Defence Committee Press Notice

Session 2008-09, 18 May 2009

Publication of The Defence contribution to UK national security and resilience report


MORE CLARITY NEEDED FOR MILITARY ASSISTANCE IN NATIONAL EMERGENCIES, SAYS DEFENCE SELECT COMMITTEE

Guidance for government departments in need of assistance from the Armed Forces in a national emergency needs improving, says the Defence Select Committee in its report ‘The Defence contribution to UK national security and resilience’, published today. The group of MPs charged by the House of Commons with scrutinising the Ministry of Defence draws attention to the arrangements for military aid to the civilian authorities and maritime security.

Guidance is published by the Ministry of Defence, but currently lacks an adequate system for managing the requirements from other government departments. General Sir David Richards (Commander-in-Chief, HQ Land Forces and Standing Joint Commander (UK)), told the Committee that the current framework for providing military aid to the civil power could still be improved.

The Committee's Chairman, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot, said, "If ever there were an emergency where a government department misunderstood what the military could deliver, there could be serious consequences. It is essential that when a request is made for assistance, it is accompanied by a clear statement of requirement."

The Committee also learned of the contributions being made by several organisations to national security in the maritime environment. The Committee expressed concern first at the small number of vessels dedicated to maritime security, and also at the arrangements for co-ordinating the forces concerned. Comparing the defence of critical national infrastructure to the defence of military vessels travelling along the Clyde, the Committee concluded that "there is a strong case for developing a deterrent capability in relation to threats to civilian maritime targets", such as ports and refineries.

NOTE FOR EDITORS:

The Committee was nominated on 13 July 2005. The Defence Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Ministry of Defence and its associated public bodies.

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