HL Deb 01 May 1980 vol 408 c1508WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whose estimate is referred to, on page 16 of Arms Control and Disarmament No. 3, February 1980, published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, for the cost of a possible International Satellite Monitoring Agency; what is the amount of this estimate; how it was arrived at; what equipment was it intended to cover and over what period; and whether they had the advice of British Aerospace or any other British contractor in making it.


The passage concerned was intended to summarise the range of cost estimates—necessarily imprecise at this stage—which have been given in the course of the United Nations Secretary-General's study. For example, the United States reply of 12th April 1979 to the Secretary-General stated,inter aliaThe overall cost of an International Satellite Monitoring Agency—encompassing not only procurement and launching of satellites but also the establishment of technical capabilities for processing data and the maintenance of a highly expert staff—would be quite considerable, possibly equal to the entire present United Nations budget".

The 1979 United Nations budget was approximately £224 million. For an BMA the French Government estimated in 1979 an initial outlay of between £667 and £696 million spread over five to 10 years, on the basis of a three-stage programme plus some £90 million per year in operating costs. We have not been asked to produce our own estimates, and have not therefore consulted any British contractors. We hope that the United Nations study by a group of experts, due to report in June 1981, will shed more light on the financial implications of this proposal.