HC Deb 29 April 1969 vol 782 cc1135-6
13. Sir J. Eden

asked the Minister of Power what consultations he had with the Central Electricity Generating Board before the ground rules for advanced gas cooled reactors were changed; and when the decision was taken.

Mr. Mason

I have been aware since my early discussions with the C.E.G.B. in the summer of last year that a change was under consideration. The C.E.G.B. formally notified me of its decision last month.

Sir J. Eden

In view of the strong argument and discussion which is now taking place between the Coal Board and the C.E.G.B. as to the costs of nuclear power versus coal-fired stations, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it was disingenuous, to say the least, to have allowed the ground rules to be changed and go through as a footnote in Written Answer rather than making a proper declaration to the House and to the industries concerned?

Mr. Mason

No, I did not think that was so. It has been under consideration for some time and could have been announced prior to the Seaton Carew decision, but if the C.E.G.B. had done it then and I had informed the House, it would have been charged with being biased. There is always this difficulty over nuclear or coal-fired stations as to when the announcement should be made, but I did not think it warranted a statement to the House just before the Board had changed one of its ground rules.