HC Deb 20 November 1961 vol 649 cc920-1
26. Mr. Rankin

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will make a statement on his plans to develop a European space launcher.

Mr. Thorneycroft

A Convention for the establishment of a European satellite launcher development organisation was prepared at a conference held in London from 30th October to 3rd November. In addition to the United Kingdom, the following countries were represented at the conference: Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy and Spain. Observers representing Norway, Sweden and Switzerland were also present. The Convention has been sent to the Governments concerned for consideration.

Mr. Rankin

At this stage, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is true that the European launcher development organisation does not propose to launch an operational satellite? If it does not propose to do it, can he say within his plans who is to do it?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am not quite clear what the right hon. Gentleman means by "operational satellite". The objective of this organisation would be to develop a launcher capable of putting satellites into orbit, and, in the process of that development project, it would put up a number of trial satellites.

Mr. Chetwynd

Has the right hon. Gentleman any comment to make on the latest reported move of the United States to offer launchers for the use of European countries, with the result that both Italy and Germany have withdrawn from this organisation?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have no information about Germany or Italy or anybody else withdrawing from this organisation. They have not joined it. At the moment we have agreed a convention. We have agreed the technical proposals. These have been circulated to relevant Governments, including those two, and we are hoping to have an answer from them before the end of the month.