Carol Monaghan contributions to the Space Industry Act 2018


Tue 6th February 2018 Space Industry Bill [Lords] (Commons Chamber)
3rd reading: House of Commons
Report stage: House of Commons
23 interactions (2,105 words)
Tue 23rd January 2018 Space Industry Bill [ Lords ] (Second sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 2nd sitting: House of Commons
5 interactions (130 words)
Mon 15th January 2018 Space Industry Bill [Lords] (Commons Chamber)
2nd reading: House of Commons
7 interactions (1,729 words)

Space Industry Bill [Lords]

(3rd reading: House of Commons)
(Report stage: House of Commons)
Carol Monaghan Excerpts
Tuesday 6th February 2018

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Department for Transport
Layla Moran Portrait Layla Moran - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 2:43 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman is right, and my constituency is affected by such uncertainty.

I repeat a point that I made during the passage of the Nuclear Safeguards Bill: we must remember that this is not just about funding. At a recent hearing of the Public Accounts Committee, of which I am a member, witnesses were clear that the most valuable asset we have as a nation is our ability to attract human capital. To put it bluntly, the funding follows the brains. There is real consternation across the entire science industry that European scientists are actively looking to move, if they have not already, to more welcoming countries. Their lives are more than just their jobs; this is about where they live, love and participate in the community, so the tone of this debate matters hugely. It is therefore critical that we maintain freedom of movement for the world-class scientists, specialists and technicians who contribute to the space industry, so that we keep those brains and the funding here.

Patrick Wood, CEO of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, an existing supplier to Galileo, has said that

“there are still a lot of unknowns”

about whether UK space companies will be able to access high-quality staff post-Brexit, noting that UK space infrastructure companies

“have a high percentage of staff that come from across Europe”

partly due to a lack of UK applicants. Aerospace companies are heavily reliant on the rapid movement of workers between different sites. A favourite fact of mine is that Airbus moved employees 80,000 times between the EU and the UK in 2016. It even has its own jet shuttle between Toulouse and Broughton. Any additional border checks between the UK and the EU could therefore prove a significant burden.

On Galileo, the European Commission is demanding the right to cancel existing contracts with UK companies that are constructing the £10 billion Galileo satellite navigation system unless the UK negotiates a new security relationship with the EU. If no long-term agreement can be found, UK companies may only be able to retain their contracts by setting up EU subsidiaries. With them will go the tax take, the brains and the supporting jobs.

Finally, I turn to the crucial effect of leaving the single market on supply chains within the UK space industry. Last year, I asked the Minister, in his former role, a series of parliamentary questions about the impact on the UK space sector supply chain of leaving the single market, but sadly there was not much in the answers to give heart to the industry. It has just not received the answers that it needs. Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult said that

“Brexit represents a risk to the United Kingdom in sustaining its leadership position”

among sectors such as satellite manufacturing and navigation services. He also stated that the UK needs to sustain its leadership role within the European Space Agency and maintain access to the single market. Before anyone says, “But we will stay in the European Space Agency,” yes we will, but we must not forget that a quarter of its funding comes from the EU.

It is clear that the industry needs certainty on all those issues. We have had warm words, but not enough action. The Government’s shambolic handling of impact assessments and sectoral analyses, as well as this week’s uncertainty over future customs arrangements, is not inspiring confidence among the space industry. There are few specific commitments or guarantees in the Bill, so it is not unreasonable for the Government to publish an assessment of the sort that new clause 1 would require, and I hope that the Minister will consider doing so.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP) - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 2:47 p.m.

I start by passing on the apologies of my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford), who has been heavily involved in the Bill since the beginning. Unfortunately, she is extremely unwell this week and has uncharacteristically heeded her daughter’s advice by staying at home, but she is no doubt watching from her sickbed.

I rise to support new clauses 1 and 2, which attempt to ensure a proper assessment of the potential damage that an extreme Brexit could cause our space industry. During the passage of the Bill, we have had a glimpse of the opportunities ahead for the UK’s space industry, but this relates to the wider reaches of the EU. The EU funds space research through Horizon 2020, and we want to ensure that we remain a player beyond that point. Although the European Space Agency is separate from the EU, it does still receive significant funding from it, so we need to know whether the Government have made any assessment of the impact of Brexit on our space industries. Given the previous impact assessment fudge, the answer is probably, “Probably not, but if we have, we will not be publishing it anyway.” That is simply not good enough. The new clauses make it clear that the Government will make that assessment and will publish it. If they do not accept these amendments, the question must be: what do the Government have to hide?

The European Commission has made it clear where it wants to go on space, so do the Government intend to remain part of the strategy and programme it has outlined? If we are not an integral part of the European space programme, what will be the impact on our viability as a spaceport centre, compared with other spaceports located within the European family?

How will we retain access to EU research and development projects, which are so important to our space industry? As has been mentioned, how will changes to freedom of movement affect this industry, an industry that exchanges talent across frontiers on a regular basis? Not all that talent will be at a salary threshold that allows easy access to the UK. Will we retain full access to programmes such as Galileo and Copernicus? Will we be marginalised in EU procurement decisions?

Those are all important questions for the Government to consider now, and they should be included in any impact assessment.

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP) - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 2:51 p.m.

My hon. Friend is making a powerful speech that outlines the isolationist view that post-Brexit Britain is about to take. How does she square what the UK Government are saying about “global Britain” with the powerful points she has made this afternoon?

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard

We all want to see the space industry succeed, and we want to see it succeed on a global playing field, but we need to get this right. Requiring an impact assessment would make a big difference. We need to probe further on where our space industry will find itself in the increasingly likely event of a hard Brexit.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner (Kingston upon Hull East) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 2:51 p.m.

New clause 2 would ensure that Parliament is kept up to date on negotiations between the UK and the European Union in regard to the UK space industry.

New clause 2 differs very slightly from new clause 1, which was tabled by the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran). Both new clauses have the same aims. New clause 2 asks the Government to produce a summary of any discussions between the UK Government and the European Union to ensure that Parliament is kept up to date on the progress of the negotiations. Just as importantly, new clause 2 would also provide clarity to the UK’s space industry.

It goes without saying, or at least it should, that the Government must ensure we get the best possible deal with the EU to help support the UK space industry’s continued growth. That is the whole point of the Bill, and it is why the Labour party is broadly supportive of it. UKspace, the trade association of the UK space industry, claims:

“The UK leaving the EU has created significant uncertainty which is already affecting the integrated supply chain, R&D collaboration and joint programmes with other EU countries.”

As colleagues have pointed out, the UK space industry makes a noteworthy contribution to our economy and employs close to 40,000 people. The industry is currently highly dependent on EU-led space programmes. As a result, the Government must ensure the UK gets a deal that secures the long-term future and growth of our space industry to ensure that the Government’s ambition for the UK to be a leading player in the global space industry is not just all talk and no action.

The Government provided a report to the Exiting the European Union Committee with a sectoral analysis of the UK space sector after our Opposition day debate on 1 November 2017—it is fair to say that we forced the issue. We welcome the Government publishing that document. However, the Opposition believe the document is not sufficient and that Parliament should be kept up to date with a further summary, which would also give the sector the additional clarity it asks for.

Any further uncertainty would hinder any potential growth in the UK space industry. New clause 2 is a reasonable and sensible amendment that would require the Government to publish a report setting out a summary within 12 months of Royal Assent, which is absolutely fair.

Break in Debate

Layla Moran Portrait Layla Moran - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 2:59 p.m.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New clause 3

Publication of regulations

‘(1) The Secretary of State must, within 12 months of this Act receiving Royal Assent, lay a report before Parliament setting out details of the regulations issued under this Act.

(2) The report in subsection (1) must include, but is not limited to, regulations that have effect for licences for—

(a) spaceports;

(b) launch operators;

(c) satellite operators; and

(d) range control operators.

(3) Before exercising their duties under subsection (1), the Secretary of State must consult the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive and have regard to their views in respect of any proposed regulations.

(4) As well as consulting those in subsection (3) the Secretary of State must consult with—

(a) UKspace, and

(b) any other such persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.” .—(Carol Monaghan.)

This new clause would require the Secretary of State to publish clear guidelines on the regulations issued under this Act.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Parliament Live - Hansard

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing) - Hansard

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 4—Cap on licensees’ liability limit—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must, within 12 months of this Act receiving Royal Assent, lay a report before Parliament setting out plans for a cap on licensees’ liability.

(2) Before exercising their duties under subsection (1), the Secretary of State must carry out a consultation on what an appropriate maximum limit would be on the amount of a licensee’s liability, and lay a report before Parliament setting this out.

(3) The report under subsection (1) must provide for, but is not limited to—

(a) a maximum limit on the amount of a particular licensee’s liability for each launch undertaken by the operator;

(b) a maximum limit on the amount of licensees’ liability for each launch classification type;

(c) divisions of responsibility and the level of liability for parties’ spaceflight activities, including—

(i) the Spaceport;

(ii) the launch operator; and

(iii) the satellite operator.

(4) In subsection (3) “launch classification type” means the level of risk attached to each type of launch as determined by the regulator.

(5) Before exercising their duties under subsection (1), the Secretary of State must consult the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive and have regard to their views in respect of any proposed regulations.

(6) As well as consulting those under subsection (5) the Secretary of State must consult with—

(a) UKspace, and

(b) any other such persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.”

This new clause would require the Government to consult on and set a mandatory cap on licensees’ liability for each individual launch, based on the classification type of each launch.

Amendment 4, in clause 9, page 8, line 24, at end insert—

‘(10) The Secretary of State must, within 12 months of this Act receiving Royal Assent, publish guidance about any regulations in relation to operator licences. Such guidance must be issued by the regulator (if the regulator is not the Secretary of State).

(11) The regulator must hold pre-licensing discussions with any potential operator before an operator licence can be issued to them.

(12) Discussions under subsection (11) must include, but are not limited to, providing potential operators with guidance on any regulations in relation to operator licences.”

This amendment would require the Secretary of State to publish guidance about any regulations issued in relation to operator licences, and to hold discussions with all potential operators before a licence can be issued to them, to ensure that the UK space industry is sufficiently aware of the regulatory framework.

Amendment 1, in clause 68, page 44, line 35, after “offences,” insert—

“(n) regulations under subsection (1) of this section”

This amendment would make regulations made under section 68(1) subject to the affirmative procedure.

Amendment 2, in schedule 6, page 61, line 2, after “authority” insert “and devolved administration”

This amendment would make it a requirement that when an order is made to obtain rights over land, notices about the orders must be served to devolved administrations, where relevant.

