Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy

The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy was created to "monitor the implementation and development" of the United Kingdom Government's National Security Strategy".[1] It was first established in the 2005-2010 Parliament, and was reappointed in December 2010 and December 2015.[2] The committee comprises members from the House of Commons and members of the House of Lords.


The Committee’s terms of reference are “to consider the National Security Strategy”.[3] It has said that it does not wish to duplicate the work of other Select Committees, and instead intends to draw on their work.[4] The Committee "scrutinizes the structures for Government decision-making on National Security, particularly the role of the National Security Council and the National Security Adviser."[5]

The committee's first report

The committee published its first report First Review of the National Security Strategy 2010 on 8 March 2012. The report addresses the National Security Strategy, the National Security Council (and the secretariat which supports it), and the National Security Adviser. It was agreed unanimously.[6] The committee welcomed the National Security Strategy but said that it was work in progress and needed to be improved.[7] In a press release sent out with the report it said that:

It also said that the government's unwillingness to provide it with all the information it had asked for about the National Security Risk Assessment means that it was unable to give Parliament any assurances about its adequacy.[9] The Committee expressed concerns that the "National Security Council's oversight of security issues is not sufficiently broad and strategic", given that it was deeply involved in operations in Libya and failed to discuss the national security implications of the Eurozone crisis or the possibility of Scottish independence. [10]

Government response and the committee's second report

The JCNSS published the government response to its first report on 11 July 2012, along with a two-page report summarising the committee's concerns about the response. [11] The Committee said that it welcomed the Government response, and the Government's commitment to provide it with more information in future, but said that the Government had failed to:

The Committee said that the Government needed to start to map out its programme for the next NSS immediately. [13] It also called on the Government to supply it with an indicative programme for producing and consulting on the next NSS. [14]

Government response to the committee’s second report

The government responded in November 2012 and said that it was:

“now starting to consider the scope, conceptual structure, process, timing, and possible forms of external (including international) engagement required to ensure that the 2015 NSS and SDSR will meet UK national security needs.”

It said that “the Cabinet Office is leading initial preparatory work” on the NSS but did not give an “indicative programme” or set out the planned staffing, resources or public consultation as the committee had requested. It undertook to consult the JCNSS in confidence as the forward work programme took shape and to keep the Committee up-to-date on significant developments.

The JCNSS published this response as its First Special Report of Session 2012-13.

2013 report

In February 2013 the committee published its report The work of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy in 2012. This reviewed the committee’s work over the past year and called on the government to address five key areas of concern:

In a press release the chair of the committee said that “the NSC should think strategically, keeping its eye on the longer term and assessing the effect of Departments’ policy proposals. We were stunned that the NSC had not discussed the implications of the major policy changes made last year by the MOD. How it can be strategic if it has not considered the impact of restructuring the Army?”


As of 3 November 2015, the membership of the committee is as follows:[15][16]

Member Party Other positions
Rt Hon Margaret Beckett Labour Former Foreign Secretary
Crispin Blunt Labour Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee
Rt Hon Damian Green Conservative Former Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice
Rt Hon Dominic Grieve Conservative Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee
Sir Gerald Howarth Conservative Former Minister for International Security Strategy
Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis Conservative Chair of the Defence Committee and member of Defence sub-committee
Angus Brendan MacNeil SNP Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee
Dr Andrew Murrison Conservative Royal Navy Reservist, Member of Draft Investigatory Powers Bill Joint Committee
Bob Neill Conservative Vice-Chairman (Local Government) of the Conservative Party and former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for London, Local Government and Planning
Stephen Twigg Labour Chair of International Development Committee, Member of Liaison Committee (Commons)
Rt Hon Keith Vaz Labour Chair of Home Affairs Committee
Iain Wright Labour Chair of Business, Innovation and Skills Committee
Lord West of Spithead Labour Former First Sea Lord and former Parliamentary Under-Secretary Home Office (Security and Counter-Terrorism)
Lord Boateng Labour Former British High Commissioner to South Africa
Lord Clark of Windermere Labour Former Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Baroness Falkner of Margravine Lib Dem Chair of EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee
Lord Levene of Portsoken Crossbench Chairman of Ministry of Defence Reform Group
Baron Mitchell Labour Former Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills)
Lord Ramsbotham Crossbench Former Adjutant General, British Army
Lord Trimble Conservative Former First Minister of Northern Ireland
Lord Hamilton of Epsom Conservative Former Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Baroness Buscombe Conservative Member of Human Rights Committee

See also


  1. Committee Home Page (archive)
  2. Standing Orders of the House of Commons for Public Business (April 2010) §152I
  3. Standing Orders of the House of Commons Public Business 2011, SO No 152I and HL Deb, 6 December 2010, Col 10.
  4. Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy: First review of the National Security Strategy 2010, First Report of Session 2010–12.
  6. Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy First review of the National Security Strategy 2010 First Report of Session 2010–12 p43
  7. Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy First review of the National Security Strategy 2010 First Report of Session 2010–12 p3
  11. Planning for the next National Security Strategy: comments on the government response to the committee's First Report of Session 2010-12

External links

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