HL Deb 21 July 1969 vol 304 cc649-51

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Security Council of the United Nations have considered proposals for the sharing of projects for the exploration of space.]


My Lords, I am sure your Lordships' House would not wish me to miss the opportunity presented by my noble friend's very topical Question to add our congratulations to those already offered to the Government of the United States and to the three American space explorers.

Several Noble Lords

Hear, hear!


This is a magnificent project on which they are now engaged and which so far has been attended by such spectacular success.

In direct reply to my noble friend's Question, no such proposals for the exploration of outer space have been made or considered in the Security Council. The First Committee of the General Assembly and the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space have discussed ways of encouraging collaboration in the scientific investigation and exploitation by unmanned spacecraft of outer space.


My Lords, I should like to thank my noble friend for his Answer. While some of us have doubts about human priorities, may I ask whether my noble friend recognises that all of us are deeply moved by the achievement of this morning? It is not so much historic as opening an entirely new era in history. In view of! this, cannot the opportunity be taken, through the United Nations, to accept the principle that air space should be a sphere shared by the world, with recognition of the rights of any people eventually found there, or any life that is eventually found there, in order to avoid Great Power rivalry, and the danger of the use of space for military purposes?


My Lords, I find myself in great sympathy with the implication of my noble friend's question. As I have suggested, there is already a very high degree of international co-operation in the exploration of outer space, so far only by unmanned space craft. Joint projects for the manned exploration are in principle highly desirable, and we believe, as my noble friend obviously does, that this should be a co-operative rather than a competitive enterprise.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend this question? Is there not encouragement in the statement of Mr. Brezhnev in Soviet Russia this morning congratulating America, and in the statement made in Moscow by Colonel Borman, the United States aeronaut, that he wanted to see laboratories orbiting with scientists from different countries working together?


My Lords, any sign from any direction of a realisation that this ought to be a matter for international co-operation is, of course, welcome to us, and any move that is made by either side in this affair is also welcome. I would point out that manned exploration of space is still restricted to the two great super Powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, and I hope that they, too, will realise that it is co-operation and not competition we shoul all like to see in this sphere.

The Earl of SELKIRK

My Lords, could the noble Lord say whether international co-operation extends to telling us what Lunar 15 is doing at the present moment?


My Lords, we have no direct information about the activities of Lunar 15, although we have had some indirect evidence supplied to us. There was a very encouraging sign at one of the crucial stages in this operation when the Soviet Union made it clear that there was no danger to Apollo 11 from Lunar 15.

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