5 Cross-Government cooperation |
100. The UK's requirement for maritime surveillance
goes far wider than the needs of UK Armed Forces. Other Government
Departments and agencies also make use of the MoD's maritime surveillance
capabilities and platforms in a number of areas and therefore
we examined the cross-government cooperation between departments
and agencies in determining the strategic requirements for maritime
surveillance and their translation into operational requirements.
We have discussed earlier defence-specific processes for establishing
and setting the military requirements for maritime surveillance
(see paragraphs 9-19). As a result of the 2009 update to the 2008
National Security Strategy, a Cabinet Office-led Maritime Security
Review made two recommendations which would run in parallel to
the defence-specific processes:
· Strengthened strategic oversight of Maritime
Security through a set of strategic objectives and changes to
the central oversight of strategic policy mechanisms.
· Improved Situational Awareness for Maritime
Security through the establishment of a new national multi-agency
National Maritime Information Centre (NMIC) at Northwood to address
Maritime Security Oversight Group
101. In 2010, the Government sought to provide "strengthened
strategic oversight" by establishing the Maritime Security
and Oversight Group (MSOG) whose membership is made up of "key
representatives of core departments, agencies and the Cabinet
Office, and is the senior-level decision making group for maritime
issues". The MoD described the role of the group as providing
"strategic oversight and direction of all cross-cutting maritime
security issues and programmes, including aspects of maritime
surveillance [and] is responsible for the Maritime Security vision,
strategic objectives and risks, reviewing them as circumstances
require, and allocating priorities in order to use a framework
to drive and coordinate day-to-day policy on cross government
programmes of work".
National Maritime Information
102. The 2010 SDSR acknowledged that no single department
or body had the capacity or capability to deliver what is required
to monitor the maritime environment and counter threats the UK
faces both in territorial waters and internationally. The National
Maritime Information Centre (NMIC) was established in Northwood
on 1 April 2011 "to ensure information was disseminated,
analysed and acted upon in a coordinated manner". NMIC brings
together government departments and agencies with responsibility
for maritime safety, security and environment in one place and
is accountable to the Home Office. Its intention is to develop
a single picture of maritime activity similar to that used by
air traffic controllers so that threats and risks can be recognised
and countered as early as possible.
MSOG AND NMIC: ACHIEVEMENT OF THEIR
103. The creation of the MSOG and NMIC are intended
to lead to a more strategic and coordinated approach on maritime
issues. Although both organisations are relatively new we were
interested to assess their progress in achieving the roles set
out for them by the Government and whether there was scope for
further improvements. Edward Ferguson, Head, Defence Strategies
and Priorities, who is the MoD's representative on the MSOG, told
us that there had been "considerable progress over the past
couple of years" with the creation of the MSOG and NMIC.
He added "there [had] been real progress at the operational
level, and NMIC is the flagship programme. That greater interaction
at the policy level is also really helpful".
Captain Russell Pegg, Head of NMIC, thought that the recognition
that no one department or agency could fully understand what was
occurring in the maritime domain and bringing together the "good
work" going on within the "stovepipes" of departments
had "brought immediate value to the bigger picture".
104. Although NMIC was only established in April
2011, the MoD thought that it had already brought significant
benefits by assisting greater coordination between UK Government
agencies and departments and also international cooperation with
allies. Provision had also been made for NMIC to report directly
to the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR) in the event of crisis.
105. Our witnesses widely supported the establishment
of NMIC and thought that it had been an important and successful
development. Rear Admiral Tony Rix (retd.) described NMIC as "a
fantastic organisation [which] will enable us to provide a single
picture for maritime activity, with input from numerous agencies.
The principle of it is superb".
Rod Johnson, the Chief Coastguard, commented "the principle
is extremely sound in that what may in the normal pattern of life
make perfect sense to my organisation will be of interest for
a completely different reason to another".
Dr Willett was also supportive of NMIC but pointed out that political
will and focus was required for its continued development:
The point is that when you have something such
as NMIC, which is a new idea that is working very well, but which
requires political support and resources, do you have the sustainable
political focus on maritime issues to ensure that it and other
activities like it are enabled to continue to develop?
