HC Deb 27 July 1960 vol 627 cc1620-1
12. Mr. Donnelly

asked the Postmaster-General if he will give details of the steps his Department has taken to study the application of space research for the long-distance telephone system.

Mr. Bevins

The Post Office is in regular consultation with other Departments concerned with space research and is participating actively in the work of the International Radio Consultative Committee. My officials have also had exploratory discussions with other Commonwealth telephone authorities and with the American Telephone and Telegraph Company about the possible application of earth satellites to long-distance communications.

Mr. Donnelly

In view of that monumental labour by the Post Office, can the Postmaster-General say what conclusion the Post Office has reached so far?

Mr. Bevins

Only in a very general sense. I am convinced, on the basis of technical advice which I have received, that there is a future in this field, and I believe that technically it is possible; but we have a great deal of further work to do on the financial and other implications.

Mr. Chetwynd

Is not this problem becoming more and more urgent in view of the congestion of the existing cables and the high cost of replacing them with new cables? Would it not be better to make an early decision to go ahead with space satellites for this purpose?

Mr. Bevins

I assure the hon. Gentleman and the House that there will be no delay in coming to decisions. At the same time, I should like to make it clear that, even if this form of communication should materialise in the relatively near future, it is still the view of all the principal administrations that we should require to maintain submarine communications as well.