MP for Windsor
Working Hard For You
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.

 

Adam welcomes the ongoing success of the UK space industry

Adam Afriyie MP has today welcomed a parliamentary answer published by the Minister for Universities and Science that restates the ongoing success of the British space industries.

Adam Afriyie, MP for Windsor and Chair of the Parliamentary Space Committee, said:

“The space industry continues to be a stand-out success for the UK economy.

“Over the last few years the UK space industry has grown by an average of 7.5 per cent per year, and it shows no signs of letting up. In fact the industry hopes to increase its annual turnover to £40bn by 2030.

“If Britain is going to be a great global trading nation once again, we must take advantage of our strong scientific and engineering heritage. Britain produces many highly technical products, like satellites, that the rest of the world wants to buy.

“The space industry has created new jobs to support the growing use of mobile phones, mobile internet and sat nav devices. The UK Space Agency expects the industry will support 100,000 high-quality jobs by 2030.

“The space industry continues to go from strength to strength because of the hard work and innovative thinking of all those working in the sector, including those people working for companies, researching in universities and supporting the sector at the UK Space Agency.”

Contact

Notes to Editors

  1. Mr Afriyie’s website: http://www.adamafriyie.org/.
  2. Copy of the parliamentary question: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2014-06-18a.200304 .h&s=speaker%3A11929#g200304.q0

 

UK Space is a winner, says Adam Afriyie MP

Two hundred years ago Britain was at its industrial peak, producing nearly 10 per cent of the world’s GDP. Down at the docks you’d see longshoremen loading up ships with British-made goods from dawn till dusk. Those days are finished say some people – but I’m more optimistic.

Last year, the UK’s space sector grew at a whopping 7.5 per cent and added more than £9bn to UK GDP, eye-watering figures in this economic climate. Of this income, a good wedge came from exporting space goods to other countries. This shows that in our modern age, Britain is still good at making things, and making things that the rest of the world wants to buy.

The space sector continues to grow because it plays to our strengths. This country has some of the best and brightest scientists who, with the help of the Technology Strategy Board and their Catapult centres, have been able to capture and commercialise their expertise. The industry has also benefited from buyers in fast-growing developing countries who lack the technical know-how to build satellites themselves.

But we cannot rest on our laurels; we must continue to work hard. We must continue to make sure that our policies are well matched with industry. For example, the UK space sector is dominated by SMEs who can become strangled by regulation. Sadly, right now, if you’re a new space start-up, you need to complete long, technical forms to get a space export license or to bid for funding – these can be extremely time consuming and costly to fill in.

One company, who was interviewed for a new report released by the Science and Technology Committee, said that they had to invest a significant amount of time and money in form-filling to get off the ground. The Government must make it a priority to strip back this legislation.

At the same time the Government must resist a proposal to turn the European Space Agency (ESA) into an EU agency. This would be catastrophic. The ESA is an effective intergovernmental body; it must not be ripped up and restructured. If it works, don’t fix it. Not only is this proposal opposed by the ESA, the Science and Technology Committee and most of the industry, but it’s not at all clear how this would even work: Norway and Switzerland are members of the ESA but don’t belong to the EU.

UK space is working. The Government just needs to makes sure they keep everything well oiled, and use its purchasing power to drive innovation in the sector.

Whenever cynics say: ‘Britain can’t make things anymore’, I point to our space industry; to the hundreds of SMEs in that sector and say: ‘What about these people?’

I believe the UK space sector will help Britain become a great trading nation once again. UK space really is a winner.

Adam Afriyie is MP for Windsor and Chairman of the Parliamentary Space Committee

 

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.