Space Research

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Supply – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 1959.

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Photo of Mr Geoffrey De Freitas Mr Geoffrey De Freitas , Lincoln 12:00 am, 20th April 1959

asked the Minister of Supply to what extent scientific research into space can be undertaken with the equipment he is developing for the Royal Air Force.

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

asked the Minister of Supply what present consideration is being given by his Department to proposals to use the Blue Streak ballistic rocket to help launch an earth Space satellite; and to what extent his Department plan to work in co-operation with other Commonwealth countries in space research.

Photo of Mr Aubrey Jones Mr Aubrey Jones , Birmingham, Hall Green

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.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey De Freitas Mr Geoffrey De Freitas , Lincoln

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?

Photo of Mr Aubrey Jones Mr Aubrey Jones , Birmingham, Hall Green

Yes, Sir. I agree that that is a most important consideration.

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

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?

Photo of Mr Aubrey Jones Mr Aubrey Jones , Birmingham, Hall Green

I have indicated that the statement will be made quite soon.

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

Did I understand the Minister correctly to say that the Commonwealth countries will he consulted after he had reached a decision about the scope of the programme? Would it not be better to consult them before that?

Photo of Mr Aubrey Jones Mr Aubrey Jones , Birmingham, Hall Green

The hon. Gentleman's understanding is right. I think it is proper to consult them only after any particular plan has been decided upon.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

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?

Photo of Mr Aubrey Jones Mr Aubrey Jones , Birmingham, Hall Green

I think the right hon. Gentleman is inclined to anticipate the statement. I think that he should await what is to be said.