4.27 pm

Vernon Coaker (Gedling) (Lab): I thank the hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) for the contribution he has made, and often makes, in his speeches on this issue in the House of Commons. I do not mean to question the other parts of his speech, but may I tell him that its last couple of minutes encapsulated what the debate is about in a nutshell?

I do not believe that anybody in the House would not prefer a world without nuclear weapons or would not wish to see the end of nuclear weapons as soon as possible. No matter what party we belong to or how big or small it is, we are all united in trying to secure a world that is safe and secure, and rid of nuclear weapons. As hon. Members have said, this debate is about how we go about achieving that. I congratulate the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) on holding this debate. We disagree with each other, but I do not doubt that we all want to achieve the same end.

Mr John Leech (Manchester, Withington) (LD): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Vernon Coaker: I will make some progress first. I have only just started my speech, so let me have a minute or two.

I am grateful for the opportunity to outline clearly our position on nuclear deterrence and multilateral disarmament. The Labour party is an internationalist, multilateralist party, and proud to be so. We are firmly committed to working with our allies and partners

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around the world to advance our ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and we are proud of our strong record in office on multilateral nuclear disarmament.

The previous Labour Government abolished the UK’s free-fall bombs, reduced the number of deployed warheads from 96 to 48, and almost halved the UK’s nuclear warhead stockpile to 160. Today, a written statement in response to the hon. Member for Moray states that the current Government have continued that policy with further reductions from 48 to 40 warheads, and that available operational warheads have reduced from 160 to 120—something we all commend. However, we believe that the Government could be doing more to advance that agenda. That is why, as the Defence Secretary said, the shadow Foreign Secretary and I wrote to the Prime Minister in November, urging the Government to ensure UK representation at the recent Vienna conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons—a conference they did attend in the end.

Multilateralism is making progress and the UK took the lead in achieving global reductions and international bans on landmines, chemical and biological weapons and cluster munitions. A strong and consistent voice for nuclear disarmament on the world stage means that the UK has played its part in reducing the global nuclear stockpile by more than 70% since the end of the cold war.

Angus Robertson: Will the hon. Gentleman clarify an important matter? His Labour colleague, Neil Findlay, is a member of the shadow Cabinet in Scotland and responsible for fair work, skills and training. On the “Andrew Marr show” on 16 November 2014 he said,

“Andrew, it’s already Labour party policy in Scotland to oppose the renewal of Trident. Has been for some time.”

Is that correct?

Vernon Coaker: All I can say is that I am espousing the UK position, and what I am saying is consistent with the leader of the Scottish Labour party. Clearly, there is much more to do. The non-proliferation treaty conference later this year will be a key moment for a future Labour Government—or indeed any Government —to achieve concrete progress on global disarmament and anti-proliferation measures, and it would be wrong to jeopardise the significant progressive steps in multilateral nuclear disarmament made in recent years. To abandon unilaterally our nuclear deterrent at this stage in the disarmament process would do more harm than good, and in the current climate it would make Britain less secure and send out exactly the wrong signals at a sensitive moment in international relations.

The House will be all too aware of the significant and multifaceted challenges that this country faces from re-emerging and newer threats, as well as those that may emerge in future. Russia has been testing in UK waters and airspace while upgrading its conventional and nuclear capabilities—as the Chair of the Defence Committee mentioned in his thoughtful remarks—and the House will be aware of the serious events in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. We have an increasingly erratic and unstable nuclear armed North Korea, and nuclear negotiations with Iran have reached a key moment. Now is not the time for the UK to act unilaterally.

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Pete Wishart: Before the hon. Gentleman moves on from multilateralism may I say that, to me, Trident renewal is unilateral nuclear rearmament that is adding to the stockpile of nuclear weapons. The vote will be on Trident renewal. Will Labour Members oppose the motion, or are they happy to spend £100 billion and vote with the Tories in favour of an extra £30 billion of austerity?

Vernon Coaker: To try to be fair to the hon. Gentleman, this is about replacement and maintenance of our deterrent. He does not believe in us having a nuclear deterrent. Labour’s position is the policy I have espoused, which is that we must look at replacing our deterrent. He disagrees and that is fine; that is his point of view and he will articulate it in his own remarks, but Labour does not agree with it.

Pete Wishart: So you’ll vote with the Tories?

Vernon Coaker: The hon. Gentleman tempts me to respond. We will vote for the policy we believe in. That is the policy I am laying out before the House, and we will vote accordingly.

Multilateral disarmament works only if all parties feel more secure. Were the UK to abandon its nuclear deterrent on its own, and not in conjunction with other nuclear states, then neither the British people nor our NATO allies would feel safer.

