HC Deb 04 July 1983 vol 45 cc11-2
9. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the current cost of Government research undertaken into alternative forms of energy.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I expect my Department to spend between £13 million and £14 million on research into new and renewable sources of energy in 1983–84.

Mr. Chapman

I welcome the proposed increase compared with what was spent five years ago. Alternative forms of energy can form only a small and marginal part of total national energy needs, but will my right hon. Friend use his good offices to encourage research and development? Will he bear in mind that it is beneficial for us to have as wide a range of alternative forms of energy as possible and to encourage Britain to have what are known as clean and renewable forms of energy?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I agree with my hon. Friend. I hope that he welcomes what my right hon. and learned Friend the then Chancellor of the Exchequer said in May about assistance to the Severn barrage study and the announcement last week of the £11 million that we are giving to the Camborne school of mines for research there. They are two recent examples of the Government's commitment. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his support.

Mr. Corbett

Does the Minister accept that we are playing with the problem compared with the massive expenditure on the nuclear programme? Does he agree that if money were put into research and development we could not only save on existing forms of energy but could open up export markets for alternative energy?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I agree that the matter should not be ignored, but one should not go overboard either. I hope the hon. Gentleman will recognise that we are spending four times as much as the Labour Government were spending five years ago.