HC Deb 28 February 1966 vol 725 cc894-5
30. Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in view of the little progress made by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and by its Legal Sub-Committee, whether Her Majesty's Government will take an initiative to promote agreements on the principles of international law by which claims can be settled and activities regulated in space and, in particular, on the moon.

Mr. Padley

At the present time, No, Sir. Her Majesty's Government are anxious that the Legal Sub-Committee should bring its present work to a successful conclusion before taking on any further tasks. This does not, however, exclude the possibility that Her Majesty's Government may at some future date wish to take such an initiative.

Mr. Campbell

Since the situation is not dissimilar from that of the High Seas, and since Britain has been preeminent in promoting international law in that area, will not the Government take an initiative before difficult situations are allowed to arise?

Mr. Padley

I sympathise with the general objectives outlined by the hon. Member, but so far the Legal Sub-Committee has been occupied with its attempts to formulate two agreements which were specifically referred to it by the General Assembly—one on assistance to and the return of astronauts from space vehicles and the second on liability for damage caused by outer space objects. To take an initiative before these specific references to the General Assembly have been resolved would not, we believe, be useful.