Written evidence from Greenpeace |
I have information that I wish to submit for you
to consider as part of your inquiry into the Strategic Defence
and Security Review (SDSR) and the National Security Strategy
The information I have, focuses on Chapter 3 of the
SDSR, called "The Deterrent". There are three central
criticisms I have with the SDSR related to this section.
1. Transparency: there is inadequate information
on how value for money is being achieved in the Trident successor
1.1. Paragraph 3.8 of the SDSR stated that Trident
would be "scrutinised to ensure value for money".
It then went on to confirm that this Value for Money Report (VfMR)
had been concluded.
1.2. However the SDSR only lays out the summary
conclusions of this VfMR, not the VfMR itself. This is confirmed
by a statement in Parliament on 11 November 2010 by the Secretary
of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox:
The value for money review's outcomes were published
as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review
Because of the classified nature of much of the supporting
paperwork there are no plans to publish anything further.
1.3. The conclusions of the VfMR which are laid
out in the SDSR suggest a number of methods by which the MoD will
ensure value for money for Trident and how savings will be made
in the project. This is addressed in paragraph 3.10, 3.15 and
1.4. However the SDSR does not at any stage give
adequate details on how these savings will be made. In paragraph
3.16 for instance, the SDSR states that:
"We have identified a number of areas where
spending can be reduced and in some cases deferred in order to
minimise expenditure. As a result, we have agreed to defer and
potentially to remove over £1 billion of future spending
on infrastructure over the next 10 years."
1.5. The opacity of the SDSR and its inability
to providing adequate information on Trident cost savings is evident
in Parliamentary questions requesting for more information:
For example, on 8 November 2010, Bernard Jenkin asked:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what account
his Department took of (a) defence inflation, (b) unforeseen design
risks and (c) changes in specification between 2010 and 2016 in
identifying cost savings in the Trident value for money
More recently, on 10 January 2011, Tessa Munt asked:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assumptions
were made in respect of the number of submarines to be manufactured
when his Department made its estimate of the cost of replacing
Trident included in the summary of the Value for Money
These are just two examples which show the need for
more information on the findings of the VfMR study and to understand
how it was conducted. And in both of these cases, Dr Fox was able
to provide a ready answer. This fact indicates that there is (in
spite of the reported sensitive nature of the VfMR study's supporting
documents) a great deal of information in the VfMR which is not
sensitive but has not yet been released.
1.6. The exclusion of the VfMR from the SDSR
contradicts earlier statements by Dr Fox. I refer specifically
to the BBC's Andrew Marr show where Dr Fox said:
The wider review into the costs of Trident, I hope
will be able to be made available as soon as we can do that because
I think it's important that the public can see that we've been
properly scrutinising the costs of something that we promised
as part of our election manifesto.
1.7. As Dr Fox indicates, there is a strong public
interest in the release of the VfMR report. This public interest
is further displayed by the repeated attempts by Members of Parliament
who have directly asked for the release of the VfMR review:
|Jim Cunningham:||15 December
|Bernard Jenkin:||8 December
|Jeremy Corbyn:||8 December
|Tessa Munt:||8 December
|Paul Flynn:||11 November
|Mike Hancock:||25 October
|Caroline Lucas:||22 July
|Sheila Gilmore:||19 July
1.8. In order to ensure that the MoD can achieve the required
efficiency savings and ensure value for the Trident project, it
is important that they are transparent and release the full VfMR.
If certain documents are deemed too sensitive, then the government
should release an edited version of the VfMR into the public domain,
and allow a relevant parliamentary committee to have oversight
of the sensitive aspects of the review in a closed session.
1.9. In support of this information and to present the case
further, I refer you to the document: "Trident Parliamentary
Brief", of submarines to be manufactured when his Department
made its estimate of the cost of replacing Trident included in
the summary of the Value for Money review.
