'Unnecessary rush' to set next National Security Strategy - MPs

Joint Committee on National Security Strategy says failure to prepare could "damage the quality of the strategy"

Leadership contenders PA

By Matt Foster

03 Mar 2015

The next National Security Strategy is likely to be prepared "too quickly", MPs and peers have warned.

The previous strategy, unveiled by David Cameron and Nick Clegg at the beginning of the parliament, vowed to make national security the Government's "highest priority", and formed the background for the Strategic Defence Review.

A report by the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, published this morning, said the next iteration of the plan would require a "thorough revisit" in the face of changing international threats. 

It urged "clearer statements" on the government's geopolitical priorities, and called for a stronger connection between the aims set out in the strategy and the Government's spending priorities.

But the committee expressed concern that a fresh strategy is "likely to be prepared too quickly".

"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," the report added.

"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. 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."

Responding to the report's findings, a government spokeswoman said Whitehall departments had already started "preparatory work" for the next review but said it was "right that the review itself will take place after the general election".

"The National Security Council routinely works with experts at both official and ministerial level. Academics, think tanks and international partners were consulted during the last review," she added.

"Decision on the final scope or approach for the next review will be taken after the election but clearly experts will be consulted."

The publication of today's report does not mark the first time concerns about the potential timing of the new strategy have been aired. Former security minister Lord West, who sits on the committee, told a Westminster Briefing event last year that the next strategy should not be "rushed straight after the election next year".

That view was echoed by Julian Lewis, a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, who said it would be better if both the strategy and the SDSR saw the "light of day in 2016".​​


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