HC Deb 06 July 1960 vol 626 cc443-4
39. Mr. Mathew

asked the Postmaster-General what plans he has for the eventual introduction of long-range telephone, teleprinter and television circuits routed via the moon, satellites or other space bodies; and what research his Department is carrying out on this new low-cost method of communication.

Miss Pike

The possibilities of space communications are under close study by my officers and other organisations. It is, however, impossible for me to say whether such techniques will provide reliable or economical means of communication.

Mr. Mathew

Is my hon. Friend aware that I am not asking the Post Office to reach for the moon in that sense? The American Post Office is already operating a successful long-distance, low-cost teleprinter service across the Pacific, and scientists, at any rate outside the Post Office, consider that this is the probable pattern of long-range communications for the future?

Miss Pike

I agree with my hon. Friend. The Post Office has always prided itself, in its 300 years of existence, on being well ahead of other people, and we are treating this as a matter of urgency.

Mr. W. R. Williams

While accepting the last part of that reply, may I ask the hon. Lady two questions? Is the Post Office Research Department keeping in close liaison with Jodrell Bank on this very interesting scientific possibility? Secondly, would it not be in the national interest for the British Government to give further financial assistance to Manchester University and to the Jodrell Bank authorities in order that there can be a still more intensive search into these possibilities, at the same time helping to prevent some of our leading scientists in this subject from accepting very tempting offers from the United States and other countries?

Miss Pike

The answer to the first part of the supplementary question is. "Yes" The second is not necessarily for the Post Office, but the Post Office is always glad to have more money for research