HC Deb 07 March 1968 vol 760 c628
15. Mr. Marten

asked the Postmaster-General how many ground terminal stations, civil and military, for satellites will be in operation outside the Communist bloc of countries by the end of 1968; and how many of these will be British made.

Mr. Edward Short

About 20 civil earth stations for commercial use are expected to be operational by the end of 1968. Two of them are British made. Military terminals are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.

Mr. Marten

Is not this a very disappointing share of the world market in this most important matter? Does not the Minister agree that unless Britain has a properly co-ordinated national space programme and is able to offer to customer countries launcher, satellite and ground station, we shall never properly break into this market?

Mr. Short

It is not so much a matter of Government policy. It is, again, a matter of British firms becoming more competitive. The hon. Member will be pleased to know that Cable and Wireless has recently given two orders for earth stations, one in Bahrain and the other in Hong Kong. However, unless the British firms which are interested in this trade make an effort to become competitive, they will be frozen out of the market. They really must make a bigger effort.