HC Deb 16 April 1969 vol 781 cc1149-50
32. Mr. Brooks

asked the Minister of Technology whether he will now make a statement on the consequences for the Capenhurst gaseous diffusion plant of the decision to embark upon the gas centrifuge process of unanium enrichment.

Mr. Benn

The gaseous diffusion plant at Capenhurst will continue to supply enriched uranium for many years. Provided that development work continues satisfactorily the gas centrifuge process will be used to supplement it by providing the additional enrichment capacity which will be required to meet the United Kingdom's needs for enriched uranium in the 1970's.

Mr. Brooks

Will my right hon. Friend clarify the future of the enrichment company which is proposed? Will he say where and when the headquarters of this company will be set up? Will it have power over the production pricing of the enriched uranium which will come from the traditional diffusion process?

Mr. Benn

I can tell my hon. Friend that there would not be a link between our existing diffusion arrangements and the new tripartite arrangements which might come from the discussions. Beyond that it is too early to say what the detailed arrangements will be or finally where all the relevant plants and managerial headquarters will be.

Mr. Lubbock

Up to what date will the diffusion capacity now being added at Capenhurst meet the requirements of the United Kingdom? Can the Minister say what the time scale of the centrifuge development will be and whether the centrifuge production will come on stream in time to meet the requirements of the Central Electricity Generating Board for enriched fuel?

Mr. Benn

I cannot answer in detail, because we are in the middle of talks. But the timetable of the talks with our partners in Holland and Germany is related in our minds to providing enriched uranium in time to meet these needs. This is what has led us to go on with some speed. On the detailed question about the date on which the Capenhurst facilities will expire, it depends whether we need the uranium from them. Physically they will last for some time.