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Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Trading Fund Review

Volume 604: debated on Wednesday 13 January 2016

I am announcing today that following a review of its status, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) will continue to remain an Executive agency of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), but its trading fund status will be revoked from April 2017.

Since its creation in 2001, DSTL has been at the forefront of national security, working with international partners and industry to deliver a range of high-impact science and technology solutions, such as developing life-saving armour and deploying scientists to contain the Ebola outbreak. I am pleased to report that the review has strongly reaffirmed the ongoing need for DSTL’s services for both defence and wider national security.

In order for DSTL to continue to fulfil this role, the review has recommended that DSTL continues as an Executive agency of the MOD. This will be the most effective and efficient option for the future of DSTL because it preserves the flexibility and agility DSTL has to work across the MOD, wider Government and internationally, but will also promote greater efficiency in the delivery of science and technology, and bring about a renewed focus on strategic partnerships with our allies, other laboratories, academia and industry. However, because DSTL’s income comes largely from customers within Government, it has been agreed that DSTL can no longer remain a trading fund and will come within the ambit of the defence vote from 1 April 2017.

DSTL has a bright future within MOD, and will continue to play a key part in delivering the MOD’s science and technology strategy as well as supporting the rest of Government on vital national security tasks and our international partners. The strategic defence and security review has reiterated the importance of science, technology and innovation in meeting our national security needs into the future and the retention of DSTL as an MOD agency fully supports the delivery of that strategy.

There is now more work to do in order to transition DSTL’s organisational status and I look forward to seeing the changes recommended by the review becoming operational by April 2017.