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"World Class Ships But Nothing To Put On Them" MPs Debate Armed Forces Future

The Prime Minister's Chief Adviser on security issues has admitted there are capability gaps surrounding the staffing and support of Britain...

HMS Queen Elizabeth Gibraltar MoD

Aircraft carriers with nothing to put on them, budgeting concerns and areas of vulnerability – the National Security Adviser was grilled on them all.

Sir Mark Sedwill appeared before the Defence Select Committee to give evidence on the National Security Capability Review and ongoing Modernising Defence Programme.

For more than two and a half hours, Sir Sedwill answered MPs’ questions on a range of issues including budget concerns, national security threats, capability and areas of vulnerability.

It wasn’t all serious as MPs tried to tease out information from him.

Sir Mark Sedwill did make a few clear admissions – that capability gaps, specifically surrounding staffing and support of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers – will mean they would inevitably have to be used in cooperation with other nations.

There was discussions over leaks and how useful or harmful they are.

And what is said in private vs what is said in public.

Russia was also a hot topic at the committee as Sir Sedwill said it was the primary strategic threat to the UK and said the individuals who poisoned the Skripals have not been identified.

Our Westminster Correspondent, Laura Makin-Isherwood says it seemed Theresa May "repeatedly blocked" the Defence Select Committee from speaking to Sir Mark Sedwill.

COMMENT: Requests Blocked By Theresa May

The Defence Select Committee had been waiting to speak to Sir Mark Sedwill for months, their requests repeatedly blocked by, it seemed, the Prime Minister.

As the man overseeing the NSCR, the committee said they felt they needed to speak to him in order to carry on with their work assessing the Modernising Defence Programme. Eventually, they got their wish - two and a half hours to question him on a wide range of topics.

After the Defence Select Committee Chairman Dr Julian Lewis told me he was pleased with how the session went, they had, he said, learned a lot. But on the issue of whether more money will be coming to the Ministry of the Defence, Sir Mark Sedwill did not budge.