Ms Gisela Stuart: Does my hon. Friend acknowledge that we would be in deep breach of not only the principle of deterrence, but the collective international responsibility we currently have through owning Trident and being a member of P5?

Vernon Coaker: I very much agree on the need for us to recognise our international obligations.

On the subject of NATO, I would like to return to a point that others have made. Is it not time for the Scottish Nationalists to be frank and open with us all? NATO is a nuclear alliance. The Scottish National party wants to be a part of that nuclear alliance. It has to recognise—I say this with respect—that membership of NATO comes with membership of the nuclear umbrella group and the nuclear planning group. Every single nation that the SNP points to as not having nuclear weapons is a member of that nuclear planning group, and is therefore involved in nuclear possession. The SNP position appears to be: no to nuclear weapons unless they belong to NATO. I understand that the motion has been moved not only by the Scottish National party, which is in favour of being in NATO, but by Plaid Cymru and the Green party, which are against being in NATO. Clearly, the smaller parties need to talk to each other.

Labour is clear. Let me say this unequivocally: our position, in an increasingly uncertain and unstable world, is that it is right for the UK to maintain a credible, minimum independent nuclear deterrent based on a continuous at-sea posture. It is right to want to deliver that deterrent in the most capable and cost-effective way, and in a way that best contributes to global security. It is right, therefore, to want to examine all the UK’s military capabilities, including nuclear, as part of the next strategic defence and security review, and to state that we would require a clear body of evidence for us to change our view that continuous at-sea deterrence provides the most credible and cost-efficient form of deterrent. That is why, as the hon. Member for New Forest East

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mentioned, in 2007 Parliament voted to maintain the deterrent and to authorise spending on the concept phase and initial gate. It is why MPs will be asked again to vote on constructing a new class of Vanguard submarines in 2016. As the Defence Secretary said, no single successor submarine will be built until approval is guaranteed by this sovereign Parliament. We should not forget that this is a programme that would create thousands of high-quality jobs and apprenticeships in Scottish docks, Barrow construction yards and throughout a multibillion pound supply chain that will benefit about 850 companies, the overwhelming majority of which are based right here in the UK.

Mr Dunne: The shadow Defence Secretary has just laid out very clearly to the House the current Front Bench position of Her Majesty’s Opposition. Will he add to that clarity by confirming that he believes at present the most cost-effective way to deliver continuous at-sea deterrence is with a four-boat solution?

Vernon Coaker: As I have said, the evidence before us is that the continuous at-sea deterrent requires the current posture. What we have said is that, as part of the strategic defence and security review, we will consider whether a continuous at-sea deterrent can be delivered in a more cost-effective way. That is exactly what the Defence Secretary said in his remarks earlier today. I suggest to the Minister that the important principle here is that there is continuous at-sea deterrence. It is incumbent on all of us to do that in the most cost-effective way.

Of course, a decision on the UK’s future nuclear capabilities must primarily be based on strategic requirements and an assessment of the global proliferation and disarmament agenda. However, does that mean we can afford to ignore the thousands of livelihoods that depend on our building a new class of Vanguard submarine? Neither should we be drawn into a debate between funding vital public services and maintaining the deterrent. A future Labour Government would commit to delivering public services that the British people can be proud of and to maintaining the security of the country.

As well as issues of capability, costs and jobs, it is right to ask serious questions about how the UK can best contribute to multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts, and for that, Britain needs to show leadership on the global stage. It does not need a part-time deterrent of the like proposed by the Liberal Democrats—or whatever the hon. Member for North Devon (Sir Nick Harvey) was talking about. Theirs is a policy that would only add to instability and insecurity and which their own “Trident Alternatives Review” did not even consider worthy of consideration.

Is it not more telling that the review by the British American Security Information Council into Trident—a cross-party, independent assessment of the UK’s nuclear capabilities that, unlike the “Trident Alternatives Review”, did consider unilateral disarmament as an option—recommended that the UK continue its current Trident system while seeking to further enhance our multilateral disarmament record. For the avoidance of doubt, it is worth quoting a section of the report. On page 6 of the 2014 final document, it says:

“Based upon the two key specific considerations, namely national security concerns and responsibility towards the”


“Alliance, the Commission has come to the unanimous conclusion that the UK should retain and deploy a nuclear arsenal, with a

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number of caveats expressed below. Most notably, it remains crucial that the UK show keen regard for its position within the international community and for the shared responsibility to achieve progress in global nuclear disarmament.”

We could not agree more. The UK should maintain the minimum, credible, independent nuclear deterrent through a continuous-at-sea system, delivered in the most cost effective way, while advancing along the path to multilateral disarmament. We have the opportunity to advance the cause of global disarmament for a safer world. Britain can play a leading role in this while ensuring the security of the British people. Let us grasp this opportunity.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. Rather than imposing a time limit, I suggest that hon. Members keep their speeches to about 10 minutes.

