Defence and Security Industrial Strategy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:49 pm on 23rd March 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jeremy Quin Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence 12:49 pm, 23rd March 2021

I thank the hon. Lady’s Committee for its report in the summer, which was no holds barred; we have lessons to learn. We are endeavouring to ensure that we answer each of the points made in that report in turn and that we learn from the report and its findings. It is also important that we lay before the Committee an enhanced equipment plan. We are working on that right now. I think it is best that we do that properly, alongside the NAO, so that we work with it and make certain that we have a detailed plan that can be put out for scrutiny. We have that plan, but we need to make certain that the NAO is equally comfortable with it.

The hon. Lady will recognise that, in any organisation with 6,500 contracts, there are going to be ones where we run into problems—that is the experience of the commercial world as well as Government—but we need to do better. So we have enhanced the number of people who are trained to a very senior level in terms of commercial expertise in DE&S; as I say, that is going up to 200 by the end of this year. We are putting more emphasis on where we look at the centre at projects, rather than leaving it entirely with the TLBs. We will bring out up to 65 major projects—not necessarily on a financial basis; there can be some that are low in value but high risk in terms of delivery—starting from the centre, through the defence major projects initiative.

With the help of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, for which I am grateful, I am reviewing our senior responsible officer structure, to make certain that our SROs, who do a good job but quite a lot of whom are quite stretched, have more individual responsibility and that people are all over the detail of their projects. I hope that in combination, alongside a reform of DSPCR in the single source contract regulations, we may be in a better place to not necessarily please the hon. Lady’s Committee but at least do our best to meet the requirements that it has set.