HC Deb 02 May 1968 vol 763 cc1265-6
12. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will support the proposals of the Advisory Committee to the European Space Conference for a large astronomical satellite.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

The Advisory Committee has put forward three alternative programmes, only one of which would include the large astronomical satellite. The scientific content of the L.A.S. project was designed by a United Kingdom team and the Government have always endorsed its scientific merit. But there is unlikely to be sufficient support from members of E.S.R.O. for this particular programme, nor is it likely that the necessary resources could now be found for it.

Mr. Marten

If that is so, to what is the 6 per cent. increase in the allocation of funds to E.S.R.O. over the next three years to be devoted? Are not the Government paying far too much attention to university scientific experiments and not enough to the practical and commercial virtues of space?

Mrs. Williams

No, Sir. A range of experiments is available. The large astronomical satellite in the first of the Advisory Committee's options would require an expansion of 100 per cent. in cost over three years. As the hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware, it is not entirely for this Government to say whether such an expansion could be made, and I understand that the position is that it is not likely to be made.