HC Deb 05 March 1969 vol 779 c415
27. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Technology what considerations led him to the final closing of the Pametrada turbine research station in 1967.

Mr. Benn

I did not close Pametrada. This body was an autonomous turbine design organisation controlled and supported by industry. By 1967 it was clear that there was no future for the organisation, and it consequently wound up voluntarily in 1968.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree with paragraph 22 or Sir Arnold Lindley's report on the turbines in s.s. "Queen Elizabeth 2", in which he said that more should be done in development under running conditions? Is it not a pity that any place where testing can be done should not be kept in being?

Mr. Benn

The test rig which was inherited from Pametrada went to the Ship Research Association and not a great deal of use has been made of it. It does not meet a major test requirement for a turbine of the kind which the QE2 had at full power. This is being considered separately—I think that there is another Question on this matter—but I shall examine Sir Arnold Lindley's report in the light of what the hon. Gentleman says. If there is anything in this direction which seems right, I should not hesitate to do it.

Mr. Dalyell

To whom was it clear that there was no future?

Mr. Benn

To those who organised it. That is to say, it was not closed down by me; it was supported by industry, and industry had to decide what to do. I should add that from 1945 a grant was given by D.S.I.R., and it came to a conclusion, and the Geddes Committee recommended the reorganisation of the marine engine side. These things taken together no doubt contributed to the decision.