Amendment 3, page 61, line 22, after “authority” insert “and devolved administration”

This amendment would make it a requirement that when an order is made to obtain rights over land, notices about the orders must be served to devolved administrations, where relevant.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 3 p.m.

Once again, this amendment stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford), who cannot be here this afternoon. New clause 3 will ensure that guidelines for spaceports are clear and published, and take into account the views of devolved Administrations and stakeholders. The devolved nations currently have the majority of the sites being considered for spaceports, so we are looking for some consultation in the event of rights being taken over land that would be with the devolved Government.

The lack of a liability cap in the Bill is causing us concern. New clause 4 would ensure that there must be a cap. It calls on the Government to come to Parliament, after consultation, and provide their plans on what an appropriate cap would be. A liability cap would bring our space industry into line with those of Australia, France and the USA, which is the world space leader. The purpose of the liability cap is to allow spaceflight operators to obtain affordable insurance—without it, the prohibitive cost of obtaining insurance for unlimited liability would undermine the growth of the space industry in the UK, which is the key point of the Bill. Simply put, without a cap in place, launches will not take place in the UK.

The industry stakeholders’ main worry with the Bill is the absence of a mandatory liability cap for spaceflight operators. The Government have said that they need to be flexible, but if the industry is calling for a cap, they need to both listen and take action. We understand that a cap level will not necessarily be set at this point, but a guarantee that there will be a cap would go some way to providing assurance to the industry. The chairman of UKspace, Richard Peckham, has said that insurers have made it clear that they would not be prepared to do business without a benchmark, so it is vital this takes place.

Our new clause 4 would allow the Government to be flexible on the liability cap by creating different caps for different launches, given there will be quite a broad range of risk depending on the scale of the satellite. One mechanism that has been discussed in Committee is the red, amber and green risk assessment to describe different types of missions, with a different cap for each type of mission. I am not entirely convinced that that would be entirely useful, as clearly those classified as a red risk would not get a licence. However, this could be done by class, for example, with horizontal take-off vehicles carrying cube satellites being given a different classification from a vertical take-off vehicle carrying large satellites, as has happened elsewhere.

It is also important that we do not speak about liability per satellite and actually move towards a cap based on a per-launch system. That would be better suited to much of the growing UK industry. In Committee, I mentioned the importance of the cube satellite industry to Glasgow, which is second in the world, behind San Francisco, in the manufacture of cube satellites. Such satellites are often launched in clusters. If the figure for a liability cap were to be €60 million for each one of these tiny satellites, that would be prohibitive in terms of growing the industry.

In the longer term, this issue could affect where future developments take place in the space industry. Some countries do not require satellites to be built locally, whereas other jurisdictions require satellites that are being launched to be built in the local area or in the country of launch. If cube satellite businesses do not get a mandatory liability cap in this Bill, there is a danger that future investment will be affected and a real possibility that when those businesses are looking to expand, they will do so in a jurisdiction where liability is capped and insurance can be obtained.

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con) - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 3:05 p.m.

Is the hon. Lady saying that the taxpayer should stand behind the extra liability above the cap?

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 3:06 p.m.

That is exactly how the liability works: the insurer covers up to whatever that liability is and the rest is picked up by Government. Once that is picked up by Government, we have to look at the revenue that is generated from that industry and at the amount of growth and jobs created. If we look at proper regulations on our spaceports, liability or risk will be extremely low. Every other country that is launching has a liability cap. We cannot possibly compete unless we have that in place.

As I have said, I understand that the Minister has committed to looking at the issue of the cap and talking to industry leaders about this issue. As I have also said, I am not pressing today for a figure, but the indication that a cap will be in place will provide great reassurance for the UK space industry and will allow it to grow in the way in which we hope it will.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 3:07 p.m.

In Committee, I heard the hon. Lady press the case for an unlimited liability cap. I also heard the Minister give an extraordinarily good and detailed explanation of the work that needed to go into the detailed preparation for such a cap. That is why it was decided in Committee not to put this measure in the Bill, by a vast majority, with cross-party support. It is not that we do not understand the need for this, but it needs to be set in the correct way.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 3:08 p.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for her contribution, but I think she is missing the point, which is that there must be a cap in place for these companies to get insurance. Without it, they cannot get insurance, and without insurance, they cannot launch. If the Government are considering this cap, why is it not in the Bill? Why does the Bill not contain a statement that a cap will be put in place? I am not asking for a figure and I certainly did not talk about unlimited liability; we talked about limited liability. Unless this is in place, we are stifling a serious growth industry. So I call on the Government to accept the new clause and to listen to the concerns of the space industry.

Sir John Hayes Portrait Mr John Hayes - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 3:08 p.m.

I intend to speak briefly on this issue, having heard what the hon. Member for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan) said and having looked at these matters in my previous life, as it were. Liability is salient to this Bill. The Government have acknowledged that in what they have said and in the changes they have already made as a result of our consideration in Committee.

I pay tribute to the new Minister for the work he has done on this. It is right to say that he is continuing discussions with the industry. As the hon. Lady said, there is a fragility about the industry. That is not to say that it is not successful, growing or doing wonderful things, but when one innovates or is on the margins of innovation, as this industry is bound to be, given that it is pushing the frontiers ever further, of course one is in a risky business. To gain the necessary investment to make that innovation happen and to take on board those risks, one needs to create a framework of certainty, and the certainty is to some degree about liability.

If I may say so, though, there is a simpler way to deal with the hon. Lady’s points. As I said, I shall be brief. I notice that the Government have already made changes to clause 35(3), where the word “may” has been changed to “must”. They could make similar changes to clause 34(5). Were the Government obliged to make regulations to deal with liability, I think that would go a long way towards satisfying the hon. Lady. I have sufficient trust in the Minister and his Department to know that even with the word “may” in the provision, it is likely that, following the discussions that he and others are having with the industry, further regulations will be introduced for the very reasons the hon. Lady set out in a measured and moderate way.

It is vital that we create the investor confidence that will allow the industry to grow and, as I have said, push forward the frontiers of technology in what is necessarily a risky business. This can be a great success and the Bill takes us a long way towards enabling that success. To get the issue of liability right will be the icing on the cake, but as everyone who has ever dressed or consumed a cake knows, the icing is vital—it is what draws us in, encourages and seduces us to consume the cake. With that overture, I hope that the Minister can provide the reassurance that the industry and I seek and that on that basis the hon. Lady might see fit to withdraw her new clause, although that is a matter not for me but very much for her.

Break in Debate

Joseph Johnson Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 11:30 a.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his support for the Government’s approach of gathering the evidence base in a call for evidence, and then, if necessary, holding a further consultation, particularly involving the devolved Administrations.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 11:30 a.m.

Can the Minister offer any timeframe for the consultation and the ongoing process, because the industry would welcome that?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 11:30 a.m.

The Government have committed to launch the call for evidence as soon as the Bill receives Royal Assent, which we hope will not be too long now. Should the evidence show that there is demand and a need for a liability cap of the kind that the hon. Lady has been describing, we will launch a formal consultation at that stage. That consultation will, properly, involve the devolved Administrations and others with interests in this matter.

Through amendment 4, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East (Karl Turner) rightly raises the importance of the timely provision of guidance to applicants for spaceflight operator licences, and the benefits of pre-application discussions between prospective applicants and the regulator. The Government fully recognise that all potential licence applicants under the Bill—spaceports, satellite operators, range control service providers and spaceflight operators—will need to understand the regulations and processes with which they will need to comply. I hope that my earlier responses to the hon. Member for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan), who is speaking on behalf of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire, have helped Members to understand the approach that we will be taking.

Pre-licence application discussions are already a key part of current Civil Aviation Authority and UK Space Agency licensing, and they will remain a central part of the process for licences under the Bill. Such discussions benefit prospective licence applicants and the regulator, because they help to build effective working relationships. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East will be pleased to know that discussions of this sort are already under way with a number of interested companies.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 11:30 a.m.

I am happy to withdraw new clause 3, so I beg to ask leave to withdrawn the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 4

Cap on licensees’ liability limit

“(1) The Secretary of State must, within 12 months of this Act receiving Royal Assent, lay a report before Parliament setting out plans for a cap on licensees’ liability.

(2) Before exercising their duties under subsection (1), the Secretary of State must carry out a consultation on what an appropriate maximum limit would be on the amount of a licensee’s liability, and lay a report before Parliament setting this out.

(3) The report under subsection (1) must provide for, but is not limited to—

(a) a maximum limit on the amount of a particular licensee’s liability for each launch undertaken by the operator;

(b) a maximum limit on the amount of licensees’ liability for each launch classification type;

(c) divisions of responsibility and the level of liability for parties’ spaceflight activities, including—

(i) the Spaceport;

(ii) the launch operator; and

(iii) the satellite operator.

(4) In subsection (3) “launch classification type” means the level of risk attached to each type of launch as determined by the regulator.

(5) Before exercising their duties under subsection (1), the Secretary of State must consult the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive and have regard to their views in respect of any proposed regulations.

(6) As well as consulting those under subsection (5) the Secretary of State must consult with—

(a) UKspace, and

(b) any other such persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.”

This new clause would require the Government to consult on and set a mandatory cap on licensees’ liability for each individual launch, based on the classification type of each launch.—(Carol Monaghan.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Joseph Johnson Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 4:01 p.m.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

The Space Industry Bill is a bold and important Bill that will ensure that the UK space sector is at the vanguard of the new commercial space age that is now under way. The UK has always been at the forefront of space discovery and technology. We were the third country to successfully operate a satellite and the sixth to launch a satellite into space on our own launch vehicle. We were a founding member of the European Space Agency and a key player in its most exciting and pioneering missions of science and discovery. We pioneered small, low-cost satellite technology that is revolutionising the global space economy, and we continue to develop technical and commercial innovations that will shape the global space economy for decades to come.

Accessing space is one area in which the UK has not yet had an opportunity to excel, as there has been no market to deliver the services on a truly commercial basis—that is until now. The UK today stands at the dawn of a new commercial space age. This presents us with a huge opportunity. Not only has the surge in small satellite launch demand created a global launch market that is forecast to be worth more than £10 billion over the next 10 years, but direct domestic access to space will reduce our dependency on foreign launch services, fix the fracture in the UK’s space value chain, enable the development of national expertise and employment opportunities and allow the UK to compete for commercial and strategic opportunities for decades to come.

It has been a great privilege to witness Members of both Houses being enthused and engaged by the Bill and its power to unlock the potential of an entire industry. The approach to the Bill in both Houses has been constructive, creative and collegiate. Indeed, in the best tradition of pioneering space missions, it has inspired collaboration, not contest, at all stages of development and debate. That is testament to the importance of our shared ambition.

I again pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes), who played such an important part in the development of the legislation. Is it any wonder that he is the Conservative MP with the highest vote share in the House? I express thanks to both Houses for well-informed debate, careful consideration and willing commitment to work quickly on this important enabling legislation. I also thank all the Committee members and those who have taken part in debates, including today’s.

Finally, I pay tribute to an example of true cross-Whitehall collaboration. The Department for Transport, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the UK Space Agency, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Health and Safety Executive have all played an integral part in developing this important legislation.

We are at the dawn of a new commercial space age. Our scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are ready to pursue this opportunity and to reach higher and farther than they ever have before. The Bill will equip them with the most modern space industry legislation anywhere on Earth and ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of the space economy for generations to come. I commend it to the House.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Parliament Live - Hansard

I thank the Government Front-Bench team for the spirit of co-operation in which the Bill has been handled, and I thank the Minister’s officials, who have worked very hard on it as well. I also thank my colleagues in the other place, where the Bill began, for their very valuable work. They secured a number of important concessions, including the removal of Henry VIII powers, and pressed the Government to introduce a new clause on environmental issues, all of which improved the Bill immensely. It meant that when the Bill came here it was in a much better condition than when it began. I also thank Members who helped to scrutinise the Bill in Committee and those who have made contributions today.

The Minister has said this, as have Members time and again throughout the passage of the Bill: the UK space industry is an important, growing part of our economy. It was valued at £13.7 billion in 2014-15 and supports almost 40,000 jobs. The Bill will establish a licensing regime for spaceports, space flights and satellite launches, which is currently missing from the statute book, and put in place a regulatory framework to allow the further expansion of the industry. For that reason, the Opposition support and welcome the Bill.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 4:05 p.m.

First, I would like to thank the Minister, who has moved seamlessly from his previous role into this new role and is not too far away from where he was a few months ago. I also thank the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes) for the work he has done.

It is a nice coincidence, I suppose, that SpaceX will be launching the Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre in the next couple of hours. It is the largest rocket ever to be launched and could pave the way for travel to Mars. This is the inspirational industry that we all want to be part of, and for that reason there has been great cross-party support for, and consensus around, the Bill.

The idea of spaceports in the UK is potentially exciting, but it needs investment from both the Government and private industry, and I hope that parts of the Bill will draw down some of that investment. I am pleased that many of the potential sites for spaceports are in Scotland, but I am disappointed that the Government chose not to support new clause 4, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford). It would have strengthened the Bill and provided the assurances the industry was calling for. I hope that the cap will be put in place, and quickly, to generate future investment possibilities for the industry.

I want to place on the record the three satellite companies currently manufacturing satellites in Glasgow: Clyde Space, Spire and Alba Orbital. Between them, they ensure that Glasgow is second only to San Francisco, worldwide, for the production of CubeSats. We very much want to support this industry, and it would be great to see these Glasgow-built satellites, manufactured very close to the Clyde—they are all within half a mile of the Clyde—actually being launched. “Clyde built” used to be an indication of quality. Let us hope it is for these new spaceships.

The Bill will, of course, need collaboration between the Scottish and UK Governments, as well as cross-party support, which it has had generally, and I look forward to seeing it strengthened after the consultation process that the Minister described this afternoon.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with amendments.

Space Industry Bill [ Lords ] (Second sitting)

(Committee Debate: 2nd sitting: House of Commons)
Carol Monaghan Excerpts
Tuesday 23rd January 2018

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Public Bill Committees
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Department for Transport
Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:04 p.m.

This group of amendments comes back to the issue of liability for operators and, in particular, the need to set some form of cap on their liabilities so that they can get insurance.

Amendment 7 would change “may” to “must” in subsection 5. As I said earlier, that is not to set the limit, but to raise the principle of one. Later, as we will see when we come to Government amendments to clause 34, the Government themselves change “may” to “must”, implying that there is a cap that they are paying above. Similarly, in clause 33(6) we would also change “may” to “must”.

It needs to be stated that the maximum limit would not go above the €60 million that satellite launchers currently have to indemnify elsewhere. However, what has been described in the Bill and in the explanatory notes is that the launch activities carried out in the UK may be quite different, as the Minister just talked about with regard to noise nuisance. In horizontal take-off, we are talking about an aeroplane carrying a small rocket that will launch cube satellites and micro-satellites such as Unicorn.

As I said earlier, the current limit of €60 million per satellite, and therefore the launch of micro-satellites, would be untenable. Therefore, we need to consider in the consultation making the amount per launch, or per cluster, as opposed simply to per satellite. The Government need to reassure us that they accept the principle of a limited liability and of a liability cap.

There is also the discussion in the paper of describing launches as having a green or amber risk—obviously, those at red risk would not get a licence. Therefore, it could be done by class as opposed to launch by launch. Horizontal take-off vehicles launching cube satellites and micro-satellites might be given a different classification than a vertical take-off vehicle carrying large satellites, as has been the case elsewhere.

This cluster of amendments simply intends to bring back this basic principle that the industry has raised with me, and I am sure with other Members. It has also submitted in writing again that the failure to commit to setting a liability cap whereby industry indemnifies the Government up to a certain level means that companies will not manage to get insurance and they simply will not launch from the UK.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP) - Hansard

To add to the comments of my hon. Friend, this issue could affect where future developments take place in the space industry. Jurisdictions such as Singapore do not require satellites—Glasgow has strength in satellites—to be built locally. However, other jurisdictions require satellites to be built in the local area or in the country.

If cube satellite businesses do not get a mandatory liability cap within this Bill, there is a danger that future development will be affected, and a danger that, when those businesses are looking to expand or develop satellites for future use, they will do so where they can get one. That would be where they can insure and launch satellites. It is absolutely crucial that we get this issue sorted at this stage.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:09 p.m.

We discussed an operator’s liability to indemnify the Government against claims from foreign states and their nationals in clause 35. In addition, clause 33 places a strict liability on the operator to compensate third parties in the UK who suffer injury or damage as a result of space flight activity. This is necessary because the Bill allows spaceflight activities to take place from the UK. The intention is to provide easy recourse to compensation for the uninvolved general public in the UK on the same basis as compensation available to foreign nationals.

Clause 33(5) provides a power to make regulations to limit an operator’s liability arising out of spaceflight activities. As we have discussed, the Government intend to issue a call for evidence to consider whether such a cap is appropriate. The amendments seek to require the Government to make regulations that specify a cap on liability in an operator’s licence based on the risk profile of the launch.

The proposal is to set an upper limit on that cap in secondary legislation of €60 million. That figure, as we have discussed, reflects the existing cap on an operator’s liability to indemnify the Government in a licence for a standard mission issued under the Outer Space Act 1986, which was set following considerable experience of satellite licensing. There is no reason to believe that that is also an appropriate level at which to cap a launch vehicle operator’s liability to third parties in the UK, since that activity is likely to be inherently more risky.

Creating inflexibility in legislation is also not helpful. The existing Government indemnity liability cap of €60 million for satellite operators is set by a policy decision and can be varied as appropriate—the figure is not laid down in the Outer Space Act for that reason. The UK Space Agency is considering its approach to risk management of satellite licensing, including the implications for liabilities and insurance requirements. That flexibility is vital if regulation is to keep up with a rapidly changing space sector. The UK Space Agency intends to issue further guidance on that new approach later this year.

As that demonstrates, legislative flexibility is better for both industry and the Government, because it allows the regulator to determine case by case whether to cap liability and the level of any cap. That should encourage operators to design their missions to reduce injury and damage as much as possible, leading to safer launches and reduced costs for them.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:11 p.m.

Will the Minister give way?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:12 p.m.

Let me turn to some of the hon. Lady’s specific points before she intervenes—I may anticipate what she is about to ask.

A mandatory cap on liability and mandatory Government compensation embedded in primary legislation could potentially breach state aid rules. That could also cause difficulties in respect of future trading rules applying to the UK, although those are of course as yet unknown. For that reason, it is important to retain the flexibility to deal with the issue by way of secondary legislation. In that way, this and future Governments will have a power to introduce and vary a cap to ensure that it is in line with our legal obligations. It can also be varied in the light of changes in the market or in our trading commitments.

The amendment to clause 33(4)(a) means that the Government—the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire commented on this—must compensate a claimant only in the event of a cap. That amendment does not mean that there is a cap on the face of the Bill.

Space Industry Bill [Lords]

(2nd reading: House of Commons)
Carol Monaghan Excerpts
Monday 15th January 2018

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Department for Transport
Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing) - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 6:52 p.m.

I call Carol Monaghan.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP) - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 6:53 p.m.

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for making such a good choice. I welcome the new Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Hereford and South Herefordshire (Jesse Norman), to his place. He has moved seamlessly from his previous role as a Minister with responsibility for science. When he held that role, we had many interactions about space and space legislation.

The SNP welcomes the Bill and supports its aim of ensuring that the UK and Scotland can take advantage of new markets, overcome our dependence on foreign launch sites and benefit from the development of new spaceports and supply chains. The space industry has the potential to be worth billions of pounds to the UK economy, but proper investment must be made and work undertaken by all sides to ensure that it is a success.

As a number of Members have mentioned, space is an inspiration. I suppose the first big space development that people are aware of—if we disregard Sputnik, which is possibly not fair—is the Apollo missions to the moon. They were slightly before my time, but I understand their impact. The 1980s were the era of the space shuttle, and I remember as a child the great excitement around a space shuttle launch. An event in 1983 probably shaped my future career as a physics teacher. The space shuttle took part in a European tour, piggybacked on a jumbo jet, and—I do not know how many Members remember this—it flew over Glasgow. On that day in 1983, we heard the jumbo jet from our primary school classroom and ran outside to the playground, where we saw the most spectacular sight. It was quite incredible to see the size of the jumbo jet with this tiny thing stuck on the back, and even more incredible to think that that tiny thing was able to go into space.

The next big development, which happened when I was a young teacher, was the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn. It was launched just over 20 years ago, in 1997, to investigate Saturn and its moons. The mission was supposed to be quite short, but it was extended several times because of the discoveries that were made and the volume of data. One of the big discoveries concerned the moon Enceladus. Until that point, Enceladus had been seen as a tiny, icy and fairly nondescript rock in space, but the mission discovered that jets of water vapour were firing from the surface of the moon into space. Liquid water is incredibly important, as we all know; liquid water is the foundation of life. Suddenly, this icy and seemingly irrelevant moon became very important in our consideration of the potential for life in other places.

Finally, I want to mention Tim Peake. I was already a Member of this place when Tim Peake was launched into space, and his mission has inspired a new generation of young people to consider STEM careers and careers in the space industry. Over the years of the space race, we have moved from looking out the way and trying to see what is out there to looking in the way and providing data for us here on Earth. Increasingly, satellites—several Members have mentioned them—provide just such information, and they have become fundamental to our way of life. From maps and navigation systems to up-to-date weather forecasting, those satellites offer us information that we could not previously get.

Despite some embarrassing comments—I am sorry to bring the tone down slightly—last summer from a member of the Scottish Conservative party who described the industry as “science fiction”, the space industry in Scotland is flourishing. The first company was Clyde Space, which was founded in 2005 by Craig Clark. It was named after the River Clyde, on the banks of which it sits. Craig Clark had the ambition that it took to set up Clyde Space. He knew that there was the talent required in Glasgow, and that the universities—Strathclyde, Glasgow and the West of Scotland—had space-facing courses. They have been adapted to work with the satellite industries in Glasgow, and that has been a huge success.

Clyde Space has a vision. At one point, 25% of all ships were built in Glasgow, and the company has a similar vision for spacecraft—a vision that we in Glasgow are well placed to fulfil. When Clyde Space came to Glasgow, it had a multiplier effect. Alba Orbital, only a mile and a half away from Clyde Space, makes pocketqube satellites, which are tiny satellites that weigh about half a kilogram. Unicorn-1, the first pocketqube satellite, was developed in partnership with the European Space Agency and is due for launch this year.

Another company, Spire Global, is coincidentally located in the same building in the centre of Glasgow as Clyde Space. Spire’s headquarters are actually in San Francisco, but it was looking to expand and chose Glasgow for some very good reasons. The chief executive talked about the high quality research taking place in Glasgow, and the skilled technicians. Spire develops its own satellites and, unlike the other satellite manufacturers, launches them and sells on the data, including data about weather and tracking ships at sea. It does something different. These three companies together have ensured that Glasgow is now a European hub for CubeSats, and is now building more than any other place in Europe.

All hon. Members will, of course, champion their own constituencies as the potential location of the spaceport. But, just like the ambition of Clyde Space and Craig Clark, we should look further; we should look into having a number of spaceports. Scotland is absolutely spoilt for choice. Machrihanish in the Kintyre peninsula, and Stornoway airport in Na h-Eileanan Iar have potential. The A’Mhoine peninsula in Sutherland is another entrant to the spaceport race. More recently, it has been suggested that Unst in Shetland offers the opportunity of launching north straight into orbit, without passing over any centres of population. And, of course, as my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford) has already mentioned, Prestwick airport has an extra-long runway and fog-free facilities, which give it a huge advantage.

The educational opportunities of having a spaceport cannot be underestimated. As a teacher, I had the real privilege of working with the Scottish Space School at the University of Strathclyde, which sent students from Scotland to Houston in Texas for a week-long programme of activities about space; in fact, those trips still happen. If we get this legislation right, we have the potential to do that again here in the UK—in Scotland.

The regulation must support the work that companies are doing. A number of Members have mentioned launch sites. Manufacturers will always launch from the most economically viable location. The difficulty with the UK just now is that it is considered to be far more stringent in its jurisdiction than other locations. The third party liability cap has also been mentioned. The cap must be in place and it must be realistic in order for operators to get the insurance. Without it, CubeSats currently manufactured in Glasgow will continue to be transported to other locations, even when we have a spaceport. The difficulty for the UK space industry is that some countries will require the satellites to be manufactured there in order for them to get the licences to launch. Although that is not currently a big issue, it could be an issue for future investment. If restricted regulation causes the developers to invest elsewhere, we will lose out on future business, regardless of the attractiveness of locations such as Glasgow.

I wrote to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in August last year, and I got a reply from the then Science Minister, who is in his place today. He said that

“some small satellites can represent an increased risk over larger satellites as they often operate in the most congested regions of space, they rarely have any means of propulsion and can be difficult to track”.

Now, that is the case regardless of where we launch from, so we must get the legislation right to ensure that we can launch from the UK. The Minister went on to say:

“The UK Space Agency is also reviewing the UK’s approach to third party liability insurance, in particular with regard to small satellites and large constellations.”

I hope that this will ensure that a reasonable cap is placed on the liability for operators. Without it, they cannot get insurance; and without insurance, there will be no launches.

The Government have a duty to support this industry. Reaction Engines has been mentioned a number of times. The Minister has already mentioned the £65 million investment that I believe Reaction Engines finally received in 2016, but it was promised that money in 2013, so the company was trying to develop for three years without getting funding. We need to be realistic about the funding.

