The United Kingdom missile programme could, with some adaptation, give an initial launcher in aid of a space research programme, but of itself could provide neither the satellites nor the instruments needed to attack the important scientific problems involved in space research. The Government are at present considering the question of a British space research project using earth satellites in the light of advice from the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy. A statement will be made as soon as possible. The Government have in mind the scope which such a project would provide for co-operation with appropriate Commonwealth countries, but discussions can most profitably take place when the scale and nature of any British effort have been decided on.
When the Government are considering the next step in this matter, will they bear in mind the danger of losing our youngest and brightest scientists to the United States unless they are given from time to time an opportunity of scientific research, even if it involves using equipment which was originally designed for a specific military purpose?
When may we expect a decision on this project? Is it not causing the Minister some concern, as my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) suggests, that the many skilled scientists who are newly entering the field of rocketry are leaving because they are feeling somewhat frustrated that the Government are not taking a strong enough line on this?
Have we not many problems confronting us on terra firma without going elsewhere? Could not the Government use their own energy and ability, whatever they have got of it, to solve some domestic problems? Why bother about this problem?