Nick Clegg and minister for security at the Home Office detail plans for national security and freedom of information

The establishment of the National Security Council and the Strategic Defence and Security Review have been described as vital steps to delivering an integrated, more purposive and comprehensive approach to national security.

Speaking at the Homeland Security and Border Conference in London, minister for security at the Home Office, Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, revealed that cyber security and resilience was discussed by the National Security Council on the first day of the new government.

She claimed that cyber security, a key responsibility along with counter-terrorism and resilience, was ‘an example of the cross-cutting nature of the policy responses we have to bring to the threats – and opportunities - we face'.

Neville-Jones was also critical of the previous government, saying that they ‘allowed the powers of the state to encroach too far into the rights of the individual', with a result that the protective state became the oppressive state and a source of division rather than trust.

She asked how much investment should be made to protect against a threat that is of low likelihood but of high impact should it, against all the odds, occur? 

Speaking on future plans, she said: “The establishment of the council and the review are all vital steps to delivering an integrated, more purposive and comprehensive approach to national security.

“The review in particular will deliver the operational outcome of the defence and security aspects of the national security strategy in terms that are up-to-date in relation to the threat and affordable. We will ensure that our capabilities and resources are focussed on the most significant risks we face and opportunities open to us.

“Since government neither can, nor wishes to do these things alone, we will work consistently with international partners, the private and the voluntary sectors, not just in formulating the strategy but in its implementation as well. And we will involve the people of this country, especially at the local level.

“While combating terror and providing security, the government will reduce the intrusion by the state into peoples' lives and give impetus to integrating our society on the basis of equality, responsibility and shared values.

“The goal is a society that is resilient physically and psychologically with a shared sense of purpose.”

Meanwhile in a separate address, deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg commented on the move to scrap ID cards and restrict the storage of DNA, but said that he wanted to see further steps taken.

He said: “Our ambition is to create a society where no law-abiding individual ever feels intimidated by the state, just for going about their day-to-day business. Where people aren't cast under suspicion simply because of who they are, or where they're from.”

Calling it the ‘Your Freedom project', Clegg said that it will be part of the government's bigger political reform agenda and was one of the ways of transferring power away from government and the state and into the hands of the public. 

He said: “Our aim is for the best suggestions on freedoms and regulations to be included in parliamentary bills, this year and in the future. As for what they'll look like, I don't know. The government may have got the ball rolling, but now the debate is totally out of our control.

“We don't know what ideas are going to end up on the site; how they will spread across other sites and forums; which of them will capture imaginations and which won't. If a specific reform is popular, ministers won't be duty bound to act on it, but we won't be able to hide it either; it will be right there for everyone to see.”

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