Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary responds to the Defence Select Committee Report on Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts 2011–12.
Rt Hon Jim Murphy said:
“This is a stark warning for the Government.
“As the budget approaches and a Cabinet row over further defence cuts deepens the country will want real reassurances that international commitments will be met.
“The Defence Secretary is presiding over decline and only found his voice after delivering tens of thousands of redundancies, capability gaps and failing to balance the books. There are real concerns about our national capacity to project force around the world and meet our ambitions.
“We welcome any progress on budgeting and in particular flexibility in unspent budgets. This shows, however, that reporting problems persist, MoD redundancies could limit output and government rhetoric does not meet reality.”
Defence Select Committee Report on Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts 2011–12 key quotes:
‘the Comptroller and Auditor General qualified the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Accounts for 2011–12… The former two problems are likely to persist until, at the very earliest, 2014–15’. (p.3)
‘The MoD has recognised that it may not be possible to continue to drive reductions in civil service numbers without adversely affecting its output. We are also concerned about the impact on the delivery of operational capability and the reform programme.’ (Paragraph 79)
‘It is unsatisfactory that the MoD was some five months late in laying its Annual Report and Accounts for 2011–12 before Parliament. (Paragraph 9) The delays in producing the Annual Report and Accounts 2011–12 reveal a worrying lack of financial expertise within the MoD.’ (Paragraph 14)
‘The failure to obtain approval for the full remuneration package of the Chief of Defence Materiel is regrettable and the situation should be remedied as soon as possible.’ (Paragraph 40)
‘We believe that it is vital that defence spending remains at more than 2 per cent of GDP in line with the UK’s NATO commitment. We recommend that the MoD and the Treasury ensure that defence spending does not fall below two per cent of GDP in the next spending review.’ (Paragraph 71)
‘We are concerned that the output of the MoD and the reforms needed within the MoD are at risk because of the reductions in staff numbers required to meet the budget cuts.’ (Paragraph 71)
The National Audit Office ‘Equipment Plan 2012 to 2022’ says that more cuts to the non-equipment budget are likely in order to meet current MoD equipment spending plans:
‘The proportion of the Equipment Plan spend as a percentage of total budget increases over the ten years. Achieving affordability is therefore contingent on savings being achieved elsewhere in the budget.’ (P19)