does the Prime Minister appreciate that his reply will disappoint those who feel that the question of national security was adequately safeguarded by the careful framing of this Question? But, perhaps more important, does not he agree that the size of the stock of materials is very substantial and that there is scope for a considerable and constructive British initiative in monetising these materials, thereby achieving at one and the same time an increase of national security and an increase in international liquidity?

The Prime Minister

If I thought that uranium could be added to gold in terms of international liquidity reserves, I should be very happy. I noticed the wording of the hon. Gentleman's Question, and I would ask him to take it from me that I was not in any sense standing on any plea of military security or political security. But it has long been the practice in matters affecting the trading interest of the Atomic Energy Authority and of the country as a whole that these figures be not given. If the hon. Gentleman will study successive Reports of the Public Accounts Committee he will find that it has done a very careful survey of these matters, but I remember that we always decided that we would never publish the figures because it affects the trading freedom of the A.E.A., and it might have very adverse effects on our balance of payments if we published these figures regularly.

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