HC Deb 03 November 1980 vol 991 cc933-4
1. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what proportion of the research and development budget of his Department is devoted to research into alternative sources of energy.

The Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. John Moore)

The Department's expenditure on research and development programmes in renewable forms of energy is expected to be about £11 million this year, some 30 per cent. of the Chief Scientist's budget.

The Government as a whole are expected to spend some £55 million on R & D on non-nuclear technologies including oil, coal, conservation and the renewables. This is about 30 per cent. of the estimated total Government spend on energy technology R & D.

Mr. Knox

Does my hon. Friend think that more should be spent on research into alternative sources of energy? If Britain cannot afford to do so on its own, does my hon. Friend agree that there is a strong case for a substantial expansion of the EEC programme?

Mr. Moore

When considering whether more money should be spent, one should remember that the sum being spent has to be put in the context of the total spending on energy supply industries throughout the United Kingdom, which are some of the major investors in energy supply throughout the Community. Clearly, we expect to get our juste retour through the Community's new four-year alternative budget.

Mr. Eadie

The Minister must be aware that there is a great deal of public interest in alternative sources of energy. Is he prepared to tell the House the delays that his Department has estimated in the alternative research programmes—which are varied and many—as a consequence of a lack of funding? I think that the Government should tell us.

Mr. Moore

I reject any suggestion that there is delay caused by a lack of funding. The renewable energy research expenditure has until now been essentially pure research. There has been no delay caused by a lack of funds. Total expenditure, including that of the nationalised industries, on energy research and development this year in the United Kingdom will be about £374.6 million. Non-nuclear expenditure will be £159.4 million, or 43 per cent. of the total.

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