Letter: Wider consultation needed in Government defence review

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Letter: Wider consultation needed in Government defence review

Sir: Having read Polly Toynbee's comments on the Strategic Defence Review Seminar and the response of its chairman, I would like to offer a suggestion. Clearly the review has been prompted by the amount of money that the armed forces consume. The solution is so obvious, I cannot understand why it has not been proposed before.

The answer is competitive tendering. In a world of increasingly fast communications and multi-national businesses, all that aggressors or defenders need do is to define the terms of the contract, and then invite applications from those who would like to undertake the task. The contract would be awarded to the group who tendered the lowest price.

There would have to be safeguards. Without the idea of "nation", motivation would have to be supplied by a system of incentives (perhaps an extra payment for winning a war, and so on). One would also have to ensure against a monopoly situation: clearly there would be a need for at least two competitors (and preferably many more) in a World Conflict Market.

Of course there will be the predictable reactions to such a suggestion, but we experienced similar responses, from those with vested interests, to Margaret Thatcher's reforms of the Eighties. In today's society, where Tony Blair seems to be building on the foundations of his illustrious predecessor, I am confident that my above idea will be taken seriously.


Topsham, Devon