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Defence Reform

Volume 571: debated on Thursday 5 December 2013

The noble Lord Levene of Portsoken has conducted his second annual review of implementation by the Ministry of Defence of his defence reform report of June 2011, and has written to me setting out his conclusions, providing an independent view of my Department’s progress in implementing the recommendations. I am placing a copy of Lord Levene’s letter in the Library of the House, together with the MOD’s summary of progress against the 53 recommendations in his original report.

I welcome Lord Levene’s recognition of the substantial progress made since his last review in implementing both the letter and the spirit of his recommendations. His finding of clear evidence that the Ministry of Defence has become more business-like and finance-focused is very encouraging, and reflects the wide-ranging changes we have put in place under defence reform, a key part of which was the balancing the MOD budget in 2012. The elimination of the inherited imbalance in the defence budget is described as “remarkable” and an illustration of how a Government Department can be managed effectively when it has strong political leadership.

Lord Levene points out how the MOD head office has reduced in size by some 500 posts and is becoming much more strategic in its approach. The implementation of the delegated finance and capability operating model in April 2013, fulfilling one of Lord Levene’s key recommendations, has increased empowerment of the service chiefs and improved accountability. These changes, coupled with the full operating capability of the new Joint Forces Command, are highlighted by Lord Levene as successful examples of implementation of his recommendations.

With the key structural and process changes now complete, I fully acknowledge the need to maintain momentum, particularly in the area of behavioural change, as well as the continued development of the head office, improvements in management information and the implementation of the matériel strategy. We are making steady progress in the implementation of the change agenda in all of these areas.

The Ministry of Defence is committed to sustaining and building on the changes already made. I am grateful to Lord Levene for his continued support in this important work.