The Defence Committee has agreed to the following
THE MOD'S ANNUAL REPORTING CYCLE 2000-01
1. The Committee last reported on the MoD's annual
cycle of reports to Parliament in February 2000.
In our own Report, we set out how the format and content of those
various documents were being revised by the MoD.
We made a number of comments and criticisms about these new arrangements,
and we took particular issue with the Secretary of State's decision
to discontinue publication of either the long-running series of
the annual Statement on the Defence Estimates or an annual
Defence White Paper
which it was indicated in the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) would
replace the SDE. 
2. In its response, the government countered that
it fully recognised
... its responsibilities to keep Parliament, the
public and the media as fully informed about Departmental activities,
plans and policies as possible. But defence policy is relatively
stable and an annual restatement of policy is not necessarily
the best vehicle to communicate the information sought by diverse
audiences. The Government is therefore considering a new approach
that would comprise five major strands:
i) An annual Memorandum
on Defence Policy. This would be made public but be very different
from the traditional Statement on the Defence Estimates White
Paper. It would be much shorter and in the style of an essay,
aimed very much at Parliament and the wider community.
ii) The current Departmental reporting documents
(Departmental Performance Report, Expenditure Plans, Departmental
Investment Strategy, and Defence Statistics) would continue to
be published and improved.
iii) A new series of timely in-depth publications
would be produced on specific issues, as and when they arise.
The account of the Kosovo Crisis and the paper on defending against
Biological and Chemical Weapons published [in 1999] and the Kosovo
Lessons Learned document [published in 2000] are examples of the
sort of document that would be produced. The Government would,
of course, carefully consider any requests by the Committee for
publications on particular issues.
iv) Continual improvement of the numerous documents,
which the Ministry of Defence produces, that are aimed specifically
at the non-specialist, general public audience. These include
service-specific brochures and more general information leaflets.
v) A full Defence White Paper, of the style
and approach published in 1999, perhaps every five years or every
Parliament (or sooner if circumstances justify this).
Taken together, the publication of these documents
would ensure that our reporting is clearer, more efficient, better
focused and should mean that we are placing a greater amount of
relevant and timely information in the public domain than ever
before. The Department would be interested in the Committee's
views on such an approach.
3. A key question we still address in this Report,
and we hope in future Reports on the cycle, is whether the new
arrangements represent, taken together, an advance in the quality
of the MoD's accountability to Parliament, or a retreat.
4. The documents we are therefore considering in
this Report are:
MoD Annual Reporting Cycle 2000-01
|The Government's Expenditure Plans 2000/01 to 2001/02: Ministry of Defence, April 2000|
UK Defence Statistics 2000, September 2000
Spending Review 2000: The Defence Investment Strategy, October 2000
Ministry of Defence Performance Report 1999/2000, December 2000
Ministry of Defence Appropriation Accounts and Resource Accounts for 1999-2000
The Government's Expenditure Plans 2001/2002 to 2003/2004 and Main Estimates 2001/2002: Ministry of Defence
In addition, the Department has published a number
of other significant papers during the period in question. These
- Defence Policy 2001 (February
- The Future Strategic Context of Defence
and the first two papers in a series entitled The
Ministry of Defence Policy Papers on
- Defence Diplomacy (December
- Multinational Defence Co-operation
5. The MoD also published, in June 2000, a paper
entitled Kosovo: Lessons from the crisis.
We discussed this extensively in our own
Report on the subject, published in October 2000.
We do not intend, therefore, in this Report, to examine those
issues further. Last year our Report on the annual reporting cycle
considered at length personnel matters. We published a detailed
examination of these issues in February in our Second Report of
Furthermore, we do not examine here one of the key current issues
of defence policy, the development of the Common European Security
and Defence Policy within the EU. We published a separate report
on this topic in May 2000,
and we took evidence on progress in the development of the ESDP
from the Secretary of State on 28 March 2001.
6. In this Report, therefore, we consider
- The format and content of the reporting cycle
- The strategic context for defence
- The Smart Procurement/Acquisition Initiativea
recurring feature in the MoD's reporting documents
This Report should be read alongside our other series
of annual reports on the MoD's major procurement projects, which
is the main vehicle we use to monitor the use of the MoD's £5
billion a year of equipment purchases.
7. We took oral evidence on the 2000-01 reporting
cycle from senior MoD officials on 17 January
and from the Secretary of State on 7 February.
8 Second Report, Session 1999-2000, Ministry of Defence
Annual Reporting Cycle, HC 158 Back
paras 2 and 3 Back
paras 9 to 16 Back
first, and for the moment last, Defence White Paper was published
in December 1999 as Cm 4446 Back
Special Report, Session 1999-2000, HC 452, Annex para 4 Back
on the internet at www.mod.gov.uk Back
25-VI, January 2001 Back
50, January 2001 Back
Report, Session 1999-2000, Lessons of Kosovo, HC 347-I
and II Back
Report, Session 2000-01, The Strategic Defence Review: Policy
for People, HC 29-I Back
Report, Session 1999-2000, European Security and Defence,
HC 264 Back
(2000-01) 390 Back
second report in this series was published in July 2000, Tenth
Report, Session 1999-2000, Major Procurement Projects,
HC 528 Back
1 to 151 Back
152 to 285 Back