Division number 115
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
The Space Industry Bill is a bold and important Bill which 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 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.
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 will put in place a regulatory framework to allow the further expansion of the industry. For that reason, the Opposition support and welcome the Bill.
First, I would like to thank the Minister, who has moved seamlessly from his previous role into this new role and is not too far away from where he was a few months ago. I also thank Mr Hayes for the work he has done.
It is a nice coincidence, I suppose, that SpaceX will be launching the Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre in the next couple of hours. It is the largest rocket ever to be launched and could pave the way for travel to Mars. This is the inspirational industry that we all want to be part of, and for that reason there has been great cross-party support for, and consensus around, the Bill.
The idea of spaceports in the UK is potentially exciting, but it needs investment from both the Government and private industry, and I hope that parts of the Bill will draw down some of that investment. I am pleased that many of the potential sites for spaceports are in Scotland, but I am disappointed that the Government chose not to support new clause 4, tabled by my hon. Friend Dr Whitford. It would have strengthened the Bill and provided the assurances the industry was calling for. I hope that the cap will be put in place, and quickly, to generate future investment possibilities for the industry.
I want to place on the record the three satellite companies currently manufacturing satellites in Glasgow: Clyde Space, Spire and Alba Orbital. Between them, they ensure that Glasgow is second only to San Francisco, worldwide, for the production of CubeSats. We very much want to support this industry, and it would be great to see these Glasgow-built satellites, manufactured very close to the Clyde—they are all within half a mile of the Clyde—actually being launched. “Clyde built” used to be an indication of quality. Let us hope it is for these new spaceships.
The Bill will, of course, need collaboration between the Scottish and UK Governments, as well as cross-party support, which it has had generally, and I look forward to seeing it strengthened after the consultation process that the Minister described this afternoon.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with amendments.