James Sunderland speaks in debate on reform of the MOD’s acquisition system

Following the Government statement on the plans for reform of the Ministry of Defence’s acquisition system, James Sunderland suggests that, in order to ensure financial discipline and planning, procurement teams bear responsibility for the entire capability of the equipment they procure throughout its lifecycle.

James Sunderland (Bracknell) (Con)

I, too, welcome today’s statement and the bold strategy, so I thank the Minister. We had a conversation yesterday in which I suggested that we needed an arbiter of good taste within strat comms. I am delighted to see the IDA now being formed, which should allow for a bit of rigour, with tri-service interest. May I make a point about how we can further reform acquisition? To my mind, if we are serious about not writing cheques that we cannot cash, and about financial rigour, discipline and planning, we need to be making procurement teams responsible for the entire capability throughout lifecycle. May I please leave that with the Minister? I am being mischievous, but it is a seed I want to sow.

The Minister for Defence Procurement (James Cartlidge)

My hon. Friend has also served and has great expertise in logistics and these matters. In many ways, that is the portfolio approach: having teams within MOD who are focused on a particular capability, potentially cutting across the frontline commands and the stovepipe approach. It has been particularly useful for complex weapons. In effect, as I have said, we will be using that with drones and uncrewed systems, but I am happy to look into it further.

I am also glad that my hon. Friend stresses the importance of the IDA in strat comms. Just to be clear, this is about having a way of calling out issues that I suspect and hope are not commonplace, but having that presence there will hopefully lead to cultural change, which is the key thing we want to see, so that we get into the habit whereby when we procure, we are looking at not just the platform but whether it has the key enablers. If we get the basics right, we will set programmes up for success.