HC Deb 21 May 1969 vol 784 cc410-1
10. Sir D. Renton

asked the Minister of Technology what progress has been made with regard to desalination of sea water; which pilot schemes are in operation or have been planned; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu

Considerable progress has been made by the Atomic Energy Authority and several industrial partners. Development of the multi-stage flash distillation process for export markets has consistently reduced costs, and other processes are under investigation.

Pilot plants exist or are planned to test these alternative processes, but there are no proposals at present for desalination schemes in the United Kingdom.

Sir D. Renton

In view of the suggestions in the House in recent years that there should be pilot schemes in connection with atomic energy power stations, why are no pilot schemes actually operating? What will the hon. Gentleman do about that?

Mr. Mallalieu

Pilot schemes are operated. I am talking about schemes for desalination plants to supply the United Kingdom. A considerable investigation has been done into that, and the Minister of Housing is at present considering it.

Miss Quennell

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a predictable and foreseeable water shortage in this country, which, by the year 2,000, will be critical? Surely the Government should be doing a little more than this about it.

Mr. Mallalieu

This is a matter for the Minister of Housing, but he has been having a report prepared on it and it is now being considered.