§ 3. Mr. Hooley
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the Outer Space Assistance Treaty which he recently signed.
§ Mr. Mulley
The Agreement on the Rescue and Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space stems directly from the United Nations Outer Space Treaty which came into force on 10th October, 1967. The Agreement is both of value in itself and as an example of international co-operation. Her Majesty's Government, who are one of the three depository powers, signed the Agreement on 22nd April.
§ Mr. Hooley
While this is a modest and useful advance in international co-operation, may I ask my right hon. Friend what contribution Britain will be able to make in the rescue of astronauts and how many countries are now signatories to this Treaty?
§ Mr. Mulley
To answer the second part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, 56 States had, by the middle of last week—the latest date for which we have figures—signed the Treaty. To answer the first part of his supplementary question, about what part we can play, that depends very much on where the emergency landings of astronauts 6 take place. The purpose of the Treaty is to get an international procedure so that the maximum assistance can be given and the country concerned notified as early as possible; and, of course, the United Nations Secretary-General would be notified.