JOINT

Publication of First Special Report of Session 2013-14

31 October 2013

The Government's timetable for planning the next National Security Strategy will not allow for cross-party debate on the big questions which the next National Security Strategy will need to address..

The JCNSS has today published the Government response to its latest report, which raised concerns about the Government’s handling of national security matters.

Report

In its report the Committee said that the National Security Council appeared to have focused on operational matters and short-term imperatives. The Government response says that it “believes it has been broadly successful in achieving the right balance in NSC work”. The Government has agreed to supply the Committee with copies of the NSC’s agendas on a regular basis, so it will be able to keep the NSC’s priorities under review.

In its report the Committee said that it had not yet seen evidence of the Government pressing ahead with planning for the next National Security Strategy or giving serious consideration to engaging outside experts, politicians across the political parties and the public in its development.  The Government response says that initial preparatory work is now under way, but “the review itself will formally be conducted after the General Election in 2015”.

The Committee is concerned that this timetable will not allow for a broad, cross-party debate on the big questions which the next National Security Strategy will need to address. It has raised these concerns with the Prime Minister.

The Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP said:

It is worrying that the Government does not plan to review the National Security Strategy till after the next General Election. This sounds like a repeat of the last, rushed process in 2010.

We’ll be continuing to press for a different approach – for a public debate and cross-party discussion on the UK’s place in the world and our national priorities before we get embroiled in the next General Election campaign. Decisions will, of course, have to wait for whoever is in Government in 2015, but those decisions should be based on thorough analysis of the options and their consequences.

 Additional information

  • The Government response is being published as the First Special Report of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, Government Response to the work of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy in 2012, Session 2013-14, HL Paper 58, HC 179.
  • This is a response to the Committee’s Second Report of Session 2012-13, "The work of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy in 2012 (PDF 156 KB)", HL Paper 115, HC 984, published in February 2013.
  • In its July 2012 report "Planning for the next National Security Strategy (PDF 622 KB)" the Committee identified three key reasons why planning for the next the NSS needs to be begun immediately. First, it is important that the next NSS, Strategic Defence and Security Review and Comprehensive Spending Review are able to influence each other. Secondly, the Committee has called for a much broader involvement of the public, as well as academics and experts external to Government, than was possible in the relatively short timeframe of the last NSS. Thirdly, the Committee called for the next NSS to be a very different document, more candid, more explicit and addressing the difficult questions. All of these will take time.

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