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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
13 January 2016
Volume 604

Written Statements

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Defence

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Trading Fund Review

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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.

[HCWS465]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

North Korean Nuclear Test

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At 0400 GMT on 6 January North Korean state media claimed that it had successfully conducted its first hydrogen bomb test at 0130 GMT. The Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organisation reported seismic signatures with a magnitude of 4.85, consistent with previous North Korean nuclear tests. We assess that the size of the seismic event caused by the nuclear test, while indicative of a nuclear explosion, is not indicative of the successful test of a thermonuclear weapon (also known as a hydrogen bomb); however this nuclear test is a serious violation of UN Security Council resolutions 1718, 1874, 2087 and 2094. North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme poses a significant threat to international security and regional stability. North Korea’s repeated provocations hinder the prospects for lasting peace on the Korean peninsula.

On 6 January I issued a statement strongly condemning the nuclear test as a grave breach of UN Security Council resolutions. While travelling in the region last week I spoke to my South Korean, Japanese and Chinese counterparts about the international response. I have also spoken to the US Secretary of State. The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), summoned the North Korean Ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 7 January in order to underline, in the strongest terms, the UK’s firm condemnation of this nuclear test and to make clear to North Korea that it can either engage constructively with the international community, or face increasing isolation and further action by the international community.

We worked to secure, and strongly support, the UN Security Council’s swift condemnation of this nuclear test in its statement following its emergency meeting on 6 January. The Security Council agreed that this North Korean nuclear test was a clear violation of existing Security Council resolutions; and that there should be a robust response including immediate work on further significant measures in a new Security Council resolution.

The UK remains deeply concerned by North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. We continue to urge North Korea to return to credible and authentic multilateral talks on its nuclear programme, to abide by its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and to permit full access by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

[HCWS464]

Prime Minister

UK Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

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This written ministerial statement confirms that Lord Wright of Richmond has been appointed as a substitute member of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in place of Baroness O’Loan.

[HCWS466]