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More Groundwork Needed For National Security Strategy

The UK’s next national security strategy will be prepared in an “unnecessary rush”, MPs and peers say.

The joint Parliamentary committee on the strategy said not enough groundwork had been done to prepare for it.

Last published in 2010, the document sets out threats to national security and how the government will respond.

The government said preparatory work had started but that it was “right” for the final strategy to be published after May’s general election.

Prime Minister David Cameron has told the committee the new version, expected after the general election, needed a “refresh” but not a complete overhaul.

But the committee said a “thorough revisit” was required to take account of changes to the security situation around the world.

International events had caused “greater insecurity and uncertainty” since the current strategy was set out soon after the coalition took power, the committee said.

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It pointed to the rise of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the “growth of worldwide radicalisation” and Russia’s actions in Ukraine as issues the new strategy will have to address.

The next strategy must also deal with emerging risks such as pandemics and climate change, the committee said, warning that “existential threats” may be a bigger issue by 2020.

The committee said it was “disappointed” the government had not done more expert consultation for the next strategy, saying this would mean it was “prepared too quickly”.

“It has missed a valuable opportunity to prepare the NSS over a reasonable period of time, and to involve Parliament, the public and outside experts in its work,” the report said.

“Leaving so much to be done until after the general election will mean an unnecessary rush which can only damage the quality of the strategy.”

Labour MP Margaret Beckett, who chairs the committee, said: “We have urged the government to engage with a range of people – experts, the public and our committee – when preparing the NSS, and also to take an active role in public engagement, to ensure that the British public understand the thinking behind our national security strategy.”

A government spokeswoman said the top priority was to “do everything possible to keep our people safe”.

She added: “The National Security Council routinely works with experts at both official and ministerial level.

“Academics, think tanks and international partners were consulted during the last review.

“Decision on the final scope or approach for the next review will be taken after the election but clearly experts will be consulted.”