News story: World Class Innovators at the MOD

Announced by the Defence Secretary in Oxford in February, the Panel will be charged with driving forward the MOD’s Innovation Initiative, which aims to encourage imagination, ingenuity and entrepreneurship, in pursuit of maintaining a military advantage in the future. Today’s session introduced the panel to key aspects of the MOD’s work: from operations and research to partnerships with business and support for jobs and the economy.

The panel members are:

  • Former Chairman of McLaren Technology Group, Ron Dennis CBE (co-Chair)
  • Former CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, Sir Andrew Witty (co-Chair)
  • Army Air Corps officer and European Space Agency astronaut, Major Tim Peake CMG,
  • Former Director of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan CMG, and
  • Chief Executive of Innovate UK Dr Ruth McKernan CBE.

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said:

Our £800 million Innovation Initiative will help our Armed Forces maintain their edge into the future, where ever-evolving technologies present new challenges and opportunities. That’s why we have committed to spending 1.2% of our £36 billion growing defence budget on science and technology.

The Innovation Panel will help meet the complex challenges of the 21st Century, while delivering the high-wage, high-skills jobs of the future; and it’s particularly fitting that we welcome astronaut Major Tim Peake as I announce the UK’s leading role in cutting-edge satellite research.

The Panel will drive the MOD’s partnerships with the UK’s most-influential and forward-looking innovators and ensure the Department is driving the right change at the necessary pace to meet its goals for the future. This might involve advising on individual projects, promoting dialogue with industry, or reviewing the MOD’s Innovation strategy.

Chairman of McLaren Technology Group, Ron Dennis said:

Innovation is at the heart of what keeps the UK safe, so I’m delighted to join my fellow Panel Members—all world-leaders in their fields—to get to grips with the challenge of guaranteeing our security through innovation in Defence’s technology, culture, and research.

UK Space Innovation

UK space scientists at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) are at the forefront of this drive for innovation; and Mrs Baldwin announced today that the UK is leading an innovative experiment to tackle the growing problem of space junk. If this problem is not addressed, space junk threatens to make space exploration and satellite launches impossible. It also poses a hazard to existing satellites, which make an important contribution to the UK’s military capability.

To tackle this problem, Dstl is leading the UK element of the Daedalus experiment – part of the Space Situational Awareness Project in Dstl’s Space Programme – which is exploring the effect on satellites of so-called Icarus ‘de-orbit sails’. When deployed, the sail increases drag, causing a controlled descent into the Earth’s atmosphere where the satellite will burn up.

Innovation driving UK prosperity

Defence Innovation drives UK prosperity. This is demonstrated in a new report by independent economics consultancy SQW, which shows how Ploughshare Innovations, Dstl’s commercialisation arm, has directly contributed to UK growth through the creation of hundreds of jobs and multi-million pound export deals. They have:

  • Created 585 jobs since 2005;
  • Seen an increase of 70% in exports from £44 million to £75 million since 2015;
  • Attracted £140 million worth of investment for spin-out companies.

Ploughshare’s work has contributed to the development of advanced vehicle armour, electronic warfare software, and bio and chemical threat detection. This also supports UK supply chains: 85% of the suppliers for the vehicle armour are UK-based. Ploughshare’s achievements include:

  • Ebola Detection Kit – Ploughshare helped to market Dstl technology that provides a screening test for the Ebola virus, trialled in Sierra Leone to support those affected.
  • Rapid Biothreat and Explosives Detection – Ploughshare licensed technology for a device to identify powders or liquids in just 15 minutes.
  • Autonomous Boats – licensed to ASV Global, this technology provides an autonomous navigation system which allows Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs) to operate safely and remotely at high speed.

News story: International Development Secretary visits Catterick Garrison

Priti Patel visited members of 32 Engineer Regiment today, as they prepare to deploy in support of the UN Peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

The deployment of 162 British personnel from Catterick Garrison in Yorkshire will increase the number of UK military in South Sudan to approximately 400.

These troops are primarily split between Malakal and Bentiu in the north of South Sudan, where they are providing engineering and medical support at UN camps and helping to develop logistical routes to improve the delivery of humanitarian aid, a vital task in a country where movement by road is virtually impossible due to a lack of infrastructure.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:

The brave members of our Armed Forces are a credit to our country and ahead of their deployment to the UN peacekeeping mission to save lives in South Sudan, I’m delighted to have met men and women from 32 Engineer Regiment.

The situation on the ground in South Sudan is catastrophic and a man-made disaster. Conflict and instability has led to grotesque levels of violence and persecution, and Britain is leading the way in providing life-saving and emergency food, water and medicine to those in need.

The engineering and medical expertise of our deployed British soldiers will make a real difference, bringing skills that the UN desperately needs to protect innocent people in this terrible conflict.

Britain can stand tall in the world, with the dedication of our Armed Forces helping to save lives, rebuild South Sudan and bringing stability and peace to the people who live there.