2. The opportunity to debate alternatives to "like
for like" Trident replacement and Parliament's oversight
role is derailed by a lack of information and transparency
2.1 Paragraphs 3.8 and 3.13 of the SDSR, as well as
the procedure required under the MoD's Acquisition Operating Framework,
all indicate that before the Government commits to the submarine
replacement, there should be adequate opportunity for a debate
on alternatives and Parliamentary oversight prior to the "Main
Gate" decision point.
2.2 The lack of information available in the SDSR and the
lack of transparency surrounding the Trident project, will detriment
efforts for a useful Trident debate. It is important to have all
the facts available on the cost viability of Trident and to have
access to any studies that may have been conducted on alternatives
to Trident replacement.
2.3 The extent to which debate and oversight are threatened
by lack of transparency is evidenced by information in a Freedom
of Information (FOI) reply.
This document details how an extensive list of "Long Lead"
items will be bought ahead of the 2016 Main Gate decision point.
These items are as follows:
Hull Structure and Structural Fittings
This category includes castings and forgings, steel and control
Primary and Secondary Propulsion Systems
Electrical Generation, Conversion, and Distribution
This includes turbo generators, platform management system
(software), main switchboards, internal communications, diesel
generators, main static converters, main DC distribution - distribution
convertors, cathodic protection system, degaussing system, computer
information systems, main battery, and remote visual surveillance
Various components of the Combat Systems
This includes the air purification system, chilled water plant,
main hydraulics system, HP air bottles, submarine control console
and atmosphere analyser system.
2.4 The items listed above suggest that most of the first
submarine or submarines will have already been bought during the
Assessment Phase, potentially making any 2016 decision on whether
or not to continue with the submarine replacement programme a
On 31 January 2011, Tessa Munt asked in Parliament:
It would appear from the answers to freedom of information requests
that the steel, the computer systems and the combat systems, among
other things, for the first submarine have been ordered and will
have been paid for. It also appears that the three reactors for
the first three submarines will have been ordered and paid for
before MPs can scrutinise the main gate business case. What will
remain unspent for the first submarines? Will we be so financially
committed that the whole main gate decision is made irrelevant?
2.5. Subsequent FOI requests to the MoD to seek clarity on
the above have been denied.
2.6. In support of this information and to present the case
further, I refer you to the document: "Trident Parliamentary
2.7. For there to be adequate public debate and Parliamentary
oversight on the Trident successor project, it is imperative that
the public is given access to the VfMR, studies on alternatives
to Trident, and necessary information on contracts and expenditures
during the Assessment Phase. As stated earlier, it is my view
that the issue of sensitive defence information could be dealt
with by releasing and discussing these in a closed session of
the relevant parliamentary committee.
3. There may be significant funding gaps for the Trident
3.1 A recent Financial Times article has already highlighted
severe funding gaps which were not accounted for in the SDSR,
suggesting that the process may have to be redone. This report
encouraged Jim Murphy MP, the Labour Party's Shadow Defence
Secretary, to speak out, requesting the MoD to
"come clean immediately".
3.2 These MoD funding gaps only increase the urgency
of addressing the serious concerns that still exist about estimates
given for both the construction and operating costs for the Trident
3.3 These include the concerns that were raised in late 2008,
by the National Audit Office (NAO)
that the MOD's £15-20 billion 2006 White Paper estimate
for Trident replacement was not robust enough.
3.4 These concerns are also raised in the 2009 Greenpeace
report "In the Firing Line" that both
the capital and running cost for Trident replacement had been
These concerns have not yet been addressed by the MoD.
3.5 It is important for the MoD to be clear
about what Trident replacement costs are clear and which are not;
what has been budgeted for and what has not. Until parliament
and the public have access to a detailed revision of the estimated
build and running costs for Trident replacement, these concerns
cannot be addressed. This information should include the VfMR.
3.6 In support of this information and to present the case
further, I refer you to the document: "ITFL_trident_report".