2 The next National Security Strategy |
4. The first NSS was produced in 2008,
with a 2009 update,
and the second after the General Election in 2010,
in parallel with the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR)
and the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).
The current Government is working on the basis that there will
be a new NSS after the election, again alongside an SDSR and CSR.
In practice, this will be dependent on the politics of 2015, but
we proceed at this point on the assumption that the next NSS is
less than a calendar year away.
DEVELOPMENTS SINCE 2010
5. The 2010 NSS set out: "we face no major state
threat at present and no existential threat to our security, freedom
Although the UK remains relatively secure (we have seen no return
to Cold War levels of threat), international events, many unexpected,
have led to greater insecurity and uncertainty.
6. The 2010 NSS led with international terrorism,
and this remains a major threat, although the threat has broadened
from Al-Qaeda, with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
emerging as a group which has caused worldwide political concern.
The interactions between the two organisations, and their encouragement
of others to follow in their paths, have renewed and deepened
the challenge across the Middle East and Africa.
Radicalisation and religion
7. Concerns about radicalisation have risen worldwide
since 2010, and the UK threat level is currently at Severe as
a result of domestic threats from UK Jihadists returning from
Syria, Iraq and other troubled areas. The growth of worldwide
radicalisation has had an impact on UK public confidence, and
created new security risks.
8. Religious fundamentalism and intolerance across
religions seems to have risen globally; in particular Islamic
separatists and fundamentalists are now seen a serious threat
in destabilised parts of the world. The Government has carried
out a review of the Prevent strand of CONTEST, its counter-terrorism
strategy, which aims to reach out to minority communities, but
questions continue to be raised about how well religious feeling,
the reasons for its growth, and its links to violent extremism
Instability in the Arab world
9. In December 2010, the so-called Arab Spring began
as a series of popular uprisings against authoritarian regimes,
but generated political upheaval, civil disorder, and conflict
across North Africa and the Middle East. Successful and unsuccessful
protests and uprisings made unprecedented use of social media
to organise and encourage support. Against this backdrop, the
UK was one of a group of European and Middle Eastern nations which
took part in campaigns against Colonel Gaddafi's forces in Libya
in 2011. In 2013, after Syria became embroiled in full civil war,
both parliamentary and public opinion seemed hostile to the prospect
of another long-standing military engagement in Syria, such as
those in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today a group of states, including
Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Libya and Iraq, are unable to govern all
their own territories, and there have been ripple effects in other
territories such as Somalia, Mali and Nigeria.
10. In 2014 Russia broke international law with its
annexation of Crimea. The US and EU have imposed sanctions on
Russia and NATO decided to enhance its reactive capabilities in
response. Despite these actions, and the suspected shooting down
of a civilian Air Malaysia plane in July 2014, President Putin
has avoided all-out war by using subversion and subterfuge. The
situation in Ukraine remains volatile.
11. Russia's actions in Ukraine have introduced question
marks over the role and future of NATO operations in neighbouring
countries and re-awakened the threat posed by Russia to states
in Eastern Europe and the Baltic, some of which are NATO and/or
EU member states. Russia's increasing isolation in international
politics (for example, the G8 met last year as the G7, excluding
President Putin from the table), increased military spending and
apparent willingness to display force in the face of universal
condemnation suggest the next five years could well see an escalation
of the Russian threat to the security of Western Europe.
China and the Pacific
12. The UK's diplomatic relationship with China has
recently warmed slightly but concerns remain about authoritarianism
and persistent human rights abuses on the part of the Chinese
Government. Other shifts we have seen include escalating tensions
in the South China Sea and a closer relationship between Russia
and China as the former tries to off-set the EU's sanctions by
developing markets to its east. The growth of UK trade with China
since 2010 demonstrates the importance of adapting to the growing
economic power of China and other major rising economies.
13. A pivot to Asia and the Pacific in US foreign
policy was announced in 2012. Its extent and implications are
debated, but the NSS needs to consider its potential consequences
for the UK, given that the US is the UK's most important strategic
Cyber security and organised crime
14. Some of the problems the UK faces today are those
predicted in 2010. A Tier One risk in the last NSS was cyber security.