FURTHER IMPROVEMENTS TO CROSS-DEPARTMENTAL
106. The establishment of the MSOG and NMIC is a
useful first step to providing a more strategic and coordinated
approach by Government to maritime issues. However we were keen
to explore the scope for improvements in cross-government working
and also to consider where the lines of demarcation should lie
between departments. During our inquiry we heard that there had
been an intermittent debate over recent years about the need for
the UK to have a National Maritime Security Strategy.
In November 2011, the MSOG instructed that work should commence
on a cross-government National Strategy for Maritime Security.
The MoD said that this strategy would:
set coherent, resource aware, and pragmatic objectives
and actions, with maritime surveillance a key tenet. From a maritime
surveillance perspective, the strategy aims to achieve greater
coordination of homeland aerial maritime surveillance requirements;
and fully utilise NMIC to co-ordinate an integrated maritime surveillance
and interdiction capability through well-defined coordinated protocols
between the key stakeholders in response to threats".
In oral evidence, Edward Ferguson, MoD, said that
this would be difficult because of the number of agencies involved,
but added that there were well-worked out procedures for coordination
and deconfliction between them.
107. When considering the lines of demarcation between
departmental responsibilities we heard that although there are
some tasks that are clearly defined as civil and others that are
clearly military, there were some that were a mixture of the two.
For example military maritime assets which are operating out at
sea on a daily basis can provide a degree of surveillance that
is non-military although this is not their primary focus.
Admiral Rix (retd.) supported examining the sharing of capabilities
but warned against practical difficulties:
I think the sharing of capabilities is clearly
a way ahead that needs to be looked at, but there will be all
sorts of problems in sorting out priorities. One day, we might
want surveillance of the fisheries and at the same time the Ministry
of Defence might want surveillance of the Mediterranean. It is
a very sensible way ahead, but I suggest that one should not underestimate
the practical difficulties of achieving something that is effective
for all the stakeholders.
108. The Government agreed that more could be done
to develop cross-departmental working and that there were other
areas where cooperation should be explored. Edward Ferguson gave
the example of aerial surveillance where "there are currently
three departmental agenciesthe UK Border Agency, the Marine
Management Organisation and the Maritime and Coastguard Agencythat
have individual aerial surveillance contracts to do different
functions". The Government was interested in looking at whether
these could be brought together into a single contract, which
would be a more efficient use of taxpayer money and should provide
a more coherent product. However Mr Ferguson also pointed out
that in a more coordinated approach the appropriate governance
and oversight arrangements to manage those more coherent and single
contracts would be critical.
Rear Admiral James Rapp (retd.), was supportive of possible moves
towards a single air surveillance contract and suggested the Australian
'Coastwatch' Organisation as a potential model for the UK to follow
as many of the characteristics of the UK situation were similar
to those experienced by Australia before it adopted this model.
109. Rod Johnson, the Chief Coastguard, said that
although the Maritime and Coastguard Agency had no direct experience
of the Australian model he thought it an example that could be
considered and lessons learned from it.
Admiral Rix warned that the Australian model only covered the
Exclusive Economic Zone and that the military requirements for
surveillance are much more extensive, as were search and rescue
We understand that although the Maritime Security Oversight Group
has agreed in principle to move forward on work towards a single
air surveillance contract there was first a need to undertake
further work, in particular to consider how governance and oversight
of a single contract could be undertaken.
110. It is important that cross-departmental cooperation
should exist at ministerial as well as at official and operations
level. Nick Harvey MP, Minister for the Armed Forces, told us
there was a "sort of informal network of Ministers under
James Brokenshire [Home Office Parliamentary Under Secretary for
crime and security] that look at these things as well. He has
the lead responsibility for that, but as this work goes forward
and the officials begin to distil options and explore the scope
for cooperation, Ministers will come together to look at the work
they are producing".
He thought that such an informal forum was the right one for taking
forward the debate on maritime surveillance issues and settling
issues of differing requirements, though ultimately decisions
would be taken by the Cabinet or the National Security Council.
111. Asked how much other Government Departments
influenced the MoD's thinking or drove its posture on maritime
surveillance, the Minister responded that although other departments
had active interests and there was scope for better coordination,
he could not really see circumstances:
in which the requirements of those other Government
Departments would lever the MoD against its judgment as to the
military requirement into providing a service that it did not
otherwise think that it needed to provide. However, if the MoD
was moving to a position where it was looking at expanding what
it does in this area and if the opportunity to cooperate with
other Government Departments to avoid duplication, to multitask
and to get better value for taxpayers' money was to present itself,
I could imagine it happening.
