Select Committee on Defence Tenth Special Report

Appendix: Government Response

1. The Government welcomes the Committee's report on the Ministry of Defence Main Estimates 2006-07 published on 29 June 2006. The Estimate sought Parliamentary approval for the MOD's core budget for 2006-07. This did not include the cost of operations, which the Department will seek later in the year, in the Winter Supplementary Estimates. The Government's response to the conclusions and recommendations contained in the Committee's report is set out below.

We recommend that the Ministry of Defence reconsider whether provision for commenced operations might be included in the Main Estimates in future. The current arrangements mean that the provision for conflict prevention in the MoD's Main Estimate greatly underestimates the total expected cost of the MoD's conflict prevention activities. (Paragraph 13)

2. Requests for resources for Conflict Prevention have normally been made in the Supplementary Estimates, because costs are difficult to forecast in fast moving operational circumstances. The Department will seek provision for Conflict Prevention for commenced operations in our 2006/7 Winter Supplementary Estimate.

While we appreciate the value in managing peace-keeping activities centrally, we cannot see why this should preclude separation of the anticipated costs of operations in the Balkans by department in the Main Estimates. We recommend that the Government reconsider this. (Paragraph 12)

3. The Government will reconsider this in the preparation of Main Estimates 2007/8.

We recommend that the MoD consider further, in consultation with this Committee and with the House of Commons Scrutiny Unit, how the information presented in its estimates memoranda could be made more accessible, and expressed in plainer language. (Paragraph 16)

4. The Department will consult with the House of Commons Scrutiny Unit and the Committee on how the information presented in the Estimates memoranda can be expressed in plainer language.

We believe it is essential to our future security that the MoD and our Armed Forces are properly funded and we will be monitoring the progress of the Spending Review with very close interest. We will also be continuing to monitor the MoD's Estimates process. The Government should not take the House's acquiescence to its spending plans for granted. (Paragraph 18)

5. The Department agrees that it is essential that the MOD and Armed Forces are properly funded and notes and welcomes the Committee's interest. The Government does not take the House's acquiescence to its spending plans for granted.

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