As the world becomes ever more reliant on electronic communications
and commerce, the UK's vulnerability to cyber attack, in both
the private and public sphere, increases. The Government's cyber
security strategy has successfully combined the efforts of Government
and business in identifying and attempting to address these risks.
We must remain aware that those attempting to launch electronic
attacks will be able to access resources and protection from nations
seeking to undermine others. Organised crime, including cybercrime,
has an ideal environment in which to flourish, given these levels
of instability across several regions
15. Climate change and its effects have remained
on the world's agenda, with ongoing public debate on the severity
of the situation. Although the UK has experienced dramatic weather,
including flooding and high winds, the greater effects of climate
change may yet be felt, and serious efforts have not yet been
made to begin adaptation measures. Dr Fatih Birol of the International
Energy Agency, told us that the UK needed to increase the resilience
of its energy infrastructure.
It is very likely that the UK will need to invest heavily, both
in the energy industry directly, and more broadly in order to
carry out effective adaptation.
16. The world is experiencing increasing levels of
forced population movement and migration, stemming from a variety
of causes including conflict, economic instability and the impact
of a changing climate. This is likely to have an increasing effect
on the UK, as it will result in levels of migration far above
those resulting from existing conflict, economic growth or global
17. Issues of energy resilience run wider than climate
change. Oil prices are currently falling, with potential impact
on some of the most unsettled world regions, particularly of course
Russia; the UK's Energy Security Strategy focuses on 'keeping
the lights on' in the short term but says little about longer
The security of the UK's energy supply is far from certain, given
that there are both political and physical threats to the energy
we receive from Russia and the Middle East. In addition, the Prime
Minister told us that the NSC would be considering the issue of
foreign ownership of energy infrastructure when we raised our
concerns with him.
18. The last NSS stated that the relative weight
of economic activity around the world was shifting towards the
rising economies of Asia, Latin America and the Gulf.
The finances of the developing and rising economies continue to
diverge from the developed world, with the rising economies now
slightly flatter after recovering from the worldwide economic
dip. It is clear that we continue to operate in a world with substantial
economic unpredictability and shifts in economic power. The economic
stagnation of the Eurozone also presents us with a range of economic
and political challenges, as seen most recently in Greece.
19. Threats have changed over the last Parliament
and the new NSS will need to address them. It may even be the
case that existential threats become of greater importance over
the next five years. The NSS must engage with this possibility.
20. The new NSS must belong to the new Government,
whatever form that takes. It is not for us to tell the incoming
executive what the content of its NSS should be, but we do urge
it to seek cross-party consensus so far as possible. The more
buy-in to security policy across the political spectrum, the better
the Government of the day is able to plan. This planning should
be for the next twenty years covered by the National Security
Risk Assessment (NRSA), the basis for the NSS priorities in the
21. The next NSS will be published after the election.
We have been clear that we wanted the Government to spend substantial
time preparing the next NSS. Both the National Security Advisers,
Sir Peter Ricketts and Sir Kim Darroch, told us that the next
NSS would be prepared well in advance, with consultation beginning
two years out, and
in response to our 2012 Report, the Government said it was then
starting to consider the scope, structure and timing of the next
NSS. In January 2014,
the Prime Minister told us that it would "span the period
of the next election. We should be starting now".
He also said the views of this Committee would be valued in preparing
22. The Government told us in December 2014 that
"decisions on the nature and scope of expert consultation
for the next National Security Strategy will be for the next Government
to take". We
regret that we are in much the same position as in 2010, and that
the 2015 NSS, along with the SDSR and CSR, is likely to be prepared
23. We are aware that the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office have been
conducting some preliminary work but the Government has not shared
the extent of this work with us. The Government tells us it plans
to consult us in March, which, given that it will be two weeks
before Dissolution, is a very short timeframe indeed. The Cabinet
Office has told us that a range of external experts has been consulted,
which we welcome. This includes groups such as the Natural Hazards
Partnership, and a National Security Experts Group drawn from
academia and think-tanks.
24. Whatever the make-up of the next Government,
it would also surely have benefitted from some degree of public
engagement. We are disappointed that the current Government
has not undertaken more preparatory expert consultation for the
next NSS: it has missed a valuable opportunity to prepare the
NSS over a reasonable period of time, and to involve Parliament,
the public and outside experts in its work. Leaving so much to
be done until after the General Election will mean an unnecessary
rush which can only damage the quality of the strategy.
RELATIONSHIP WITH SPENDING REVIEW
25. As we said in our first report of this Parliament,
the NSS should be used to set the Government's security agenda.
"The relationship between the NSS, the SDSR,
and the CSR is complex. It might be thought better to develop
the NSS, and SDSR, first, to find out how much it will cost to
protect the UK; and then to reflect this in the CSR. However,
strategy must be realistic and take account of financial realities;
a strategy that is underfunded will fail. But this does not mean
that the NSS and SDSR should simply be forced into conclusions
predetermined by the money that the CSR has allocated. If the
NSS and SDSR show that the money allocated is inadequate, then
more money must be found. There is therefore benefit in carrying
out these processes in parallel".
The production of the next NSS will be a matter of
urgency if it is to inform CSR allocations. The NSS should enable
Government to establish its strategic priorities and therefore
its spending requirements. We believe spending on defence and
domestic security should not be made to fit a previously set allocation
of funds. The Government must ensure that the thinking behind
the priorities of the next NSS are identified and communicated
within Government in time to inform and drive CSR security allocations.
26. When we took evidence from the Prime Minister
in January 2014, we asked whether the next National Security Strategy
would be fundamentally different or follow the same model. He
told us that "The national security strategy needs a refresh.
I do not think it will be a complete overhaul".
In our last Report, we expressed concern at this statement, saying
that we felt the NSS needed to take a different approach and address
We are not convinced that merely 'refreshing' the existing NSS
will provide the Government with the guidance and framework it
needs to plan adequately for security-related policy. In 2012
we said it was important to create a long-term framework, with
flexibility to respond to short-term demands.
We see no reason to move from this position, which has indeed
been reinforced by the work we have done over the past two years.
The rapidly changing world demonstrates the need for a thorough
revisit of the NSS even if fundamental assumptions remain the
27. The current NSS focuses on overarching national
objectives: domestic security; support for the international rules-based
order; supporting specific national interests; and supporting
poverty reduction and freedom worldwide. These objectives continue
to take account of a variety of issues, for example economic fragility,
climate change and pandemics, which we firmly believe should be
within the scope of the NSS.
28. Over the Parliament we have sought and heard
views from a range of people on the subjects covered by the NSS,
and also on issues that the last NSS did not address. We have
gone into some of these in detail in our previous Reports. Our
view remains that the next NSS must take a broad enough approach
to 'security'; for example, climate change presents several threats
to our security, ranging from economic instability to environmental
crisis. It realistically must have limits, and cannot and should
not go into detail, but the strategy should contain evidence that
the Government is thinking about security from different angles,
and can provide a strategic framework applicable to a range of
threats. Horizon-scanning is a vital part of our security planning,
but is not the purpose of the NSS itself. Witnesses who submitted
evidence commented that they were concerned at the lack of 'strategy'
in the NSS.
We believe the National Security Strategy needs to be more strategic.
29. The issue of the international rules-based order
raises other questions. How should we deal with the fact that
parts of the world consider the UK's actions in Iraq and Libya
have broken these rules? Is the UK playing its full part in upholding
international order through multilateral organisations? Has the
response of the UK and that of the organisations it supports been
proportionate when other nations break the rules? The recent events
in Syria and Crimea have illustrated some inherent problems. These
are issues that should fall within the scope of the NSS. It should
also address the importance of our strategic links with the US,
and the policy arising from that. We recommend that the scope
of the next NSS be wide, encompassing resilience, deterrence and
defence; and also emerging risks, such as pandemics and climate
change, which threaten international order.
30. We have been sceptical of the likelihood of achieving
the stated objective that the UK must 'reject any notion of the
shrinkage of our influence',
particularly given the lack of funding dedicated to the pursuit
of this aim. Even during the lifespan of the current NSS, the
UK's international influence has fluctuated. The reality is that
the UK now faces a variety of scenarios, including the growth
of fundamentalism in the UK and abroad, the rising hostility of
Russia and political changes in the Middle East. The NSS should
be rooted in as realistic an assessment of the UK's international
influence as can possibly be made, rather than a statement of
political intent that may be impossible to fulfil. The next
NSS should set clear objectives for the UK's future place in the
world and geopolitical priorities, and inform the SDSR's assessment
of the means required to achieve them.
31. The preparation process for the NSS ought to
include thinking about those potential scenarios which are clearly
possible (though perhaps not desired) and can readily be predicted;
for example, how security would be affected should the UK decide
to leave the EU. It should attempt to cover the next twenty years,
which is the lifespan of the NRSA, the assumptions of which underpin
the NSS. We recognise that the Government may well be reluctant
to put its contingency plans for specific events in the public
domain; these could be produced on a confidential basis, but put
in writing and, crucially, known to and available to those who
may need them. The thinking that goes into developing the next
NSS, and the creation of a clear cross-Government strategy should
provide a framework within which Government can produce clear
contingency plans for internal use if and when required.
32. We have heard repeated criticisms throughout
the parliament that the current NSS fails to approach issues on
a regional basis. While we do not believe that the NSS should
set out a strategy for each part of the world, it should explain
the Government's geopolitical priorities for the coming Parliament
and beyond. Clearly there are regions which deserve their own
strategies, for which the UK may have to consider complex and
far reaching foreign policy, including the Middle East, Asia-Pacific,
South Asia, Russia, North-West Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and
Eastern Europe. The NSC would be the ideal body to develop and
monitor strategies to address these priorities, which should provide
a framework for UK policy across departments in regard to each
country and region, without burrowing deeply into specifics. We
therefore welcome the fact that the NSC has agreed a number of
country and regional strategies, the content of which is not made
publicly available for understandable diplomatic reasons. The
NSC should be working to develop and monitor these strategies,
and the NSS should be informing the NSC in this work. We urge
the Government to make clearer statements on its geopolitical
priorities as part of the next NSS, and to agree sub-strategies
for key regions so that Government priorities are consistently
applied in all departments.
33. Since the 2010 NSS a range of strategies, some
cross-departmental, and some not, have been published which include
objectives which sit within the remit of the NSC. These include
CONTEST, Building Stability Overseas, the Maritime Strategy, the
Cyber strategy and so on. NSC agendas, at least in the abbreviated
form shown to us, make it difficult to assess whether sufficient
attention has been paid to domestic issues which underpin these
strategies. Indeed, we have little evidence that relevant strategies,
such as Army 2020, have been discussed at all.
34. We were critical in our last Report about the
fact that the Energy Strategy is a DECC document rather than a
cross-departmental document, and fails to address the issues of
climate change. 'Operation
Trojan Horse', in which Ofsted discovered evidence of plans to
'Islamise' several Birmingham state schools, revealed fundamental
disconnection over the issue of radicalisation between the relevant
Departmentssomething the next edition of CONTEST must address.
As an island nation the UK must be able to be certain that the
Maritime Strategy is fit for strategic purpose, which requires
clear NSC oversight.
35. We believe that as part of the process of drawing
up the NSS the Government should review these strategies, look
at which have worked and why, and which need updating, and by
when. It could also look at whether there are any gaps where additional
strategies are needed.
36. We would expect such documents to be cross departmental,
and include aid and trade and other departments rather than just
the FCO and MoD. When complete they should be considered by the
NSC. Such strategies can have several roles, including co-ordinating
Government departments, ensuring resources are focused where they
can do most good, and letting the people in those regions know
how we see our relationship with them.
37. The NSS cannot cover every topic or region
of the world in any detail. Instead the NSS should be a framework
setting out the broad principles, with the details set out in
other strategy documents to be published later. The NSC should
have a role in co-ordinating the various Government strategies
touching on security. The NSS development process must include
a stock take of the current strategies.
