UK must answer questions on OneWeb purchase

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A UK parliamentary sub-committee is asking some tough questions of the British government about its commitment to buy OneWeb out of bankruptcy.

The government’s Dept. of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was posed the questions by the all-party subcommittee (“the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee”) which is chaired currently by a Labour opposition MP, asked about the decision-making process for the £500 million investment in OneWeb.

The Committee’s chairperson Darren Jones asked whether an assessment had been made in terms of “value for money” in the purchase, and whether any sort of investment had been made as to the role of OneWeb in the nation’s defence and critical infrastructure needs?

On July 1st, Jones asked: “How will the investment in OneWeb deliver on the Government’s ambition to build a sovereign satellite capacity, in order to reduce reliance on both the United States GPS system and the European Union’s Galileo system?”

The full list of questions tabled to Alok Sharma, Secretary of State are:

  • What role have BEIS and UK Space played in the alleged decision by No10 to make this investment?
  • How will this decision be aligned with the Comprehensive Spending Review, Integrated Review and the UK Space Strategy? 
  • What role will BEIS have in future management of this shareholder relationship?
  • By which criteria does the Government assess the suitability of a company for which it intends to act as shareholder?
  • What assessment has BEIS made of the value for money achieved through an investment of this kind?
  • What assessment have you made of OneWeb’s capacity to meet the UK’s defence and critical national infrastructure needs?
  • How will investment in OneWeb deliver on the Government’s ambition to build a sovereign satellite capability, in order to reduce reliance on both the United States GPS system and the European Union’s Galileo system?
  • Noting that while OneWeb has its headquarters in the UK most of its assets, investment and manufacturing is based in the United States. What action is BEIS taking to protect British jobs and ensure British production capacity through this investment? 

Sharma will appear before the committee on July 9th but said ahead of the meeting that the purchase of OneWeb would offer “strategic opportunities across a wide range of other applications, working with our international allies.”


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