HC Deb 07 December 1981 vol 14 c574
14. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what financial support the Government give to the United Kingdom space industry.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

The total amount spent this year will be some £72 million, of which £55 million will be spent by my Department and £17 million by the Science and Engineering Research Council.

Mr. Atkinson

What is my hon. Friend doing to draw the attention of British industry to the possible immense commercial benefits from and opportunities in space, in particular in investing in the world-wide demand for satellite systems?

Mr. Baker

My hon. Friend is right to remind the House of the benefits and opportunities. We have now reached the stage where there are possibilities for substantial private investment in the space industry, and I am having discussions with various companies so that British industry can benefit. The growth in the space industry in Britain over the past seven or eight years is one of our great unsung successes.

Mr. Wilkinson

Has not the space industry in the United States proved to be one of the most important motors for economic growth? Will my hon. Friend confirm his full support for the European Space Agency and for the collaborative programmes with the United States, such as Spacelab? In particular, will he impress on the Americans the importance of the solar-polar mission?

Mr. Baker

I shall certainly do so. Had it not been for ESA, I do not believe that we should have had much of a space industry in Europe. The maritime satellite, made principally by British Aerospace, will be launched before Christmas. It is the first example of an international satellite, and another will follow next year. Space is an exciting and growing industry.