HL Deb 03 February 2005 vol 669 cc18-9WS
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Ms Hewitt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

An inquiry was launched on 11 February 2004 by my noble friend the Minister for Science and Technology and Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), to investigate the circumstances and possible reasons that prevented completion of the Beagle 2 mission.

The report was always seen by BNSC and ESA as an internal inquiry. Its purpose was to learn lessons for the future. There were also concerns about the confidentiality of commercial information. The organisations involved were given a strong indication that the information they supplied was only for the use of the inquiry.

For these reasons the report was not published. ESA and the UK did however think it right that the recommendations of the report should be published as these covered the most important issues. The Science and Technology Select Committee was also confidentially given a copy of the full report.

Subsequently, in view of the committee's strongly held view that the report should be published in full, we have discussed the issue again with ESA and have persuaded it that the report should be published. We have also had further discussions with the other organisations involved about now publishing the report and they are aware that the report is being published today. The contents of the report have not been agreed with the parties.

The report of the inquiry is today being placed on the BNSC website at www.bnsc.gov.uk/assets/channels/ resources/press/report.pdf