SPENDING DECISIONS IN 2010
38. The current NSS does not link spending priorities
to identified risks (or opportunities). The Strategy states
"our strategy sets clear prioritiescounter-terrorism,
cyber, international military crises and disasters such as floods.
The highest priority does not always mean the most resources,
but it gives a clear focus to the Government's effort".
39. The Government did make some spending decisions
on the basis of the last NSS, most notably on cyber. However,
as we pointed out, we did not see many other relationships between
the NSS document and spending decisions, including those in the
SDSR. For example, flooding was identified as a Tier one risk
in the 2010 NSS. But in 2014, after the extensive flooding, extra
money had to be found for the Environment Agency.
40. We believe there should be a correlation between
high priorities and resources. Obviously some initiatives will
be less expensive than others; it need not necessarily be the
case that the most money must be spent on the more urgent or important
activities. But we have not had clear evidence that the risk priorities
identified in the NSS drive Government spending in areas other
than cyber security. This does not make sense. We would like
to see the Government clearly set out its resource priorities
alongside its risk assessments. We do not want to see a
repeat of the situation in which the NSS set out priority risks
with no link to funding decisions.
41. It is worth reiterating that the National Security
Strategy has a 20 year timescale. In that time, the Government
can expect to see its funding on certain areas increased considerably.
Spending on climate change, flooding, and cyber may be required
to rise substantially above inflation, particularly once infrastructure
costs for adaptation work begin. As part of the next NSS, the
Government should look at how spending in security-related areas
is likely to have to change over the next 20 years. We would not
want to pre-empt the findings of such an exercise, but we believe
it would be highly informative.
42. The NSS is concerned with security as a whole.
Just as its scope is wider than defence and international concerns,
it needs to look at wider measures than military, diplomatic,
development, intelligence and other hard security measures. This
affects CSR decisions, as it could lead to spending requirements
that sit outside SDSR considerations. We have heard a great deal
about 'soft' power during the Parliament. The Lords Committee
on Soft Power and the UK's Influence's 2014 Report: Persuasion
and Power in the Modern World makes many thoughtful recommendations
on ways in which the UK Government needs to adjust its thinking
on its international activities. The Committee summarises:
"In an era in which the distribution and
very nature of power, influence and engagement are undergoing
radical change, the UK finds itself with a tremendous range of
institutions and relationships in politics, economics, science
and culture, often amassed over generations, which give it a great
deal of internationally recognised soft power".
43. We are aware that there is some controversy about
the usefulness of 'soft' power as a political concept. However,
Monocle's 2013 Soft Power survey, compiled with the Institute
for Government, puts the UK at number two in the world for 'soft
so it is not something that should be ignored. 'Soft' power may
play a particularly useful role in creating and promulgating a
narrative against the messages used to radicalise young people
in the UK and abroad. The Government should think in depth about
the balance between 'hard' and 'soft' power, particularly in the
context of the UK's strengths and existing capacity. At a time
of restricted Government spending, 'soft' power may be an opportunity
to examine ways of extending a positive UK influence around the
world at minimal cost. This must not be at the expense
of ensuring that we have sufficient 'hard' power behind it to
fulfil our strategic aims. The next NSS should contain
clear guidance on the Government's thinking on the development
and interpretation of 'soft' power in its work abroad.
INTERNATIONAL STRATEGIES AND OVERSEAS
44. We have heard criticisms that the complex interrelationship
between international development, sustainability and security
is insufficiently reflected in cross-departmental working between
DfID, MoD, the FCO and others, and in the distribution of Official
Development Assistance (ODA). We recognise that there are statutory
constraints on the delivery of the DfID component of ODA funding.
These should not prevent us recognising that global insecurity
is a contributing factor to poverty, as well as threatening sustainable
development and UK security. The current narrow approach to ODA
limits effective policy responses across Government to such drivers
of insecurity and poverty. We would like to see more in the NSS
to guide joint working in this area. It would be useful for those
developing the NSS to look at the Building Stability Overseas
strategy and examine how this might be further developed. The
NSS should set out the assumptions and aims underlying its international
strategies. In particular it should re-examine the relationship
between development and security.
