asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what investigations have been, or are being, made into the distillation of sea water for industrial and domestic purposes in this country.
The distillation of sea water is an established industrial process, and British-made equipment is among the best in the world. Compared with normal sources of supply in Western Europe, however, distilled water is expensive, and any extensive use for industrial and domestic purposes in this country is unlikely, except in very special circumstances where it would be economic.
While it may well appear that enough rain—and, indeed, snow—falls in this country to satisfy all needs, is it not the case that lack of water is becoming a limiting factor in town and country planning; and that if we store surface water it means further damage to various parts of the open country which people much appreciate? In those conditions, although I appreciate the expense, as we have this industry in the country, would it not be worth, perhaps, spending some money in trying to bring down the cost of producing distilled water from the sea?
The first part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is, of course, a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Local Government. As to the second part, a considerable amount of research is being undertaken by industrial companies, and the right hon. Gentleman will no doubt have seen an article on the subject in one of this morning's national newspapers.