Select Committee on Defence Fourth Report

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  Including £146 million contingency in the request for resources, without full supporting detail, is asking Parliament to take too much on trust. (Paragraph 8)

2.  We regret that MoD does not appear to have taken seriously our predecessors' recommendation that more information be provided in support of the Spring Supplementary Estimate. We recommend that the Department ensure that in future its Estimates Memoranda contain a full break-down of the resources requested. (Paragraph 9)

3.  We recommend that in future MoD's Annual Report and Accounts contain significantly more detailed information on the cost of operations. (Paragraph 10)

4.  MoD must recognise that the agreement of the Treasury is not a substitute for Parliamentary approval, and that providing information to the Treasury is not enough. (Paragraph 14)

5.  We consider that the arrangement by which MoD waits for the Spring Supplementary Estimates before seeking Parliament's approval of expenditure on operations is unsatisfactory, and we recommend that it cease. We recommend that in future provision for commenced operations be made in the Main Estimates in the usual way, if necessary with a large element for contingency. (Paragraph 15)

6.  We also recommend that in future MoD provide to this Committee regular, perhaps quarterly, updates of the cost of operations, in the same way as it provides information to the Treasury. (Paragraph 16)

7.  We recommend that in future provision for operations in the Balkans be set out in MoD's Main Estimates. (Paragraph 17)

8.  Telling Parliament that the costs of the deployment to Afghanistan is "around a billion" is just not good enough. This is a very large amount of public money, and the public deserve better information on how it is going to be spent. (Paragraph 18)

9.  We recommend that MoD take steps to ensure that the Scrutiny Unit's guidance on the production of estimates memoranda is followed in future. (Paragraph 19)

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