HC Deb 31 January 2003 vol 398 c1060W
Mr. Yeo

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of whether the spectrum allocated to the Ministry of Defence is being used in a manner which best serves the public interest. [94932]

Ms Hewitt

There are effective mechanisms in place to ensure effective use of MOD spectrum, which will be further strengthened as a result of the recommendations of the independent Review of Radio Spectrum Management.

My Department's Radiocommunications Agency has a close working relationship with the Ministry of Defence and the use of the spectrum allocated to defence is kept under constant review, balancing the needs of national defence against the requirements of other spectrum users, this process is overseen by the United Kingdom Spectrum Strategy Committee, a Cabinet Office committee, jointly chaired by the Radiocommunications Agency and the Ministry of Defence.

Over the years, much defence spectrum has been made available for commercial services, either on a shared or exclusive basis. The Ministry of Defence also pays an annual charge to the RA for its spectrum use. This is calculated on a comparable basis to civil users and provides an important incentive to efficient spectrum use.

The independent Review of Radio Spectrum Management has made a number of recommendations designed to promote the optimal use of defence spectrum. These include an audit of defence spectrum, the continued application of spectrum pricing in parallel with non-military users on a comparable basis and the introduction of trading to provide incentives for effective spectrum use. The Government have accepted these recommendations and their implementation is now being taken forward by the Radiocommunications Agency with the Ministry of Defence.