1 Introduction |
1. In our first inquiry of this session, we sought
to answer the question, 'Who does UK National Strategy?'
The answer we received was 'no-one'. We concluded that "as
things stand there is little idea of what the UK's national interest
is, and therefore what our strategic purpose should be".
2. This conclusion met a disappointing response
from the Government, which demonstrated a misunderstanding of
what we meant by National Strategy. We found that "despite
our urging to the contrary, the [Government] response has failed
to engage more fully with our findings or to address adequately
our proposals for improvement."
In particular, the government resisted our recommendation to set
out 'National Strategy'.
3. However our report has been widely read across
Whitehall, and has set the agenda for a broader discussion on
the need for strategic thinking. Our conclusions also struck a
chord with the military: we have been told that the Report is
regularly discussed and analysed at Shrivenham Defence Academy
Staff Courses, Royal College of Defence Studies, RUSI and the
recommendations are frequently referred to by Defence Chiefs.
Recently Parliament's Joint Committee on National Strategy endorsed
the substance of our call for 'National' or 'Grand Strategy' by
identifying the need for an "overarching strategy" which
should include the policies and programmes of domestic departments.
4. When we published our report, we made clear
our intention to "continue to scrutinise the development
of strategy making in Whitehall" and undertake a second inquiry
on this topic once a progress report from the Government on strengthening
the collective working of Whitehall strategy units was received
in summer 2011.
5. This is the report of that second inquiry.
We have sought to build on our previous inquiry, through the study
of the concept of 'emergent strategy' (i.e. the way that
National Strategy emerges from the process of government).
Our objective is to identify how short-term decisions are aligned
with long-term national interests. We continue to advocate that
coherent National or 'Grand' Strategy is indispensible and therefore
it is essential for the Government to be able to draw upon a strong
capability for strategic thinking from across Whitehall and beyond.
6. The examination of capability builds on earlier
PASC reports of this session on the state of the Civil Service:
Good Governance and Civil Service reform: End of Term report:
on Whitehall plans for structural reform and Change in
Government: Agenda for Leadership.
This inquiry also builds on the PASC report in the previous Parliament,
Governing the Future.
7. Over the course of this inquiry we have received
21 written submissions. We held four evidence sessions, hearing
from the Minister for Government Policy, Rt Hon Oliver Letwin
MP, and a range of academics, former senior officials, scientists,
and representatives from businesses and think-tanks. We also held
two seminars with strategic thinkers inside and outside of Government
and set up an e-forum to feed opinion from the wider international
strategic community into our inquiry. To help build on this international
perspective and understand how strategic thinking influences policy
and implementation in other countries, we met government and think-tank
officials in Ottawa and Washington DC.
8. We are also commissioning an opinion survey
to determine the extent to which UK strategic thinking reflects
the public's understanding of our national identity, their values
and aspirations for the nation. We believe that this is the first
time that a Select Committee has conducted research of this nature.
We intend to publish the results of this survey and the conclusions
we draw from it separately later this year.
9. We would like to thank all those who contributed
to the inquiry, and particularly our specialist adviser, Catarina
1 Public Administration Select Committee, First Report
of Session 2010-2012, Who Does UK National Strategy?, HC
435, para 30. Back
Public Administration Select Committee, Sixth Report of Session
2010-2012, Who does UK National Strategy? Further Report with
the Government Response to the Committee's First Report of Session
2010-2012, HC 713, para 4 Back
Ev 70 Back
A full definition is at paragraph 21 Back
Public Administration Select Committee, Eleventh Report of Session
2010-12, Good Governance and Civil Service reform: End
of Term report: on Whitehall plans for structural reform,
HC 901, Public Administration Select Committee, Thirteenth Report
of Session 2010-12, Change in Government: the agenda for
leadership, HC 714, Back
Public Administration Select Committee, Second Report of Session
2006-07, Governing the Future, HC 123-II Back
Catarina Tully was appointed as a specialist adviser for this
inquiry on 12 July 2011. The following interests were declared:
National Intelligence Council Associate, National School of Government
visiting lecturer, Royal College of Defence Studies facilitator,
Unitas Communications associate, Vanguard. Director of NHJ Strategic,
2011 Young European Leader for the Atlantik-Brucke Forum, member
of Anglo-Omani Society and trustee of a Tower Hamlet health community
organisation, WHFS. Back