The National Security Council (NSC) is the main forum for collective discussion of the government’s objectives for national security and about how best to deliver them in the current financial climate.
A key purpose of the Council is to ensure that ministers consider national security in the round and in a strategic way. The Council meets weekly and is chaired by the Prime Minister.
Structure of the NSC
There are currently 4 ministerial sub-committees of the Council that consider:
- threats, hazards, resilience and contingencies including a restricted group to consider intelligence matters
- nuclear deterrence and security
- matters relating to cyber programmes and policy development
- matters relating to the implementing the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and National Security Strategy
Their remit is to examine more specific national security areas in which a range of relevant departments participate.
Additionally there are associated cross-government senior official groups that support and inform these ministerial level structures. Principal amongst these is the Permanent Secretaries Group chaired by the National Security Adviser, Mark Sedwill. The National Security Adviser also acts as secretary to the NSC.
Other Cabinet ministers attend as required (ie depending on what the Council is discussing). Similarly the Chief of the Defence Staff and Heads of Intelligence Agencies also attend when required.