HC Deb 14 July 1980 vol 988 cc451-2W
Mr. David Steel

asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) if he will place in the Library his Department's recent memorandum to the United States Government which dealt with proposed cooperation on fast breeder reactor development;

(2) if he will place in the Library a copy of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority's report submitted to him which sets out fast breeder reactor development options;

(3) if he will list those countries which have been, or are currently, engaged in discussions with officials of his Department on possible future co-operation in the development of fast breeder reactors;

(4) if he will provide an assurance that no binding international agreement will be entered into with any other country on a joint development programme for fast breeder reactors until he is satisfied that full and extensive public debate has taken place.

Mr. Norman Lamont

I am currently reviewing fast reactor policy in the light of advice which I have received from the chairman of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and others concerned in the nuclear and electricty supply industries.

International collaboration is one option open to us in this field and exploratory discussions have therefore been held with other countries involved in fast reactor development to assess the possibilities.

These exploratory discussions have been carried out primarily at the industrial level and have been without prejudice to the Government's position. I do not think it would be appropriate to publish the advice I have received from industry since it could have a bearing on our future dealing with the countries concerned.

Involvement of officials from my Department in these exploratory discussions has been very limited. No departmental memorandum setting out proposals for fast reactor co-operation has been handed to the United States Government, and there have been no negotiations either at Government or industrial level.

I have already made it clear that any decision to build a large fast reactor in this country would be subject to a full and thorough public inquiry. This would apply whether or not the proposals involved collaborative arrangements.