MP for Windsor
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Windsor MP asks questions on space policy in Parliament

On Tuesday 13th December Adam asked the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department for an update on the progress at the recent European Space Agency (ESA) summit (4:53 to 6:21):

 

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Questions, 13th December:

Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): What steps his Department is taking to promote science and innovation.

Jo Johnson (Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation): This Government are strongly committed to science and innovation. We protected the science budget at the spending review in 2015. In the last autumn statement, a few days ago, we committed to spending a further £2 billion a year by 2020/21. The creation of UK Research and Innovation, through the passage of the Higher Education and Research Bill, will increase the value and impact of our investments in science and innovation in the years ahead. [Official Report, 16 December 2016, Vol. 618, c. 7-8MC.]

 

Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): I thank the Minister for that answer. It has certainly been a good time for science and innovation in Britain. It has also been a good year for the UK space sector, with Major Tim Peake’s historic visit to the international space station and a new spaceport here in the UK. It certainly strikes me that the next big challenge will be the successful delivery of the ExoMars programme, particularly given some of the rumours that have been going around. Will the Minister update the House on any progress made at the European Space Agency summit recently?

Jo Johnson (Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation): Yes, I am happy to provide a brief update. My hon. Friend is an aficionado of space policy and former chair of the parliamentary space committee, so he will be delighted to know that we had an excellent outcome at the European Space Agency’s Council of Ministers. We committed a further €1.44 billion, which has secured the future of the ExoMars programme, among many other things.

 

The MP for the Windsor constituency, Adam Afriyie, said:

“As a former Chair of the Parliamentary Space Committee, I am delighted that the Government continues to invest in making the UK a world leader in the space industry.

“Space has the ability to inspire like few other areas. 2016 was a great year for the British space sector and has undoubtedly motivated many students to pursue their career, and dreams, in researching this area. I hope that 2017 will be even better.

“I am proud at the fact that Britain has a long and prestigious history of being at the cutting edge of technological innovation. We have some of the most prestigious universities, innovative technology companies and supportive regulatory environments in the world.

“This Government has made strong steps to creating the right ecosystem for the space industry to deepen its roots and grow. I hope that they continue the good work investing and nurturing technologies for the future.”

 

 

ENDS

  1. Adam Afriyie is the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ghana.
  2. He has a strong background in science, technology and innovation.
  3. He is currently Chairman of the Fintech APPG, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and President of the Conservative Technology Forum (CTF).
  4. He was shadow Minister for Science from 2007-2010 and has a background in the information services and technology sector.
  5. He is Patron of the Parliamentary Space Committee (PSC) and was Chair of the PSC between 2010 and 2015.
  6. The POSTnote on ‘UK Commercial Space Activities’ can be found here.

 

Space tourism in the UK

Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent steps he has taken to encourage the growth of a space tourism industry in the UK.

Greg Clark (Minister of State, BIS): The Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend Mr Goodwill announced at the Farnborough International Air show in July 2014 the Government’s commitment to establish a spaceport in the UK by 2018. The Government is working to ensure that sub-orbital space participant and science flights are operated from this space port.

 

Funding crisis for physics research

Adam Afriyie (Shadow Minister, Innovation, Universities and Skills; Windsor, Conservative): I am disappointed to hear the Minister boasting once again about science funding and physics funding, because as a direct result of his decision on STFC funding last year, physicists are saying that there is a crisis. Astronomers, researchers and the Royal Astronomical Society also say that there is a crisis. Does he accept that there is a crisis, or does he think that they are all wrong?

Ian Pearson (Minister of State (Science and Innovation), Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills; Dudley South, Labour): I am aware of the number of representations that I have had from the astronomy community and the particle physics community as a result of the STFC’s settlement, but we should look at the facts. There will be no cuts to particle physics grants in the coming financial year. The research grants to astronomy are at their highest level for many years. We have seen a doubling in the science budget. We are spending over £500 million on physics a year, and that figure will go up over the next three years. So we have a sound track record of major investment in physics. Physics is one of the great strengths of the United Kingdom, and I am sure that the Wakeham review will want to take a broad look overall at the health of the discipline.