Karl Turner 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
15 interactions (1,712 words)
Tue 23rd January 2018 Space Industry Bill [ Lords ] (First sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 1st sitting: House of Commons
56 interactions (3,876 words)
Mon 15th January 2018 Space Industry Bill [Lords] (Commons Chamber)
2nd reading: House of Commons
3 interactions (688 words)

Space Industry Bill [Lords]

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

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Department for Transport
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.

Sir John Hayes Portrait Mr John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings) (Con) - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 2:56 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman speaks about growth in the industry. We heard a lot about growth on Second Reading, and the Minister has acknowledged the need for skills. Leaving aside new clause 2, but relevant to it, is there a case for cross-departmental work on developing those skills, given the complexity of meeting the industry’s needs? Would the hon. Gentleman offer that as a possible compromise to the Minister?

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman makes an excellent point. I was about to say that I do not intend to divide the House on new clause 2, but I hope the Minister takes his point on board.

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Joseph Johnson) Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 2:56 p.m.

Like the hon. Members for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran) and for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan) and my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes), the Government want the UK to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead. We want the UK to be a go-to place for scientists, innovators and tech investors in the years ahead. We intend to secure the right outcomes for the UK research base, including our space community, as we exit the European Union.

As hon. Members will remember, the agreement that successfully concluded phase 1 of the exit negotiations in December 2017 made it clear that, as part of the financial settlement, the UK will remain part of Horizon 2020 until at least the end of this budget period in December 2020. As part of the new deep and special relationship with the EU, recognising our shared interest in maintaining and strengthening research collaboration, the UK will seek an agreement that promotes science and innovation, including on space, across Europe now and in the future. We would welcome a specific agreement to continue collaborating with our European partners on major science, space research and technology initiatives, and we will be approaching the upcoming negotiations on that basis.

New clause 1 would require the Government to undertake an assessment. As Members will remember, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union provided the relevant Select Committees with reports on many sectors, including the space sector, on 27 November 2017. The space sector report contained a description of the sector, the current EU regulatory regime, the existing frameworks for facilitating trade, including between countries, and the sector views on it. Ministers have a specific responsibility, which Parliament has previously endorsed, not to release information that would undermine our negotiating position, and I know Members present understand that position.

On new clause 2, the Government’s September partnership paper set out our intent with regard to discussing options for future co-operation and partnership with the EU through the EU space programme. The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has given a clear undertaking to the House that he will keep the relevant Select Committees informed of progress in discussions with the EU Commission on EU exit matters. That commitment to openness needs to be balanced with the overriding national interest in preserving our negotiating position.

I recognise the interest of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East (Karl Turner) in how our future relationship with the EU will help support the continued strong growth in the space sector—it is an interest the Government share—but I hope he will appreciate that we cannot enter into commitments to inform Parliament about the EU exit negotiations on a sector-by-sector basis, through various bits of legislation. In the light of that, I ask the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon to withdraw new clause 1.

Break in Debate

Layla Moran Portrait Layla Moran - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 3:14 p.m.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but I disagree that the amendment would prevent innovation. I think it would be absolutely fine. The affirmative procedure is employed in 13 other parts of the Bill. Parliamentary scrutiny should not just be waved away, as it has been in other Bills. All we are asking for is the affirmative procedure, which would allow Parliament to scrutinise regulations that little bit more.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 3:15 p.m.

I rise to speak to amendment 4, which I tabled, as well as the remaining new clauses and amendments.

Amendment 4 would give clarity to the UK’s space industry. As it stands, the Bill makes no provision to ensure that the industry works with the Government to create the regulatory framework that it so badly needs. The amendment would increase the focus on making the UK commercially attractive for potential spaceflight operators. As with new clause 3, the amendment was tabled to press the Government to publish clear regulations for the UK space industry, which is one of the Bill’s key issues.

Under the amendment, the Secretary of State would have to publish guidance for any forthcoming regulations and hold regular discussions with any potential operator before a licence was issued. The UK’s space industry needs as much clarity as possible; we do not want further uncertainty that may hinder growth. If the Government do not get this right, they could quite possibly deter investment, recruitment and growth in the space sector. It will be interesting to hear the Minister’s views.

Labour Members generally support the aims of new clause 3, which was tabled by the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford). The Bill does not set out the criteria for awarding licences, and nor does it describe the procedures in any great detail, which is a problem. When I spoke to new clause 2, I alluded to the fact that Labour wants the UK space industry to grow in the coming years, but the Government need to get this legislation right and have had the opportunity to do so. The industry must be made aware of regulations. We agree that the Government should lay a report before Parliament setting out the proposed licensing regulations in detail. That is fair and reasonable.

On new clause 3(3), Labour tabled an amendment in Committee that would have ensured that if space activities were established in any of the devolved Administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, their respective environmental agencies and bodies, and respective Governments, would be consulted before any decision was made to grant an operator licence in their jurisdictions. Unfortunately, our amendment was defeated, so I welcome new clause 3, which presses the issue a little further.

The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire also tabled new clause 4, which deals with the liability issue that came up time and again in Committee.

Alex Sobel Portrait Alex Sobel (Leeds North West) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

There are 40,000 jobs in the UK space industry. Would it not deter investment if the Government did not implement a liability cap for the industry?

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 3:19 p.m.

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. He is right to say that 40,000 jobs rely on such a measure. Colleagues on both sides of the House have made the point that investment may be deterred if that is not in place.

New clause 4 deals with this very important issue of liability. The issue has been raised at every stage of the Bill’s consideration, both here and in the other place. Labour broadly supports the Bill, as we have reiterated throughout its passage, because we want the industry to grow so that high-skilled, high-paid and secure work is created across the country. Labour previously tabled amendments to get a discussion going about a liability cap. My colleagues in the other place tabled an amendment that would have removed any cap on a licensee’s liability, but that was merely a probing amendment with the intention of grabbing the Government’s attention so that they would seriously consider providing a definite liability cap in primary legislation. I am grateful to my colleagues in the other place for the work that they did. As I said in Committee, we were never opposed to a cap; we just wanted some clarity from the Government, as they must get this right. I think it fair to say that the Government have listened carefully to the points we made in Committee.

The UK space sector has made repeated representations to the Government that they should implement a cap for UK-licensed satellite launch operators. Britain’s space industry wants the Government to introduce a cap, I think at around €60 million. The Bill makes no mention of that, apart from the vague and lax use of the word “may”, which has now been amended to “must”. We are aware, however, that the Government stated previously—I think in Committee—that they opposed writing into legislation a mandatory cap on liability, as well as mandatory compensation from the Government, because that might breach state aid rules. I would be really grateful to the Minister if he clarified this particular point.

The industry has maintained throughout that it would not be able to secure insurance without a benchmark liability figure. The ambiguity from the Government on this issue could put off potential investment in the industry, as we have already heard, and harm the growth that the Bill sets out to achieve.

Requiring the Government to consult on and set a mandatory cap on a licensee’s liability for each launch individually, as well as basing it on the classification type of each launch, is reasonable and fair. We believe that the Government need to look again at this, and I see that the Minister is taking note of what is being said.

I will speak very briefly to Liberal Democrat amendments 1 to 3. Amendment 1 would make regulations made under clause 68 subject to the affirmative procedure. In the other place, Labour colleagues worked on a cross-party basis, it is fair to say, in an attempt to ensure that a number of the regulations under the Bill would be subject to the affirmative procedure. Labour also tabled a similar amendment in Committee. We are grateful to the Government for listening and taking on board the concerns raised in the other place, and the Bill now ensures that there is enhanced scrutiny of regulations under the affirmative procedure, which I am very glad to see.

Amendments 2 and 3 to schedule 6 are about ensuring that the devolved Administrations are notified when an order is made to obtain rights over land. In Committee, Labour tabled an amendment to ensure that, before any decisions or notices were made, there would be consultation with not only the relevant environment agencies of the devolved Administrations, but the devolved Administrations themselves. I pressed that amendment to a Division because I did not think that the Government went anything like far enough to ensure that the devolved Administrations would be involved in the overall process. Unfortunately, that amendment was defeated, but I hope that the Government have now fully appreciated its intent.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 3:24 p.m.

I thank all hon. Members who have spoken to the measures tabled by the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford). In addition to new clause 3, she tabled new clause 4, which would introduce a mandatory requirement for the Government to lay a report before Parliament setting out their plans in relation to a cap on a licensee’s liabilities. The new clause would also mandate consultation with the devolved Administrations and UKspace, a trade association of the UK space industry. The Government have consistently listened to the industry’s concerns about liabilities, dating back to the early development of our policy by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes), including with regard to the licensing of UK entities carrying out certain space activities and in the development of all the provisions in the Bill.

The Government are well aware that the main space launch nations, including France and the US, limit a launch operator’s liabilities in some form, which is why the Bill contains powers for certain liabilities to be capped in licence conditions by way of regulations. Having such powers enables the UK to compete on a level playing field and allows the Government to share the burden of liabilities with operators.

However, launch from the UK is a new activity, and we should cap a launch vehicle operator’s liability, and thereby confer contingent liability on the Government, only if there is clear evidence that that is necessary. It is therefore important that the Government are able first to gather such evidence. To do that, as has been highlighted in earlier stages of the passage of this Bill, we will undertake a call for evidence specifically on liability and insurance, and that will take place shortly after Royal Assent.

Alongside that, the UK Space Agency is already working on, and considering its approach towards, risk assessment, insurance and liability requirements for launch activities taking place from the UK. If, following that work and the call for evidence, a cap on the launch vehicle operator’s liability for launch activities taking place from the UK is deemed appropriate, a full consultation will take place, which will include the publication of Government proposals and draft regulations. As I have said, this will be an open and comprehensive consultation that will include the devolved Administrations. Any proposals outlined in such a consultation will be subject to compliance with relevant trading rules, whether they are EU state aid rules, or other rules applying after our exit from the European Union.

Break in Debate

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 ] (First sitting) Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Department for Transport
Legislation Page: Space Industry Act 2018

Space Industry Bill [ Lords ] (First sitting)

(Committee Debate: 1st sitting: House of Commons)
Karl Turner Excerpts
Tuesday 23rd January 2018

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Public Bill Committees
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Department for Transport
The Chair

We now begin line-by-line consideration of the Bill. Today’s selection list is available in the room and on the Bill website. It shows how selected amendments have been grouped together for debate. Grouped amendments are generally on the same or a similar issue. A Member who has put their name to the lead amendment is called first. Other Members are free to catch my eye to speak on all or any of the amendments in that group. A Member may speak more than once in a single debate.

At the end of a debate on a group of amendments, I shall call the Member who moved the lead amendment again. Before they sit down, they need to indicate whether they wish to withdraw the amendment or press it to a Division. If a Member wishes to press any other amendments or new clause in a group to a vote, they need to let me know. I shall work on the assumption that the Minister wishes the Committee to reach a decision on all tabled Government amendments.

Please note that decisions on amendments do not take place in the order that they are debated, but in the order that they appear on the amendment paper. In other words, debate occurs according to the selection list, and decisions are taken when we come to the clause that the amendment affects.

I shall use my discretion to decide whether to allow a separate stand part debate on individual clauses and schedules following debates on relevant amendments. I hope that that explanation is helpful.

The Committee has just agreed a programme motion, which will be reproduced on the amendment paper from tomorrow. The motion sets out the order in which we will consider the Bill.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2

Duties and supplementary powers of the regulator

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner (Kingston upon Hull East) (Lab) - Hansard

I beg to move amendment 13, in clause 2, page 2, line 25, at end insert—

“(ea) the effect on the environment and on local communities of activities connected with the operation of spaceflight activities or the operation of a spaceport as licensed under this Act;”

This amendment adds impact on the environment and local community activities to the list of areas the regulator should take into account when exercising functions under this Act.

The Chair
23 Jan 2018, 9:29 a.m.

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government new clause 1—Grant of licences: assessments of environmental effects.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:31 a.m.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bone. The amendment adds impact on the environment and local community activities to the list of areas the regulator should take into account when exercising functions under the Bill.

I am grateful that the Government listened to my colleagues in the other place, tabled new clause 1 and agreed to undertake assessments of environmental effects before the regulator grants certain licenses. I pay tribute to my Front-Bench colleagues in the other place, who did a great deal of work to improve the Bill by persuading the Government to make a number of crucial concessions.

I do not intend to press the amendment to a vote, but I would like to ask the Minister whether he will set out on the record exactly how the proposed operator licensing regime and its regulation powers will work in relation to existing planning laws and processes. Concerns were raised in the other place that the regulator or persons with an operator license will be able to overrule or disregard any existing planning regulations, laws and processes when it comes to potential spaceport or spaceflight operations in the UK.

As I indicated, I am happy to withdraw the amendment if the Minister is prepared to clear up any ambiguity surrounding existing planning procedures and the development the UK’s space industry. I hope he listens not only to the concerns that we raise in Committee but to the expert contributions in the other place.

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Joseph Johnson) Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:34 a.m.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship on this important Bill, Mr Bone. I echo the hon. Gentleman’s thanks to Members in the other place for the collegiate and helpful way in which they developed the Bill into its current state.

I recognise the hon. Gentleman’s concerns about environmental protection and the impact on local communities of spaceflight activities and the operation of spaceports under the Bill. As he said, similar issues were raised in the other place. Following constructive debates in the other place on environmental issues, the Government reviewed the compatibility of the existing planning and environmental framework with spaceflight activities. During that review, certain situations were identified where the existing framework may not provide the environmental protection that we all wish to be required of spaceflight activities. Discussions have since taken place across Government to address that potential gap, resulting in the tabling of Government new clause 1.

New clause 1 will place a mandatory requirement on an applicant for either a launch or a spaceport licence to submit an assessment of the environmental effects of their proposed activity as a precondition of receiving a licence. That duty will ensure that appropriate assessments of environmental effects are conducted by the operator or spaceport licensee and considered by the regulator prior to the determination of an application for a licence.

As hon. Members are aware, there is already a comprehensive body of environmental and planning legislation with which spaceports and spaceflight operators will need to comply, independently of the requirements in the Bill. As such, the new clause seeks to ensure that appropriate assessments are undertaken without placing a disproportionate burden on applicants. To achieve that, it allows for existing equivalent environmental assessments to be considered where appropriate. That will be the case only where the regulator is satisfied that there has been no material change of circumstance since the previous assessment was prepared.

I hope I have reassured hon. Members of the Government’s intention to ensure that spaceport and operator licences are granted only following a robust assessment of the environmental effects of the activities those licences permit. New clause 1 goes even further than the hon. Gentleman’s amendment 13. It adds to the duty on the regulator in clause 2(2)(e) to take into account any environmental objectives set by the Secretary of State, including those set by the Environment Agency.

We also amended schedule 1 in the other place to include an indicative licence condition that, if included in a licence, would require assessments of the impact of noise and emissions from spaceflight activities. I hope in the light of the Government new clause that the Committee will agree that the Bill contains robust environmental protections, and I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his amendment.

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP) - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:39 a.m.

I, too, welcome the amendment and the Government’s new clause to strengthen the environmental protections. Those hoping to establish spaceports are still concerned about exactly what is expected of them. It is about trying to get the right balance between protecting the community and allowing spaceports to develop. The sooner the regulations and expectations are clear, the more likely it is that spaceports will go ahead. At the moment, it is hard to expect them to invest if there is still the risk that, at some point, they simply will be ruled out by one of the environmental regulations.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:37 a.m.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 3 to 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 7

Provision of range control services

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:38 a.m.

Again, I welcome any clarification, sooner rather than later, about who is envisaged as providing the range control services. It is clearly stated and welcome that the provider should be independent from those operating the spaceport or the flight. Would it be air traffic control? Who exactly is identified? The problem with the Bill is still that there is a lot of vague gaps that have not been filled in, which is causing anxiety.

Break in Debate

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:39 a.m.

In our Launch UK programme, we have made it clear that range control is one of the opportunities for which we are seeking interest from industry. To that extent, the private sector is aware that this is one of the big opportunities that the Bill will enable.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 7 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 9

Grant of operator licences: safety

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:40 a.m.

I beg to move amendment 14, in clause 9, page 7, line 37, leave out “to (4)” and insert “and (3)”.

This amendment changes the requirements the regulator must satisfy in order to grant an operator licence to UK Space Port operators.

The amendment is merely a probing amendment, and I do not intend to speak to it for very long. We would like the Government to ensure that the regulator must not grant an application to a potential operator unless it has carried out a thorough risk assessment and meets the prescribed requirements as laid out in the Bill. I would like to press the Minister and seek further details on how the relationship between the Health and Safety Executive and the Civil Aviation Authority or UK Space Agency will work, and how best practices will be shared.

A lengthy debate in the other place highlighted the concerns. I am grateful to the Minister in the other place, who indicated that he would go away and work with officials. Concerns were raised, mainly by my Front-Bench colleagues in the other place and by me in the Commons on Second Reading, about how the Health and Safety Executive will work with the regulators. The Government stated that there would be a memorandum of understanding, but we are still in the dark when it comes to details.

I seek assurances from the Minister that regulators have the expertise and resources necessary to ensure that the general public are kept safe when it comes to the potential development of our space industry. I also reiterate that, so far, we have little detail on how the UK Space Agency and the CAA are going to share best practice. We would be grateful if the Minister could shed any more light on that.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:45 a.m.

I will certainly attempt to do so. The hon. Gentleman raises the important issue of the safety requirements that regulators must take into account when deciding applications for a spaceflight operator licence under clause 9. The Bill makes it clear that safety regulation will be at the heart of the regulation of spaceflight, spaceports and associated activities. Clause 2 sets out the core duties of the regulator and establishes that ensuring the health and safety of the public is the primary duty.

Clause 9 imposes very clear requirements on both the applicant for a spaceflight operator licence and the regulator in deciding that application. Clause 9 requires that applicants for a spaceflight operator licence assess the risks to health and safety posed by the spaceflight activity. Clause 9 makes a necessary differentiation between the assessments carried out for those who voluntarily agreed to participate in spaceflight activities, which would include any crew or other spaceflight participant, and others who are not taking part in any prescribed capacity—the general public. For people taking part in spaceflight activities, details of the risk assessment required under subsection (2) will form a critical part of the informed consent form that clause 16 requires the volunteers to sign before they are allowed to participate in those activities.

The other key aspect to the clause is managing risks to the general public. Even after all steps have been taking to reduce risks to as low as is reasonably practicable, subsection (4)(b) means that the regulator will not issue a licence if the residual risk to public health and safety remains unacceptably high. If amendment 14 were passed, that protection for the general public would be removed, although I understand that, as the hon. Gentleman said, it is a probing amendment.

Subsection (5) enables the making of regulations to make provision about the matters that operators must take into account and other requirements to be met in carrying out risk assessments. Paragraphs (b) and (c) address the risk to public safety, the steps to be taken to ensure that risks are as low as reasonably practicable, and how acceptable levels of risk are to be determined. The regulations will also prescribe the factors that must be taken into account in determining acceptable levels of risk. Subsection (6) enables regulations setting out information that applicants must provide so that the regulator may be satisfied that an applicant has done what it is required to do under the licence.

Break in Debate

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:48 a.m.

I will respond to two of the points made by hon. Members. On early visibility of licence requirements, to get the industry feeling confident that it has a clear set of rules to work with, we will continue to engage with it as we develop the detailed regulations to ensure that the legislation facilitates and supports development in the sector and provides operators with the confidence to move forward with their plans. In addition, as has been said, regulators will be holding extensive pre-licensing discussions with potential operators in order for them to provide more detailed guidance.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:48 a.m.

I thank the Minister for his response and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 10

Grant of spaceport licence

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:49 a.m.

I beg to move amendment 15, in clause 10, page 8, line 27, leave out ‘satisfied that’.

This amendment ensures that two defined criteria steps are properly defined for granting an application for a space port licence.

The amendment is intended to make the legislation clearer about the regulator not granting an application for a spaceport licence “unless satisfied that”—this is from the Bill—

“the applicant has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that risks to public safety arising from the operation of the spaceport are as low as reasonably practicable, and…any prescribed criteria or requirements are met.”

Speaking purely as a lawyer, I thought the legislation would be clearer to remove “satisfied that”, but on reflection that is probably just semantical. I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

The Chair
23 Jan 2018, 9:49 a.m.

The Minister might want to say something.

Break in Debate

The Chair
23 Jan 2018, 9:49 a.m.

Ah! You are getting a little ahead of yourself, Minister.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 11

Terms of licences

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard

I beg to move amendment 16, in clause 11, page 8, line 37, leave out subsection (2).

This amendment removes the specified limit they must pay in damages to an uninvolved third party in the event of an accident in operator licences.

The Chair
23 Jan 2018, 9:50 a.m.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 5, in clause 11, page 8, line 37, leave out “may” and insert “must”.

This amendment places a definite cap on the amount of a licensee’s liability.

Amendment 6, in clause 11, page 9, line 12, at end insert—

“(7) Within 12 months of this Act coming into force the Secretary of State must lay a report before Parliament setting out plans on what an appropriate maximum limit would be on the amount of the licensee’s liability under subsection (2).”.

This amendment would ensure that the Secretary of State decides on what level the mandatory cap for the licensee’s liability is.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:51 a.m.

The amendment relates to the terms of spaceport and space operator licences. I propose to remove the specified limit that must be paid in damages to an uninvolved third party in the event of an incident in the operator’s licences. Clause 11 concerns the terms that may or must be included in a licence issued under the Bill authorising spaceflight activities, the operation of a spaceport or the provision of a range control services.

Colleagues in the other place were concerned about the particular wording of this section. We have heard that the amount of liability may be capped. The Minister will correct me if I am wrong, but I think it was mentioned on Second Reading in the Commons that a limit of £20 million had been suggested. I would like the Minister to clarify the issue of the cap, and that is why we have re-tabled the amendment. Although I declare an interest as a lawyer, I did not practise personal injury law and this is not my area of expertise. However, it seems to me that £20 million would cover two very serious non-fatal incidents. It would not be anywhere near enough to cover costs such as living costs and other issues that would arise from serious injury.

I want to know from the Minister, if he is prepared to tell me, whether there is a limit on how much the operator or the Government must pay in damages to an uninvolved third party in the event of an incident. It is also not clear who pays if the losses exceed the proposed cap. Are the Government the insurer of last resort? In the unlikely event of a catastrophic incident, would the Government meet the excess above any cap?

We are certainly not opposed to a cap. We just want some clarity on the issue. Therefore, I would be grateful if the Minister could clear up some of these concerns, which were also raised in the other place, where they were very well put.

The Chair
23 Jan 2018, 9:53 a.m.

As we will also debate amendments 5 and 6 now, it seems appropriate to have the stand part debate too.

Break in Debate

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:56 a.m.

Clause 11(2) provides a power for a licensee’s liability to indemnify the Government under clause 35 to be capped in an operator licence. Amendment 16 would remove that vital power. Under both this Bill and the Outer Space Act 1986, operators have a liability to indemnify the Government against claims for damage or loss from foreign states and their nationals. That is to ensure that we meet our obligations under the UN space treaties.

However, satellite operators have previously raised concerns that such a liability is a barrier to operating in the space industry. Operators found that the unlimited liability made it difficult to raise finance or to insure against. The Government have therefore responded to those concerns.

The unlimited liability provisions under the Outer Space Act were amended by the Deregulation Act 2012 and since then licences issued under that Act for the procurement of an overseas launch and the in-orbit operation of a satellite benefit from a cap, which is set out in licence conditions.

The UK Space Agency publishes the usual level of cap in its guidance, which currently sets the cap at €60 million for standard missions. Crucially, however, the level is not set by statute, so the cap can be varied depending on the risk of the activity in question. Some activities currently regulated under the Outer Space Act, notably procuring the launch of a space object and the operation of a satellite in orbit taking place from the UK, will be regulated under this Bill in future, and it is the intention to continue to exercise the discretion to cap the liability to indemnify Government in these licences.

Therefore, following Royal Assent of this Bill, amendment 16 would reverse current Government policy and disadvantage satellite operators in the UK. Conversely, amendment 5 seeks to ensure that all operator licences must cap the liability to indemnify the Government under clause 35. Amendment 6 would then go on to ensure that the level of this cap would be set out in a report to Parliament.

I understand clearly that the intent of these amendments is to support operators in the UK and the Government welcome support for that principle, which is why we have included this power in the Bill. However, these amendments are premature. The cap on the indemnity to the Government under the Outer Space Act was based on many years of licensing the procuring of the launch of space objects and of the operation of satellites in orbit. Indeed, it was not put in place until more than 25 years after that Act gained Royal Assent. The costs and benefits of capping liability for those activities were fully considered and were subject to a full consultation with industry. We intend to take a similar approach to considering capping a launch operator’s liability to Government under this Bill, as launch is a new activity in the UK and poses more risks for the UK as a launching state.

As I said on Second Reading, we intend to announce a call for evidence on all issues relating to insurance and liabilities early this year, following Royal Assent. That will allow us to start to assess the appropriateness of a cap for this new and potentially riskier activity, balancing the economic benefits of such activity with the need to protect the taxpayer.

On that basis, I hope that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East will withdraw the amendment.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:59 a.m.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Chair
23 Jan 2018, 10 a.m.

Does Dr Whitford wish to press her amendment to a vote?

Break in Debate

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard

I assume the Government recognise that other launching states, such as Australia, France and the US, all have liability caps. If there is no cap, that will simply kill the launch industry dead in this country. I will not push to a vote amendment 6, which would set the cap at a particular level, but the Government should accept the principle that there will be a cap. I would be happy if the Government plan to bring forward such a measure before the third day, but simply to leave the wording as “may” leaves too much doubt.

Amendment proposed: 5, in clause 11, page 8, line 37, leave out “may” and insert “must”.—(Dr Whitford.)

This amendment places a definite cap on the amount of a licensee’s liability.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard

I beg to move amendment 17, in clause 12, page 9, line 41, at end insert—

“(ea) must consult the Environment Agency or (as appropriate) the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency or Natural Resources Wales;

“(eb) must consult any relevant local planning authority;”

This amendment ensures that the devolved Administrations are consulted in regards to respective Environment Agency bodies.

The Chair

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 18, in clause 12, page 10, line 4, at end insert—

‘(9) In subsection (6) a “relevant local planning authority” means a local planning authority with jurisdiction over any location which would be significantly affected by the licence application.”

This amendment defines ‘relevant local planning authorities’.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:06 a.m.

I will be brief, Mr Bone. The amendments aim to tighten up some of the ambiguous wording in the Bill. They are intended to ensure that if space activities were to be established under any of the devolved Administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, their respective environment agency bodies would be consulted before any decision was made on granting an operator licence in their jurisdictions. Will the Minister assure us that he will ensure that the regulator will properly consult the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency or Natural Resources Wales, as well as any relevant local planning authority, before an operator can be granted a UK spaceport licence?

I tabled amendment 18 with the aim of properly defining a “relevant local planning authority”. We believe that the Bill is too vague and have expanded on its wording to ensure that a local planning authority is defined as an

“authority with jurisdiction over any location which would be significantly affected by the licence application”.

I have seen the Minister’s collegiate approach to the Committee and hope that he will note Opposition concerns, and I shall be happy to withdraw the amendment if he addresses the important points I have raised.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:07 a.m.

It is always a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bone.

I support the amendments and hope that the Minister can answer some questions. I am speaking with a constituency interest, as Natural Resources Wales is in my constituency. As that constituency borders England, and has a maritime border, issues such as those we are considering are of regular concern to my constituents. A recent example was the building of the new Hinkley Point nuclear power station on the other side of the Bristol channel. Various significant concerns were raised about the granting of licences for the disposal of mud, which is being removed from the Hinkley Point site to the Welsh side of the channel.

I do not want to get into the specifics of that example, but as there is a question of potentially hazardous materials and the potential for cross-border contamination within the UK, I agree that the matters should be the subject of proper consultation with the devolved authorities, given the likely consequences of anything untoward happening.

Break in Debate

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:10 a.m.

I would not want the Committee to think that we have not been engaging closely with the devolved Administrations in the development of the Bill, because we have, and over a considerable period. We have worked with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at official level to ensure that all the devolved Administrations are content with provisions in the Bill. I have been out in Northern Ireland myself to discuss the opportunities this Bill presents to businesses there.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:09 a.m.

While these amendments intend to ensure that the respective environmental bodies would be consulted were space activities to be established in any of the devolved Administrations—Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales—I do not think the Government have gone anywhere near far enough on that. On that basis, I want to push the amendment to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:16 a.m.

On the matter of informed consent, I highlight the written evidence submitted to us around what will be defined as informed consent and the possible need to explain complex issues and whether there would be potential for exposing technical information, which, under the US’s ITAR—International Traffic in Arms Regulations—agreement, would be a problem. That is not particularly something I want to bring forward, but we have received a written submission on informed consent.

Break in Debate

Joseph Johnson Hansard

I am happy to provide further details about our common approach to space debris, if that would be helpful, and undertake to do so.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 28 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 29 to 31 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 32

Power to authorise entry etc in emergencies

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:38 a.m.

I beg to move amendment 19, in clause 32, page 23, line 31, at end insert—

‘(4A) An enforcement authorisation must be referred to a justice of the peace for evaluation within 48 hours, following the 48 hour period under subsection (7) in which the enforcement authorisation remains in force.”

This amendment provides that an urgent enforcement authorisation must be referred to a justice of the peace for evaluation within 48 hours, following the 48-hour period under Clause 32(7) of the Bill, during which the enforcement authorisation remains in force.

The amendment provides that an urgent enforcement authorisation must be referred to a justice of the peace for evaluation within 48 hours following the 48-hour period under subsection (7), during which the enforcement authorisation remains in force. The amendment aims to clear up any ambiguity surrounding clauses 31 and 32, which grant warrants authorising entry or direct action and powers to authorise entry in emergencies.

Clause 32(2) permits a named person to do anything necessary for protecting national security, securing compliance with international obligations or protecting health and safety. My colleagues in the other place raised concerns about emergency warrants and such vague wording. The power conferred by clause 32 is very extensive and broad. It contains no thorough judicial oversight. The Minister is well aware that the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee also expressed concerns about this aspect of the Bill, which was obviously mentioned in detail in the other place.

We welcome the fact that the Government reduced the authorisation period from one month to 48 hours, which limits the Secretary of State’s power to a degree. However, we still have concerns that such significant and wide-ranging powers will be exercisable without anticipatory or rapid post hoc judicial involvement.

Currently, there is not enough in the Bill to check whether the powers granted under clause 32 will be appropriately or proportionately used by the authorised person. The Minister in the other place stated that the amendment would “impose unhelpful bureaucracy”. We believe that judicial oversight of emergency warrants is crucial to ensure that such excessive powers are not abused, and we do not believe that we are asking for anything unreasonable. Having checks in place to ensure that this extensive power is not misused will improve the Bill. It is not, as stated by the Minister in the other place, “unhelpful bureaucracy”. I hope the Minister can give assurances that the Government are listening to those concerns and will take them on board.

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:41 a.m.

I rise to support the amendment. Clause 31 refers to the seeking of warrants from justices of the peace, where there is time to do so. Clearly, there will be situations where that is not reasonable and therefore we accept that there is a need to allow emergency entry— 48 hours should be sufficient to allow that warrant to be reviewed by a justice of the peace. We welcome that the Government reduced emergency entry from a month to 48 hours, but it is perfectly reasonable that it should be looked at by a justice of the peace within two days.

Break in Debate

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:49 a.m.

The enforcement authorisations would be a last resort where the regulatory bodies in question felt that it was absolutely imperative to have one in the interests of our national security, or for the pursuit of our international obligations, or the health and safety of individuals in and around the spaceport or elsewhere in the UK. It is very much a power of last resort. Given the nature of the activities being undertaken at spaceports, everyone should be able to see the need for such provisions.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard

I hear what the Minister says, but he seems to be saying that, because there is no precedent for a justice of the peace to review such warrants, it is not necessary. He also said that judicial review is available, but he must appreciate that the threshold to succeed in judicial review is very high and that it is extremely costly to the party bringing the proceeding. Frankly, he has not gone anywhere near far enough, and for that reason I am pressing the amendment to a Division.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The Chair

We resume line-by-line consideration of the Space Industry Bill. We are sitting in public and the proceedings are being broadcast. Before we begin, will everyone ensure that all electronic devices are turned off or switched to silent mode? Teas and coffees are not allowed during sittings.

Clause 33

Liability of operator for injury or damage etc

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner (Kingston upon Hull East) (Lab) - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2 p.m.

I beg to move amendment 20, in clause 33, page 24, line 2, leave out subsection (1).

This amendment relates to situations where the operator has no liability in order that those living around the spaceports have adequate powers to protect themselves from noise and nuisance.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bailey. The amendment relates to situations where the operator has no liability, and seeks to ensure that people living around spaceports have adequate powers to protect themselves from noise nuisance. The Bill originally contained no proper provisions to protect people living close to spaceports or under potential flightpaths from noise. The word “noise” was not even included in the Bill. It now is, but only once. Again, I pay tribute to my colleagues in the other place, particularly my Front-Bench colleagues, who managed to secure that vital concession.

I welcome the Government’s insertion of an assurance that licences can include a condition that an assessment must be done of the noise and emissions that activity will cause, and of the impact on local communities. To say that aircraft noise is rather loud would be an understatement. I can imagine the noise and nuisance if we ended up regularly launching rockets in the UK. Will the Minister therefore give us an assurance that he will look closely at what powers people who live around potential UK spaceports have to protect themselves from such noise nuisance?

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Joseph Johnson) Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:04 p.m.

I appreciate that there are concerns about the possibility that spaceflight activities may have an adverse effect on local people. Clause 33 is designed to balance the right to quiet enjoyment of land against the right to carry out a commercial activity, to ensure that there is only minimal encroachment of rights where the operator acts in accordance with the law.

Subsection 1 is replicated from section 76(1) of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, which provides a similar protection for aircraft operators. Amendment 20 would remove the protection for spaceflight operators. However, the Government believe that subsection (1) is appropriate to enable spaceflight operators to carry out activities from the UK. Such a provision is necessary to prevent an operator who acts lawfully from being sued by a third party who considers that his or her right to quiet enjoyment of land is being affected.

Where carrier aircraft are used as part of spaceflight activities, local people will continue to have no such claims against aircraft operators because of the protection in section 76 of the Civil Aviation Act, so the amendment would have little practical effect on spaceports that are adapted aerodromes, such as the potential spaceports at Newquay and Prestwick. However, it should be stressed that such a protection does not apply if an operator does not comply substantially with all the requirements imposed on them.

The protection from claims of nuisance and trespass does not prevent anyone who suffers injury or damage arising from spaceflight activities from bringing a claim against an operator under the strict liability course of action provided for in subsection (2). With that assurance, I ask the hon. Gentleman to consider withdrawing his amendment.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard

I am grateful to the Minister for those assurances. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP) - Hansard

I beg to move amendment 7, in clause 33, page 24, line 31, leave out “may” and insert “must”.

This amendment places a definite cap on the amount of a licensee’s liability.

Break in Debate

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:45 p.m.

I thank the Minister for that detailed explanation. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 42 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 7 agreed to.

Clause 43 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 8 agreed to.

Clauses 44 and 45 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 9 agreed to.

Clauses 46 to 59 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 10 agreed to.

Clauses 60 and 61 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 11 agreed to.

Clauses 62 to 66 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 12 agreed to.

Clause 67

Regulations: general

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:54 p.m.

I beg to move amendment 21, in clause 67, page 43, line 40, leave out subsection (6) and insert—

‘(6) A statutory instrument containing (whether alone or with other provision)—

(a) regulations under section 4(2),

(b) regulations under section 5(2),

(c) regulations under section 7(4),

(d) regulations under section 7(6),

(e) regulations under section 9,

(f) regulations under section 12(7),

(g) regulations under section 18,

(h) regulations under section 22,

(i) regulations under section 34(5),

(j) regulations under section 35(3)(a),

(k) regulations under section 58,

(l) regulations under section 64, or

(m) regulations that create offences,

is subject to the super-affirmative resolution procedure.

(6A) For the purposes of this Act the “super-affirmative procedure” is as follows.

(6B) The Minister must lay before Parliament—

(a) a draft resolution, and

(b) an explanatory document.

(6C) The explanatory document must—

(a) introduce and give reasons for the resolution,

(b) explain under which power or powers in this Act the provision contained in the resolution is made, and

(c) give a detailed explanation of provisions included in the resolution.

(6D) The Minister must have regard to—

(a) any representations,

(b) any resolution of either House of Parliament, and

(c) any recommendations of a committee of either House of Parliament charged with reporting on the draft resolution,

made during the 40-day period with regard to the draft resolution.

(6E) If, after the expiry of the 40-day period, the Minister wishes to make a resolution in the terms of the draft, he must lay before Parliament a statement—

(a) stating whether any representations were made under subsection (6D)(a), and

(b) if any representations were so made, giving details of them.

(6F) The Minister may after the laying of such a statement make a resolution in the terms of the draft if it is approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(6G) However, a committee of either House charged with reporting on the draft resolution may, at any time after the laying of a statement under subsection (6E) and before the draft resolution is approved by that House under subsection (6F), recommend under this subsection that no further proceedings be taken in relation to the draft resolution.

(6H) Where a recommendation is made by a committee of either House under subsection (6G) in relation to a draft resolution, no proceedings may be taken in relation to the draft resolution in that House under subsection (6F) unless the recommendation is, in the same Session, rejected by resolution of that House.

(6I) If, after the expiry of the 40-day period, the Minister wishes to make a resolution consisting of a version of the draft resolution with material changes, he must lay before Parliament—

(a) a revised draft resolution, and

(b) a statement giving details of—

(i) any representations made under subsection (6D)(a), and

(ii) the revisions proposed.

(6J) The Minister may after laying a revised draft resolution and statement under subsection (6I) make a resolution in the terms of the revised draft if it is approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(6K) However, a committee of either House charged with reporting on the revised draft resolution may, at any time after the revised draft resolution is laid under subsection (6I) and before it is approved by that House under subsection (6J), recommend under this subsection that no further proceedings be taken in relation to the revised draft resolution.

(6L) Where a recommendation is made by a committee of either House under subsection (6K) in relation to a revised draft resolution, no proceedings may be taken in relation to the revised draft resolution in that House under subsection (6J) unless the recommendation is, in the same Session, rejected by resolution of that House.

(6M) In this section the “40-day period” means the period of 40 days beginning with the day on which the draft resolution was laid before Parliament under subsection (6B).”

The amendment provides for the use of the super-affirmative procedure rather than, when applicable, the affirmative procedure for considering regulations and secondary legislation. The super-affirmative procedure provides that a Minister must lay a draft resolution and explanatory document before both Houses and take account of any representations.

The amendment provides for the use of the super-affirmative procedure rather than, when applicable, the affirmative procedure for considering regulations and secondary legislation. As we know, the super-affirmative procedure provides that a Minister must lay a draft order and an explanatory document before both Houses and take account of any representations.

I do not intend to speak for long to the amendment, because it was previously debated at some length in the other place. It is about parliamentary scrutiny. It aims to change the Bill so that a significant statutory instrument arising from the delegated powers consistently go through a super-affirmative procedure, which will mean that it is debated in both Houses, rather than the negative procedure, when it would automatically become law without proper parliamentary debate or scrutiny.

I will set out the case why such statutory instruments should be under the affirmative procedure each and every time they are brought forward. The Opposition have expressed great concern that the Government are attempting to evade proper parliamentary scrutiny on clause 67. Let me be clear that we support the Bill, but it is a skeleton Bill. It is already difficult to scrutinise properly in its current format. My colleagues in the other place raised the point that crucial regulations will not even be consulted on until next year, and will not come before Parliament for nearly two years at the very earliest.

I accept that we must consider rapid technological change and advances in the space industry—those points were made by the Minister in the other place—but how can we make sure that we get the proper legislative framework in place for the space industry, which is constantly developing? The Government and future Governments in years to come still need to be held to account, and Parliament needs to scrutinise legislation properly. I am sure that everyone in this Committee Room wants the United Kingdom’s space industry to grow. However, that should not come at the expense of parliamentary scrutiny. Will the Minister assure us that he will consider the points raised and set out the Government’s position for future statutory instruments under the Bill?

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:52 p.m.

The amendment is, as the hon. Gentleman referred to, about the potential delay for the industry from considering regulations. I seek assurances from the Minister that the timescale of two years that seems to be being discussed is erroneous, because otherwise we will not be launching anything in 2020. That timescale seemed to be referred to in the House of Lords—the hon. Gentleman also referred to it—but it would kick the industry into the long grass again. This process started in 2014 and we are in 2018. There had been an aspiration to be ready to launch from the UK in 2020, if the vehicles are ready. There is an urgency and I seek reassurance that we are getting on with it.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:53 p.m.

Hon. Members may be aware—my noble Friend mentioned this—that a similar amendment was tabled in the other place. The Government reflected on the concerns of noble Lords and amended the Bill to impose a statutory duty to carry out a public consultation before making any regulations under the affirmative resolution procedure. The Bill now includes a requirement for a report by the Secretary of State on the consultation to be laid before Parliament. As my noble Friend the Minister made clear in the other place, a public consultation would invite a response from all interested parties. Subsequent regulations that materially change the substance of the original regulations would also be subject to public consultation.

The amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East goes much further than that by imposing the super-affirmative procedure on affirmative regulations. As I have said, the Government have listened and taken on board the concerns raised in the other place, and the Bill now ensures that there is the enhanced scrutiny of affirmative regulations. The amendment would lead to a duplication of effort.

I assure hon. Members that it is the Government’s intention to continue to build on the open collaboration that has taken place throughout the development of this legislation—from publishing the Bill in draft, to the publication of policy scoping notes, to committing to formally consult on the draft regulations prior to laying them. As the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Andy McDonald) noted on Second Reading, the Government have taken a very open attitude in developing this legislation and in engaging with hon. Members and noble Lords in the other place to ensure we have a successful Bill. We want that to continue as we go on to the next stages of secondary legislation, consultation on guidance and so forth.

The question from the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire on the timing of the laying of statutory instruments is a novel and complex challenge. I know she appreciates that that requires detailed policy development, building in parallel internal expertise to enable us to deliver an effective regulatory regime. There is a wealth of best practice in the industry and we need to work with stakeholders to identify how we can best design the regulatory framework and the subsequent legislation on the basis of being informed adequately by those discussions. I can confirm that it is the Government’s intention to formally consult as soon as the draft statutory instruments are available.

I hope that that has assured hon. Members that the approach will continue as we develop secondary legislation, and that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw the amendment.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 3 p.m.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 67 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 68 to 71 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause 1

Grant of licences: assessments of environmental effects

“(1) This section applies to—

(a) a spaceport licence;

(b) an operator licence authorising launches of spacecraft or carrier aircraft.

(2) The regulator may not grant an application for a licence to which this section applies unless the applicant has submitted an assessment of environmental effects.

(3) In this section “assessment of environmental effects”—

(a) in relation to a spaceport licence, means an assessment of the effects that launches of spacecraft or carrier aircraft from the spaceport in question, or from launches of spacecraft from carrier aircraft launched from the spaceport, are expected to have on the environment;

(b) in relation to an operator licence authorising launches of spacecraft or carrier aircraft, means an assessment of the effects that those launches are expected to have on the environment.

(4) If or to the extent that the regulator directs, the requirement imposed by subsection (2) to submit an assessment of environmental effects may be met by submitting—

(a) an equivalent assessment prepared previously in compliance with a requirement imposed by or under another enactment, or

(b) an assessment of environmental effects prepared in connection with a previous application.

The regulator may make a direction under this subsection only if satisfied that there has been no material change of circumstances since the previous assessment was prepared.

(5) The regulator must take into account the assessment of environmental effects (including any assessment submitted as mentioned in subsection (4) in deciding—

(a) whether to grant a licence to which this section applies;

(b) what conditions should be attached to such a licence under section 12.

(6) The regulator must issue guidance about—

(a) the form, contents and level of detail of an assessment of environmental effects;

(b) the time for submitting an assessment of environmental effects;

(c) the circumstances in which the regulator will or may give a direction under subsection (4).

Guidance under paragraph (a) may specify matters that are to be dealt with in an assessment of environmental effects only if the regulator so requires in a particular case.”—(Joseph Johnson.)

This new clause requires assessments of environmental effects to be carried out before the regulator can grant certain licences, and makes further provision about such assessments.

Brought up, read the First and Second time and added to the Bill.

New Clause 2

Potential impact of leaving the European Union on the United Kingdom’s space industry

“(1) The Secretary of State must carry out an assessment of the potential impact that leaving the European Union will have on the United Kingdom’s space industry.

(2) The assessment under subsection (1) must make reference to the following areas—

(a) membership of the European Space Agency;

(b) the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU on research and development and access to funding, including Horizon 2020;

(c) the free movement to the UK from the EU of those who work in the space industry;

(d) the UK’s participation in the Galileo and Copernicus programmes; and

(e) the impact of the UK leaving the Single Market on supply chains within the space industry. (3) The Secretary of State must lay a report of the assessment under subsection (1) before Parliament within one year of this Act passing, and once in each calendar year following.”—(Dr Philippa Whitford.)

This new clause would ensure the Government prepares and publishes an impact assessment of the potential impact on the space industry as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:05 p.m.

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

In light of the process of leaving the European Union, the clause seeks, as was referred to by hon. Members earlier, to consider the impact. We have looked at the impact assessments, particularly at the aerospace assessment, when we had the opportunity to view what are called the Brexit papers, and what we saw was a description of the aerospace industry and comments from the industry, but not the impact.

Although the European Space Agency is separate to the EU, it receives significant funding from it. With the new clause, therefore, we seek assurances that the UK will still be able to be part of the agency, to be active in it and, as the Minister said earlier, to be able to bid for contracts under Copernicus or Galileo for satellite work, in which the UK is a leading player. The clause simply calls for an assessment of the impact on the developing space industry of leaving the EU, to ensure that, as negotiations go forward, the Government set themselves to achieve the best deal for the space industry.

Space Industry Bill [Lords]

(2nd reading: House of Commons)
Karl Turner Excerpts
Monday 15th January 2018

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Department for Transport
Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con) - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 8:40 p.m.

It is a great pleasure to be the last Back Bencher to be called to speak tonight on this enormously exciting part of our economy. The space industry is the fastest growing part of our economy, and it is key to jobs and growth. The sector has trebled in the UK since 2010, and the global industry is set to more than double. The jobs are high skilled, high value and highly productive, and that is not all. Investing in space boosts productivity, increases exports and ignites passion for science and technology. In this the Year of Engineering and the centenary of women first getting the vote, exciting that passion for engineering, especially among women, is key.

I remember that the science wall at school had a picture of the Earth, Archimedes and a lever, and the quote said, “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the Earth.” I contest that the satellites we have put up into space give us the ability to understand the movements in and on our Earth like never before. It is key that this is looking not only out to space, but at what is happening on our planet. This technology is changing all the time. I am a bit of a geek and just before Christmas I went to the annual meeting of the quantum technologies group. In my constituency, the company Teledyne e2v has invented a little box containing a gravity sensor which will go up in a satellite and from there, using quantum technology, will be able to understand what is happening inside and underneath the shell of our planet. We will be detecting earthquakes, understanding geology like never before and seeing what is happening in the heart of a volcano. This is not just cool—this is super cool; this is absolute zero being developed in Britain, in Chelmsford, for the future of our planet—it is great.

It is important that we think about not only the future of great big satellites, but about the development of the smaller satellites, the downstream applications and the state-of-the-art technology. In my previous job, I worked a lot with the European Space Agency. We have paid for the Galileo and Copernicus satellites, and we must make sure that British businesses benefit from being able to take part in the downstream applications and work on the data that we have. Space assets are also key to our modern communications, especially in security, but the UK is the only G7 economy that does not have its own Earth imagery assets. So it is important that we can continue to share data with other nations of the world.

We in Britain have a reputation for high-quality engineering. Another part of my local company Teledyne e2v is working in Leeds, where it is making the highlyengineered filters, switches and converters that are critical technology for the OneWeb group of satellites. If something goes wrong once we have set it up in the sky, we cannot bring it down to mend it, so the quality of the engineering is key. This type of small satellite will provide the global network coverage so that we will have internet coverage from space, not just from cables. Being able to launch those small satellites from the UK has great benefits. So I thank the Government for this Bill. Our businesses have carried a lot of business risk in trying to carry out those launches from other parts of the world.

I was delighted when all of the representatives of the British space sector came for a roundtable in Chelmsford to examine this Bill. They are really pleased with it. It is giving a proper legal framework for their development and it is making Britain the go-to destination for investment in the space sector. Yes, there are some issues to address. The unlimited liability regime makes it impossible for insurers to provide coverage. It is not that they do not want to; it is that it is often outside their modus operandi. So let us look again at that. There is also a huge amount of interest in using this Bill to develop a mergers and acquisitions culture and framework, so that once we have put the satellites in the sky, it might be that they can be sold on to other investors. That will mean not only that Britain is the place for investment on Earth for our space sector, but we also become the place to invest for the universe. So I say thank you for the Bill.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner (Kingston upon Hull East) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 8:43 p.m.

This has been a good debate, with some good and knowledgeable contributions. Members rightly made strong bids for their constituencies as potential candidates for spaceports, and I commend them for that. Given the time allowed, I do not intend to refer to every speech, but it would be remiss if I did not mention at least the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes), not least for his collegiate approach to this debate. Generally, as a Minister, his approach worked well. It certainly improved the ability to legislate in this place and I was grateful for that.

As my hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State has said, the Opposition are broadly supportive of this Bill and welcome it. I must pay tribute to our colleagues in the other place, who have successfully secured crucial concessions from the Government that have ensured that this Bill is now in a much better place than it was at the start of its passage through the other place.

It is, though, a skeleton Bill, and the detail is not ready. It has only 71 clauses, yet it provides for 100 delegated powers. We accept that it is not possible to provide all the necessary regulations in primary legislation, but the Government could perhaps have dealt with some of the industry’s concerns. This is yet another example of the Government introducing skeleton legislation while they flail around on Brexit.

The Opposition intend to support the Bill, but we may in Committee need to table amendments on issues on which we have concerns, one of which is the delegated powers that the Bill will give to the Secretary of State. That was one of the matters on which our colleagues in the other place forced the Government to back down, thereby removing the Henry VIII powers. Nevertheless, the catch-all regulation-making power could weaken judicial oversight and may render other delegated powers less meaningful, so we may need to revisit it in Committee.

As the Bill stands, clause 2 limits the environmental objectives that must be considered to those set by the Secretary of State. We intend to probe the Government on that in Committee. There is still a worry that the powers set out in clauses 38 and 40, which deal with powers in relation to land use, may encroach on devolved planning powers. We may need to make reference in the Bill to the devolved Administration giving their consent to the use of the powers.

Again as the Bill stands, there is currently a lack of judicial oversight for emergency orders. The Constitution Committee and the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee in the other place have expressed concerns about enforcement authorisation, with the former describing the powers in clause 32 as “wide-ranging and potentially draconian”. We may need to table an amendment in Committee to deal with that.

Industry stakeholders’ main worry with the Bill is the absence of a mandatory liability cap for spaceflight operators—a point made time and again in the debate. We will definitely probe further into this matter in Committee and ask the Government to clarify their position. The Government have given an assurance that a specific regulator—either the Civil Aviation Authority or the UK Space Agency—will act as a single point of accountability for safety on each individual mission. However, there is no detail on how that would work in practice and what the relationship will be with the Health and Safety Executive. That is something else to investigate further in Committee.

The Opposition very much share the Government’s ambition for the UK to be a leading player in the global space industry. To achieve the Government’s aim to grow the UK space industry from its current 6.5% of the global space economy to 10% by 2030, it is important that the industry has a spaceport facility, which is why it is crucial that we get the regulatory framework right.

As I have said already, the Opposition broadly support the Bill, but I hope the Government will work with us to make this legislation the best we can make it, by supporting the very helpful amendments we table in Committee.

Jesse Norman Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jesse Norman) - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 8:49 p.m.

It is a great pleasure to be able to respond to this Second Reading debate. We have heard some wonderful speeches and a wide range of expertise, ranging from my hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford), who spoke of his enthusiasm but downplayed his knowledge, only to display a considerable amount of knowledge, to that bravura turn from my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes), who spoke for what is for him, as the House knows, a mere canapé in the smorgasbord of oratory, a throat-clearing before the tenor really begins, a tiny 18 minutes—one felt that the poor man had barely got into his stride. I, along with my colleagues, pay tribute to him. In his relatively brief remarks, he was able to speak eloquently of the surely temporary interlude that he is planning to spend on the Back Benches of this House. In his poetic tone, he reminded me of Walt Whitman’s poem, his famous centrepiece in “Leaves of Grass”, which is entitled, as the House will know, “Song of Myself”. It includes the famous sentence:

“I am large, I contain multitudes.”

The multitudes raised by my right hon. Friend include President Kennedy and the cast of “Star Trek”. It is fair to say that we all enjoyed what turned out to be a quite wide-ranging tour of his own achievements.

It has been a very positive debate today, and I thank all those who have taken part. I am also grateful to the Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Joseph Johnson), who opened this debate with such insight into the UK space sector and the opportunities that lie ahead. His continued close involvement in this programme of work and the knowledge and experience that he brings are a great asset to this Bill and to the work going on outside this House to realise spaceflight and its true potential, which was so well spoken of by so many Members across the House today.

Today’s debate has made it clear that this Bill is not politically charged or divisive and its ambition has not prompted serious disagreement or division, but invited reflection. In the best traditions of the House, it is reflection on the achievements of one of this country’s largely unsung success stories, our thriving space industry, and reflection on how best to ensure that this success continues for generations to come. Indeed, in the best tradition of pioneering space missions, this Bill has inspired collaboration, not contest, at all stages of its development and debate, which is a testament to the bold, exciting and important ambition that lies beneath it. We must now honour that ambition with legislation that is fit for purpose in the modern commercial space age—legislation that will make the UK the most attractive destination in Europe to operate a profitable and responsible space business.

As many Members have noted, the UK space industry is not short of ambition. The global launch and servicing of small satellites, of which there may be thousands in the coming years, could exceed £10 billion in revenues over the next decade, with an untapped European regional market potentially worth around one third of that. Nowhere in the world is this market more fully exploited by a sustainable, commercial offering until now.