PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS FROM PS2 THE LEADING U.K. GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS COMPANY
UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE To be published as HC 1031-i
House of COMMONS
MINUTES OF EVIDENCE TAKEN BEFORE DEFENCE COMMITTEE
Wednesday 15 September 2004
RT HON GEOFF HOON MP, SIR KEVIN TEBBIT KCB CMG and GENERAL SIR MICHAEL WALKER GCB CMG CBE ADC Gen
Evidence heard in Public Questions 1 – 91
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Oral Evidence, Taken before the Defence Committee, on Wednesday 15 September 2004
Rt Hon Bruce George, in the Chair
Mr Crispin Blunt
Mr David Crausby
Mr Mike Hancock
Mr Dai Havard
Mr Peter Viggers
Witnesses: Rt Hon Geoff Hoon, a Member of the House, Secretary of State for Defence, Sir Kevin Tebbit KCB CMG, Permanent Under Secretary of State and General Sir Michael Walker GCB CMG CBE ADC Gen, Chief of Defence Staff, Ministry of Defence, examined.
Q1 Chairman: Ladies and gentlemen, can I apologise profusely, General, Sir Kevin, now hunting foxes will be replaced by hunting regiments. We hope we can show the same dedication as we have done for the last hour and a half. Welcome, Secretary of State, Sir Kevin and Sir Michael. This is the first session of our inquiry into the Government’s proposals for the future capabilities of our armed forces, a proposal that you announced, Secretary of State, in the House on 21 July. Since then there have been considerable comments, some criticism of these proposals from a number of quarters, including parliamentarians of both Houses. I understand, Secretary of State, that you took part in a debate in Westminster Hall this morning which focused on the future of the Scottish regiments. As you would expect, the Defence Committee intends to subject your proposals to close scrutiny. There can be few political responsibilities as important as making sure that our armed forces have the capabilities they need to defend the UK and its interests. Although this is the first evidence session of this inquiry it builds on earlier work that we have done and that the Committee of previous parliaments have done, not the least our comprehensive inquiry into the 1998 Strategic Defence Review. More immediately, however, we are following on from our inquiry into last year’s Defence White Paper, Delivering Security in a Changing World. Although we supported a great deal of the analysis of that paper, we disagreed with some conclusions, in particular we were concerned that too much emphasis was being placed on capabilities which rely on so far untried high tech equipment. As we know to our cost such equipment is rarely delivered on time, and not infrequently fails to do what it says or pretends it is going to do. We published our report in July and we have received your reply to it, for which we are grateful; it will be published very early next week. It will come as no surprise to you, I am sure, that a number of the issues which were raised in that report will make an appearance, also, in this afternoon’s session. I am sorry that because of our fox watch we