HC Deb 12 July 1982 vol 27 c629
4. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what has been the reason for the infrequency of the meetings of the Council of Ministers responsible for the European Space Agency; and when it is proposed that they should next meet.

The Minister for Industry and Information Technology (Mr. Kenneth Baker)

There has not been a meeting of the Ministerial Council for some time. However, with the agency's existing package of major programmes running so smoothly, no formal proposals have been put forward for a ministerial meeting.

Mr. Atkinson

In view of the continuing success of the American space shuttle, will the Minister do all that he can at any future meeting to ensure that member States work together within the European Space Agency instead of going it alone with national projects as seems to be the case at present?

Mr. Baker

Broadly, I agree with my hon. Friend's comment. We have done very well out of our membership of the European Space Agency in the past seven or eight years. It has enabled us to create a space industry, and we are now making 10 satellites. We continue to support the programmes of the ESA, particularly the large satellite that we shall be building in 1986 in co-operation with Italy and Canada.

Mr. Wilkinson

I warmly welcome my hon. Friend's endorsement of the importance of the ESA in European space activities. Will he give a commitment on behalf of the Government to support the ESA remote sensing satellite programme, which has great commercial application as well as scientific value?

Mr. Baker

Yes, I certainly give that commitment. We are supporting the ESA programme in earth remote sensing. We are also investigating the possibility of a national programme of our own as this is an area in which the United Kingdom has particular skills.