It was back to the grindstone after the May bank holiday weekend but one big highlight of the week was that I secured the successful passage of my Space Bill through its crucial committee stage.

Since 2010, I have successfully guided two Private Members’ Bills through Parliament and onto the statute book. This is my third – The Space Indemnities Bill – and it will give vital support to the UK's thriving and dynamic space sector.

We all benefit from the services provided by satellites. We might pay for our morning coffee using contactless payment, Google Pay or even cash withdrawn from an ATM; none of that would be possible without satellites.

Satellites provide precise references for navigation, communication to remote places, and pictures of our changing planet, not to mention the support they provide to the defence and security of the United Kingdom.

The space sector is increasingly valuable to the UK economy. It is worth over £17.5 billion a year and directly employs more than 48,000 people. It supports over 126,000 jobs across the supply chain and the UK is already one of the world’s strongest centres of advanced satellite manufacturing.

Thanks to this Government, it is now possible to launch satellites from UK spaceports, rather than relying solely on overseas spaceports to launch UK-built satellites into orbit. 

Last year, a first launch from UK soil was made by Virgin Orbit at Spaceport Cornwall. In December, SaxaVord spaceport in the Shetland Islands became the UK’s first licensed vertical launch spaceport, with more to follow. New launch companies such as Orbex and Skyrora have built factories in Scotland, creating hundreds of jobs.

We have the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey alongside Surrey Satellite Technology, which employs many Woking residents. Surrey Satellite Technology has operated for over 40 years and delivered over 500 satellites into orbit.

The existing Space Industry Act contains provisions to help mitigate potential costs to UK taxpayers arising from UK commercial spaceflight activities. That includes requirements for operators to hold insurance and to indemnify the UK Government and other named public bodies against any claims brought against the Government in respect of damage or loss.

It is recognised, however, that unlimited liability on commercial space activities would be a barrier to their operating in the United Kingdom. Other space nations, such as France and the United States, limit liabilities, or provide a state guarantee for the launch activities that take place from their territory.

My Private Members’ Bill will provide that legal certainty by amending section 12(2) of the Space Industry Act, so that spaceflight operator licences must specify a limit on the amount of the operator’s liability. The Bill will provide a further boost to our UK space industry.

I'm delighted that my Space Bill has now passed its committee stage and I’m looking forward to piloting it through its remaining stages in Parliament.