45. We are concerned that continuing reductions in
FCO funding are weakening diplomatic efforts at a time when the
UK's international influence should be as strong as possible.
The Government's capacity to provide diplomatic intelligence and
specific insights into other countries, which the Foreign Office
has provided in the past, has suffered from successive cuts in
expenditure; the NSS needs to prioritise building up networks
to put us in a better position to tackle new international challenges.
The NSS must ensure sufficient spending on FCO capabilities to
support the UK's international strategies.
46. The NSS, in explaining the crucial deterrent
effect of military forces, should underline the importance of
the decision in 2016 of the replacement of the ballistic missile
submarines that carry the Trident nuclear deterrent. SDSR funding
decisions must reflect our need for deterrence alongside that
of conventional defence and cyber capabilities. The NSS should
provide a framework for the next Government's decision on the
renewal of Trident.
47. The tight timetable to enable the NSS to feed
into the CSR process will make any public consultation as part
of drawing up the NSS virtually impossible. This is regrettable
but now unavoidable. However the next NSS will still need to be
communicated to the public.
48. Over the Parliament, we have heard and in some
cases expressed criticism of Government communication in a number
of strategic areas. We questioned ministers about what the strategic
goal in Afghanistan was, and how it was being explained to both
the British people and the Afghan people.
We also questioned the Prime Minister whether in the aftermath
of the Snowden leaks he personally was doing enough to explain
to the public the work that the intelligence agencies were doing,
and why they need the powers that they have. He said that as the
minister responsible "I need to try to explain what they
do and I have done some of that".
49. While the public's support for our armed forces
is apparent on Remembrance Day and in fundraising for armed forces
charities, the general population is seemingly increasingly reluctant
to deploy our armed forces overseas, particularly ground forces,
in circumstances where they perceive that objectives are unclear.
We note the conclusions by the Defence Committee in its Report
Towards the next Defence and Security Review: Part One
that a proactive communications strategy is necessary to garner
public support for defence, and that the lack of public understanding
of the armed forces could pose a strategic threat to the armed
It is clear, and understandable, that the public expect to be
informed about the reasons for entering into conflict. We also
note with interest that politicians of various parties invoked
public opinion as reasons for military decisions on Syria and
Libya, occasions where two different options were chosen, which
raises questions about a genuine link between public opinion and
political thinking. Public opinion is a strategic consideration.
50. We recognise that there is a complex relationship
between Government, politicians, and the public, in which ministers
seek to lead, but at the same time follow the public. We think
the Government is currently too passive when it comes to leading
the public debate on security issues.
51. The Government must be proactive in getting the
public behind the national security strategy, including the politically
unpopular parts of it. This does not mean that the document itself
needs to be widely read, but the principles on which this country
bases its national security should be understood and supported.
In a democracy, if the Government does not have sufficient support
for the measures that it needs to take to keep the country safe,whether
spending or deploymentsthere is a danger that they will
not happen. The Government should be prepared to do what it
takes to get the public behind the measures that are needed to
keep this country safe.
52. As we have already mentioned in paragraph 32
there are issues that the NSS should cover that cannot be published.
Indeed it is often the most important decisions that cannot be
announced publicly. These can be the UK's weaknesses, plans for
potential conflicts, or concerns about friends and allies that
it would be undiplomatic to make public. When the NSS was first
published we wondered whether there was a classified version or
annex or related papers. We now understand that (with the exception
of the National Security Risk Assessment) there is not. The
National Security Strategy should not be limited to what can be
published. A serious and comprehensive strategy should address
sensitive issues. A classified version of the NSS would be appropriate,
given the importance of ensuring that all those across Government
working on security policy need to know exactly what the Government's
strategy is. We would also expect to be invited to scrutinise
any such document on a confidential basis.
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL
53. In every Report, we have expressed concerns about
the working of the National Security Council. We heard from the
Prime Minister that he views it as an important part of security
machinery, with the capacity to bring together parts of Government
to discuss security. The Institute for Government has recently
produced an extremely useful report on the National Security Council,
and we note that it states that the NSC has delivered positive
results in strengthening cross-Government working in some areas.