4.42 pm

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): Plato, among other Greek scholars, is reported to have said:

“If you want peace, prepare for war”.

That is the fundamental principle behind the theory of deterrence, and why the United Kingdom has to maintain its independent nuclear deterrent. We need one now and in the future. Our independent nuclear deterrent is the ultimate guarantee that a potential aggressor state—possibly possessing nuclear weapons itself—will not attack us. As we have heard, over the past 10 years or so we have watched the Russians greatly enhance their military and strategic weaponry. They most certainly are not scrapping their nuclear weaponry. Indeed their military presence, around our shores, in the air, on the seas and under it, is increasing not decreasing, especially around Scotland. Why are they doing this, and why should we abandon a defence against such a latent threat?

No other nuclear state has given up its nuclear deterrent, with the possible exception of Ukraine, but that is a fairly good case study—is it not?—and a warning too. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, about one third of the Soviet nuclear arsenal remained within an independent Ukraine. Then in December 1994, Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom signed a memorandum to give Ukraine security assurances if it gave up its nuclear arsenal, which it did. Twenty years later—last year—Crimea was seized back from Ukraine by Russia, and then Moscow fomented discontent and military action in eastern Ukraine. Hardly surprisingly, some Ukrainian leaders and outside commentators have argued that if Ukraine had not removed its nuclear weapons, Russia might have been deterred from its aggression in Ukraine. Do they have a point? Is there a lesson there for us?

Once given up, we will never realistically be able to reactivate a nuclear deterrent capability. Our nuclear know-how has been built up since the second world war, with, of course, considerable American support. But once gone, it is gone for ever. I accept that international terrorist groups may well be trying to get their hands on a nuclear device and that they may not act rationally, as is a normal requirement for the strategy of deterrence. However, even international terrorists such as the Daesh in Iraq and Syria may—just may—think twice about exploding a nuclear device, assuming they get their hands

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on one and have the specialised knowledge required to use it. After all, the so-called Islamic State may not face its own obliteration with the same enthusiasm with which they murder countless people.

James Morris: Is not the crucial point, which was also made by my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis), that the deterrent needs to be sufficiently credible, as in the point about Hitler, to deter even an irrational actor from the thought of using nuclear weapons against us?

Bob Stewart: I agree absolutely. Armageddon is seldom faced by anyone with equanimity.

I was an officer who spent several years in the 1st British Corps in Germany, supposedly preparing to face a Soviet threat from the east. We knew that the group of Soviet forces in eastern Europe had a huge conventional advantage over us and realised that our chances of survival would be very slight if the balloon went up. But we also trained and practised the use of tactical nuclear weapons. The Soviets knew that full well and it gave those of us due to be positioned right up against the inner German border some comfort. We felt that our possession of nuclear weapons was definitely a deterrent that the Soviet Union would have to take seriously. Most of my fellow front line officers agreed with me. Some did not, but the majority did.

Remember: smaller NATO countries such as Denmark also have aeroplanes fitted with bomb racks to pick up tactical nuclear bombs from American stockpiles to fly and to use them. It is not just the nuclear members of NATO.

Most of us in 1st British Corps felt that our possession of nuclear weapons was a very sound insurance policy. Of course the situation is different today, but I use the example to explain how possession of a nuclear capability can help conventional forces.

I hate the idea of war. Who doesn’t? All my friends in the military are of the same mind as Winston Churchill, who once said that “jaw-jaw” is better than “war-war”. But in truth jaw-jaw often depends on the ability to have war-war. In the 1960s, I remember the US strategic nuclear bombers had a special motto that they painted on the noses of their B52s—“Peace is our profession”.

Nuclear weapons are a fact in our world and potential enemies may use them whether we like it or not. So I believe that we as a nation must also possess them. If you want peace, prepare for war—so that you deter it.

4.49 pm

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC): Many of the founding fathers of my party fought in the first world war. It was their experiences of pointless human destruction that led them to base their political beliefs on the importance of Welsh national political identity, to counteract the imperialism of the great powers of the day. Wales lost more soldiers per head than any other nation in that war, and ever since, our party’s foreign policy has been based on building a peaceful role for Wales in the world, very much like our cousins in Ireland, who, of course, gained their independence in the aftermath of that war.

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While not strictly a pacifist party, our voting record in this House over nearly half a century clearly shows that we are not supportive of the aggressive foreign policy pursued by successive UK Governments and their allies. Our first MP, Gwynfor Evans, was a vocal critic in this place of the Vietnam war; my predecessor, Adam Price, endeavoured to impeach the former Prime Minister for his conduct in the build-up to the second Gulf war; and in this Parliament we have voted against military action on several occasions.

