Defence Reform Act 2014: Journey through the Lords

15 May 2014

The Defence Reform Bill received royal assent, becoming law, on Wednesday 14 May.

During its passage through the House of Lords the bill spent four days in grand committee, the chance for line by line scrutiny. It spent two days in report, a further opportunity for peers to examine the bill and make changes. It then went though third reading, the final amending stage, where potential loopholes can be plugged.

Defence Reform Bill third reading: 2 April 2014

Peers discussed the need for parliamentary oversight and scrutiny of any future decisions on defence procurement. 

Defence Reform Bill report stage day two: 26 March 2014

Members of the Lords began by discussing a proposal for the Defence Select Committee to provide Parliament with an annual report on progress of the Army 2020 plan. The amendment went to a vote with 179 for and 281 against, so the change was not made.

Peers went on to discuss government-owned contractor-operated organisations (GOCO), and issues around oversight and scrutiny of any future decision to proceed with a GOCO.

Defence Reform Bill report stage day one: 24 March 2014

Members of the Lords started by talking about the procurement of communications systems, how data is obtained from UK citizens and how that data is shared, stored and used.

Peers also discussed defence contracts, and asked whether the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) should be more involved in the procurement of these contacts. An amendment seeking to place the Single Source Regulations Office (SSRO), a body that monitors the army’s procurement system, into the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills went to a vote with 169 for and 227 against, so the change was not made.

Defence Reform Bill grand committee stage

The Defence Reform Bill spent four days in grand committee in the Moses Room. The process is the same as committee stage taken in the chamber as members carry out a detailed line by line examination of the separate parts (clauses and schedules) of a bill but no votes may take place.

Starting from the front of the bill, members work through to the end. Any member of the Lords can take part. The single exception is that votes do not take place in a grand committee. Any issues requiring a vote must be resolved when the bill returns to the main chamber for report stage.

25 February (day 4)

11 February (day 3)

5 February (day 2)

3 February (day 1)

Defence Reform Bill second reading: Tuesday 17 December 2013

Members of the Lords, including a former secretary of state for defence, former chief of defence staff and former first sea lord, discussed the key principles and purpose of the Defence Reform Bill during second reading, on Tuesday 10 December.

Peers discussed the key features of the bill, including reform of the Defence Equipment and Support organisation (DE&S) and the establishment of a statutory framework for defence contracts awarded where there is no competitive process. They also looked at changes to the Reserve Forces outlined in the bill – these include the extension of powers to call on the Reserve Forces, and improved employment protection and rights for reservists.

Lords highlighted concerns around how the DE&S will function and operate, the detail of the new statutory frameworks, and what steps will be taken to support the employers of reservists

Defence Reform Bill summary

The bill seeks to define laws around defence procurement contracts and reserve army forces.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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