HC Deb 18 March 1968 vol 761 cc8-10
6. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Minister of Technology what steps he has taken to declassify work at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston.


It has always been the practice at Aldermaston to declassify work as far as possible and to publicise the results extensively. For the past five years a large part of the site has been an unclassified area. Work has been undertaken for civil departments and facilities made available to research workers from universities.

Mr. Dalyell

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that although it may always be the practice, as he says, in fact there is progress-chasing at Aldermaston to see what can be declassified?

Mr. Benn

Over the last few years 40 reports have been published from Aldermaston by the Stationery Office and 100 to 150 scientific papers are published every year. Aldermaston was represented at Expo 67 and two other exhibitions. Civil work on computers and for the Forensic Crime Laboratory and for medical and dental engineering are indications of the intention here.

7. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Minister of Technology what steps he is taking to promote research for commercial purposes at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Aldermaston.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Technology (Dr. Jeremy Bray)

With my right hon. Friend's support, the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment accepts a wide and increasing variety of orders on commercial terms from Government Departments, including the Ministry of Technology, and from private customers for research and development outside the atomic weapons field.

Mr. Dalyell

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that in fact the establishment itself takes the initiative in bringing work to the notice of what he calls this wide variety of customers?

Dr. Bray

Yes, indeed. There are constant meetings between the staff of the establishment and the Ministry of Technology headquarters—sometimes involving Ministers—with private concerns of various kinds seeking profitable outlets.

Sir H. Legge-Burke

In view of the fact that the Select Committee on Science and Technology is examining the advanced research establishments in the current Session of Parliament and that the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) is a member of that Committee, will the Parliamentary Secretary consider suggesting to his hon. Friend that it might be as well to allow the Select Committee to do its work?

Mr. Dalyell

On a point of order. A certain issue of principle arises here. Is it to be that a member of a Select Committee is not to put down Questions on an establishment, which incidentally the Select Committee has not visited? What is this doctrine?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order.

32. Mr. Booth

asked the Minister of Technology what were the percentages of military and civil work being undertaken at Aldermaston Research Station in October, 1964; and what are the present percentages of military and civil work being undertaken at this establishment.

Dr. Bray

The proportion of total expenditure at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment attributable to civil work in 1964–65 was 14 per cent.; in 1967–68 it will be some 16 per cent.

Mr. Booth

Would it not be totally appropriate to the needs of Britain's economy if nuclear weapons research at Aldermaston were ceased entirely and civil research put in its place in order to increase our industrial output?

Dr. Bray

My hon. Friend will have noted from my Answer that the proportion of civil research is increasing.