HC Deb 30 June 1966 vol 730 cc2190-2
Q6. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the policy of Her Majesty's Government on the resolution passed at the Western European Union meeting in Paris on 15th June to set up a permanent European organisation for the development of space vehicle launchers, to be integrated eventually into a single European community.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the Answer given on 27th June by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs to a Question by the noble Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel).

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Surely the Prime Minister will see that that Answer, as well as his evasive reply earlier today, taken with the unanimous negative vote of the Labour Party Parliamentary delegation in Paris, must give the impression that he is neither serious nor sincere in expressing a desire to join the Common Market.

The Prime Minister

We have explained about joining the Common Market on many occasions. On this issue, I should refer to the resolution passed by the Western European Union meeting in relation to the space launcher and the very difficult question, affecting others besides ourselves, of its integration into other communities. My right hon. Friend was right in an Answer on 13th June to say that this was a matter for the Council, which needs time to consider it. We cannot take unilateral action, for this is a matter for the Council.

Mr. Molloy

Will the Prime Minister give the House and the country an assurance that he will continue to examine some of the ridiculous and rash agreements made by the Conservative Party when, unfortunately, it held office and will he also give an assurance that he will give the regional problems of Britain, which have been so long neglected, priority over some European agreements which have been made?

The Prime Minister

I could find better ways of spending my time than examining some of these rash agreements, but, unfortunately, I have to examine them. That is why I have had to inform the House this afternoon that right hon. Gentleman opposite committed us to expenditure and resisted attempts to limit our commitments.

Mr. Hogg

Having regard to the enormous importance to modern industrial society of the technologies associated with space and to the need for continuity for modern industrial societies, having regard to the long time which these policies require for development, will not the right hon. Gentleman announce policies which may have to proceed beyond a single Parliament and which might command the support of more than one party?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. Of course we all agree about the very great importance of space research in its various forms, but we have to have some regard to the cost, because if we were to enter into commitments going beyond the lifetime of one Parliament, as right hon. Gentlemen opposite did with such frivolity, that would mean that we had less resources for other and possibly more important forms of technological research.