Defence policy

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on defence policy. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Standard Notes

28.02.2012Preventing and prosecuting piracy at sea: legal issues
The resurgence in piracy at sea, particularly hijackings off the coast of Somalia, has prompted a range of efforts to tackle it. These throw up a series of legal issues including the use of force by governments and private armed security guards, and transferring of suspects for trial or imprisonment. Library Standard Notes covering related issues include: Piracy at sea: overview and policy responses; Somalia: recent political, security and humanitarian developments; and Does Somali piracy have any 'developmental effects'?.
08.02.2012The Defence of the Falkland Islands
This note looks at the UK defence presence in the Falkland Islands and reviews the current debate about whether the Islands are adequately defended in the event of future aggression.
14.11.2011Defence Basing Review
Since October 2010 the MOD has been conducting a basing review to examine all of the issues that arose out of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. The conclusions of that review were announced in the House on 18 July 2011. In November 2011 the MOD announced the first tranche of moves envisaged under the rebasing programme.
24.10.2011Military Operations in Libya
Military action to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1973 in Libya
18.07.2011Defence Reform
The Independent Report into the Structure and Management of the MOD was published by the Defence Reform Unit on 27 June 2011. That report makes 53 recommendations on the reorganisation of the MOD.

Research Papers

14.12.2011Military balance in Southeast Asia
This paper examines the military balance of power in Southeast Asia and specifically at the military capabilities and priorities of six regional actors: Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore.
21.01.2011UK Defence and Security Policy: A New Approach?
Both the National Security Strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review were published in October 2010, five months after the Government took office. This paper examines the main priorities and recommendations set out in each of those documents
15.06.2010Progress towards nuclear disarmament?
In April 2009 President Obama set out his vision for a world without nuclear weapons, and in doing so laid the groundwork for renewed international efforts to strengthen and advance the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Over the past year that momentum has translated into the agreement of a successor to the US-Russia START treaty, global commitments to secure highly vulnerable nuclear materials within four years and the establishment, at the May 2010 Review Conference, of an action plan in support of the three main pillars of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This paper examines the prospects for achieving that vision of 'global zero'.
11.02.2010Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill (HL)
The main purpose of the Bill is to create criminal offences in order to enforce the prohibitions set out in Article 1 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. This bans the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions on the grounds that they cause unacceptable harm to civilians, and establishes measures to minimise the harm to civilians in the aftermath of conflicts. Ninety-four states, including the UK, signed, and four states ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo on 3 December 2008. Once the Bill has passed into law, the UK will then move to ratify the Convention, which has been ratified by 30 states, and will come into force on 1 August 2010. The Government has announced that it intends to destroy all cluster munition stockpiles by the end of 2013. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have given their full support to the Bill.
24.04.2009Russia's Military Posture
This paper examines Russia's current military posture. It does not attempt to be a comprehensive examination of every aspect of Russian military policy but is intended as an introduction to some of the more pertinent aspects, including Russia's military capabilities, its ability to defend its increasingly diverse strategic interests and the credibility of Russia's modernisation and rearmament programme which was announced toward the end of 2008.

Select Committee Reports

25.01.2011Who does UK national strategy?
Government response. Public Administration Select Committee; Cabinet Office report [Commons]
12.10.2010Who does UK national strategy?
Public Administration Select Committee report [Commons]
27.07.2010MoD annual report and accounts 2008-09.
Government response. Defence Select Committee; Ministry of Defence report [Commons]
06.04.2010Readiness and recuperation of the Armed Forces: looking towards the Strategic Defence Review.
Government response. Defence Select Committee report [Commons]
09.03.2010National security and resilience.
Government response. Defence Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

That this House welcomes the Government's intention to hold a strategic defence and security review; notes with concern the stated intention to conduct it without giving due consideration ...
That this House regrets the Ministry of Defence's decision to close RAF Cottesmore, home to the Harrier Force as part of changes to the defence programme announced in December 2009; ...
That this House welcomes the decision by the Government to hold a strategic defence review but believes that such a review will be meaningless if the schemes for the replacement of ...
That this House believes that any forthcoming Strategic Defence Review should examine all aspects of United Kingdom defence and security; is concerned that the Government excludes from ...
That this House welcomes the support for nuclear disarmament initiatives and the strengthening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty made by President-elect Obama in his successful ...


  • Research Papers (RP) - briefings produced by the House of Commons Library on Bills, topical issues and regular statistics
  • Standard Notes (SN) - shorter, topical briefings from the Commons Library
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POST Notes - short briefing notes produced by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - an occasional series of papers compiled by the House of Lords Library