Ministry of Defence Main Estimates - Defence Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  We welcome the new simplified and consistent presentation of Estimates, including the breaking down of expenditure plans into "commodity costs" such as "Service personnel costs". This means, however, that the individual overall costs of the Navy, Land Forces and Air Command, are no longer identified on the face of the Estimate. We recommend that the MoD ensure that information on the individual spending on the three Armed Services is still publicly provided elsewhere, whether in the Estimates Memorandum or in the Annual Report and Accounts. (Paragraph 8)

2.  We recommend that in next year's Memorandum on the Main Estimates the table showing expenditure on Afghanistan (and the wider Gulf) should show not only the estimate for 2012-13 but also the Estimate and out-turn for 2011-12. (Paragraph 13)

3.  We recommend that the Department report regularly to Parliament on the cost of operations in Libya. (Paragraph 16)

4.  We recommend that the Department make an estimate of the full cost of military operations. (Paragraph 17)

5.  We would like to see more information provided on the specific impacts of expenditure reductions on capability in 2011-12. We recognise that the Government has set out, in the Strategic Defence and Security Review, its plans for defence over the medium term, and some of these decisions have been re-iterated in the introductory passages of the Estimates Memorandum. Nevertheless we recommend that in the response to this Report the Government provide a progress report on how the particular expenditure plans for 2011-12 contribute to the strategy, particularly what reductions in staffing and equipment are planned during the year, and, insofar as security considerations allow, how this will affect capability during this period. (Paragraph 21)

6.  We are disappointed by the Department's inability to provide the detailed information we requested about expected write-offs and impairments and look forward to the provision of the promised additional detail in the departmental Report and Accounts. (Paragraph 25)

7.  We recommend that the MoD explain in the response to this Report how it will ensure that the voluntary redundancy process does not impact on the future leadership capability and effectiveness of the Armed Services. (Paragraph 30)

8.  The Department told us that the scale and timing of the reduction in personnel numbers has been designed to ensure that there would be no effect on tour lengths or harmony for personnel deployed in relation either to Afghanistan or to Libya. We welcome this limited assurance but are aware of the possibility that reductions may have an impact on other personnel. We will continue to monitor this matter. (Paragraph 31)

9.  While we welcome the provision in this year's MoD Main Estimates, the preceding Spring Supplementary Estimates, the accompanying Memoranda and in response to our more detailed queries, of some information which has not been published in earlier years, we find it frustrating that in some instances the Department appears to be unable or unwilling to provide the kind of detailed information we ask for, notably in respect of the total cost of military operations and the detail of savings proposed. This prevents proper parliamentary scrutiny. We expect these gaps to be filled. We will continue to monitor the quantity and quality of information provided. (Paragraph 33)

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Prepared 28 July 2011