54. During this Parliament, the Cabinet Office agreed
to share the NSC's agendas with us; this has enabled us to make
some assessment of the work it does. However, we are not able
to scrutinise the NSC effectively with the limited information
this provides to us. From what we know, it seems to us that it
is mostly a reactive body, rather than a strategic one, which
seems to us to be a lost opportunity. We recognise there is a
reluctance to release Cabinet Committee papers, but see no reason
why we should not receive regular confidential oral briefings
on the work of the Council. We urge the Government to provide
us with oral briefings about the work of the NSC during the next
55. At its outset, the NSC met weekly. We have expressed
our concern more than once at the lack of regular NSC meetings;
we see no reason why it only meets when the House is sitting,
particularly given the summer recess, during which world events
often need the Government's consideration. We note that the NSC
(Officials) group does meet weekly.
In our view the NSC should meet regularly regardless of the Parliamentary
timetable, even if not weekly, as it is not satisfactory for the
NSC to go so long without meeting at all in August and September/October.
The NSC should meet more regularly but not necessarily more
often, to ensure that it has opportunity to consider all the issues
in its strategic remit.
56. The NSS identifies Priority Risks in three tiers.
We have seen no evidence that all of these risks have been looked
at by the NSC, except when issues that fall into the risk categories
are current. It would be good if the NSC discussed each of these
risks at least once during the Parliament, and also looked at
the new National Security Risk Assessment. This would help the
Government assess what was happening at a strategic level to mitigate
and plan for these risks. Each of the Priority Risks in the
NSS should be on the NSC agenda at least once in a Parliament.
OUR FUTURE WORK
57. We look forward to seeing how the Government's
work in preparing for the next NSS progresses. We have made a
number of recommendations in our Reports this Parliament, and
we look to the Government to make use of our ideas. We believe
there is value in this Committee continuing to work in the next
58. After the 2010 election, this Committee was not
set up until December, and was unable to meet before January 2011.
We urge the Government to support the speedy appointment of
the Joint Committee after the next election.
5 The National Security Strategy of the United
Kingdom: Security in an interdependent world, March 2008,
Cm 7291 Back
The National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom: Update
2009, Security for the Next Generation, June 2009, Cm 7590 Back
A Strong Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: the National Security
Strategy, October 2010, Cm 7953 Back
Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence
and Security Review, October 2010, Cm 7948 Back
Spending Review 2010, October 2010, Cm 7942 Back
Cm 7953, para 1.11 Back
Oral evidence from Dr Fatih Birol, International Energy Agency,
Energy Security Strategy, Cm 8466, November 2012 Back
Oral evidence from the Prime Minister, Q36 Back
Cm 7953, para 1.13 Back
Oral evidence from Sir Kim Darroch Q9 Back
First Special Report of the Joint Committee on the National Security
Strategy, Session 2012-13, Government Response to the Committee's
Second Report of Session 2010-12, HL Paper 115/HC 984, para
Oral evidence from the Prime Minister Q30 Back
Oral evidence from the Prime Minister Q45 Back
Evidence from the Cabinet Office Back
Evidence from the Cabinet Office Back
HL Paper 265/HC 1384, para 9 Back
Oral evidence from the Prime Minister Q30 Back
HL Paper 169/HC 1257, Para 43 Back
HL Paper 265/HC 1384, para 15 Back
Evidence from A Defence Strategy Research Group Back
Cm 7953, Para 0.8 Back
HL Paper 169/HC 1257, para 37 Back
Cm 7953, p 5 Back
Report of the Lords Committee on Soft Power and the UK's Influence,
Session 2013-14, Persuasion and Power in the Modern World,
HL Paper 150, para 311 Back
Oral evidence from Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell Q175 Back
Oral evidence from the Prime Minister Q25 Back
House of Commons Defence Committee Towards the next Defence
and Security Review: Part One, Seventh Report of Session 2013-14
HC 197, paras 24 and 89 Back
The National Security Council: National Security at the centre
of government, Institute for Government, p4 Back
Evidence from the Cabinet Office Back
Cm 7953, p27 Back