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Space Exploration Sector

Volume 621: debated on Thursday 9 February 2017

The Department for International Trade supports efforts to grow the UK space sector. We are working closely with the UK Space Agency, Innovate UK and the industry to provide sector growth. In January, I led a DIT and UK Space Agency mission to the US, where I advocated the UK as an attractive market for space sector companies. We intend to highlight progress at the UK space conference in Manchester in May. UK Export Finance offers finance and insurance to help UK-based companies in the space sector.

It is really great to hear that the UK is fast becoming a world leader in the space sector. Will my hon. Friend inform the House about his efforts to secure foreign direct investment into the United Kingdom to support domestic growth in this industry?

My hon. Friend is right to raise the importance of this sector. The numbers are absolutely fantastic: it has six times the average research and development investment, and it has 2.7 times the average productivity in the UK. During the past couple of years, the DIT has supported 19 successful inward investment projects in this sector, and we will continue to work with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to deliver the UK space innovation and growth strategy in the future.

The encrypted public service channels of the new Galileo space navigation system are restricted to EU member states. What steps will the Government take post-Brexit to ensure that the UK has access to Galileo, in which we have invested?

Galileo is the satellite navigation system that is being put up by the European Space Agency and the European Union. That is one of the many things we have to negotiate over the coming years. The use of spectrum is incredibly important, because spectrum is limited. The Government will look at that among many other important things, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that spectrum is a very valuable asset for this country, and we will work with Ofcom to ensure that we get our fair share.