HC Deb 28 June 1982 vol 26 c604
16. Mr. McNally

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if there has been any recent change in the relative priority his Department gives to the development of new energy sources in comparison with the development of existing sources.

18. Mr. Tilley

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what has been the percentage change between 1981–82 and 1982–83 in public expenditure on research and development into renewable energy resources.

Mr. Mellor

There has been no such change. The total expenditure by my Department on renewable energy sources, including the research and development management services of the energy technology support unit at Harwell, but excluding tidal studies, will fall in 1982–83 by about 11 per cent. from the 1981–82 figure of around £16.3 million.

Mr. McNally

Does not the cut in research and development signify a change in the order of priorities? Are not the Japanese already thinking of putting British research in this area to commercial use? Does the hon. Gentleman accept that, despite his earlier remarks about EC involvement in the Severn barrage, there is a feeling that he has boxed himself into nuclear and conventional options although he should be investing in alternative energy sources?

Mr. Mellor

When the hon. Gentleman was advising the Prime Minister three years ago, the amount spent on renewable energy was about one-fifth of what it will be in the coming year. I do not know what interest the hon. Gentleman took in it at that stage, but it is somewhat difficult to accept his criticism today. We have a rolling programme of research into the renewables to arrive at the most promising renewables for use in Britain. The ACORD report, to which I believe the hon. Gentleman refers, is a further step down that road.