HC Deb 30 January 1969 vol 776 c1507
20. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he is satisfied with the overall economic return on expenditure on scientific satellites, and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mrs. Shirley Williams)

Scientific satellites are flown for their scientific value and not for their economic return. There is, however, an incidental economic return in the potential which their design, development and production gives to United Kingdom industry when competing in international markets for space contracts.

Mr. Marten

Is this not a very curious doctrine? Scientific satellites must throw back into the economy some benefit. Can we not have more details about the economic return which is obtained from these scientific probes into space? Could the hon. Lady look at this very seriously to see what the feed-back is to industry?

Mrs. Williams

The hon. Member will appreciate that the reason for my Answer is that it is not altogether easy to quantify this. The actual expenditure is about £2¾ million on the whole of the British national scientific space programme. In particular, I would point to the contract which was won from E.S.R.O. as the prime contractors for one of their three space experiments, and we were important sub-contractors for two others. Also, we have, for the first time, launched a wholly British-made scientific space experiment in the shape of Ariel III.

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