HC Deb 09 August 1966 vol 733 cc1369-71
13. Mr. Brooks

asked the Minister of Technology if he will give details of the research currently being undertaken by the Atomic Energy Authority into the controlled nuclear fusion reaction; and whether such research has involved, or is intended to involve, co-operation with the European members of Euratom.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Technology (Mr. Peter Shore)

This research is carried out by the Authority's Culham Laboratory; the programme is shown in chapter VII of the Authority's Eleventh Annual Report.

Culham co-operates actively with many overseas centres of research in nuclear fusion, including those laboratories in Europe collaborating in Euratom's research programme.

Mr. Brooks

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply, but would he not agree that this is a field of scientific research in which some of the most remarkable developments can confidently be expected in the foreseeable future? In view of the advantages of international co-operation in such a field, would it not be well to ensure that whatever Government initiative is taken to negotiate membership of the European Economic Community, we should now seek the earliest membership of Euratom?

Mr. Shore

As my hon. Friend points out, this is certainly an important field, although when results might be expected from the research activity is at present difficult to judge. On co-operation with Euratom, there is an overall U.K.-Euratom agreement, and although there is not a specific Culham-Euratom agreement, it may be that the arrangements are proving satisfactory.

Mr. David Price

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that Culham might be suitable for the creation of a centre of international excellence along the general lines proposed by Lord Fleary?

Mr. Shore

I think that, in a broad sense, it is already an international centre of excellence, and it has attracted to it a number of research workers from other laboratories within the Euratom countries.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

When thinking of international corporations of the future, will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the very great success that has been achieved by the Dragon process under O.E.C.D. auspices? Would he consider at Culham changing over from Euratom, which is undergoing some difficulties these days, to O.E.C.D. auspices?

Mr. Shore

That raises wider questions, but there are certain aspects of the work going on at Culham which may in future be co-ordinated with O.E.C.D. as well as with the Euratom agencies.