UK Space Sector

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th March 2017.

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Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson Conservative, North Swindon 12:00 am, 14th March 2017

What steps he is taking to support growth in the UK space sector.

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The UK’s space sector is world leading. A quarter of the world’s telecommunication satellites are either built here or are built with key UK components. Our recently announced draft Spaceflight Bill will enable UK businesses to enter a global market worth an expected £25 billion over the next 20 years. Our industrial strategy will ensure that we build on that and continue to be a global leader in this very important sector.

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson Conservative, North Swindon

Many people think that my constituency, North Swindon, is out of this world, and they are not wrong, as we are home to the UK Space Agency. Will the Secretary of State therefore tell me how the upcoming Spaceflight Bill will enable the UK to build on its strengths in science, research and innovation?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

North Swindon has a stellar Member of Parliament, too. The space sector is one of our most important industries, and the Spaceflight Bill, in particular, will move us forwards and enable us to be in the business not only of manufacturing satellites but of launching them, which will give us further industrial opportunities from which not only Swindon but the whole UK can benefit.

Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham

The collaborative approach of the UK aerospace sector is one of the lessons that the Government need to remember in the difficult years ahead. Will the Secretary of State please come to one of the most important aerospace sectors in the country in north-east Wales to see its excellent work and the potential threats to one of the most successful industries in our country?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. One of the reasons why the space and satellite sector has been so successful is the collaboration between the firms, the Government and the research institutions, which is the way forward. The Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my hon. Friend Jesse Norman, will visit north Wales and the facilities that Ian C. Lucas mentions, and I look forward to hearing all about it.

Photo of Steven Baker Steven Baker Conservative, Wycombe

As someone who has calculated inertia matrices and Hohmann transfers, I am pleased that the Government are focusing on this area. What assessment has the Secretary of State made of the capacity of the UK’s commercial space flight sector? What steps will he take to support it?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I am glad that my hon. Friend is not questioning me on inertia ratios and matrices. The capacity is there, but it requires planning ahead. That is why the industrial strategy mentions the need to invest in science and research and development—it is important that we do that—and the need to look forward to make sure that we have the skills in the workforce to fulfil the order books. The purpose of having a long-term industrial strategy is so that we are prepared to reap those very opportunities.