Former defence minister Peter Luff fears reforms will be crushed

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The Independent Online

The former minister in charge of buying weapons, tanks and combat gear for the armed forces has warned that the Ministry of Defence must undertake "structural, policy and attitudinal changes".

Peter Luff oversaw the start of the overhaul of the department's £14bn procurement arm when he was Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology. However, he left in the reshuffle and department plans to see the private sector take over more of the running of Defence Equipment & Support have been delayed while the business case is fleshed out.

DE&S has been hit by cost overruns, but Luff told The Independent on Sunday that he is worried "people in the department have deep reservation about reform". It is understood that senior armed servicemen are particularly worried that this would effectively be privatisation.

In a document recently distributed to defence and support services businesses, Luff argued he is "far from convinced" that those opposing the reforms have "been tamed permanently". Alluding to Shakespeare, he added that "evil may yet live after us".

He added: "It is certainly good that the defence equipment budget is now balanced and that our armed forces are better equipped than they have ever been. These achievements were hard won … though, it is by no means inevitable that they will endure unless structural, policy and attitudinal changes are made permanent at the ministry."

The Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, is currently considering a report by Bernard Gray, the top mandarin on defence procurement, on reforms under what is known as a "government-owned, contractor-operated" model.