Andrew Mitchell highlights the central role of the National Security Council in defence, diplomacy and development.
I served on the National Security Council in the first two and a half years after it was set up—with my right hon. Friend in fact—and it does seem to me that it is clearly sensible to have the National Security Adviser separate from the head of the civil service. Both are very exacting roles: they may fit closely together, but they are very different. I have read digitally my right hon. Friend’s brilliant, and long, speech at the weekend: will he confirm the centrality of the National Security Council—the reform that we introduced in 2010—and in particular in its role of wiring together defence, diplomacy and development in our national interest?
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on displaying the stamina to read all of the speech. It would have been a shorter speech had I had the time to edit it appropriately. His point is absolutely correct. The creation of the National Security Council was an innovation pioneered by David Cameron when he was in Opposition. The potential National Security Adviser at that time was a political appointee, and it was the case when the coalition Government was formed that the distinguished figure of Lord Ricketts, then Sir Peter Ricketts, became the first National Security Adviser. It is an innovation in the governance of the UK, but it is one that has served us well, and it is of course the case that national security advisers in other countries are very often political appointees.