§ 20. Mr. Hastings
asked the Minister of Technology as a result of his decision to terminate the British contribution to the European Launcher Development Organisation project, what steps he is taking to increase the scope of the British space programme.
§ Mr. Hastings
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that is a most unsatisfactory Answer? Is it not a fact that the French are now ahead of us in space technology and that the Japanese very soon probably will be, too? Is he aware that this is a miserable reflection on the present Government and, in particular, on the right hon. Gentleman's stewardship?
§ Mr. Benn
Insults aside, we try to look at projects of this type in terms of the economic return; and had this attitude been taken earlier this country would not be in the position in which it now is with regard to some major projects. We look at the individual programme in each stage, for example, in respect of Black Arrow, where the first orbital flight will take place next year, with a second one in 1970. We review these individual projects in their own right and that is 18 why one cannot reach conclusions from one project and apply them to another.
§ Mr. David Price
Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that to be a viable partner in any international co-operation on space, there must be a minimum threshold of a domestic programme necessary to have the criteria to be a partner? Is he aware that there is evidence that our present domestic programme is below that threshold?
§ Mr. Hastings
On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory Answer given by the right hon. Gentleman, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment.