Joseph Johnson 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 (1,758 words)
Tue 23rd January 2018 Space Industry Bill [ Lords ] (First sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 1st sitting: House of Commons
61 interactions (3,729 words)
Tue 23rd January 2018 Space Industry Bill [ Lords ] (Second sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 2nd sitting: House of Commons
39 interactions (3,915 words)
Mon 15th January 2018 Space Industry Bill [Lords] (Commons Chamber)
2nd reading: House of Commons
17 interactions (1,347 words)

Space Industry Bill [Lords] Debate

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Legislation Page: Space Industry Act 2018

Space Industry Bill [Lords]

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

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
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.

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.

Break in Debate

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.

Sir John Hayes Portrait Mr John Hayes - Hansard

It seems that the Minister has exceeded even my expectations. The big billing that I gave him was entirely justified, because he has addressed exactly the point that was made earlier: we need to know precisely what the circumstances are as launch facilities are developed. The combination of a call for evidence and a potential consultation seems to go a very, very long way towards what those who asked for further work on liability wanted to achieve. I am delighted to hear what he has said in his brief contribution.

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.

Finally, I turn to the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran). As hon. Members are aware, the Government have made considerable concessions in relation to delegated legislation under the Bill. We listened to concerns previously expressed about clause 68 and have been convinced by arguments that there is a need for enhanced parliamentary scrutiny in some areas. The Bill has therefore been amended to include a statutory duty to carry out a public consultation before making any regulations under the affirmative procedure. The Secretary of State will report to Parliament about any such consultation. It is proposed that subsequent regulations, if any, that would materially change the substance of the original instruments would also be subject to consultation. Amendment 1 would lead to a duplication of effort, and it is therefore not required.

Break in Debate

Third Reading

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.

Space Industry Bill [ Lords ] (First sitting) Debate

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Legislation Page: Space Industry Act 2018

Space Industry Bill [ Lords ] (First sitting)

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

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Public Bill Committees
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
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.

Break in Debate

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.

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

I thank the hon. Lady for her question on range controls. Clause 7 requires that range control services must be provided either by the Government or by licensed providers. At present, only one part of the Government—the Ministry of Defence—is able to provide range control services. Range safety for existing military ranges is regulated by the Defence Safety Authority, but our intention is that, for spaceflight, those services will be provided on a commercial basis. Indeed, a driving purpose of the Bill is to enable commercial and not state-sponsored or institutional spaceflight. Since range control services are one of the key mechanisms through which we will protect the public during spaceflight activities, any provider must hold a licence. That will help to ensure the regulator that only fit-and-proper persons can act as a range control service provider. I hope that clarifies the situation.

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:39 a.m.

Is the Government’s expectation clear to the companies that are already developing? Are they able to have the security to set up what is, in essence, yet another completely new industry to service the space launch industry?

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.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the MOU between the CAA, the HSE and the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland on aviation safety. The MOU between the HSE and the CAA on aviation safety is publicly available on the CAA website, and we expect any future MOUs between the HSE and spaceflight regulators to be made publicly available in a similar manner.

Break in Debate

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:46 a.m.

This is one of the key areas in the Bill where spaceport and launch operators do not know what is expected of them. I understand that the Government wish to consult, but the sooner that it is clarified the better. Regulations coming forward two years after Royal Assent—that comes from a comment in the Lords, and would mean the summer of 2020, when the Government had hoped to launch—would throw complete planning blight over the industry. It is not possible to borrow money to develop launch vehicles or a spaceport without any idea what standard has to be reached.

On clause 9(9) and thinking about passengers, one of the industries that will develop is space tourism. Clearly, the public must be protected as far as possible. In the past, those involved in launch or space abilities have been incredibly fit and trained people. For those going as tourists, that will not be the case. It will be important that we carefully lay down what level of health expectation or physical training is required, because we do not want the early years of the industry to be marred by deaths in space.

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

Break in Debate

The Minister might want to say something.

Joseph Johnson Hansard

If the amendment has been withdrawn, I would just beg to move that the clause stands part of the Bill.

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

Break in Debate

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 9:54 a.m.

My amendment is completely the opposite of the Labour amendment. As things stand, the Government basically take liability for injury and accident and the operator has to indemnify the Government to cover that risk. What we are looking for is a change in subsection (2) from “may” to “must”. The Outer Space Act 1986 makes that clear. At the moment, the liability limit is €60 million, not £20 million. Without some form of cap on the operator’s liability, it is impossible for operators to get insurance. Therefore, they will simply continue to operate outside the UK under the Outer Space Act, somewhere with a limit of €60 million, rather than in the UK with unlimited liability, for which they simply cannot get insurance.

Amendment 6 deals with the level of cap for the kind of launches that are likely to occur from the UK. Further on in the Bill, we would want to have perhaps a per launch cap rather than per satellite, as it is now. With CubeSats and nanosatellites launched in clusters, the liability cap would be absolutely untenable. Consultation is needed. There may be a later reference to launches that could be defined as green or amber, and it may be that different caps are set for that kind of launch as an overall approach. However, there has to be an ultimate limit and that should not be higher than the current €60 million.

The clause mentions the different aspects of launch, and those are the spaceport, the range control and the launch operator, and later there will be the satellite operator. I have tabled an amendment to a later clause to define the liabilities of those groups, with very clear margins, so that there are no gaps that a victim of an accident could fall between.

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.

Break in Debate

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

I wish to press amendment 5, which would change the wording from “may” to “must”. There is still room to consult on the level of the cap, but the industry requires a Government commitment that there will be a liability cap.

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

We intend to explore that carefully in the consultation, taking into account the fact that launching in the UK is a riskier activity than procuring the launch overseas. It poses a higher level of risk to the UK taxpayer, and we need to consider it very carefully.

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.

Break in Debate

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:07 a.m.

I welcome the amendment. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow North West and I certainly support it, because three of the potential sites are in Scotland, and one is in Wales. However, as we have discussed, the industry could grow and while there is not currently a site in Northern Ireland, there could be in future. It is important that the devolved Governments should be respected and consulted.

The Government introduced new clause 1 on environmental impact right at the start, when we considered clause 2, and it is crucial that they should respect the devolved Governments’ environmental agencies and local planning considerations.

Joseph Johnson Hansard

I thank hon. Members for raising important issues on consultation with relevant environmental and planning bodies. The regulator will identify what assessments of environmental effects are appropriate, during the pre-application process. In reviewing those assessments and deciding whether conditions should be attached to a licence, the regulator may wish to have an input from various environmental bodies. However, requiring consultation with the relevant environment agency and local planning authority before deciding what conditions to attach to a licence is not necessary, and may end up being disproportionate.

For example, once the industry has developed, multiple launches may occur under a separate but almost identical licence. In such a case it would be disproportionate for the regulator to have to consult the environment agency and local planning authority for each new licence. It is also worth noting that clause 2 requires the regulator to take into account any environmental objectives set by the Government, which would include any issued by the environment agency.

The existing planning, regulatory and environmental framework will continue to apply, and environmental bodies will have a say, in accordance with their statutory remit, at the relevant stages, such as when planning permission is applied for. I hope that in the light of the Government amendment and the provisions already in the Bill, Members will agree that robust assessments of environmental effects will be conducted and considered prior both to the granting of a licence and to the imposition of conditions under the Bill. I would therefore ask the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East to withdraw amendment 17.

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:15 a.m.

I wonder whether the Government would consider including consultation with these agencies within the environmental impact assessment in clause 2, as amended by new clause 1. The Minister talks about consulting with the Environment Agency but, obviously, in the devolved administrations there are three other environment agencies and they should have their place.

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.

Break in Debate

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.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:16 a.m.

Informed consent is an important part of the Bill. We will be developing detailed regulations on informed consent, including the information that operators must provide to individuals before they sign consent forms.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 17 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Clause 18 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Clauses 19 to 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 4 agreed to.

Clause 22

Security regulations

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

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:18 a.m.

I want to ask the Minister a few questions regarding the clause. I apologise if they have been covered already in other parts of the debate.

Clearly, the security of space for our operations is crucial. These activities will be of significant interest to terrorist organisations or others who would wish to cause harm. This is a problem shared not only in this country but across Europe and the world. Currently, we have sensitive information-sharing systems with the Five Eyes countries and our European neighbours. Given the context of Brexit and the absence of guarantees on the existence of a security treaty and so on—these are issues we have covered at great length in the Home Affairs Committee—will the Minister discuss the consideration given to sharing information with our European partners, in particular regarding the safety and security of operations and those who would wish to target them? On the one hand, any new technology or operation could lead us towards a cautious and very secure approach, but there may also be some issues, whether in relation to the cyber or physical aspects of these operations, such as using locations that have not traditionally been used before for civil aviation or other aerospace activities.

We need to take every precaution necessary, particularly with regard to the increasing threat from not only terrorist organisations and non-state actors, but Russia and other countries that would seek to carry out cyber-attacks—North Korea, for example. Many allegations have been made about attacks on other parts of the UK’s infrastructure, including the NHS, and I see no reason why they would not choose to attack such a high-profile area as space activity.

Will the Minister say a little about how we will ensure the most thorough sharing of information? Will he also give us some guarantees? For example, does he believe that a security treaty will be needed with our European neighbours to ensure that data on individuals can be shared adequately enough to deal with those concerns?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:25 a.m.

National security and the security of spaceports is, indeed, a vital key element of the Bill. The Bill contains measures to secure against unauthorised access to and interference with space craft, spaceports and any associated infrastructure. It also enables the Secretary of State and regulators to take action where necessary in the interests of national security. The hon. Gentleman will be interested to know that the Bill extends existing civil aviation security powers to regulate spaceplanes and spaceports and introduces broadly similar arrangements for operations to launch objects into orbit, but tailors them to the sensitive nature of satellites and reflects the fact that vertical operations will not be manned.

As with aviation security, the Government will work closely with key partners in Europe and around the world to ensure that security remains paramount in the development of the Bill and the industry. We will continue to work with international partners in all appropriate forums to review and, if necessary, to develop and strengthen measures to ensure that transport generally, and in this case the space flight sector, is cyber-secure.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:25 a.m.

Will the Minister be specific on the importance of having legal agreements in place for the sharing of relevant information on the matter—the importance, for example, of a security treaty of some sort, in particular with our European partners who are not covered by the Five Eyes agreements? Does he agree that that is crucial?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:25 a.m.

Should we identify a need for additional legislation, the Bill provides us with the power to adopt appropriate regulatory measures and the ability to issue directions, where necessary and proportionate, to specific entities.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 22 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 5 agreed to.

Clause 23

Spaceport byelaws

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

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:24 a.m.

Will the Minister say a bit about the measures the Government plan to put in place to deal with drones and unmanned aerial vehicles, particularly in relation to their operation around spaceports? There are substantial restrictions on their operation around civil aviation activities in the UK, but a wide range of drones can be commercially purchased and many operators are unaware of the consequences of using them, near to not only airspace but other activities. Will he comment on that, given the particularly sensitive nature of space flight activities and the risk that could be caused by, for example, an incursion into the space around a launch or training activities?

The clause crucially mentions road traffic enactments and the parking of vehicles. We know of terrorist organisations that have attempted to park vehicles near UK airports in the past and it is crucial to retain the physical security around those sites. Given the ability to launch and remotely control drones from great distances, what thought has been given to whether any additional restrictions will be needed or whether the existing regulations for the use of drones will apply in byelaws for space flight operation centres?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:26 a.m.

The clause enables the Secretary of State to make security-related regulations and to provide guidance on how they may be complied with. The hon. Gentleman asked specifically about drones. He might be aware that the Government announced at the end of November that it is their intention to introduce drone legislation in the spring. The Government will be publishing a draft drone Bill, which will look to extend police powers to extend drone misuse and to mandate the use of safety applications in the UK. We will also be looking at an amendment to the air navigation order to introduce legislation and leisure pilot tests. I hope that addresses his concerns.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:25 a.m.

Is it therefore the Minister’s intention that when that legislation comes forward it will specifically look at, and make it clear that it applies to, operations around spaceports and space activities? Further, will it be made clear that it concerns not only drones, but—although we are not largely talking here about manned space flight—the use of laser pointers and so on, which we know is a regular problem around airports and which might impede the operation of staff working at those sites or perhaps blind technical equipment being used for space launch activities? Will it be clear that the new legislation applies equally to spaceport activities?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:25 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman will be interested to know that we will be introducing draft legislation. Should he detect any shortcoming in its application and should he continue to have concerns about whether the spaceport and spaceflight activity enabled by the Bill would have risks posed to it by drone activity, there will be plenty of opportunities in the development of that legislation for Members to point that out to Government.

Neil Coyle Portrait Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) (Lab) - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:25 a.m.

When will the draft legislation come forward? Given that the police have indicated they do not have the resources to investigate crimes such as shop lifting, bike thefts and mobile phone thefts, will it include resources to ensure that the police can adequately deliver those new responsibilities?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:25 a.m.

Sorry, I did not catch the last bit of what you said.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:25 a.m.

Will the draft legislation also identify new resources to ensure that this responsibility of the police, as well as others, can be adequately enforced?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:25 a.m.

On the timing, we announced at the end of November that we would introduce the draft legislation in the spring. Spring is slightly movable. We are not quite in spring, I would say, in the middle of January. Later this year—later on this spring—we will bring forward that legislation. The hon. Gentleman will obviously want us to get the legislation right. We are working carefully in the Department to ensure that it is fit for purpose and covers all the situations that he has rightly been bringing to the attention of the Committee.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:25 a.m.

I want to ask the Minister one further question and would appreciate his indulgence. He refers to the enforcement of the byelaws by a constable. Does he expect, for example, that the responsibilities around any spaceport enforcement of byelaws will be down to the local and geographical police constabulary, or does he expect that the responsibility will be undertaken by one of the non-geographical forces, such as British Transport Police or the MOD police or the Civil Nuclear Constabulary?

The only reason I ask is because, as is often the case and as I have experienced in my own constituency, when there are major national sites of interest—for example, I have the National Assembly and some other major locations of national significance in my area—there is a tendency, given the additional security requirements around those locations, sometimes to divert resources from local policing activities.

Given the existing strains on police forces, community policing and so on, I am a little concerned in that we all want those byelaws to be enforced and security to be absolutely maintained. For example, will consideration be given to additional resources for a police force where a spaceport is located and licensed to ensure that it can cope with those responsibilities and carry them out without being diverted from day to day crime fighting and other police activities?

Order. The way in which the Committee is being carried out is completely in order. The Opposition are being very kind to the Minister in not interrupting to him while he is speaking, but his inspiration sometimes takes a little bit longer to come—it might be that interventions are easier for the Minister than the way we are doing it. [Interruption.] I see it is now working perfectly well.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:34 a.m.

I am quite happy either way, Mr Bone.

Clause 27 enables the Secretary of State to issue directions in relation to the security of spaceflight activities and national security. Clause 24 provides for a licensee to request further specific advice from regulators or the Secretary of State about compliance with security requirements of a particular activity, service, site, facility or other matter. The byelaw powers are modelled on airport byelaws, and they would be locally policed and locally resourced.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 23 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 24 to 27 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 28

Power to give directions: international obligations of the UK

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

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:34 a.m.

Significant concern has been expressed about the future participation of the UK in various space industry international obligations, particularly European obligations. Perhaps the Minister could say a little bit about that—I will go on at length here so he can get some inspiration. Perhaps he could also talk about what assessment has been made of the impacts of leaving the European Union on our participation in, for example, Copernicus, Galileo, Egnos, GovSatCom, Iris, and in Space Situational Awareness and Space Surveillance and Tracking.

For those unfamiliar with those, Copernicus deals with earth observation missions, Galileo and Egnos with navigation—the European equivalent to GPS in some respects—GovSatCom deals with communications, and Iris deals with air traffic management, which we discussed along with aspects of air safety regulations in the last debate. Space Situational Awareness and Space Surveillance and Tracking deal with space debris. Those issues to not come up on a day-to-day basis but, given the cross-border nature of operations, it is crucial that we continue co-operating with our European neighbours, in particular on space debris, given the likely trajectories of launches from the UK and the likely descent paths of items falling from launches and so on. Those things are designed and planned in such a way as to avoid the descent of dangerous materials, but given the increasing number of launches and the increasing number of vehicles being launched into space, and with technology going up through space launch methods, getting that stuff right is obviously important.

We do not want to find ourselves getting into a dispute with our European neighbours after something falls off something we have launched. That is why international agreements on space activities are so crucial, particularly with our European neighbours. Will the Minister say something about the assessment that has been made of our existing international obligations and obligations that we could be in the process of entering into if we stay in the European Union, and their implications?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:35 a.m.

The Government recognise the enormous benefits of European collaboration in space, and indeed in research and innovation generally. We published a science and innovation discussion paper as well as an external security discussion paper in September 2017 that set out the Government’s clear wish to discuss options for future arrangements in the EU space programmes, including Galileo, Copernicus, Agnos and others. The decision that concluded phase 1 of the exit negotiations in December provides certainty that UK businesses can continue to bid for and win contracts to build, operate and help develop the EU space programme, which we have played a huge part in over the years.

The Government continue to invest in the success of the UK space sector. We recently invested more than £100 million in new satellite test facilities at Harwell and manufacture and test facilities for rocket engines at Westcott in Buckinghamshire. As the hon. Gentleman knows, that is in addition to the substantial UK investment in the European Space Agency, which is a non-EU body, of around £300 million per year.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:36 a.m.

I thank the Minister for his answer on some of those agencies. Again, I have a particular interest in this as declared in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. Airbus Defence and Space is in the next door constituency and a number of my constituents work there. I know they and many other members of UK space bodies have concerns about future participation in these agencies.

I welcome what the Minister said on the principles with respect to the agencies, but he did not mention specifically the more technical space debris agencies and other agencies. Rather than detain him now, could he write to the Committee and outline how he sees our international obligations functioning under all of the agencies I mentioned?

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.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:41 a.m.

I thank the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East and for Central Ayrshire for raising the issue of emergency powers. The clause confers on the Secretary of State the power to grant an enforcement authorisation to carry out any specified action in the most urgent cases, such as a serious risk to national security, compliance with our international obligations or people’s health and safety. The amendment tabled by the hon. Gentleman would seek to require that such an enforcement authorisation be evaluated by a justice of the peace within 48 hours of the 48 hours that the authorisation has been in force.

The Government have listened carefully at all stages of the discussion of the provision and addressed concerns before the Bill was brought to the House. Before the Bill’s introduction, the Science and Technology Committee raised concerns about the length of time for which an enforcement authorisation would remain in place. In response to that helpful intervention, we reduced the time for which an enforcement authorisation can remain in place from one month to 48 hours.

The Opposition in the other place attempted to introduce amendments similar to that tabled by the hon. Gentleman. The amendments are not clear on the purpose that a post hoc evaluation by a justice of the peace would serve—the order would have already been spent and the specified action taken. It is also not clear what is expected to follow from any such evaluation. However, the Government have reflected further on the amendments and the intentions underpinning them. Officials have carried out extensive discussions with colleagues across Whitehall, including in the Ministry of Justice, the chief magistrate’s office and the Home Office, which is responsible for the powers of entry gateway process. None of the discussions resulted in the suggestion that the power should be amended as the amendment proposes. An important reason for that is that there is no known precedent of a justice of the peace conducting an evaluation of an emergency power once it has been exercised.

Let me reassure hon. Members that there are adequate safeguards in the Bill with respect to the exercise of this significant power. Such an authorisation can be granted only to a named person who the Secretary of State is satisfied is suitably qualified to carry out the necessary action. Each time the power is used, the authorisation must be in writing, must specify the action required and will remain in force for only 48 hours from the time it is granted.

In response to concerns previously raised about the exercise of this power without sanction by an independent judicial authority, it is important to note that the decision of the Secretary of State to issue an enforcement authorisation could be challenged by judicial review. I would also point out that this power is more conservative and requires more stringent authorisation than other comparable powers of entry, such as those of nuclear inspectors or health and safety inspectors who are provided with a standing authorisation and may act at their discretion. The power would be used only in the most serious and urgent cases, but it is necessary to ensure that those involved in spaceflight activities and third parties are adequately protected should such situations arise.

Mark Garnier Portrait Mark Garnier (Wyre Forest) (Con) - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:49 a.m.

The Minister is being very helpful. One of the interesting points that lies behind some of the concerns is about who advises the Secretary of State that the intervention needs to be made in the first place. Will the Minister give a little more flavour of the process whereby advice is given that leads to an intervention order? That may give some comfort to the Opposition.

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.

Space Industry Bill [ Lords ] (Second sitting) Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Legislation Page: Space Industry Act 2018

Space Industry Bill [ Lords ] (Second sitting)

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

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Public Bill Committees
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
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.

Break in Debate

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.

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:13 p.m.

As I said in my remarks, it is the principle a cap as opposed to the amount. I totally understand the need for consultation, because the type of space industry being discussed is different from space industries elsewhere, where vertical rockets are launched. I am still not clear why the Government are unwilling to commit to a cap in principle when that is what the industry is crying out for.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:14 p.m.

I will repeat what I said before. As soon as the Bill receives Royal Assent we will start the process of a call for evidence to determine whether there is a need for a cap and the level at which any such cap might be set.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:17 p.m.

I beg to move amendment 11, in clause 33, page 24, line 39, at end insert—

“(7) Within 6 months of this Act coming into force the Secretary of State must lay a report before Parliament setting out divisions of responsibility and the level of liability for parties’ spaceflight activities, including—

(a) the Spaceport;

(b) the launch operator; and

(c) the satellite operator.”

This amendment places a requirement on the Secretary of State to publish clear guidelines with regards to responsibility and liability for parties involved in spaceflight activities.

This is a probing amendment to highlight the fact that in the past the space industry was very much state-driven, state-paid-for and state-covered, and now we are moving to a commercial situation where a spaceport, a launch company and a satellite company will be totally different entities. Therefore, I seek clarification in the consultation of exactly where the handover of liability is from one to the other and what responsibilities they have. We would not want to see people arguing at the edges and bystanders, other companies or satellite companies ending up not being compensated for a mission that failed.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:22 p.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for raising the important matter of the respective responsibilities and liabilities that spaceports, launch operators and operators of satellites will have. The full scope of a licensee’s responsibilities will be set out in the Bill, in regulations made under the Bill and in the terms of specific licences granted by the regulator. In broad terms, it is envisaged that the Bill will enable the regulator to license four types of activity initially: operation of a spaceport, spaceflight activities involving launch of a spacecraft, operation of a satellite and provision of range control services.

The Bill sets out certain high-level responsibilities and obligations on licensees. Most obligations are on persons carrying out spaceflight activities. I shall refer to them as spaceflight operators for convenience, although that term is not used in the Bill. Those include persons carrying out launch and operating a satellite. It is considered that activities of the spaceflight operator are the most likely to cause injury or damage to third parties.

In the case of spaceflight operators, clause 9 imposes obligations to assess the risk to health and safety posed by the spaceflight activity, to comply with the risk assessment requirements and to take all reasonable steps to reduce risks to the general public so that they are as low as reasonably practicable.

Under clause 16, the spaceflight operator must not allow individuals to take part in a spaceflight activity unless they meet criteria prescribed in regulations and have signed a consent form signifying that they understand and accept the risks of taking part in the spaceflight activity. Under clause 17, the spaceflight operator must not allow unqualified individuals to take part in or otherwise be engaged with the spaceflight activity.

Clause 33 places a strict liability on a spaceflight operator to provide the uninvolved general public with a straightforward remedy for compensation for injury or damage caused by their spaceflight activities. This strict liability would apply to any injury or damage caused in the UK or its territorial waters, and to an aircraft in flight or persons and property on board such aircraft. It applies to damage that is caused by a craft or space object being used for spaceflight activities.

Spaceflight operators also have an obligation under clause 35 to indemnify the Government for any claims brought against the Government for loss or damage caused by their spaceflight activities. Other bodies that may be carrying out functions on behalf of the Government also benefit from the indemnity.

On the responsibilities and liabilities of spaceport operators, clause 10 requires that applicants for a spaceport licence must take all reasonable steps to ensure that risks to public safety of operating the spaceport are as low as reasonably practicable. In addition, the applicant will need to fulfil any criteria and requirements set out in regulations. In the case of providers of range control services, they will be governed by the provisions of clauses 5, 6 and 7 and regulations made under those clauses.

In addition to the Bill, further detailed obligations and responsibilities for all types of licence holders will be prescribed in regulations: for example, safety requirements under clause 18 and security requirements under clause 21. Those regulations will be supplemented by detailed guidance.

The regulations will set out licensing and ongoing requirements and any oversight of operations to ensure that spaceflight activities and spaceports are operated safety. In addition to general responsibilities and liabilities imposed by the Bill, and regulations made under it, the terms of individual licences will specify the particular activities authorised under that licence and the responsibilities that go with them. Individual licences will also be subject to licence conditions tailored to their application, examples of which are set out in schedule 1.

I hope I have reassured the hon. Lady that the Bill, combined with the regulations to be made under it and the terms of individual licences, will provide the necessary clarity on the responsibilities and liabilities that come with being a licence holder under the Bill. The Government intend to consult publicly an all initial draft statutory instruments and statutory guidance. All draft regulations will be accompanied by a full explanation of their intent. Furthermore, reflecting the importance that the Government place on consultation, we have amended the Bill to impose a statutory duty to carry out public consultation before making any regulations under the affirmative resolution procedure. I therefore ask her to withdraw her amendment.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:23 p.m.

As ever, it is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bailey. I want to underline the point that has been made as it applies well to what we are talking about—the wording that relates to liabilities, given their legal implications. It also applies to clause 68.

The Minister will be aware that UKspace, the space trade association, has raised concerns about the terminology used, which in this circumstance and in other parts of the Bill is not necessarily consistent with that used in the industry. To give an example of the confusion, the industry uses “launch systems” or “launch services” to refer to the launching of satellites, whereas the Bill appears to use “spacecraft” for that. The industry uses the word “spacecraft” to refer to man-made objects that are to be delivered into space—also known as “the payload.”

I do not want to get into a big semantic debate but, particularly when we are talking about where liabilities lie—whether with a launch operator or a satellite operator, or with a spacecraft, a launch system or launch services—I want an assurance from the Minister that there will be clear guidance, understood by the industry, the public and the courts when it comes to interpreting the Bill’s provisions.

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

I am happy to repeat the assurance I gave a second ago. We will consult publicly on all the initial draft statutory instruments and the statutory guidance that will give effect to the provisions. I hope that that process will address any remaining areas of uncertainty about terminology, to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard

I look forward to seeing the regulations. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 33 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 34

Power of Secretary of State to indemnify

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:24 p.m.

I beg to move amendment 1, in clause 34, page 25, line 15, leave out “may” and insert “must”.

This amendment concerns the case where a person is caused injury or damage by spaceflight activities carried out by a licensee whose liability to that person is capped by regulations under clause 33(5). It converts the Secretary of State’s power to indemnify that person in respect of any shortfall into a duty to do so.

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments 2 to 4.

Joseph Johnson Hansard

The Bill is designed to ensure that spaceflight activity is as safe as possible, and risks to third parties are minimised as far as possible. However, no activity is entirely without risk and we have to account for that. If injury or damage arise, it is right that affected third parties should have easy recourse to compensation. That policy does not change if an operator has a capped liability.

As we discussed, clause 33(5) provides a power to make regulations that enable a regulator to specify a cap on an operator’s liability for injury or damage arising out of their spaceflight activities to prescribed persons, or in prescribed circumstances. Those persons and circumstances would be set out in regulations, but we envisage that a cap would be on an operator’s liability to the uninvolved general public who suffer injury or damage as a result of spaceflight activities. As that liability can be capped, clause 34(3), as drafted, provides the Secretary of State with a power to indemnify a claimant in situations where injury or damage caused by spaceflight activities exceeds an apparatus capped liability amount.

Having listened carefully to the debate in the other place, the Government agree that it is right to go further, and the amendments turn the power under clause 34(3) into a duty, and ensure that the Government must pay the remaining compensation above that amount. I am sure that that will be welcomed by hon. Members, as it reflects the desire on both sides of the House to ensure that third parties will rightly never miss out.

Amendment 1 agreed to.

Amendments made: 2, in clause 34, page 25, line 22, after first “or” insert “duty under subsection”.

This amendment is consequential on amendment 1.

Amendment 3, in clause 34, page 25, line 26, after “may” insert “or must”.

This amendment is consequential on amendment 1.

Amendment 4, in clause 34, page 25, line 29, after “or” insert “duty under subsection”.—(Joseph Johnson.)

This amendment is consequential on amendment 1.

Clause 34, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 35 to 37 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 38

Powers to obtain rights over land

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

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:30 p.m.

I really just want to speak to clause 38(4), and the rights created under that. Again, this refers to the devolved nations, which currently have four of the five sites being discussed, although obviously future sites may well be scattered right across the UK. We are looking, again, for some consultation in the event of rights being taken over land that would be with the devolved Government. I have an amendment on that later, but I wanted to refer to it during debate on the clause itself.

Joseph Johnson Hansard

I can set out some context for the hon. Lady that might clarify the issue. Some concern was expressed in the other place about the provisions, but I assure the Committee that the Government are taking a responsible and balanced approach. We have sought to address those concerns by amending the Bill.

In clause 38 in particular, we made it clear on the face of the Bill that an order will be made only when the Secretary of State considers it appropriate, rather than when it is expedient, as the Bill said originally. Powers are restricted to what is required and proportionate for securing safe space flight operations. There are no powers in the Bill for a spaceport licence holder, launch operator or range control service provider to purchase land compulsorily.

The clause allows for the creation of orders granting rights over land. Such orders may be necessary to ensure that utilities and other supporting infrastructure can be installed and maintained—for radar or surveillance, for example. Space flight from the UK will be conducted on a commercial basis, so we expect operators to negotiate access in the vast majority of cases. Such an order, therefore, would be created only as a last resort, where a negotiation with the landowner had failed to produce a mutually agreeable outcome. Schedule 6 sets out further provision for such circumstances, including how notice for such orders should be given and how proposed orders can be objected to.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 38 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 39 and 40 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 6 agreed to.

Clause 41 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 42

Challenges to and commencement of orders

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:34 p.m.

I beg to move amendment 12, in clause 42, page 31, line 12, at end insert—

‘(4) An order under section 38 or 40 cannot be made in relation to a spaceport or prospective spaceport without the consent of—

(a) the Scottish Ministers, in relation to the use of land in Scotland;

(b) the Welsh Ministers, in relation to the use of land in Wales;

(c) the Northern Ireland devolved authority, in relation to the use of land in Northern Ireland.

(5) In this section, a “Northern Ireland devolved authority” means the First Minister and deputy First Minister acting jointly, a Northern Ireland Minister or a Northern Ireland department.”

This amendment would ensure that consent of devolved administrations is sought prior to the Secretary of State exercising their powers under Clauses 38 and 40.

This is the formal amendment on the point that I made in relation to clause 38 about a requirement to consult on land enforcement orders with the devolved powers in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:35 p.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for tabling this amendment, allowing me again to address the subject of land powers, in the specific context of the devolved Administrations. I reassure her and other Committee members that there has been considerable engagement with the devolved Administrations as the provisions have been developed.

Officials have been engaging with the devolved Administrations since early 2014, when they met the Welsh and Scottish Governments to discuss ambitions to create a UK spaceport. Representatives from the devolved Administrations have since been invited to launch UK events across the country, bringing together many of those interested in becoming involved in the operations or supply chains of spaceports or space flight activities.

Alongside this general engagement, we have worked with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at official level to ensure that the devolved Administrations are content with all provisions in the Bill. Specifically, on land powers, we have agreed an approach that the devolved Administrations have confirmed they are content with.

Before the introduction of the Bill, we discussed the land provisions with the Scottish Government, the Lands Tribunals for Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Registers of Scotland. We have since consulted the Scottish Civil Justice Council on the practical implications of orders under clauses 38 and 40. These organisations have confirmed that they are content with the implications for their processes and have not requested amendment to the current drafting of the clauses. Orders made on Welsh land would be subject to the same registration process as those in England, and any tribunals that were to be involved would be the same ones as for England.

The previous Minister of State for Transport spoke with the Scottish Government Minister for Transport to update him on the progress of the Bill and the proposed amendments ahead of Report in the other place. In addition, my officials continue to engage with the devolved Administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as the Bill makes its progress through the parliamentary process.

Going back to the clauses to which the hon. Lady’s amendment refers, I should say that an opportunity for those in the devolved Administrations to raise any concerns about a specific order is provided in schedule 6. The schedule requires that notice of a proposal to make an order under clause 38 or a land order under clause 40 must be published in local newspapers and served on the local authority. However, we expect that spaceport or launch operators, or range control service providers, will work closely with local landowners and local authorities as they develop their plans for sites and launches.

We also expect that, rather than orders under clauses 38 and 40 being necessary, operators will negotiate with landowners for access to land or for restrictions on the use of land or water near a spaceport site. Representatives of the companies hoping to develop the first spaceports have confirmed that they have indeed been working closely with local landowners and local authorities as they progress their plans.

I should also emphasise that orders that may be made under clauses 38 and 40 are compatible with the existing body of planning legislation and will not restrict the ability of local planning authorities to take planning decisions. Should Ministers in the devolved Administrations wish to call in any planning decision relating to the development of a spaceport site, their right to do so will not be affected by any provision in this Bill.

I hope that the hon. Lady is reassured that the powers in clauses 38 and 40 will not impact on the ability of local planning authorities or Ministers in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland to take planning decisions as they would usually. I hope she is reassured that the devolved Administrations, as well as any persons served with a notice, will be able to object to the making of orders through the process set out in schedule 6. I therefore ask the hon. Lady to consider withdrawing amendment 12.

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

Break in Debate

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.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 3:04 p.m.

As the hon. Lady knows, the UK has played a major part in developing the main EU space programmes, Galileo and Copernicus, which have supported the rapid growth of the UK space sector and contributed directly to our prosperity. The UK is recognised for its specialist capability in the area of earth observation, and has been especially involved in the development of the Galileo security modules and encryption, which are integral to a secure and resilient earth observation system. The Government recognise that, which is why the future partnership papers I referred to earlier, which were published in September 2017, set out that, given the unique nature of the space programmes’ applications to security as well as to science and innovation, and the extent of the UK’s involvement, the EU and the UK should discuss all options for future co-operation, including new arrangements subsequent to our departure from the European Union.

We are working to ensure that we get the best deal with the EU to help support the sector’s continued strong growth. The agreement that successfully concluded phase 1 of the exit negotiations in December 2017 makes clear that, as part of the financial settlement, the UK will remain part of the space programmes until at least the end of this EU budget period in 2020. That provides significant certainty to industry to enable it to continue to bid for and win contracts from the space programmes.

Break in Debate

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard

Does the Minister therefore foresee the UK continuing to pay funds? If so, will they be paid directly to the ESA or via the EU? Obviously, the EU is a significant funder of the ESA.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 3:01 p.m.

The European Space Agency delivers a number of programmes for the European Union, but we continue to be a member of the ESA in our own right and, as I said, we are contributing record amounts—more than €1.4 billion in the current budget period.

Neil Coyle Portrait Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) (Lab) - Hansard

For absolute clarity, is the Minister suggesting that payments via the EU could still be possible, in contrast with the Foreign Secretary’s position on that matter?

Joseph Johnson Hansard

I am not going to parse comments by others that I have not seen, but I can confirm that we remain a full member of the European Space Agency in our own right, we are contributing record amounts to its budget, and we have every expectation of continuing to be a full member of that organisation long into the future.

On the new clause’s requirement to undertake an assessment, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union provided the relevant Committees with reports for many sectors, including one for the UK space sector, on 27 November. As the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire said, that report contained a description of the sector, the current EU regulatory regime, existing frameworks for the facilitation of trade between countries in the sector, and sector views.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con) - Hansard

This is my first Bill Committee, so bear with me, Mr Bailey. The new clause suggests that the Secretary of State should have to make an annual assessment of the impact of our leaving the EU on research and development, including Horizon 2020, every year well after 2020, but Horizon 2020 clearly finishes in 2020. Does the Minister agree that it seems illogical to assess something that has already finished?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 3:04 p.m.

I obviously note the point about the duration of Horizon 2020, which does indeed end at the end of 2020, but we have committed as a Government to exploring all options for future participation in the next set of framework programmes, which will start after 2020. We have every hope that those discussions will conclude successfully, because those research programmes deliver huge value to our science and research communities and to our universities all over the country, including in Scotland.

On that basis, I ask the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire to consider withdrawing her new clause.

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 3:04 p.m.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Space Industry Bill [Lords]

(2nd reading: House of Commons)
Joseph Johnson Excerpts
Monday 15th January 2018

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Department for Transport

Second Reading

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Joseph Johnson) Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:47 p.m.

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

Very few people realise just how important the space industry is to our daily lives. Satellites, in particular, provide many critical services that we all take for granted. Navigation satellites provide the precision timing needed to enable global financial transactions. Weather satellites enable farmers and the emergency services to plan how best to protect people, property and produce from extreme weather, and provide unique insights into our changing climate. Communication and imaging satellites let us monitor disasters and threats to our national interests, and allow us to watch and react to live news events unfolding anywhere on earth.

Satellites, a specialty of the British space industry, play a crucial role in our economy, supporting more than £250 billion of our GDP. In the future, tens of thousands of new, smaller satellites are planned, creating a global launch opportunity worth £10 billion over the next 10 years. This is an opportunity that the UK is well placed to pursue. Our long coastline, aviation heritage, engineering capability, thriving space sector and business-friendly environment all make the UK attractive for new commercial launch services. We already license space activities that are carried out by UK companies from other countries, but we could carry out space activities from our own shores. We have already announced a £50 million programme to kick-start markets for small satellite launch and sub-orbital flight from UK spaceports as part of our industrial strategy, and we have received 26 separate proposals for grant funding.

Mr Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con) - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:49 p.m.

I am a small shareholder in ManSat and president of the parliamentary space committee. The Minister said that satellite technology is one of this country’s specialities, but is he as concerned as I am by what I read in the newspapers about British companies being frozen out of bidding under the Galileo project owing to Brexit?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:50 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. That is a subject of some concern and one that I had occasion to raise on numerous occasions with Commissioner Bieńkowska in my previous role as Science Minister. We want to ensure that our space sector continues to be able to compete on a level playing field, and, as long as we are full members of the European Union, we have every expectation that businesses should to be able to bid and win contracts under programmes such as Galileo and Copernicus.

Through this Bill, we seek to be a global exemplar of good regulation by balancing the need for flexibility and foresight with an absolute commitment to public safety. As such, the Bill provides a framework for the development of more detailed rules in secondary legislation, supplemented by guidance and supported by a licensing regime. The Bill was developed by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes) by drawing on expertise from across Government, including 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. I also express my thanks to the wide-ranging scrutiny carried out by noble Lords in the other place, which was done with enthusiasm as all parties acknowledged the importance of the Bill and wanted to make it a success. The Bill that is being considered by this House is now better as a result of their hard work. I hope that that collaborative attitude will govern the passage of the Bill through this House. The collegiate approach to the development of this Bill, which my right hon. Friend spearheaded, will continue as we develop secondary legislation, consulting on key issues and providing confidence to the public and investors that the UK will develop safe, business-friendly regulation in the public interest.

The Space Industry Bill is necessarily broad in scope, but it benefits from the experience and best practice of international launch, as well as our own world-class aviation regulator, resulting in a safe, proportionate and comprehensive enabling framework in one piece of legislation. In turn, the activities defined in this Bill and its subsequent regulatory framework would benefit many in the UK. Entrepreneurs would benefit from new opportunities to build innovative commercial enterprises. Local economies would benefit from the creation of spaceport sites with related jobs. Our small satellite industry would have direct access to domestic launch capacity, reducing dependence on foreign launch services.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP) - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:52 p.m.

Certain regions in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be able to have specific projects, but Northern Ireland will not. Will there be job opportunities for those with the qualities and the talent, even if they reside outside where the opportunities for businesses to create projects are located?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:53 p.m.

Indeed. I was in Belfast just a few weeks ago for one of the UK launch programme’s roadshow events, where we gathered together small and medium-sized businesses in Northern Ireland with expertise in space to showcase all the benefits that are to be gained from participating in the programme and taking part in the activities that the Bill will enable.

Dame Diana Johnson Portrait Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab) - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:53 p.m.

If I am correct and the Bill will open the way for commercial spaceflights within the next 20 years, does the Minister realise that such flights will arrive many years quicker than Transport for the North’s proposals for improvements to transport in the north, including rail electrification to Hull?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:54 p.m.

We want to move forward on many fronts, and the Bill will enable us to capture some of the significant opportunities that are out there for British businesses in the space sector.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con) - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:54 p.m.

Given the fast growth of the sector and the fact that its businesses create jobs three times faster than the average British company, does the Minister share my concern about the lack of interest in this Bill from the Labour party?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:54 p.m.

The Bill has been developed collaboratively with the support and involvement of all parties, and I am grateful for the constructive approach taken by the Labour party. My hon. Friend is absolutely right, however, to say that there are tremendous opportunities for British companies in the space sector. We have a market share of about 6.5% at the moment, but the Government’s ambition is to increase that 10% by 2030, and the Bill will play an important role in enabling us to take advantage of the great opportunities.

Mark Garnier Portrait Mark Garnier (Wyre Forest) (Con) - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:55 p.m.

The Minister is being generous with his time. Having worked with him for the past two years on helping to develop this country’s space industry, I absolutely share his vision for how fantastic things can be for Great Britain. There are many technical details that can help us to achieve our target of 10% of the global space market, and one of those important details is the liability that space companies have on launches. We currently have unlimited liability, but were we to find a system whereby there could be limited liability on insuring spacecraft, that could bring a huge amount of space activity to this country.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:56 p.m.

My hon. Friend raises an extremely important point that was the subject of considerable discussion when the Bill was in the other place, and we will return to it in detail in Committee. For the time being, I can say that we recognise that launch from the UK is an important new activity, and, given the risks involved, further work needs to be carried out on the appropriateness of capping either liability to Government or to third parties in prescribed circumstances. State aid issues must also be considered in relation to any such cap that we might want to introduce. However, we plan to announce a call for evidence on all issues relating to insurance and liabilities early this year following the Bill’s Royal Assent.

John Howell Portrait John Howell (Henley) (Con) - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:56 p.m.

Does the Minister share my view that companies such as Reaction Engines, which is based in my constituency, hold the future for space vehicles that can be used over and over again?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:58 p.m.

Indeed. Reaction Engines is a great example of the kind of British company that is well placed to take advantage of all the opportunities that the Bill will enable. We have been supporting Reaction Engines and its SABRE technology through Innovate UK and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and, from memory, I believe that it has received around £55 million over recent years. We want it to be a great success, and have every confidence that it will be.

British-based scientists will benefit through increased access to microgravity and investment in institutional capability in launch, spaceflight and related sciences, attracting world-class scientists to the UK. Young people seeking careers in science, technology, engineering and maths will gain new opportunities and greater inspiration from an expanding UK space sector. The UK as a whole will benefit from access to a strategic small-satellite launch capability, contributing to our understanding of the world, the provision of public and commercial services, the delivery of national security and new opportunities for investment and export.

