Select Committee on Defence First Special Report



Continuous Monitoring

57. Much of the Committee's work is directed towards maintaining sustained scrutiny across the range of MoD activities. We currently have five major areas subject to such scrutiny—the first three of which are in the nature of permanent elements of our programme.


58. We reported on the 1999-2000 cycle of reporting documents from the MoD in our Second Report of this Session.[47] Our ongoing examination of the provision of defence-related information to Parliament consists of four main strands. These are—

  • The Annual Reporting Cycle documents which are:
    • The Government's Expenditure Plans: Ministry of Defence (Spring)
    • Defence Statistics (Autumn)
    • MoD Performance Report (Winter)
    • Departmental Investment Strategy (Spring)
  • Changes in financial reporting consequent on the introduction of resource accounting and budgeting.
  • Other sources of information such as answers to written questions and other papers and reports laid before the House.
  • Information provided to this Committee, both on an ad hoc basis when requested and in continuing reporting updates.

Our overall purpose is to seek to ensure that across all these sources of information there is sufficient coverage and accessibility; to identify gaps and discontinuities and to seek to have them remedied; and to improve the overall quality of Parliament's access to defence-related information. We will be continuing our scrutiny of the reporting cycle with evidence early in 2001 and intend to report before Easter.


59. In accordance with our objective of monitoring developments with major procurement projects, we instigated in 1998 an annual review of specific major programmes—currently ten—to inform the annual Defence Equipment debate. These are—

We reported on one of these programmes (the Type 45, formerly the CNGF) in our Eighth Report of the 1998-99 Session.[48] An account of our Report this year is given above.[49] The projects are the most significant for the Department, not just in financial terms but also for our forces' long term operational capability, and as such we would not expect to see the selection change markedly from one year to the next. Those upon which we take oral evidence will reflect the priorities and events of the time. More generally, we envisage this annual exercise as a useful way of flagging up failures and risks associated with some of the projects, and establishing more generally whether the MoD's 'smart procurement' (or 'smart acquisition') initiative is making discernible improvements. We trust our successors in the next Parliament will continue this work.


60. One of our objectives is to examine systematically the work of some of the principal agencies amongst the Defence Executive Agencies listed below. Our progress in achieving this is tabulated below. So far 21 have either been examined or are in our programme. We have examined a range of agencies over this Parliament—DERA, the Defence Procurement Agency, JARIC and Military Survey(see Fifth Report above)—and have plans to examine others later this year—the Defence Aviation Repair Agency (which is about to become a trading fund) and Defence Estates.

61. During 1999-2000, the number of agencies reduced by two (and since then by a further five). There are now 37 agencies in the MoD. The Defence Logistics Organisation accounted for 12 of the 42 at 31 March 2000, and 8 of the current 37. The four wound-up since 1999-2000 are the Army Technical Support Agency, the Defence Clothing and Textiles Agency and RAF Logistics Support Services—all in the DLO—and the RAF Signals Engineering Establishment. (The other reduction was the merger of JARIC and Military Survey).

Defence Agencies Monitoring

AgencyMonitoring Plans
Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency Within personnel inquiry in 2000/01
Army Base Repair Organisation Not scheduled
Army Personnel Centre Not scheduled
Army Training and Recruiting Agency Within personnel inquiry in 2000/01
British Forces Post Office Not scheduled
Defence Analytical Services Agency Not scheduled
Defence Aviation Repair Agency This Session 2000/01
Defence Bills Agency Not scheduled
Defence Communication Services Agency Not scheduled
Defence Dental Agency See Seventh Report, 1998-99
Defence EstatesThis Session 2000/01
Defence Evaluation and Research Agency See Sixth Report, 1997-98, Ninth Report 1998-99, and Ninth Report, 1999-2000. Further examination in this session.
Defence Geographic and Imagery Intelligence Agency See Fifth Report, 1999-2000
Defence Housing Executive Within personnel inquiry 2000/01
Defence Intelligence and Security Centre Not scheduled
Defence Medical Training Organisation See Seventh Report, 1998-99
Defence Procurement Agency See Eighth Report, 1998-99 and Tenth Report, Session 1999-2000
Defence Secondary Care Agency See Seventh Report, 1998-99
Defence Storage and Distribution Agency Not scheduled
Defence Transport and Movements Agency Not scheduled
Defence Vetting Agency Not scheduled
Disposal Sales Agency See Second Report, 1998-99
Duke of York's Royal Military School Not scheduled
Logistics Information Systems Agency Not scheduled
Medical Supplies Agency See Seventh Report 1998-99
Meteorological Office Not scheduled
Ministry of Defence Police This Session 2000/01
Naval Bases and Supply Agency Not scheduled
Naval Manning Agency Within personnel inquiry 2000/01
Naval Recruiting and Training Agency Within personnel inquiry 2000/01
Pay and Personnel Agency No scheduled
Queen Victoria School Not scheduled
RAF Personnel Management Agency Within personnel inquiry in 2000/01
RAF Training Group Defence Agency Within personnel inquiry 2000/01
Service Children's Education Agency Within personnel inquiry 2000/01
Ships Support Agency Not scheduled
UK Hydrographic Office Not scheduled

62. So far this Parliament, our focus has been firmly on the work of two agencies—DERA (covered by three Reports) and the Defence Procurement Agency (discussed in our Eighth Report).[50] It is inevitable that in the current session too these agencies will take up a significant proportion of our work programme, because the issue of a public-private partnership for DERA has yet to be resolved and because of the annual commitment to examine major equipment projects managed by the DPA.


63. We produced a report on our monitoring of the Gulf Veterans' treatment programme this session.[51] We will continue to keep a watching brief, and hope that our successors in the next Parliament may also do so.


64. The Committee has continued to monitor closely the quarterly reports provided by the MoD on the progress of the restructuring of the TA which was completed in July 2000. We have found our annual reports on each annual Call-out Order under the Reserve Forces Act provide a useful peg on which to hang our monitoring activities. We took evidence from the MoD and the Reserve Forces and Cadets Associations (formerly the TAVRAs) on 8 November 2000. We hope to report early in the new year.

Other Current Inquiries


65. Our major inquiry at present is on Armed Forces personnel issues. The terms of reference of the inquiry are to consider how far the Armed Forces need to reflect the society they serve and the extent to which they will need to continue to be different; to examine what the Armed Forces are doing to ensure that the employment package they offer, in terms of remuneration, training and education, pension and compensation arrangements, and individual and family support, enable them to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of appropriately qualified personnel for current and projected operational requirements; and to assess whether the initiatives announced in the SDR's Policy for People and subsequently are adequate, coherent and progressing sufficiently quickly. We hope to report early in 2001.


66. Apart from the continuing inquiries described above, the other major inquiries of the Committee in Session 2000-01 mainly relate to the various agencies (DERA, DARA, the MoD Police and Defence Estates) which we have identified as candidates for examination.

47  See paras 18 to 22 above Back

48  op cit, para 30 Back

49  See paras 34 to 35 above Back

50   We have also examined the Chief of Defence Logistics, who heads the Defence Logistics Organisation which has absorbed a number of former agencies, though it is not formally one itself Back

51  See paras 32 and 33 above Back

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