HC Deb 15 February 1966 vol 724 cc1082-3
2. Mr. Leadbitter

asked the Minister of Technology what initiatives have been taken to press the sale of British advanced gas-cooled reactors in the United States of America, in view of the decision of the United States Atomic Energy Commission to abandon their experimental gas-cooled reactor at Oak Ridge and the failure of the Dragon-type reactors at Peach Bottom and Colorado.

Mr. Cousins

Every opportunity is taken to ensure that potential customers both in the United States of America and elsewhere are kept fully informed of the success of advanced gas-cooled reactors in the United Kingdom. For commercial reasons it would not be appropriate for me to comment at this stage on the further initiatives which are in hand or under consideration.

Mr. Leadbitter

I thank the Minister for his answer, but would he assure the House that the decision of the Atomic Energy Commission in America to withdraw the experiment in the gas-cooled reactor does not imply a lack of confidence in the concept? Will he, therefore, seek to exploit Britain's remarkable lead in this respect, particularly with our advanced gas-cooled reactor, with its opportunities for export and its contribution to the power supply programme?

Mr. Cousins

Of course, I would not want to attempt to answer for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, although our information is that their problems are not as great as has been suggested in some quarters. But the main point is that, on the basis of the highly successful exploitation of gas-cooled systems in this country, we have every reason for continued confidence. We shall make this known as widely as we can.

Mr. Webster

In view of the fact that the Oak Ridge project has a writing-down time of 30 years and that Dungeness has a 20-year depreciation, will the Minister press very hard on the European Nuclear Energy Agency for a common criterion on all these points?

Mr. Cousins

There are further Questions on this, but we are responsible for our own decisions about writing-down time.