HC Deb 05 June 1972 vol 838 cc25-7
30. Mr. Palmer

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to bring about the further reorganisation of the nuclear reactor industry.

43. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action the Government intends to take in relation to the recommendations in the Vinter Committee Report.

Mr. Emery

The Government are reviewing all aspects of the country's investment in nuclear power, including the ground covered by the Vinter Committee; and is consulting the nuclear industry and other parties concerned. Its decisions will be made known to the House as soon as possible.

Mr. Palmer

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the future shape of the nuclear reactor industry is of the greatest importance to the technology and industry of this country? Does not the House deserve to know what the Vinter Committee has recommended? If that information cannot be given, at least may we have a statement rather better than that which the hon. Gentleman has just made?

Mr. Emery

The answer to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question is "Yes". The answer to the second part is that there is a great deal of commercial information which is highly confidential and publication of which would be very damaging to some interests in this country. I do not think that anyone in the House would want that action taken. As soon as it is possible, a statement will be made to the House as a matter of urgency.

Mr. Rost

Would my hon. Friend give an assurance that before any decisions are taken, full consideration will be given to the problems of environmental pollution and safety which the United States has come up against in its systems?

Mr. Emery

That is certainly a major problem. It is of concern to many people, and there are certainly worries about safety in the United States nuclear power programme.

Mr. Benn

Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that the statement he has made is itself impossible in that it will affect our own exports or possible exports of nuclear systems and that until the Government are ready to come out with a full statement this industry will simply not be able to make progress? If there are parts of the Vinter Committee Report which are commercially secret, can these not be deleted so that the House may know what are the alternatives, because we simply will not acept the say-so of the Government without the backup evidence when the Committee comes forward with its recommendations?

Mr. Emery

There are two parts to the right hon. Gentleman's question Dealing first with the possibility of publishing the report, it is essential that Ministers in any Government should be able to have the very best advice given to them which can be held to be confidential. Also, while we realise the major problems involved, it must be right to make the correct decision rather than taking one just for the sake of speed.