asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science whether he will make a statement on the progress made by Her Majesty's Government's representatives at the meetings during February of the Preparatory Commission of the European Space Research Organisation.
I am happy to state that, at its meeting in Paris last week, the Preparatory Commission reached agreement on the proposals which will now be drafted in final form for submission to the member Governments. These proposals will be considered at an inter-governmental meeting in about two months' time.
While welcoming the progress which has been made, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he can assure us that the proportion of the finance which the United Kingdom has to bear will be fair and that that proportion will not result in any reduction of the amount of grant allowed to D.S.I.R. for its purposes in this country?
As I understand the proposals which the Preparatory Commission is likely to submit to member Governments, the United Kingdom's contribution would appear to be generally in line with that which we contribute to similar organisations. I do not think that this country joining E.S.R.O. would have any effect on the amount of money which D.S.I.R. has for its own activities.
In plain English, what will it cost?
I cannot announce a firm figure until the proposals are received from the Preparatory Commission.
The Question refers to a
Is Her Majesty's Astronomer Royal a member of that delegation? He said on a famous occasion—and it has never been denied—that he regarded space research as "all bunk"—and I happen to agree with him. Is he a member of the team?"statement on the progress made by Her Majesty's Government's representatives at the meetings during February of the Preparatory Commission of the European Space Research Organisation."
It would be rather hard to envisage such a situation, if the Astronomer Royal has the views ascribed to him by the hon. Member, as space research is a matter upon which there is some controversy.
As Parliamentary Secretary for Science, can the hon. Member suggest to his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) that the only means of locomotion by which he might restore himself to favour with his party is crawling on his hands and knees?