My Lords, first, I welcome the maiden speakers. The Sutherland spaceport will be the first spaceport in the United Kingdom, with the first launch as early as next year. I would be grateful to hear from my noble friend—and does he agree—that the demand for commercial, vertical and horizontal launch facilities is enormous. If so, have other sites been identified, boosting employment and revenues not only in Scotland but in the whole of the United Kingdom?
It is a great honour to follow my noble friend Lord Johnson, to welcome him to the House and to praise him for an excellent maiden speech, which I know will be the first of many fantastic contributions he will make to this House. I have to say that I know all the Johnsons, but let me say in the privacy of this room, to go no further, that he is by far my favourite. As he alluded to in his remarks, he has had an extremely distinguished career, working for the Financial Times on the Lex column but also as its Delhi correspondent; he has written a seminal book on contemporary India. He was a distinguished Member of Parliament, the head of the Policy Unit and indeed a fantastic Science and Universities Minister, highly regarded by his sector. I have just realised that I am sitting between two former Science and Universities Ministers, both of whom I love. However, for the purposes of the maiden speech, my noble friend Lord Johnson is my favourite former Science Minister, at least for the next minute. He will make a wonderful contribution for the next 50 years, because he is also very young.
The International Trade Minister Graham Stuart announced the space sector Covid support plan this week, which is very welcome, but it will take time to deliver an impact. In the meantime we must find a way to bring forward the next phase of investment in the national space innovation programme, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Willetts, which has been delayed by the postponement of the CSR. The current phase runs out at the end of this month. If that is allowed to happen, it will create another R&D gap, further compounding the impact of the lost EU contracts. We must also find ways of bringing forward other delayed capital investments—for example the disruptive innovation for space centre proposals at Westcott and Fawley, which will underpin future private sector R&D investments. I end my speech.