Robert Courts Portrait Robert Courts (Witney) (Con) - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 5:58 p.m.

The Minister has just referred to the skills that will be supported by the Bill. Does he agree that it presents a real opportunity to inspire the next generation, so that those growing up across Oxfordshire can look to ensure that this country really excels in an area in which it already takes a lead?

Joseph Johnson Hansard

Absolutely. There is nothing like space to generate STEM inspiration, which we saw when Tim Peake became one of the first British astronauts —if not the first British astronaut—to visit the International Space Station last year. We have seen on many occasions the power that space has to capture the imaginations of young people, and we have every confidence that the development of a domestic launch capability will have comparable effects over time.

The UK as a whole will benefit from access to a strategic launch capability. Today, we stand at the dawn of a new commercial space age. We can once more reach for the stars, but not at vast public expense or in a way that is dependent on the good will of others elsewhere in the world. We can do so in the best spirit of British innovation and by enabling commercial markets for small-satellite launch and sub-orbital flight from UK spaceports. The sky will no longer be the limit for our talented scientists, engineers and entrepreneur, and with modern, safe and supportive legislation, we will attract the capability, infrastructure and investment we need to make that a reality. I commend the Bill to the House.

Andy McDonald Portrait Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jan 2018, 6 p.m.

It must be a blessed relief for Government Front Benchers to move their attention away from their trials and tribulations here on planet Earth and to lift their eyes up to the heavens. Much of the country is doing likewise, aghast in sheer disbelief at the Government’s continued appalling judgment on our country’s transport system.

It is perhaps no surprise that the Secretary of State for Transport is not present for the Second Reading of this important Bill—perhaps he is explaining to the Prime Minister how he came to the view in July 2017 that Carillion was a safe bet and fit to be awarded the High Speed 2 contract, despite dire profit warnings. He is making a habit of not being at the Dispatch Box when his decisions make the news for all the wrong reasons.

Just as the Secretary of State has today delegated responsibility for the Space Industry Bill to the newly appointed Minister of State, the Government have produced a Bill that delegates more powers than it has clauses. That said, I also pay tribute to the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes) for his open attitude to producing the best possible legislation, which is consistent with his attitude throughout. I commend him for that, and I trust that the same arrangement will continue with his successor so that we can produce the best possible Bill.

The UK’s space industry is an important and burgeoning part of our economy. It was valued at £13.7 billion in 2014-15, supporting almost 40,000 jobs. This Bill will establish a licensing regime for spaceports, spaceflights and satellite launches that is currently missing from the statute book and will put in place the regulatory framework to allow further expansion of the industry.

The UK Space Agency’s assessment, published in 2016, showed that the UK had a 6.5% share of the global space industry, and we hope the Bill will help to increase that share as the space industry grows globally in the coming years. Accordingly, Labour will be supporting the Bill as it continues its passage into law, although not without reservation about certain aspects, which I will spell out.

I put on record my party’s thanks to our Front-Bench colleagues in the other place for their valuable work on this Bill. They secured a number of important concessions from the Government, particularly the removal of the Henry VIII powers, which has much improved the Bill and for which we are grateful. However, we will still press Ministers on delegated powers and on the Bill’s impact on the environment, health and safety regulation and land powers.

During the Bill’s passage through the other place, the Government gave assurances that they would table amendments in this House on a duty to carry out full environmental impact assessments as part of the licensing process. We look forward to Ministers following up on that assurance in the Bill’s later stages.

Similarly, the Government gave an assurance in the other place that a specific regulator, either the Civil Aviation Authority or the UK Space Agency, will be a single point of accountability for health and safety on each individual mission. However, we will seek further details from Ministers on the relationship between the Health and Safety Executive and the CAA or the UK Space Agency, and on how best practices will be shared.

In relation to joined-up thinking on health and safety matters, will the Minister illuminate us on whether the Government have put any thought into how this Bill and the recently introduced Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill will cover legislative issues relating to the pointing of lasers at suborbital spacecraft and horizontal-launching spacecraft?

Moreover, can the Minister shed light on the Government’s thinking on clause 33(5), which addresses

“provision for an operator licence to specify a limit on the amount of the licensee’s liability”

in the unlikely event of “injury or damage” being caused by licensed spaceflight activities? My recollection is that a figure of £20 million was suggested in my previous discussions with Ministers. Will the Minister confirm whether that is the case? If it is, I suggest the Government reconsider the limit.

We recognise this is a highly technical and highly skilled environment and that the chances of something happening will hopefully be extremely remote, but, if it were to happen, the consequences could be dire. In those circumstances, £20 million may not be anywhere near sufficient. Two catastrophic injury cases could take a large share of that sum. In the case of brain injury or other catastrophic injury, the costs incurred by long-term support, accommodation or care would be considerable. I ask the Minister to think about how we might work around that difficulty.

The Government conceded in the other place that the wording of the Bill needs to be tightened to clarify that any restrictions over land would be temporary and would need to be established individually for each specific mission. Further clarity is also required on the ability of those affected by such restrictions to appeal against the decisions. We want Ministers now to outline how the Government expect the powers to be used and to ensure that the Bill provides an adequate legislative framework should the UK’s space industry undergo significant growth in the future, as we all want to see.

Finally, returning to the point I outlined at the start, the Bill appears to have been introduced well before the Government have done sufficient work to allow Parliament to scrutinise the legislation—the Bill contains 100 delegated powers in 71 clauses. Despite the Government’s concession to remove the potential Henry VIII power from clause 66, clause 67 still has a catch-all regulation-making power that allows the Government to make general provision for regulating space activities and “associated activities”. We look to the Government to better define those associated activities.

Furthermore, the Government appear determined that significant statutory instruments arising from the Bill’s delegated powers will be affirmative when they are first made, with negative procedures following afterwards. As the Bill progresses, we will seek to persuade the Government that such statutory instruments should be consistently affirmative each and every time they are made.

We will be supporting the Bill on Second Reading, but unfortunately the Government have introduced a Bill that is inadequately detailed and imprecisely worded. We will seek to change that as the Bill progresses, but sadly the Government have been too busy making a mess of our public transport by hiring failing companies to build national infrastructure projects and by bailing out private companies when they fail to run our rail network.

It is time that this Government made decisions in the interest of the UK economy and hard-pressed taxpayers, instead of dishing out corporate welfare. It is time they started focusing on the day job.