The next National Security Strategy - Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy Contents


Conclusions and recommendations


1.  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. (Paragraph 19)

2.  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 too quickly. (Paragraph 22)

3.  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. (Paragraph 24)

4.  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. (Paragraph 25)

5.  The rapidly changing world demonstrates the need for a thorough revisit of the NSS even if fundamental assumptions remain the same. (Paragraph 26)

6.  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. (Paragraph 28)

7.  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. (Paragraph 29)

8.  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. (Paragraph 30)

9.  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. (Paragraph 31)

10.  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. (Paragraph 32)

11.  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. (Paragraph 37)

12.  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. (Paragraph 40)

13.  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. (Paragraph 41)

14.  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. (Paragraph 43)

15.  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. (Paragraph 44)

16.  The NSS must ensure sufficient spending on FCO capabilities to support the UK's international strategies. (Paragraph 45)

17.  The NSS should provide a framework for the next Government's decision on the renewal of Trident. (Paragraph 46)

18.  Public opinion is a strategic consideration. (Paragraph 49)

19.  We think the Government is currently too passive when it comes to leading the public debate on security issues. (Paragraph 50)

20.  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. (Paragraph 51)

21.  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. (Paragraph 52)

22.  We urge the Government to provide us with oral briefings about the work of the NSC during the next Parliament. (Paragraph 54)

23.  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. (Paragraph 55)

24.  Each of the Priority Risks in the NSS should be on the NSC agenda at least once in a Parliament. (Paragraph 56)

25.  We urge the Government to support the speedy appointment of the Joint Committee after the next election. (Paragraph 58)


 
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Prepared 3 March 2015