§ 18. Mr. Atkinson
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he expects to make a statement on his space plan.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
The Government have decided not to increase public expenditure on space above the current level, which is already running at £100 million per year.
§ Mr. Atkinson
Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that the British space industry has yet to be formally consulted on the space plan? When his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State visited the Space 87 exhibition in Brighton earlier this month, was he not impressed by the presence of the French space industry, which receives far more recognition and support from its Government than does our industry, and by the fact that it is far larger and employs more people as a result? Will my right hon. and learned Friend bear that in mind when he goes to The Hague next month?
§ Mr. Clarke
My hon. Friend says that the industry has not been formally consulted, but I think that most leading industrialists in this sector are in regular contact with the British National Space Centre. I am already having discussions with many people in the industry and I intend to continue discussions in the coming months to get our strategy clear. There is certainly heavy French participation in the European Space Agency and the French are pressing particular programmes. We have to collaborate with them as essential partners in many areas, but we must make sure, with them, that we are spending our money wisely on objectives of mutual advantage.