The Daily Telegraph reports that Sir Iain Lobban, director of GCHQ, is to step down from the position after more than five years in post. The Foreign Office said the move was long-planned and unrelated to the recent controversy over the disclosures of GCHQ activity by Edward Snowden. Sir Iain is expected to leave his role towards the end of the year, but his decision to stand down is being made public now, so that preparations to appoint a successor can be put in hand.
The House of Lords Committee Stage for the Defence Reform Bill will commence on Monday 3rd February. Peers will debate the Bill and table further amendments. After the Committee Stage is completed, the Bill will enter Report Stage where the amendments will be considered by the entire House of Lords. We will of course continue to monitor progress, including any amendments which are tabled.
- Answers to written question on DE&S+
- MOD to outsource management of military estate
- Police numbers fall by 2.6% in the year to September
- Britain and Russia to trade ‘unclassified’ arms and equipment
- RUSI says part-time trident patrols could still be credible deterrent
Answers to written question on DE&S+
- Conservative MP Sir Peter Luff asked the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate has been made of the financial savings that would be achieved through the DE&S+ model before the decision to proceed with that model was made.
Defence Minister Philip Dunne said the decision to establish Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) as a bespoke trading entity was made on the basis that continuing with the commercial competition was unsafe and that, in transforming DE&S, the Government would look to build on the DE&S+ model, but not necessarily implement it as outlined in the interim proposition. Mr Dune said the Government had not yet determined the level of financial savings expected of the new organisation.
MOD to outsource management of military estate
The Financial Times reports that the MOD is expected to appoint a private sector partner in the next few weeks to manage its entire military estate. The newspaper says that with budgets under pressure, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), which employs 2,500 staff administering the estate, is seeking a private sector to help manage employees, and sell off prime property. Although the staff will remain civil servants, their numbers are expected to be cut, as are some subcontractors.
The MOD has told the FT that the consideration of a strategic business partner from the private sector to provide infrastructure was to help the MOD “unlock knowledge, skills and resources that are currently unavailable”. A number of bidders are currently being considered but no final decision has been taken. The FT highlights that the deal comes as Andrew Manley, DIO chief executive remains suspended from his post on full pay until a probe by the MOD is completed.
We will take steps to help establish the likely implications for the MOD Police of this development.
Police numbers fall by 2.6% in the year to September
The Guardian reports that police numbers in England and Wales have fallen by 2.6%, or 3,488, in the year to September. Police officer numbers are now 15,995 below their historic peak of 144,353 in September 2009. The total police workforce, which includes non-uniformed officers, has now fallen by just over 30,000 in the same period.
The Home Office figures show that the biggest falls in numbers over the past year have taken place in London, where the Metropolitan Police has lost 803 officers. The largest percentage fall was in Bedfordshire, which experienced a 7.4% reduction in officer numbers. Only six police forces experienced an increase in officer numbers. Chief Constable Mike Cunningham of the Association of Chief Police Officers said the cuts presented a “challenge to the police service” but added that effectiveness could not be measured “by the number of officers and staff alone”.
These only covered Home Office forces, and did not include figures for the MOD Police.
Britain and Russia to trade ‘unclassified’ arms and equipment
The Daily Telegraph reports that Britain and Russia are to sign a deal which will see the two countries work together on defence projects. The newspaper says that Britain could potentially buy weapons from Russia, under a treaty which will see British defence companies working jointly on projects with the Russian arms industry.
The MOD have confirmed that the treaty creates the legal framework for the British Army to buy Russian equipment, but the Department stressed that the main focus was allowing firms to share information and buy components from one another. The deal covers ‘unclassified technology’ so it is unlikely to allow co-operation on advanced battlefield equipment such as missile systems.
The Telegraph says the treaty is being regarded by defence chiefs and diplomats as a major step forward in the relationship between Britain and Russia. The MOD and the Russian Federal Service for Military Technical Co-operation are now studying the draft text and it could be signed as early as spring.
RUSI says part-time trident patrols could still be credible deterrent
The Daily Telegraph reports that a paper published by the Royal United Services Institute has said that the UK could end round-the-clock Trident submarine patrols and still keep a credible nuclear deterrent. RUSI says that the UK does not need to keep at least one nuclear missile submarine always at sea to deter a nuclear attack.
The paper by analyst Hugh Chambers warns that abandoning the Continuous at sea deterrent could create new risks, but “would not automatically undermine the UK’s ability to deter nuclear threats and blackmail”. He said that even an inactive fleet of submarines can help deter actors from seriously threatening the UK and that a more flexible, smaller fleet could be one of several options for the UK to consider in the future. He also recognised that at a time of “strained” defence budgets and limited public support for nuclear deterrence, the policy should be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis.