HC Deb 30 April 1968 vol 763 cc994-5
Q2. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister if he will now appoint one Minister to be responsible for space policy.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer I gave to a similar Question by him on 11th April. 1967. The arrangements I then outlined are I think still the most appropriate to our circumstances.—[Vol. 744, c. 963.]

Mr. Marten

As space, and particularly communications satellites, will obviously be one of the new technological industries of the future for this country requiring a long-term attitude towards investment, will the Prime Minister confirm that the Government intend to go ahead with a vigorous national space programme in the interests of the commercial life of this country?

The Prime Minister

The question of Ministerial responsibility is one to which I have given a lot of thought, and I still feel that it is right to adhere to the arrangement made by our predecessors in this matter. With regard to the future of the space programme, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the very full statement made in the House by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology on the day that we came back last week.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Will the right hon. Gentleman next time he is in Washington consider looking at COMSAT and realise the benefit of having in this country one individual in charge of both military and civil developments which are going on so fast in North America?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman was a Minister in the Foreign Office. He will realise that there is a strong Foreign Office responsibility here for our negotiations with other countries, and that other Ministers are concerned. Like our predecessors, I feel that it is better not to centralise all the responsibility in one Department. I think, in the way that it has been put to the House before, that the Ministers responsible for celestial affairs are those who are responsible for their terrestrial counterparts.