18 Apr National Security and the Prime Minister
A new paper by George Bangham and Sarang Shah, examining the UK’s National Security Council since its formation by David Cameron in 2010.
Locating the NSC’s formation in wider debates on the UK’s constitution, the executive authority of the Prime Minister within Cabinet government, and the role of military intelligence in policymaking, it proposes two major changes to the NSC’s role and its associated regulatory framework.
Firstly, it is proposed that the NSC be placed on a statutory footing as an amendment to current legislation in the Intelligence Services Act (1994). Defining the NSC’s existence and requiring its decision on certain executive powers such as the declaration of war would, in this paper’s estimation, act as a valuable constitutional check on Prime Ministerial power.
Secondly, a strengthened framework is proposed for the regulation of the NSC by Parliament, though the Intelligence & Security Committee. The case is made that, if national security in the 21st century may be defined as a public confidence that normal life may be conducted without personal or national danger, the public interest is served by more open scrutiny of high-level security policy, thereby increasing public confidence and accountability.
The authors are grateful for the help of Lord Wilson of Dinton, Professor Christopher Andrew, The Rt Hon. Jack Straw MP, and the members of the Wilberforce Society in their seminar.