FUTURE ROLE OF NMIC
112. NMIC is currently an information-gathering organisation.
During our inquiry it was suggested that given its closeness to
the maritime information, it might be appropriate for it to evolve
into a decision making body rather than for that decision making
to be detached.
The Chief Coastguard, was cautious about this proposal, thinking
that, although NMIC worked very well as a means of sharing information,
if it were to become a decision making body as it would be "reorganising
the way that the Government currently do their security and safety
operations for all things maritime".
He said that each agency was interested in different things and
alerted by different developments:
The participating agencies and stakeholders already
have mature and well rehearsed practices for dealing with their
particular issues and the value-add is, as I have said, recognising
that what might be perfectly normal or appear perfectly normal
within the pattern of life for one agency may be a trigger for
something else. However, turning that into a decision-making cell
would require the reorganisation of Government in relation to
maritime. That needs to be carefully thought through.
113. While acknowledging these concerns, Captain
Russell Pegg, Head of NMIC, did not dismiss the possibility of
such a development. He told us:
We should not change if it is the right thing
to do, and we should certainly look at that as a next piece of
work [...] The value we have seen added is just through conversation
of having all those people togetherthose eureka moments
have happened. The intellectual argument is over; it is really
now, "What is the national appetite to go to the next step
if that is what the nation requires to safeguard its maritime
114. The Minister was sceptical about such a big
If [NMIC] were to move [...] into a sort of command
and control function for the whole of Government, that would be
almost unique in terms of the way Government operates. I am not
sure I am convinced by that. Individual Departments retain responsibility
and individual agencies do form different parts of the work. It
is entirely right that we try and get as common an understanding
as we possibly can of the threats and the challenges, but [...]
the need for the constituent Departments and agencies to retain
their responsibilities would be likely to override pooling of
the decision making.
115. We commend the Government for the establishment
of the Maritime Security Oversight Group (MSOG) and the National
Maritime Information Centre (NMIC) which have improved cross government
cooperation on maritime surveillance issues. The MSOG's work on
the development of a National Strategy for Maritime Security is
an important piece of work that should be prioritised across Government.
In response to our Report the Government should provide us with
an update on this work and its planned timetable for it being
brought to a conclusion. It must not become a stop-start endeavour.
We endorse the work of NMIC as a valuable element in enhancing
the national security of the UK. We will take a close interest
in its work and how it develops in the future. We are not currently
persuaded by the suggestion that NMIC could evolve to become a
decision making centre. This would represent a considerable change
in the way Government undertakes maritime security and safety
operations particularly at a time of major change in the defence
116. We believe that there is room for further
improvement in cross-government cooperation in maritime matters.
We are not convinced that an "informal group of Ministers"
is the appropriate forum for taking forward the debate on maritime
surveillance issues. Although decisions may ultimately be made
in Cabinet or the National Security Council, we recommend that
there should be a greater level of ministerial involvement in
maritime surveillance as an issue particularly given the number
of cross-government interests involved and as a way of arbitrating
disputes between departments and ensuring that the differing interests
are focusing on the right areas at the appropriate time. In response
to our Report the Government should also provide us with an update
on progress on the Maritime Security Oversight Group's work towards
a single air surveillance contract. This should include the alternative
options that the Government is considering as a potential model
for the UK in this area.
151 Ev 34-35 Back
Ev 35 Back
Ev 35 Back
Q 78 Back
Q 76 Back
Ev 35 Back
Q 33 Back
Q 33 Back
Q 33 Back
Q 7 and Ev 56 Back
Ev 35 Back
Q 78 Back
Q 34 [Dr Willett] Back
Q 34 [Rear Admiral Rix] Back
Q 78 Back
Ev w1-2 Back
Q 35 Back
Q 35 Back
Q 78, Q 192 and Ev 46 Back
Q 195 Back
Q 195 Back
Q 194 Back
Q 33 [Dr Willett] Back
Q 173 Back
Q 34 Back
Q 77 Back
Q 199 Back