Beyond 2 per cent: A preliminary report on the Modernising Defence Programme Contents


1.In July 2017, the Government announced that a National Security Capability Review (NSCR) was being initiated to ‘refresh’ the findings of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), and that one of the 12 ‘strands’ making up the NSCR would focus on defence capability. The work of the NSCR proceeded through the remainder of 2017, until the announcement by the Secretary of State for Defence in late January 2018 that the Defence strand was being removed from the NSCR and that that review work would continue under the new Modernising Defence Programme (MDP).

2.We began taking evidence on the NSCR in late 2017 and a separate inquiry was also held on reported leaks from the NSCR that options were being considered which would dramatically reduce the UK’s amphibious capability. Following the initiation of the MDP, we sought to take oral and written evidence on a range of connected themes with a view to producing a preliminary report laying out some observations on areas we expect to be considered. A call for evidence was made on 26 February to seek contributions on the following questions:

3.We held four oral evidence sessions for this inquiry and received 27 pieces of written evidence. The inquiry on UK amphibious capability incorporated a further evidence session and a very large quantity of written evidence. Individual evidence sessions were also held with the Secretary of State and his predecessor, covering a wide range of subjects, but focusing in particular on the NSCR and the MDP. We wish to express its gratitude to all who contributed evidence to this inquiry. We should also like to thank our Specialist Advisers Kevin Abraham, Alex Burton and Sir Baz North for their assistance in our work.1

4.We request that the Department should issue its response to this report after the Modernising Defence Programme has fully concluded, instead of within the usual two-month period, so that the response can directly lay out how the MDP has addressed the observations and suggestions that we have made.

1 The Specialist Advisers’ declarations of relevant interests are recorded in the Committee’s Formal Minutes which are available on our website.

Published: 18 June 2018