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PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

14 Jan 21. JCNSS hold session on work of National Cyber Security Centre around covid-19. An oral evidence session with the former chief executive of National Cyber Security Centre will take on Monday 18 January 2021.

This one-off session with the former head of the NCSC allows the Committee to review: progress since the previous Committee’s inquiries on cyber-security, the NCSC’s work on covid-19, its links to the national security machinery, and the recent salience given by the Government to ‘offensive cyber’.

The meeting will be held virtually and can be watched live here.  The Committee will take evidence from:

At 4.00pm:

  • Professor Ciaran Martin, former chief executive of National Cyber Security Centre

Committee membership: Margaret Beckett (Chair) (Labour); Lord Brennan (Labour); Lord Campbell of Pittenweem (Liberal Democrat); Sarah Champion (Labour); Yvette Cooper (Labour); Tobias Ellwood (Conservative); Richard Graham (Conservative); Lord Harris of Haringey (Labour); Baroness Healy of Primrose Hill (Labour); Baroness Henig (Labour); Baroness Hodgson of Abinger (Conservative); Darren Jones (Labour); Alicia Kearns (Conservative); Lord King of Bridgwater (Conservative); Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho (Crossbench); Sir Edward Leigh (Conservative); Angus Brendan MacNeil (Scottish National Party); Robert Neill (Conservative); Baroness Neville-Jones (Conservative); Lord Powell of Bayswater (Crossbench); Bob Stewart (Conservative); and Tom Tugendhat (Conservative).

14 Jan 21. Government Response: A brave new Britain? The future of the UK’s international policy. The Foreign Affairs Committee has published the Government Response to its Report ‘A Brave new Britain? The future of the UK’s international policy’.

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, said, “I am pleased to see the recommendations made in our recent Report have been adopted by the government. We need to see the Integrated Review take on more of these ideas to help the UK establish itself on the world stage in a confident, clear and coherent way. Our inquiry backed UK diplomacy as the key instrument in an interconnected world but pushed for a consistent strategy to overcome the challenges we face. The government clearly accepts this point as the Integrated Review would not be necessary otherwise, but without a plan and corresponding budgets to support it, the UK cannot coherently respond to such challenges or remain confident in its delivery of Global Britain.“It is encouraging to see that the government agrees with us, establishing a tech envoy, and outlining the UK’s ambition to be a standard setter, establishing rules and regulations, for the ‘frontier’ spaces and technologies that will most affect all of our futures: digital, data, cyberspace and outer space. Developments here should, and will, be underpinned by UK leadership.

“In a debate on ‘Global Britain’ earlier this week, ministers also announced plans to bring together ‘a coalition of like-minded nations to advance high standards worldwide’, a key recommendation of our report.

“The government also sees an opportunity to enhance the UK’s role in conflict resolution and atrocity prevention, coordinating across departments and echoing the need for effective coordination within government and beyond, in order to bring to bear the collective strengths of UK soft power.

“We now want to see the Integrated Review published, as it will serve as the roadmap that will guide the UK as we bring together the full range of proven assets to cement our role as a powerful diplomatic presence, essential partner, and trusted ally, enhancing our international reputation in the years to come.”

We recommended that the Government:

1) Does ‘tilt to the Indo-Pacific’, building off a strong partnership with Europe

The Government Response says that the tilt to the Indo-Pacific will be outlined in the Integrated Review, and additional funding has been announced for bolstering diplomatic ties with Europe.

2) Deepens strategic coordination between the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the FCDO

The Government Response says that trade will be a leading way in which the UK contributes to the world, with UK Ambassadors having a key supervisory role.

3) Deploys its mediation, conflict resolution, and atrocity prevention capabilities

The Government Response sees an opportunity to enhance the UK’s role in conflict resolution and atrocity prevention, coordinating across Government (including with the Ministry of Defence) as the report recommends.

4) Publishes a coherent, resourced ‘soft power’ strategy bringing together the UK’s tools of influence, from law and education to training missions and trade

The Government Response agreed on the need for effective coordination within government and beyond.

5) Convenes and catalyses negotiations to reform multilateral organisations

The Government Response agrees, and outlines work by the Government to reform a variety of such organisations.

