HC Deb 22 January 1973 vol 849 cc29-30
26. Mr. W. H. K. Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made with regard to the design and feasibility study of the use of steam generating heavy water reactors by electricity generating boards in the United Kingdom and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Tom Boardman

The nuclear design and construction companies have recently made joint proposals to my Department which are being urgently examined in consultation with the Atomic Energy Authority and the electricity generating boards.

Mr. Baker

Will my hon. Friend tell the House when the decision will be taken on the considerations which are being undergone at the moment? Does he agree that in view of the undoubted success of the prototype SGHWR, it would be better to press ahead with that rather than to buy American, as some sources have suggested?

Mr. Boardman

The object of the review announced on 8th August was to enable all these matters to be evaluated over the 18-month period. I hope we shall be able to keep to that target, although it will depend on the number of generating boards wishing to place an order.

Mr. Palmer

Does the Minister agree that the steam generated heavy water reactor at Winfrith Heath as a prototype has been working satisfactorily for a number of years and could be used by any of the generating boards if there were the will to do so?

Mr. Boardman

Yes, it has been working very satisfactorily, but the hon. Gentleman will agree that further work is needed before it can be translated into a commercial reactor.