§ 2.39 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government the proposed size of the new nuclear energy power station about to be built at Sellafield for commercial purposes; the estimated cost per kilowatt installed including the reactors, the estimated overall thermal efficiency, and the estimated cost per unit sent out on a 60 per cent. load factor.]
§ THE PAYMASTER GENERAL (LORD CHERWELL)
My Lords, it is incorrect to describe the purpose of the plant to be built at Sellafield as commercial. It is an experimental power station, and Her Majesty's Government are at present unable to commit themselves to estimates of the kind asked for by the noble Viscount.
My Lords, arising out of that Answer, I am sorry to hear that the noble Lord cannot give the reply which I had hoped for, and which has been more or less given in publications of learned societies, In view of the great interest that has been created in nuclear energy in technical circles, I should like to ask the noble Lord whether it is not possible for those interested, especially consulting engineers, who are now getting inquiries from different parts of the world as to whether they should establish stations developing nuclear energy or ordinary coal stations, and are 659 unable to give any reply, to be brought into contact with the Government developments. This might be done either through a council or lectures, or something of that sort, or by persons who have these matters directly under their charge. Consulting engineers would then know what reply to give to their clients who are asking them to deal with these important matters. I know that the noble Lord cannot give a definite reply to this question, but I hope that he will be able to discuss it with his advisers, to see whether some means can be arrived at to enable technical people closely interested in the matter to be kept in close touch with developments.
§ LORD CHERWELL
My Lords, we will certainly consider that point sympathetically and see how soon and in what way we can carry out the desires of the noble Viscount.
My Lords, I should like to ask whether the noble Lord is aware that the factory at Sellafield is on the fringe of the last of the most beautiful unspoilt parts of the country. Would he ensure that this enormous sum of, I believe, £10 million which is to be spent on the extension of it is in respect of a factory which will not become obsolete in the foreseeable future?
§ LORD CHERWELL
My Lords, it is difficult in these matters to say what the foreseeable future is, and whether a thing will become obsolete in that period. When the first steam engines were built it was impossible to say whether they were in their final form, or whether they would have to be changed and become obsolete fairly soon. Naturally, everything possible will be done to satisfy the noble Lord's wishes.