Brexit poses some threats to the space industry, to which collaborations and people are key. These people need assurances, not the ongoing uncertainty of the current situation. I found myself in the strange position a few moments ago of agreeing with the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans) when he raised concerns about the Galileo project. We must ensure that we protect UK industries in that project. If suppliers for Galileo must be part of an EU state, our suppliers are under threat. There must be protections in place for them. The Galileo and Copernicus programmes were both designed by the European Space Agency, but they have been built with EU funds. This money is funnelled through member states of the single market only. The UK currently receives about 15% of inward investment from the European space budget, but its contributions account for only 12%. The UK Government must make up the difference to ensure that there is continued financial support for space-related activities.

There is a great potential in space, and great potential for us to get the legislation right. Let us hope that we can work together to ensure that the UK space industry gets what it needs. This is one area of UK Government policy that has the potential to be frictionless.

Mrs Sheryll Murray Portrait Mrs Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall) (Con) - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 7:07 p.m.

It is an absolute delight to follow the hon. Member for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan). At least Scottish National Members are here taking an interest. It is really strange that there is now only one MP—who has just come into the Chamber—on the Back Benches from the official Opposition, and that is the Opposition Whip. Obviously, the Labour party has no interest in the future prosperity of the country.

I thank the Department for Transport for having the foresight and ambition for the country to bring forward this important Bill. There are many small steps and, indeed, giant leaps that need to be taken as we, as beings, explore the frontier that lies beyond the atmosphere.

I am proud to be Cornish, and I am very proud of the fact that Cornwall has always been at the forefront of new innovation. As my hon. Friend the Member for St Austell and Newquay (Steve Double) has already said—I do not apologise for repeating it—Cornwall has done that throughout its history, with inventors and engineers such as Richard Trevithick, who built the first steam locomotive; Jonathan Hornblower, who invented the compound engine and the steam valve; and Arthur Woolf, who invented the high pressure compound steam engine. Cornwall has a history of innovators when it comes to engines.

Cornwall has also been at the cutting edge of communications. Porthcurno, before it was used as a location for “Poldark”, was the point at which many submarine telegraph cables—transatlantic and to other locations—came ashore, and was at the centre of UK-international communications. Cornwall was the home of the world’s first parabolic satellite communications antenna at Goonhilly—at one time, the largest satellite earth station in the world. More recently, Cornwall has seen great steps forward as the Bloodhound team attempts to create the fastest car. I was fortunate enough to meet the team in Parliament and have a go in their simulator. I have to confess that I was not very good, and I am sure they would not employ me as a driver, but I wish them well with their goals.

In this light, I want to see Cornwall at the forefront of moving forward as we reach into space. Cornwall would be the perfect location for a spaceport. Newquay airport shares its airspace with no one else—the nearest other commercial airport is Exeter, and beyond that, Bristol. Therefore, Newquay airport, with its very large runway, has an ideal opportunity to be the location for the first spaceport. I thank Cornwall Council and the local enterprise partnership for all the fantastic work they have done in putting forward the case that Cornwall should host the spaceport and making sure it has the capacity to do so. The potential for any such facility is great. We have seen an ever-increasing demand in satellites, and that is expected to grow by over 10% over the next decade. However, the true growth will come as we undertake more research. We have already seen massive growth in research, which is, in itself, a growing sector. I want Cornwall to be at the centre of that. This research is where the true advances and the real value will come from.

I look forward to the future and the advances that we are yet to know about. I believe the future is bright—unlike, obviously, the Opposition. It is becoming clear that a lot of this future development will come as we go boldly beyond our atmosphere into the next stage of our progression as human beings. I look forward to this transformation and want to see Cornwall at the centre of it.

Break in Debate

Stephen Kerr (Stirling) (Con) Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 8:26 p.m.

I rise to make a short contribution to the debate, not on the basis of any kind of knowledge or technical insight but simply as an enthusiast. I was unsure whether I, as the Member of Parliament for Stirling, could stand here and speak with any authority about such matters as the European Space Agency, but such is the marvel of the days we live in that I have received a communication while I have been in the Chamber from a constituent, Mr Gordon Honeyman, who tells me that I have a constituent who works for the European Space Agency—it happens to be his wife—so I now feel flush with authority to address these subjects, perhaps with an even greater degree of enthusiasm.

I should like to speak in support of the Bill. I am reliably informed that to achieve escape velocity from the Earth, a vehicle must be travelling at 25,020 mph. That is quite fast. The need for speed in rocketry and space engineering is a well-documented fact. The vast distances of space and the physics of gravity make such speed a requirement.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 8:27 p.m.

That escape velocity applies if the vehicle is pinged from the surface of the Earth and no further propulsion is used. Actually, if we could continually move upwards at 1 metre per second, we would eventually get into space.

Stephen Kerr Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 8:27 p.m.

I am the better for that intervention, but I am now worried about what else I will say. I am grateful for the fact that the hon. Lady, who is a physics teacher, is in the Chamber today to provide that illuminating insight. I hope that we can agree that 25,020 mph is very fast, but such speeds are difficult for us to assess with our 70 mph motorways, which make it difficult to imagine a speed 357 times faster. Even the HS2 line, operating at 250 mph, pales into insignificance. I am obviously deploying parliamentary understatement when I say that we are dealing with something out of the ordinary as a means of transport.

It is the need for speed that necessitates this Bill, not in the physical sense that I have been discussing, but in the legislative sense. Prescriptive legislation that annotates all aspects of regulation is doomed to fail in the fast-moving and changing world in which we live, especially in this fast-moving industry. I made similar comments about the need to move quickly to keep up with the times in the context of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill and data protection legislation.