Priti Patel learns more about the UK's support to the UN Peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
Priti Patel learns more about the UK’s support to the UN Peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. Picture: Matt Lower/DFID

In South Sudan, 6 million people face the daily reality of going without enough food and water and nearly 4 million people have been forced from their homes because of ruthless violence and widespread sexual assault.

The International Development Secretary visited South Sudan in April to urge parties to the conflict stop the spiral of violence, end the atrocious human rights abuses and allow urgently needed aid to reach those in need. This followed intense fighting between Government and opposition forces and restrictions on access for humanitarian organisations trying to deliver lifesaving supplies.

The UK is the second largest bilateral provider of lifesaving humanitarian assistance in South Sudan and is the leading provider of health and education services. This year the UK will provide 500,000 people with food, safe drinking water for more than 300,000 people, and with other donors is providing nutritional supplements to over 100,000 children and pregnant women.

Notes to Editors

  • The UK was one of the first major donors to respond to the UN’s appeal to South Sudan – pledging less than 24 hours after the appeal was launched – and we are leading the way by making sure millions of people in South Sudan get urgently needed food, water and medicine, as well as longer term support to provide much-needed education.
  • We are providing £100 million of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan this year. This will provide food for over 500,000 people, safe drinking water for over 300,000 people, emergency health services for over 100,000 people and support for 650,000 people to build their livelihoods.
  • The UK has also matched £10 million of the public donations to the DEC’s East Africa appeal which has raised £60 million since its launch.
  • Over half a million new refugees arrived in Uganda in 2016, 88% of them from South Sudan – more than crossed the Mediterranean into Europe. Around 2,200 arrive each day. There are now nearly 1 million South Sudanese Refugees in Uganda.

News story: Joint Communique on International Ministerial (5-Eyes) Conference on Veterans’ Issues

On 19 and 20 July 2017, Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood welcomed delegations from the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to the International Ministerial Conference on Veterans’ Issues at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Mr Ellwood, The Honourable David Shulkin, US Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs, The Honourable Kent Hehr, Canadian Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, The Honourable Dan Tehan, Australian Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, Ms Bernadine Mackenzie, the New Zealand Head of Veterans’ Affairs, and delegates from all nations came together under a shared commitment to their defence and veteran communities to discuss veterans’ mental health and transition from military to civilian life.

Delegates were honoured to be hosted at the Royal Hospital Chelsea and to be shown the grounds by the Chelsea Pensioners. Over the course of the two-day conference, the five countries identified many overlapping themes and mutual challenges, including for some nations addressing and treating post-traumatic disorder, rates of suicide and homelessness among veterans, barriers to mental health care, alternative therapies, veteran-centric approaches to the provision of services, and early intervention.

Delegates had an opportunity to hear from leading expert, Professor Sir Simon Wessely on veterans mental health challenges and were taken by the extent of the research and the key facts and findings. Delegates also visited the veterans charity organization ‘Stoll’ and had an opportunity to speak with United Kingdom veterans about their experiences transitioning to civilian life.

Delegates recognised that to face these challenges and progress reforms it was essential that evidence based research and data informed policy decisions and implementation. Ministers heard from clinical experts how myths about veterans’ mental health were damaging efforts to encourage veterans to seek help as early as possible. They agreed that efforts must continue on improving the provision of information to the veterans community and to transform the delivery of support and services to the defence and veteran communities in all five nations.

Delegates agreed to establish a network between the five nations to share and undertake research and emerging data, confirming their continuing commitment to collaborate on strategies that recognise, support, and care for the defence and veteran communities across the five countries. The initial research that will be undertaken will look at risk assessments and prevention strategies for veterans at risk of suicide.

Ministers thanked the United Kingdom for hosting the meeting and agreed to meet again in Australia in October 2018 to continue the work began at this meeting and to share the outcomes of research undertaken.

News story: Defence Secretary reveals name of first Type 26 as manufacture begins

In front of the assembled BAE Systems workforce, Sir Michael Fallon officially began the manufacture of HMS Glasgow the first in a new generation of cutting edge frigates, delivering on the commitment to start production this summer on a programme that will sustain 1700 jobs in Scotland for two decades. Together the three ships being built under the first contract will safeguard 4000 jobs in Scotland and across the wider UK supply chain until 2035.

The Defence Secretary met some of the 260 apprentices that will be supported by the work on the Frigate on the Clyde by the autumn.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

Today marks a historic milestone for the Royal Navy, Scottish shipbuilding and UK Defence more widely. HMS
Glasgow and the other seven frigates in this new class will protect our powerful new aircraft carriers and nuclear deterrent, helping keep Britain safe across the world.

The Type 26 is a cutting-edge warship that will maintain our naval power with a truly global reach. Designed for a service life of at least 25 years, the Type 26 frigates will form a backbone of the future Royal Navy surface fleet
well into the future.

