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Satellite Launchers

Volume 640: debated on Monday 15 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Aviation if he will state in greater detail the proposals which have been made to the French Government jointly to develop satellite launchers, including the use of the Blue Streak rocket.

The proposals, which are joint Anglo-French proposals, have been made by these two countries to the other countries in Western Europe. They are set out in detail in HANSARD of 6th February last.

Can the Minister say to what extent this programme might be jeopardised by the recent American suggestion to Europe that they could have rockets at cut prices? Is the Minister aware of the urgency of more positive thinking in this rocket field because of the danger of losing our valuable and trained scientists and technologists?

I do not anticipate any such danger arising out of the American offer, which is in a different field. We are contemplating an offer of manufacturing jointly rockets which can be used for commercial as well as for scientific purposes and of manufacturing them inside Europe. This is quite different from the American offer.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear to the German Government that we are not prepared to go on waiting for ever for their decision, and that unless we get a satisfactory answer soon we shall be prepared to go ahead with the French ourselves?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Blue Streak is more or less sitting there waiting for somebody to put a match to it, and could he show me how I could put a match to the Government?


asked the Minister of Aviation if it is the Government's intention to accept the United States Government's offer of launchers for space research.

We have already accepted a United States offer to make launchers available to put satellites into orbit containing experiments and instrumentation designed by us. We hope to continue to use United States launchers as well as European launchers in the future.

In spite of the Minister's statement about American collaboration, is it not a fact that Dean Rusk's offer is something different? Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that it will not interfere with the Commonwealth co-operative effort with Europe on, say, Blue Streak, despite what he said earlier?

I do not think that Mr. Rusk's offer is different. A year ago there were few friends for the Blue Streak project. Almost every notice that we had was critical. Today we have many friends and a good chance of European co-operation, and I am bound to say it is rather refreshing to be pressed to go it alone. I think this is progress.

What people are worried about in connection with the Government's policy is whether the Government are prepared to make a decision. There has been so much complacency and dithering that we are rather worried. We are anxious to strengthen the Minister to do something.

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the keen support that he is showing for this project which I regard as technologically most important.

Will the Minister remember that in the Blue Streak debate I deplored even the military abandonment of the programme? As I am now urging the Government to go it alone even if the French and Germans will not co-operate, will he remember, when the Government do it, that I advocated it, as he has come round to my view on the first point?

I will put the hon. Gentleman into a very special position of his own. He will be the first man we put up.