HC Deb 25 July 1988 vol 138 c28W
Mr. Page

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he expects to come to a decision on prospects for HOTOL; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

The Government provided 50 per cent. funding to enable proof of concept studies of HOTOL to be carried out. These studies were completed earlier this year since when the two main companies involved. Rolls-Royce and British Aerospace, have been analysing the results. I have since held further talks with the companies. The scale of funding required to develop HOTOL or any similar concept to eventual production would be far too great for the United Kingdom to contemplate on a national basis, particularly since only a relatively small number of such launch vehicles are likely to be required. I have, therefore, concluded that any further development must take place on the basis of international collaboration. The Government will be supporting efforts by United Kingdom companies to find suitable collaborators, but will not be providing any further financial support for the foreseeable future. In the meantime I expect the United Kingdom, as an ESA member and a participant in earlier Ariane programmes, to have reliable access to ESA launchers which promise to be competitive throughout the 1990s.