HC Deb 04 November 2002 vol 392 cc62-3W
Dr. Julian Lewis

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on home defence priorities and how they have changed since 11 September 2001. [76707]

Mr. Hoon

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has lead Government responsibility for counterterrorist policy and security within the United Kingdom, and maintains oversight of the measures being taken to strengthen the United Kingdom's ability to respond to the terrorist threat. The armed forces make an important contribution in support of the police through their specialist skills and capabilities.

Following the attacks on 11 September, as part of the Government's wider assessment of the implications for the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Defence undertook a detailed review of its contribution to home defence, based on the principles outlined in the Strategic Defence Review of 1998. The result was the SDR New Chapter, published in July this year. This outlined enhancements to the command structure for provision of support to the civil authorities and proposals for an enhanced role for the Reserves.

The SDR New Chapter reaffirmed the need to take the fight to the enemy overseas to prevent, deter and disrupt attacks, but it also recognised the need to be better prepared to respond to a threat to the United Kingdom itself. Since 11 September 2001, we have improved our capability to intercept renegade aircraft and shipping, and refined our response to incidents involving the use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear devices.