Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160
WEDNESDAY 10 JANUARY 2007
Q160 Mr Newmark: But that is a generic,
meaningless statement. What does it mean when we talk about outputs?
Dr Williams: There are established
mechanisms to establish if you are good at science or bad at science
and at the current time the UK is second in Europe on science,
sorry second in the world on science behind the USA. Europe collectively
could get to first if we put a collective effort in, using the
existing citation methods that are accepted. In economic terms,
the current policy says that Europe needs to remain strong in
using space for commercial purposes and for societal purposes.
We want it to say that it currently contributes £22 billion
to the European economy and let us have a target of £60 billion.
Give it a target rather than just words.
Q161 Mr Newmark: And a road map on
how to get there; a strategy or a plan as to how you get from
22 to 60.
Dr Williams: Yes, and once you
have got that into a policy, let us work back to how we have a
strategy and an implementation plan to get that goal, rather than
to talk about words. So that is what we are doing.
Q162 Mr Newmark: How satisfied is
the BNSC with progress on the Galileo programme, and could transparencyand
I know we talked about this beforebe increased with regard
to costs and risks?
Dr Williams: We, on the European
Space Agency programme have a good understanding of where the
risks are, and there are some problems with the structure of the
way Galileo has been developed, in my view. The Galileo industries
are seeing themselves as a monopoly and that is bringing problems
to the surface. We cannot hide those problems but we have made
a decision since I came into post to find extra money for Galileo
on the basis that it was going the right way, and we need to get
to the end of what we call the initial orbit verification in 2009-10
to show that it is viable. We are now holding the line that they
must get to that point within the budgets available, and we are
working hard with them to get there, but there are some significant
Q163 Mr Newmark: I was reading about
emerging contingency risks. Is there anything specific we should
be aware of?
Dr Williams: They have had problems,
as you know. One satellite has already been launched, which was
very successful and British and was a small satellite, built by
Surrey Satellites, and that is maintaining capability to hold
the spectrum for Galileo operations. There are problems with the
second satellite, which is built by a European consortium, and
that launch has been delayed. They have had to make some technical
changes to the satellite. We have people in BNSC working on the
interaction on that and we work closely with DfT, but it is certainly
not an easy issue, and the impact on the PPP and how the European
Union and the industries are going to work on that has yet to
be seen. There is going to be a lot of hard management going into
Galileo with some very significant challenges coming up.
Q164 Mr Newmark: What lessons can
we learn from the UK's involvement in the global monitoring for
environment and security? I just want to throw something at you
as you reflect on that, which is that the trade association, UK
Space, states that: "GMES remains 75% under-funded by the
UK, seriously prejudicing the UK's role in the EU exploitation
of Earth Observation". It goes on: "In relation to GMES
and Galileo, it asserts that `user departments without the necessary
expertise or remit in space were asked to identify and co-ordinate
the UK position and decide on investment'", which to me was
fairly damning criticism.
Dr Williams: Taking the second
one first, on Galileo, it is quite correct that if you are going
to have a system that is designed for traffic management the department
responsible, Transport, should be involved at a policy level,
saying what they are doing in the future. On the funding, in fact,
when I came in I led on getting the funding for the tranche that
would approve this, and we had a long debate in government about
whether it was affordable and whether it was sensible, and the
conclusion of ministers was that it was. On the GMES, as I explained,
with DfT, they are saying: "If we want to change to this
system we need assurances about continuity of data", and
we need to have a programme that does that. It is not a programme
that is driven by the short-term industrial goals, and the programme
at the momentand the UK has said this publicly in ESA and
in the EUis driven too much by short-term industrial goals
and not enough by looking at what the actual application user
really needs to have the confidence to move over to using the
system. Until we solve that problem, I think it would be wrong
to move from the position we are in.
Q165 Chairman: How do you solve that
Dr Williams: We work in the Commission
and in ESA to get other people to understand that this is a real
requirement and not just something driven by industry, and get
them to change their position.
Q166 Chairman: So this is an ESA
problem, not just a UK Government problem?
Dr Williams: It is an EC problem,
on the way the programme has been constructed. It is not about
the objectives of the programme, it is not about the instrumentation,
it is about the structure of the programme.
Q167 Chairman: I will have to leave
that there. Can I just ask finallyI want a yes or noin
terms of the NASA lunar exploration programme do you actually
provide the advice for Government on our involvement in that programme?
If not, who does it?
Dr Williams: The scientific advice
comes through PPARC. I talk with the Minister and PPARC come in
and talk with me to the Minister, and talk separately sometimes
to the officials in London.
Q168 Chairman: Any talk about human
space flight is your responsibility then?
Dr Williams: It will come through
Chairman: Thank you very much indeed,
Dr Williams, Ms Freedman and Dr Davies.