Select Committee on Defence First Special Report



68. Of the 16 objectives we set ourselves at the beginning of the 1999-2000 Session, we assess ourselves to have achieved (at least in part) or overshot our target on 12.[55] Two were not applicable in this session. One was partially achieved and one not achieved.

Achievement against objectives

1Annual Reporting Cycle: Expenditure Plans; Investment Strategy; White Paper; Performance Report; Appropriation Accounts To take evidence and report in time for debate On publicationAchieved . See Second Report of this Session
2Chiefs of Staff To meet each informally Once a year (at least) Not achieved
3Front line forces To visit two or three units AnnuallyAchieved[56]
4Support units To visit two or three units Every 18 months Achieved in part[57]
5Statutory Instruments To consider significant ones and take oral evidence when appropriate On layingN/A
6Public appointments To consider significant ones and take oral evidence when appropriate As they occurAchieved[58]
7British forces on operations or major exercises To visit (2/3 days) Once a yearAchieved[59]
8Gulf War illnesses To monitor developments, take evidence and report Once a year/ as events require Achieved[60]
9Northern Ireland To visit (3/4 days) Once every two yearsAchieved[61]
10Defence agencies To take oral evidence on annual report or within wider inquiry Two agencies per year Achieved[62]
11Treaties To examine before ratification When presented to Parliament Achieved[63]
12Defence Committees of major European countries To meet/visitOnce every two years for France, Germany, Russia & Italy Achieved[64]
13USA Congressional Committees in the field of national security To meet/visitOnce a year (possibly within NAA) N/A[65]
14Major procurement projects To monitor developments and seek regular written or oral evidence Annually Achieved[66]
15Resource Accounting and Budgeting To monitor MoD's progress and take part in the choice of performance measures By the end of the Parliament Achieved, work continues[67]
16Defence manufacturers To visit/be briefed by UK defence manufacturers One a yearAchieved[68]

We have re-adopted these objectives, with some minor variations, for the current session.

69. The overarching objective of the Committee is to improve our scrutiny of the MoD's work in order to hold the government more effectively to account on behalf of Parliament and those who elect us. In our exchanges with Ministers and officials, we are constantly pressing for better quality information about the outputs of the department rather than quantitative descriptions of its activity. Inevitably, much of the information we have given in this account of our own work is about measures of activity. Our principal output is our reports, and we must leave it to others to judge their quality—in other words the degree to which they represent an effective exercise of Parliament's scrutiny function.

70. However, the resources and powers of the select committees of the House remain inadequate for the work they are required to do. We wholeheartedly support the efforts of the Liaison Committee to push forward its agenda for change and modernisation, and hope that in the next Parliament we will begin to see definite advances in these areas.

55  9 in 1998-99 Back

56  Kosovo, and the Gulf Back

57  Falkland Islands, and the Gulf Back

58  See Sixth Report, Session 1999-2000 Back

59  Kosovo visited November 1999 Back

60  See Seventh Report, Session 1999-2000 Back

61  Visited in June 2000 Back

62  DERA, DPA, 3 Service Training and Recruitment Agencies Back

63  See First and Twelfth Reports, Session 1999-2000 Back

64  Have received visits from the Norwegian, Polish, Czech, Estonian and Dutch Defence Committees in this Session Back

65  Washington last visited in October 1999, no visit proposed in 2000 because of presidential election Back

66  See Tenth Report, Session 1999-2000 Back

67  See Second Report, Session 1999-2000 Back

68  GKN Westland Back

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