6) Acts with nimble coalitions of like-minded nations to counter threats and realise opportunities

The Government agrees and, in the debate on ‘Global Britain’ held on 11 January, for example, the Government announced plans to bring together “a coalition of like-minded nations to advance high standards worldwide” when it came to trade.

7) Delivers on its commitment to prioritise the existential issues of climate change and global health security

The Government Response details how the UK plans to do this.

8) Works with the world to agree regulations for frontier spheres such as cyberspace and outer space.

The Government Response establishes the UK’s ambition to be a setter or norms and regulations “for many frontier technologies, space and science”.

House of Commons and House of Lords Hansard Written Answers

Saudi Arabia: Training

UIN 134500, tabled on 8 January 2021

Question

Martyn Day

Scottish National Party

Linlithgow and East Falkirk

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to Deposited Paper DEP2020-0835 committed on 9 December 2020, which Saudi bodies and/or units have benefited from training funded by the streams referred to in that paper during each financial year since 2016-17.

Answer

James Heappey

Conservative

Wells

Commons

Answered on

13 January 2021

The UK Armed Forces provides training to security partners internationally and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one such partner. Pursuant to the funding streams mentioned in Deposited Paper DEP2020-0835 committed on 9 December 2020, we have provided training advice and assistance to the Royal Saudi Air Force, Royal Saudi Land Forces, Royal Saudi Naval Forces, Border Guard, Saudi Arabia National Guard, Joint Incident Assessment, Security Forces and Joint Forces Command. Unfortunately, we do not hold sufficient information to detail this by financial year.

Army: Motor Vehicles

UIN HL11719, tabled on 5 January 2021

Question

Earl Attlee

Conservative

Excepted Hereditary

Lords

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why they are offering for sale at least seven ex-Ministry of Defence MAN HX18.330 SV6T flat-bed trucks in Germany, advertised as unused.

Answer

Baroness Goldie

Conservative

Life peer

Lords

Answered on

13 January 2021

Due to a change in threat assessments, a surplus of MAN SV6T flatbed trucks has been identified. To economise storage and support costs, a number have been identified for sale.

Nuclear Weapons: Finance

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 133723, tabled on 6 January 2021

Question

Mr Kevan Jones

Labour

North Durham

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much of the £10 billon contingency for the strategic nuclear deterrent has been drawn down in each year since that programme commenced.

Answer

Jeremy Quin

Conservative

Horsham

Commons

Answered on

13 January 2021

Further to the answer I gave to the hon. Member on 11 January 2021 to question 130653, I can inform him that £315 million was drawn down in Financial Year (FY) 2018-19 and £390 million in FY2019-20.

Answered by

China: Military Aircraft

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 134370, tabled on 8 January 2021

Question

Mr Kevan Jones

Labour

North Durham

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether any of the second-hand airframes purchased for AWACS will be sourced from China.

Answer

Jeremy Quin

Conservative

Horsham

Commons

Answered on

13 January 2021

In common with all 737 Next Generation airliners, the first two airframes to be modified to become RAF Wedgetail AEW Mk1 aircraft were manufactured by Boeing in the United States. They were initially operated by commercial airlines based in China and Hong Kong, and were then acquired by Boeing from the commercial market via a broker. The use of second-hand airframes provides a significant schedule and cost benefit to the programme, which will enable this vital capability to be introduced sooner than would have been the case if new airframes had been manufactured.

Answered by

Defence Equipment

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 133724, tabled on 6 January 2021

Question

Mr Kevan Jones

Labour

North Durham

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when he plans to publish the Defence and Equipment Plan, 2020-30.

Answer

Jeremy Quin

Conservative

Horsham

Commons

Answered on

13 January 2021

The Defence Equipment Plan 2020-2030 was published on 12 January 2021.

Military Aircraft: China

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 130652, tabled on 16 December 2020

Question

Mr Kevan Jones

Labour

North Durham

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of buying secondhand airframes from China.

Answer

Jeremy Quin

Conservative

Horsham

Commons

Answered on

11 January 2021

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) seeks to provide the best equipment and to deliver the required capability to our Armed Forces as efficiently and as effectively as possible, while also delivering value for money to the UK taxpayer. When appropriate, this may involve the use of second-hand airframes, particularly as a means of delivering an early entry into service of important capabilities. Decisions are based on a thorough evaluation of available options, together with rigorous scrutiny and approvals processes, which enable the MOD to take an appropriate risk-based approach. The safety and security of our personnel are our highest priorities meaning that it must be demonstrated that second-hand airframes, regardless of origin, meet our requirements. This might involve the airframes being stripped down, refitted and subjected to stringent security checks as required.

Sweden: Joint Exercises

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 132914, tabled on 30 December 2020

Question

Jim Shannon

Democratic Unionist Party

Strangford

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans his Department has to conduct military exercises with the Swedish Government.

Answer

James Heappey

Conservative

Wells

Commons

Answered on

11 January 2021

As a NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner and fellow member of both the Northern Group and the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), Sweden is a valued defence partner with whom we share a mutual interest in upholding the security of the Euro-Atlantic Area. Our bilateral defence relationship is strong and growing, underpinned by a Statement of Intent on enhancing our defence co-operation signed in September 2014. As part of this cooperation, UK and Swedish forces regularly train together, including in NATO, JEF and national exercises.

Trident Submarines: Finance

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 130653, tabled on 16 December 2020

Question

Mr Kevan Jones

Labour

North Durham

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what contingency funding his Department allocated to the Dreadnought programme to replace the Vanguard-based nuclear deterrent in 2016; and how much of that contingency funding has been expended up to the financial year 2020-21.

Answer

Jeremy Quin

Conservative

Horsham

Commons

Answered on

11 January 2021

In the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Dreadnought Class submarine build programme was estimated to be likely to cost a total of £31 billion with an additional £10 billion contingency held by Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT). The programme remains on track to deliver on time and within this budget.

Up to March 2020, the Ministry of Defence has drawn down £705 million from the HMT-held Dreadnought contingency. This has allowed us to take opportunities to drive out cost and risk later in the programme. Access in the current Financial Year (2020/21) has yet to be concluded.

AWACS: Procurement

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN HL11676, tabled on 30 December 2020

Question

Lord Moonie

Non-affiliated

Life peer

Lords

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many E-7 Wedgetail AWACS systems they plan to procure; and what is the anticipated delivery timescale of each such system.

Answer

Baroness Goldie

Conservative

Life peer

Lords

Answered on

8 January 2021

In March 2019, HM Treasury and the Ministry of Defence approved the procurement of five E-7 Wedgetail aircraft, however, discussions regarding the final E-7 Wedgetail fleet size are on-going with a decision expected in the first half of this year. The first UK E-7 Wedgetail is expected to enter service with the Royal Air Force in 2023.

AWACS: Repairs and Maintenance

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN HL11675, tabled on 30 December 2020

Question

Lord Moonie

Non-affiliated

Life peer

Lords

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Ministry of Defence’s single-source 20-year support contract for E-7 Wedgetail AWACS system meets the revised conditions on wider public value as set out in HM Treasury’s Green Book 2020, last updated on 3 December; and if so, how.

Answer

Baroness Goldie

Conservative

Life peer

Lords

Answered on

8 January 2021

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has not yet entered into a support contract for the RAF E-7 Wedgetail aircraft. On 3 December 2020 the MOD published a Voluntary Transparency Notice outlining its intention to place such a contract in the future, and promoting potential sub-contracting opportunities. Before entering any contract, proposals are subject to rigorous scrutiny and approvals processes to ensure that they represent value for money for the UK taxpayer and are compliant with Departmental and Government policy, including the Green Book.

Fort George: Armed Forces

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN HL11523, tabled on 16 December 2020

Question

Lord Campbell of Pittenweem

Liberal Democrat

Life peer

Lords

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they plan to close Fort George; and where the military units currently stationed there will subsequently be stationed.

Answer

Baroness Goldie

Conservative

Life peer

Lords

Answered on

4 January 2021

Defence remains committed to the disposal of Fort George, currently scheduled to take place in 2032. This disposal date is under continuous review as part of our assessment of the site, in-line with wider Defence scheduling and priorities.

The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS) will relocate to an alternative location in Scotland. Work is ongoing to establish the most suitable future location.

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