New UK space Bill
The UK’s new Space Industry Bill had its second reading in the Houses of Parliament this week (15 January) and ‘ROOM – The Space Journal’ was given a privileged mention.
John Hayes MP, one of the bill’s key architects during his tenure as Minister of State in the Department of Transport until returning to the back benches during Theresa May’s New Year cabinet reshuffle, urged the government to be “bold”.
In response to a question about space debris mitigation, Mr Hayes produced the Autumn 2017 issue of ROOM and said: “To avoid delaying the House unduly I refer my honourable friend to The Space Journal which has an article I was reading just this weekend on exactly that point.
It is headed ‘Space debris break point’ and it sets out precisely the kind of risks and problems highlighted. His reading this will I am sure allow him to take the matter further.”
Mr Hayes went on to say that the space was a “highly dynamic sector” and by the time the Bill bears fruit in five or 10 years’ time technology was likely to be “unrecognisable”.
“The speed and pace of technological change requires government to know when to be modest and when to be bold and this Bill attempts to square that circle. Governments have a habit of not doing long term things and I am pleased this Bill is an exception.”
The UK Space Industry Bill, expected to become law in mid-2018, is the country’s most significant new spaceflight regime in decades and contains a new framework for licensing and regulating spaceports and launch operators in the UK.
Its second reading in the House of Commons on 15 January 2018 paves the way for secondary legislation over the coming months which will contain the real detail for spaceport operators and launch providers.
UK government ministers say the Bill is designed to ensure Britain stays at the forefront of the space industry.
But at the same time prime minister Theresa May was accused of having a ‘black hole’ in her plans after it emerged she had failed to appoint a new Space Minister in time to steer the Bill through the House of Commons.
Jo Johnson MP held the role until he was moved to the Transport department in the New Year cabinet reshuffle. A spokesman for the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) confirmed other ministerial responsibilities have not been fully finalised.
John Hayes has been Conservative MP for the constituency of South Holland and The Deepings in the east of England since 1997 and was Minister of State for Transport from July 2016 to January 2018.
A clip from the debate can be viewed by clicking here: ROOM in UK Parliament