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Tuesday 5th February 2013 | 00:01
Defence committee press release
The absence of a defence industrial strategy, which supports appropriate national sovereignty, puts the UK at a disadvantage against competitor countries, says the Commons Defence Committee in their report, published today on Defence Acquisition. The Committee does not believe there can be confidence in a national security strategy which does not show a clear grasp of what is needed for the defence of the United Kingdom, and how this can be ensured.
The Committee accepts that there are deep-rooted problems with the present acquisition system, and draws attention to the example of the decision in 2010 to change to the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, a decision which later had to be reversed.
Chairman of the Defence Committee, the Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, says, "The 2010 decision to change to the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter was the largest single procurement decision of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. It was taken at great speed, without full consultation, and without the MoD understanding how it could be implemented nor how much it would cost. It is to be hoped that the MoD will learn the appropriate lessons from this flawed decision."
The Committee agrees with the Government that the current arrangements for acquisition, constrained by public sector employment rules, are unsatisfactory. But the proposal to entrust acquisition to a Government owned, Contractor operated company is not universally accepted as the best way forward, and there are particular concerns about how the MoD's overall responsibility for acquisition could be maintained within a GoCo. The Committee considers that problems might arise if a non-UK company were given responsibility for UK defence acquisition. It further considers it vital that consultations are satisfactorily concluded with allies, to ensure that there is no adverse impact on co-operation, before any proposals are implemented.
James Arbuthnot says, "We expect to be given more detail about the GoCo proposals once the further inquiries requested by the Secretary of State have been concluded and before any decision is taken. Much of this will depend on the detail of what is proposed - and on the other possibilities of dealing with the constraints currently experienced by DE&S."