The Type 26 is an advanced Anti-Submarine Warfare frigate that will provide essential protection to our nuclear deterrent and aircraft carriers, building on the pedigree of the Royal Navy’s current Type 23 frigates.

Its flexible design will allow its weapon systems to be adapted throughout its lifespan to counter future threats. The Type 26 benefits from the latest advances in digital technologies, including 3D and virtual reality, which ensures that the ship’s design is refined earlier in the process.

Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, said:

The Clyde was the birthplace of some of the greatest fighting ships the world has ever known, and so cutting
steel there today for the future HMS Glasgow is symbolic of a Royal Navy on the rise once again.

As an island nation, we are utterly dependent on the sea for our security and prosperity, and the City-class
names have been chosen for the Type 26 to provide an enduring link between the Royal Navy and our great
centres of commerce and industry.

The name Glasgow brings with it a string of battle honours, stretching from the Arctic Circle to the South
Atlantic. As one of the world’s most capable anti-submarine frigates, the Type 26 will carry the Royal Navy’s
tradition of victory far into the future.

As a world-class ship, the Type 26 has strong export opportunities. BAE Systems and the MOD are exploring these, with interest from international customers including Australia.

Tony Douglas, Chief Executive Officer for Defence Equipment and Support, the MOD’s procurement organisation said:

This is a very proud moment for all of those who have worked so hard to get the manufacture of the Type 26

With the first steel cut today in Scotland and further work spread out across the UK supply chain the Type 26
programme is truly a national endeavour harnessing all our skills and knowledge to produce the best possible
ships for the Royal Navy.

Earlier this month the Defence Secretary announced the signing of a contract worth around £3.7 billion to start building the Royal Navy’s Type 26 frigates, securing the long term future of the Scottish shipbuilding industry. The contract is specifically structured to motivate both sides to deliver a successful outcome where both parties share in the pain and gain in the delivery of the programme. This will deliver better value for money for the UK taxpayer.

Statement to Parliament: Conflict, Stability and Security Fund 2016 to 2017 and settlement for 2017 to 2018: written ministerial statement

I wish to update the House on how the Government has been supporting our national security interests through conflict prevention, peace building, stabilisation, peacekeeping and conflict resolution using the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF).

Details of the programmes funded by the CSSF and its impact so far are in the first Annual Report, a copy of which has been placed in the library of the House. The publication of this first report reflects the Government’s commitment to transparency in the delivery of Official Development Assistance. We will be updating GOV.UK pages with more information on the CSSF and individual programmes.

The CSSF replaced the Conflict Pool in April 2015, as part of a new, more strategic approach to enhancing the delivery of our national security interests directed by the National Security Council (NSC).

As announced in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), CSSF funding has continued to increase and will be £1.162 billion in 2017 to 2018. The CSSF is now one of the world’s largest mechanisms for addressing conflict and instability. Its programmes deliver against more than 40 cross government strategies set by the National Security Council (NSC). These help to secure the UK, promote peace and stability overseas and contribute directly to SDSR objectives.

Parliamentary accountability for taxpayers’ money spent via the CSSF is provided primarily through the Joint Committee for the National Security Strategy (JCNSS). The JCNSS concluded its first inquiry into the CSSF in February. We have responded to the inquiry report and are taking forward many of their recommendations. Further announcements on governance will be made in due course.

Meeting both our legal and policy gender commitments is central to the delivery of the CSSF. Last year the CSSF spent £214.5 million on programmes which addressed gender equality. For example the CSSF in the Democratic Republic of Congo supported the provision of free legal assistance to 269 victims of international war crimes, of which 179 were women, mostly victims of sexual violence.

In addition to supporting peace building activity, CSSF funding is strengthening the multilateral system, supporting the UN and other international organisations to develop more effective multilateral responses to instability. The CSSF funds our contributions (known as assessed costs) to the UN peacekeeping budget. We are the sixth biggest contributor, spending over £300 million in 2016 to 2017. In addition, we have been using CSSF funds to help reform the UN and UN peacekeeping, coordinating outreach to Member States to secure pledges of personnel for peace operations and to assist with the transition from pledges to deployments. In 2016 to 2017 the CSSF provided a further £15 million to fund the doubling of the UK’s troop contribution to peacekeeping through 2 new deployments: 70 UK military personnel to support UNSOS in Somalia, which provides essential logistical support for the African Union Mission (AMISOM) that is combating the terrorist organisation Al Shabaab; and 370 UK military personnel to provide engineering and medical support to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

To address some of the JCNSS recommendations for the CSSF a rapid review is being undertaken of Cross-Whitehall Fund governance and structures.

Conflict, Stability and Security Fund resources, financial year 2017 to 2018

CSSF 2017/18 (millions)
Peacekeeping & Multilateral 391.7
Regional/Country Strategies 606.3
Security & Defence 150
Delivery Support, including the Stabilisation Unit & National School of Government 14.5
Total 1162.5

Read the CSSF Annual Report.