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Report Stage and Third Reading of the Defence Reform Bill took place in the House of Commons on 20 November 2013.

Several Government amendments to the bill had already been debated and agreed during the Public Bill Committee stage, see Library briefing SN06732. At the end of those deliberations several Members, including the Opposition frontbench, continued to express concerns over several principles behind the Bill, namely the proposal to establish Defence Equipment and Support as a Government-Owned, Contractor-Operated (GOCO) entity, and the Government’s recent decision to increase the strength and role of the Reserves while the Regular forces are reduced over the next few years.

The day before Report Stage, the Government also announced that one of the consortia bidding for the GOCO contract had withdrawn from the competition. Work is now underway to determine whether it is in the public interest for the MOD to proceed with only one commercial bidder and the public sector comparator (DE&S plus).

Several amendments were tabled prior to Report stage, including one which sought to impose an obligation on the Government to report on the viability and cost-effectiveness of the plan to increase the size of the Reserves, which would then be subject to approval by both Houses before the Government could continue with its reform agenda. Despite the support of several Conservative backbenchers, that amendment was, however, defeated on division. A clause seeking to increase the leave entitlement of Reservists was also defeated.

The following is a brief summary of changes made to the Bill at Report Stage, and the major points of debate. The Bill has now passed to the House of Lords and is HL Bill 60. Second Reading is currently scheduled for 10 December 2013.

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