HC Deb 15 July 1985 vol 83 c13
15. Mr. Colvin

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what funding has been made available for research into alternative energy sources since 1979.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Total research and development expenditure by my Department on renewable energy from 1979–80 to 1984–85 was approximately £76 million. The forecast expenditure for 1985–86 is £14 million.

Mr. Colvin

My right hon. Friend is aware that gas, coal and oil are finite sources of energy. Could not a better case be made for the Government reinvesting some of their receipts from fission fuels into research into alternative forms of energy such as tidal, solar and wind energy? When can we expect a go-ahead for the pilot barrage on the Severn estuary?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

It is worth while studying these alternative forms of energy as my Department is doing by helping to fund research. However, we have to concentrate on research on those sectors which produce the best prospects, and that is what we are doing. As my hon. Friend knows, a study into the Severn barrage is going on now and it is hoped that the report of that study will be received by the end of the year. This will enable decisions to be taken.

Mrs. Clwyd

Instead of putting money into alternative sources of energy, would it not be a better put money into existing coalfield communities, particularly in my constituency, where we have the highest male unemployment rate in Wales–28 per cent. at present? On Thursday one of the pits will come up for review and will possibly close, with a loss of 570 jobs, pushing male unemployment up to 33 per cent. Is that not intolerable in the 1980s?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am sorry that the hon. Lady does not support investment into revewable sources of energy, which is widely supported throughout the country. I refute what the hon. Lady has said about investment in the coal industry, on which the Government have the best record of any Government in recent years. What the hon. Lady says is utterly hypocritical.