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Specialist Adviser vacancy for critical national infrastructure and climate adaptation inquiry

1 December 2021

The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (JCNSS) is calling for expressions of interest in becoming a part-time Specialist Adviser to the Committee, to support its scrutiny of critical national infrastructure and climate adaptation.

1. The Committee

The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (JCNSS) was first established in the 2005-10 Parliament, and was most recently reappointed by the Commons in May 2020 and by the Lords in January 2020. It comprises the Chair, Dame Margaret Beckett MP, ten Members of the House of Lords and 11 Members of the House of Commons. Its Commons Members include the Chairs of a number of other select committees.

The Committee’s role is to scrutinise the national security strategy (NSS). The current NSS is the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, published in March 2021. The Committee also takes evidence regularly from the National Security Adviser and from Government Ministers. The Committee’s most recent reports can be viewed here.

2. The Inquiry

In November 2021, the Committee launched an inquiry into critical national infrastructure and climate adaptation. Its terms of reference are to examine:

  • Key vulnerabilities and levels of preparedness of UK CNI to extreme weather events and other effects of climate change, including:
    • The possible compound effects of such events;
    • The interdependencies between different aspects of UK CNI;
    • Supply chain vulnerabilities; and
    • Recent ‘near miss’ scenarios;
  • What might constitute an ‘acceptable’ level of resilience to climate change within UK CNI, both to near-term risks and longer-term uncertainties or ‘tipping points’, and the obstacles to achieving it;
  • The effectiveness of Government policy, legislation and implementation frameworks for managing national security risks arising from climate change, including those emerging within the private sector;
  • Allocation of roles and responsibilities at the national, devolved and local level, and the connections between them;
  • The role of the Government’s forthcoming National Resilience Strategy, particularly in addressing opportunities for (and obstacles to) improved resilience among CNI providers;
  • The extent and effectiveness of UK-wide monitoring and early warning systems; and
  • The opportunities presented by technological solutions (such as AI and digital twins) for anticipating and managing the implications of climate change for CNI.

3. The Role

The Committee is seeking to appoint a Specialist Adviser with relevant experience and knowledge of critical national infrastructure and climate adaptation, to support its scrutiny of this topic. The successful candidate may be asked to:

  • Work with the Committee secretariat to identify and analyse relevant issues for the Committee;
  • Contribute to briefings and draft reports for the Committee and comment on drafts of written material produced by the Committee secretariat;
  • Advise on sources of information and evidence, including potential witnesses; and
  • Attend Committee meetings and provide oral briefings when required.

The role will involve attendance at Committee meetings, either virtually or in Westminster. Virtual participation will depend on future provision for ‘hybrid’ proceedings in the House of Lords, which may change. The names of Specialist Advisers, and any relevant declarations of interests, are published in any reports with which Advisers have been involved.

The Committee would welcome expressions of interest from candidates who can demonstrate that they have:

  • Excellent communication skills – particularly the ability to provide authoritative, accessible and concise advice orally and in writing to non-experts that is balanced, evidence-based and politically impartial;
  • A high level of knowledge of critical national infrastructure and climate adaptation;
  • The ability to work effectively with the Committee’s Members and staff; and
  • The capacity and capability to provide high-quality advice and support, sometimes at short notice.

The Committee actively encourages applications from people from diverse backgrounds, including those who have not previously engaged with Parliament or Select Committees. Applications would also be welcome from early career academics.

The post will run from the appointment date until the conclusion of any inquiry, likely to be by the end of Summer 2022. Advisers are expected to work no more than two days in any week and no more than 20 days in any year, on a flexible basis.

A daily fee is paid to Advisers on the basis of an established scale, plus reasonable expenses – for example, for travel to and from Westminster if necessary.

4. To apply

Please send a CV, covering letter and declaration of interests to jcnss@parliament.uk by 11.59pm on Sunday 19 December 2021.

The covering letter should set out, in no more than two sides, how you have demonstrated the competencies set out above.

Your declaration of interests should include anything that a reasonable person might consider could influence the advice you give the Committee. For example, this would include, but is not limited to: a relevant financial interest; active membership of a relevant campaign group or political party; or the involvement of a close family member in the area of specialism. Declared interests of successful applicants will be published.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a virtual interview with the secretariat of the Committee. The final appointment decision will be made by the Committee.

Any queries about the Specialist Adviser role and the application process should be directed to Harriet Deane, Commons Clerk of the Committee:

Tel.: 0207 219 8092

Email: jcnss@parliament.uk

Further information

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