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Global Navigation Satellite System

Volume 652: debated on Monday 14 January 2019

7. What funding his Department has allocated to the proposed global navigation satellite system. (908528)

Some £92 million has been allocated from the Treasury EU exit fund to the engineering, development and design phase of a UK global navigation satellite system, which is currently under way. The UK Space Agency is leading the work, with the full support of the Ministry of Defence.

And yet the reality is that £1.2 billion of UK investment in the Galileo system may now have been wasted because of this Government’s failed negotiation. This Government now want us to spend billions more on a delayed, diplomatically divisive and sketchy system just to cover up for their failure. How much more does the Minister expect the women and men of our armed forces to suffer as a result of lower investment in them because of this Government’s botched Brexit negotiations?

Galileo is an issue because our armed forces need to know that we have absolute faith in their secure systems. The EU decided not to allow us to have that information, which is why we are coming out. However, we are working across Government to look into the alternatives, which is why the Prime Minister has put the funding in place.

What will the proposed UK system provide to our armed forces that the American global positioning system does not?

It will obviously replicate very much what the US system has, but it will also ensure that we have additional capability should we need it. It is really important that our armed forces have all the equipment they need and that they have systems such as GPS so that we can put them in a safe environment when they are defending our country.

We understand that because of the Government’s failure to negotiate our continued involvement in Galileo they are exploring other options to build their own global satellite navigation system, possibly in co-operation with the United States of America. We know that that will cost the country up to £5 billion, but can the Secretary of State or his Minister tell us how many British companies have lost out on important Galileo contracts as a result of the Government’s failure?

We have in this country an exciting space industry that is working incredibly hard and is part of the 18-month engineering, development and design study that is expected to conclude in 2020. I am looking forward to seeing the results of that study, because I am sure that the great British industry that we have will provide us with the system that we need.