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Defence Equipment Programme

Volume 688: debated on Monday 1 February 2021

We are implementing changes through the acquisition transformation scheme to improve cost controls. Through the outline strategic case, we are ensuring that the right expertise is brought together at the outset, so that projects are properly risk assessed and, with the right commercial expertise available, set up for success.

The National Audit Office recently concluded that for the fourth year in a row the defence equipment plan remains unaffordable. While the extra money for defence is to be welcomed, how will the Minister ensure that the investment does not simply disappear into a black hole but delivers on the new capabilities we need as a nation to deal with emerging security threats?

The hon. Gentleman’s point is very wise and we would endorse it. We need to invest in the right capabilities to meet the threats of the future. it is good to hear someone on the Labour Benches speaking sense. We agree that that is exactly where our funds should be directed—to meet the threats of the future. That is being undertaken through the integrated review, which is a cross-Government review. More information will be coming out in due course, but we are very focused on it.

The defence equipment plan has seen escalating costs over time, and agreeing priorities has proved to be difficult. The NAO says that industry has a prioritised list of funding options following a multi-criteria decision analysis exercise. This sounds worth while, if a bit of a mouthful, so will the Minister commit to publishing that list of priorities?

The hon. Gentleman needs to look to the outcome of the integrated review that will take place in due course, which will set out the overarching strategic priorities for the Government in meeting the needs of this country across a broad spectrum of foreign affairs and defence. It is from that strategic set of decisions that we need then to ensure that our procurement follows.