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Defence Committee launches new inquiry into the Strategic Defence and Security Review and the National Security Strategy

13 January 2011

The Defence Committee today announces a major new inquiry into the outcomes of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) within the wider context of the National Security Strategy (NSS).

When the Committee reported on the SDSR process in September 2010, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, Chair of the Committee said:

We welcome the Secretary of State’s determination that this should be a real review rather than just a cost-cutting exercise. However we are not yet convinced that the combination of a budgetary straight-jacket, the short timescale, and the apparent unwillingness by the Ministry to think outside existing structures, for example with regard to the more integrated use of Reservists, will deliver that end.

On 18 October 2010, the Government published the National Security Strategy (NSS) followed by the Prime Minister presenting the Strategic Defence and Security (SDSR) to the House of Commons on 19 October. On 20 October, the Government published the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). The NSS is intended to set out the UK’s strategic vision and objectives for the future, with the SDSR setting out a blueprint for meeting these goals. In contrast to previous defence reviews the SDSR attempts to encompass the whole area of security, including not just defence policy and the role and capabilities of the Armed Forces but wider security issues such as homeland defence, counter terrorism, cyber and border security and international development. In his message to the MoD and the Armed Forces, the incoming Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards said:

We now have our orders. The National Security Strategy, with its clear description of 21st Century conflict and how we should seek to reduce its risk, is our Commander's Intent. The SDSR provides the required detail. We have what we need to devise and implement a practical strategy to deliver the right outcome.

The Committee will examine whether the Government’s decisions truly fulfil the stated intention of the SDSR as “set[ting] out the ways and means to deliver the ends set out in the National Security Strategy”.

The inquiry will also inform future inquiries looking at individual areas in more detail.

The Committee is particularly interested in:

  • how the NSS and SDSR relate to each other as strategic and coherent documents and what added value the establishment of the National Security Council has brought to strategic defence and security policy;
  • the role of the Ministry of Defence, including the Defence Reform Unit, and other Government departments, the National Security Council, the Armed Forces and other agencies in the development and implementation of the NSS and SDSR, including areas that stretch across Government such as the UK’s increased role in conflict prevention;
  • what capability gaps will emerge due to the SDSR, including how these were assessed as part of the development of the strategies and what impact this may have on the UK’s defence planning assumptions and the ability to adapt to changing threats or unforeseen occurrences;
  • whether the prescriptions of the SDSR will allow the MoD to balance its budget and make the required efficiency savings;
  • whether a funding gap still remains, how significant is it and how will it impact on defence capability;
  • how the implementation and success of the NSS and SDSR will be measured; the success of the Government in communicating the outcomes of the NSS and SDSR to the Armed Forces and the UK public, particularly in relation to current and future operations; and
  • the timing of future SDSRs and the ability to plan for the medium to long term, and the process for renewing and updating the NSS, including the regeneration of lost capabilities.

The Committee would welcome written evidence to this inquiry. This should be sent to the Clerk of the Defence Committee by Monday 14 February 2011.


  • If possible, be provided electronically in MS Word or Rich Text format by e-mail to If submitted by e-mail or e-mail attachment, a letter should also be sent validating the e-mail. The letterhead should contain your full postal address and contact details. If you have any queries on the submission of evidence contact Ian Thomson, Inquiry Manager, tel: 0207 219 6951, email:
  • Begin with a one page summary if it is longer than six pages
  • Have numbered paragraphs
  • Avoid the use of colour or expensive-to-print material.

Submissions can also be sent by post to Defence Committee, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

Individuals and organisations interested in submitting written evidence to the Committee may find the Commons: Guide for Witnesses particularly useful.


  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within written evidence, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included. If a number of published documents are sent to accompany written evidence, these should be listed in the covering email.
  • Written evidence submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organization submitting it is specifically authorised.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
  • It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
  • Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.


Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP (Conservative, North East Hampshire) (Chair), Mr Julian Brazier MP, (Conservative, Canterbury), Thomas Docherty MP (Labour, Dunfermline and West Fife), Rt Hon Jeffrey M. Donaldson MP (Democratic Unionist, Lagan Valley), John Glen MP (Conservative, Salisbury), Mr Mike Hancock MP (Liberal Democrat, Portsmouth South), Mr Dai Havard MP (Labour, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney), Mrs Madeleine Moon MP (Labour, Bridgend), Penny Mordaunt MP (Conservative, Portsmouth North), Sandra Osborne MP (Labour, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock), Bob Stewart MP (Conservative, Beckenham), Ms Gisela Stuart MP (Labour, Birmingham, Edgbaston)

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