Select Committee on Defence Tenth Report


1  Introduction

Background

1. The Met Office is an executive agency and trading fund of the Ministry of Defence (MoD); it provides the "official national meteorological service for the UK, and is a world-leading provider of environmental and weather-related services in the UK and around the world".[1] It is best known for providing the official weather forecasts for the United Kingdom delivered to the public through its website and forecasts provided by national broadcasters. It supplies meteorological data and analysis to central Government Departments, such as the Ministry of Defence and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA); and to local Government organisations, public bodies overseas, international organisations, and private sector customers.

2. The Met Office undertakes scientific research with an international reputation in the fields of meteorology and climate change. It is one of only two national meteorological services that provides all weather forecasting for international aviation.[2] It provides meteorological data and analysis to the United Kingdom's Armed Forces, and to our allies, thereby contributing to operational effectiveness.

This inquiry

3. We announced an inquiry into the work of the Met Office on 20 December 2005 as part of our scrutiny of the MoD's executive agencies.[3] We visited the Met Office in Exeter, where we took evidence from the Met Office senior management. We were struck, particularly during that visit, by the pride in the Met Office of those who work there or are associated with its work. That pride is well-placed. We have focused in this inquiry on the MoD's role as owner of the Met Office, but would not wish to play down the quality of the people and the work at the Met Office.

4. We held further evidence sessions at Westminster with Peter Ewins, former Chief Executive of the Met Office and with Tom Watson MP, the new Under Parliamentary Secretary of State at the MoD, and officials. We received written submissions from the MoD and others. We are grateful to all those who assisted us in our inquiry.


1   Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts 2004-05, HC 464, October 2005, p 215 Back

2   Q 105. The UK's Met Office and US National Weather Service provide the two World Area Forecast Centres (WAFC) in London and Washington. The WAFCs provide global forecasts of upper winds and temperatures for all flights throughout the world. See http://www.metoffice.com/aviation/services/internationalairnavigation.html Back

3   Defence Committee press notice, 20 December 2005 Back


 
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