HC Deb 27 April 1959 vol 604 cc871-3
3. Viscount Hinchingbrooke

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware of the urgent requirement for a British space research project; what discussions have now taken place with member nations of the Commonwealth for the creation of a joint scientific and technical staff to promote this research and for payment of appropriate financial contributions; and whether he will make a statement.

7. Mr. Green

asked the Minister of Supply what is the estimated cost of a five-year programme designed to lift British research satellites into space powered by a combination of Black Knight and Blue Streak missiles.

9. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Minister of Supply whether he will now make a further statement on the policy of using for scientific research the equipment being developed for the Royal Air Force.

10 and 11. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Supply (1) to what extent his Department has considered, from the point of view of technical possibilities, the official proposal made by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for a space research project on an international basis;

(2) for what reasons he has decided to delay consultation with Commonwealth countries about a space research project until after a decision has been made about the scale and nature of the British plans for such a project.

13. Mr. Mason

asked the Minister of Supply if the Government have yet decided whether there is sufficient scientific data to be obtained from an earth-space satellite launching to warrant a planned programme.

1. Mr. D. Price

asked the Minister of Supply whether he will make a statement upon the estimated cost of launching a British research satellite, taking into account that the cost of the parent missile will already have been met to a large extent by defence expenditure; and whether, in the light of that estimate, he will now state the Government's intentions for a research satellite project.

The Minister of Supply (Mr. Aubrey Jones)

I must ask hon. Members to await the statement of policy which, I hope, will be made shortly. Meanwhile, co-operation with scientists of other countries, including Commonwealth countries and Soviet Russia, is taking place on the International Committee on Space Research.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the problem of the number of British scientists seeking employment in the United States in this field is not likely to be solved and, indeed, may be positively enhanced if the Government's programme proves, in the end, to be no more than to lease a certain proportion of space in a United States' satellite?

Mr. Jones

As I indicated last week, the problem of British scientists and their possible exile is a most important consideration.

Mr. de Freitas

When the right hon. Gentleman comes to make a statement on this matter, will he bear in mind that my Question refers particularly to the use of equipment which is being developed for military purposes? Therefore, any project based on that will be very cheap indeed.

Mr. Jones

I understood that that was the drift of the Question.

Mr. Mason

Could the Minister say whether the Royal Society has proved to him that there is sufficient scientific data to be gained from an earth-space satellite launching? Secondly, in consideration of the report to the House, are the Government considering the setting up of a special scientific committee under the right hon. Gentleman's guidance with delegated responsibility for this programme?

Mr. Jones

As the hon. Member knows, I informally referred this question to some Fellows of the Royal Society some time ago, and they reported that results of considerable scientific usefulness would be obtained from space research. In answer to the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question about the Government's decision, I must ask him to await the statement.

Mr. P. Williams

May I repeat a question which I put to my right hon. Friend some months ago on this matter? If it is a question of shortage of finance, can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that financial support will be asked for from the Commonwealth first, in preference to any country outside the Commonwealth?

Mr. Jones

As I think I indicated last week, the Government have much in mind the scope which any space research programme would offer for Commonwealth co-operation.

Mr. Grimond

If the Government decide to go on with a project, will the Minister bear in mind that this seems to be an admirable opportunity for cooperation not only with the Commonwealth but also with other European countries, as he himself mentioned during the defence debate?

Mr. Jones

I readily concede that there are opportunities here for co-operation with other countries.

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