National Security Council

National Security Council; Crown copyrightThe 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 Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Government has published its Strategic Defence and Security Review: Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty which sets out how we will deliver the priorities identified in the National Security Strategy. It describes how we will equip our armed forces, our police and intelligence agencies to tackle the threats we face today and in the future.

Structure of the NSC

There are currently three ministerial sub-committees of the Council;

  • to consider Threats, Hazards, Resilience and Contingencies including a restricted group to consider intelligence matters
  • to consider Nuclear Deterrence and Security and
  • the UK’s relationship with emerging international powers

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, Sir Peter Ricketts. The National Security Adviser also acts as secretary to the NSC.

Read more: Members of the National Security Council

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