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PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

02 May 14. Defence Committee, Select Committee Evidence session – TOWARDS THE NEXT DEFENCE AND SECURITY REVIEW: PART TWO. Wednesday 7 May 2014, Committee Room 8, House of Commons Committee Corridor. At 2.30 pm
Witnesses:
* Professor Sir Hew Strachan, All Souls College, Oxford
* James de Waal, Visiting Fellow, International Security Department, Chatham House
This is the first session for this inquiry. The inquiry was announced on 21 March 2014. It will address the Government’s response to the Committee’s report into Towards the Next Defence and Security Review: Part One which was published on 25 March 2014 and will also investigate the following topics:
* What is the role of the UK’s strategic alliances and military partnerships in delivering security?
* What are the implications of the changing strategic context for the capability that we require from the Armed Forces?
* What role does a global military presence have in supporting the UK’s strategic objectives?
* What role should the military play in enhancing national resilience and providing assistance to civil authorities?
* What steps should be taken to improve the connection between the Armed Forces and society at large?

28 Apr 14. The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy
Report. In a report, the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy says that recent events in Ukraine and the winter flooding in the UK underline the importance of long term and strategic thinking in Government. The Committee highlights a number of concerns about the Government’s handling of national security matters:
* It calls on the National Security Council to examine the risks to the UK’s resilience from the likely longer-term impacts of climate change, and consider whether the Government should be allocating more resources to this area.
* It highlights the importance of the UK’s relationship with the EU to our national security and says it is worried that EU matters are not considered by the National Security Council risking “crucial connections being missed.”
* It says the Prime Minister’s evidence last January was helpful and demonstrated his personal interest in national security, but it is critical of his statement that he believes in “planning on the basis of what you want to achieve”. It is concerned that in some areas the Government seems not to have any contingency plans and says this is “dangerous and unwise”: “An attitude of “no Plan B” is dangerous when national security is at stake.”
In earlier reports the Committee concluded that the National Security Council appeared to have focused on operational matters and short-term imperatives, rather than strategic and domestic concerns. It welcomes the Prime Minister’s decision to give it access to the NSC’s agendas but says it has seen no evidence that the meetings have become more strategic in focus or that sufficient time is being provided to consider issues in depth. The NSC could be more effective, it believes.
The Committee is particularly concerned about the lack of planning for the next National Security Strategy which is to be published after the election in 2015. It says:
* It is crucially important that energy security and domestic resilience are fully addressed.
* Expecting there to be no shrinkage in the UK’s influence is wholly unrealistic. Any national security strategy based on this is “wishful thinking rather than credible strategy.”
* The Prime Minister should reconsider his approach to the next NSS and give a clear steer to his officials that they are expected to produce a radically different NSS in 2015, tackling the big (and politically difficult) questions and which will guide decisions going forward.
The Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP said: “The Prime Minister has been helpful and candid with us about his approach to national security and vision for the UK’s future, but we think he is too focused on managing current events at the expense of looking ahead. Re

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