Liam Fox pledges end to MoD waste

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Defence Secretary Liam Fox today pledged an end to waste and lack of control over major projects at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as he backed plans for a radical overhaul in organisation and management of the Whitehall department.

Mr Fox said he wanted to see a "slimmed-down" management structure, including a smaller defence board, following a 10-month study recommending reforms to the MoD by the Defence Reform Unit (DRU) headed by Lloyd's of London chairman Lord Levene.

"I have made it clear for some time that I wanted a smaller defence board so that we take decisions in a much more coherent way, so that the alignment of the responsibility for spending and government policy are in one place but at the same time to ensure that those who are responsible for running the Armed Forces have greater freedom to do so," he told BBC Breakfast.

"It is all about ensuring that we get better management because as the report says, and as we have known for some time, that the way in which the MoD is run has not really been to the benefit of defence as a whole, there has been too much waste and there has been too much lack of control over major projects and we intend to bring that back."

He spoke as he was due to set out a radical restructuring of the MoD with the aim of ensuring there is no repeat of the profligacy that led to the department's £38 billion black hole.

The Defence Secretary is to set out changes to the organisation and management of the MoD which will increase accountability for spending in the chains of command.

But Dr Fox will also insist that the reforms are decentralising, and give service chiefs more control over their own budgets.

The package, to be detailed to the House of Commons this afternoon, comes after the DRU study set up Dr Fox last year.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that Gaddafi was wanted for orchestrating the killing, injuring, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the first 12 days of an uprising to topple him from power, and for trying to cover up the alleged crimes.

Presiding judge Sanji Monageng, of Botswana, said there were "reasonable grounds to believe" that Gaddafi and his son are both "criminally responsible as indirect co-perpetrators" for the murder and persecution of civilians.

The fact that the dictator and some of his closest allies are now internationally wanted suspects could complicate any efforts to negotiate his departure and end the bloody conflict in the North African state.

Even before the warrants were confirmed, the Libyan regime's spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, had rejected the ICC as having "no legitimacy whatsoever".

Earlier today, at a press conference in London with Chinese Premier Wen Jaibao, Prime Minister David Cameron reaffirmed his determination to see the military campaign in Libya through.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox also claimed that senior figures around Gaddafi could play a key role in ending the conflict.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast after the Nato operations passed the 100-day mark, Dr Fox said: "The message should ring out very clearly to Colonel Gaddafi and his regime that, not only can we do it, not only do we have the military hardware to do it, but we have the political and moral resolve to continue to protect the population of Libya as long as we are asked do so under the authority of the United Nations and as long as Colonel Gaddafi is waging war on his own people."

The Cabinet Minister added that the way in which the mission was carried out was "sustainable" in spite of questions raised by Air Chief Marshal Sir Simon Bryant, the RAF head of combat operations, and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope.

"We have made it very clear that the way in which we are carrying out this mission is sustainable along with our allies, and I think that it is very important that, when you are in a conflict, you do not raise ideas in the minds of your opponents that we may not be willing to carry this through," Dr Fox said.