Fairness and social justice also lie at the heart of what our party stands for. Those principles could never be upheld if we believed that wasting billions of pounds on weapons of mass destruction at a time when public services are being slashed was in any way acceptable. As we have heard several times today, Trident renewal is estimated to cost about £100 billion over the system’s lifetime, and the hon. Member for North Devon (Sir Nick Harvey), a former Defence Minister in this Parliament, said earlier that that figure was an underestimate. In my view it is obscene to suggest that this is a justifiable figure when our schools and hospitals are crying out for investment.

Last week, Labour and the Tories voted in favour of billions of pounds of more cuts in the next Parliament, all the while being committed to spending a similar amount on a new generation of nuclear weapons. Given the Westminster parties’ warped priorities, it is no wonder that more and more people in Wales are backing Plaid Cymru’s progressive alternative—and the Greens in England and the SNP in Scotland.

Owing to the sums involved in the Trident renewal programme, it is vital that this House debates whether or not it is a justifiable use of public money—and I must say that this has been a very good debate. It will be the biggest spending decision made by the next Parliament, and with an election in just over three months the electorate deserve to know where those seeking election stand on this issue.

When reports emerged yesterday in the Glasgow Herald that Labour was boycotting this debate, I labelled it an insult to the electorate. However, I am glad that a few Labour MPs have broken the boycott, and they have made some very valuable contributions to the debate.

While ahead of the May election Labour will tell people how nasty the Tories are and how it would do things differently, the reality is that it would not do much differently at all, and that it would still press ahead with wasting £100 billion on Trident despite its proclaimed supposed opposition to cuts to public services and the ideological shrinking of the state. No wonder many esteemed commentators, not least Martin Shipton of the Western Mail, are beginning to ponder that the most likely coalition after the next election will be between the Conservative party and Labour.

“Living within our means” was the slogan of the Conservative party and the Prime Minister last week. Bizarrely, wasting £100 billion on unnecessary nuclear weapons did not figure in his speech, but it should have. While the UK Government, and the Labour party through its voting in support of the austerity charter, are committed to reducing spending on public services to levels last seen in the 1930s as a share of GDP, and while millions of citizens are struggling to make ends meet and watch the essential public services that they depend on crumble in front of them, it is obscene that

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any Government could go ahead and plough £100 billion into an outdated virility symbol, as the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) described it.

Politics is about priorities. Rather than spending £100 billion on a weapons system that nobody in their right mind would want to use, we say invest in schools, hospitals and affordable homes, in skills and education, and in industry to rebalance the economy, all of which would represent better value for money and would be spent on what people need to improve their lives.

Bob Stewart: Of course no one in their right mind would want to use these weapons. That is the whole point. Deterrence is not use; it is deterring someone from using a weapons system. The best deterrence is when nothing happens, as has happened in Europe since the second world war.

Jonathan Edwards: I am grateful to my fellow former Aberystwyth graduate for that intervention, but the reality is that if we are going to spend £100 billion on a weapons system, surely there is an intention to use it if necessary.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister talked of his commitment to full employment, although I strongly suspect that his concept of full employment differs greatly from the one envisaged by William Beveridge, John Maynard Keynes and others. While Trident renewal would arguably create 7,000 jobs—as we have heard from some Members representing constituencies with a direct interest—that £100 billion could instead be used to employ 150,000 nurses across the UK for 30 years—or if just over half of it was used to invest in low-carbon technologies, renewables and energy-efficiency industries, it could create up to 1 million jobs according to RES Compass.

The projected cost breakdown, for which I am most grateful to CND, is as follows: submarine procurement £26 billion, cost of missile extension programme £250 million, replacement warheads from the 2030s onwards £3 billion, in-service costs £57 billion, conventional military forces directly assigned to support Trident £900 million, and, critically, decommissioning costs of £13 billion.

Angus Robertson: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for outlining why the costs of Trident replacement are around the £100 billion figure. Does he have any idea why the Secretary of State for Defence was unable to give the Government’s own projections of its cost? Is it, perhaps, because it is such an eye-wateringly high figure, possibly significantly higher than the £100 billion outlined by the former Armed Forces Minister, the hon. Member for North Devon (Sir Nick Harvey), and that would be a scandal in the country?

Jonathan Edwards: I am grateful for that intervention. That has been one of the highlights of the debate, and it is why it is so important that Plaid Cymru, the Green party and the SNP have brought this debate to the House. As I say, Trident renewal will be the biggest spending decision made by the next Parliament, yet the UK Government have no idea of the lifetime costs of the project, despite work done by CND and others.

Let me outline further how some of the £100 billion to be spent on Trident renewal could be spent instead. Although the cost of building homes varies throughout the UK, the average cost is around £150,000. That means

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that the Government, in partnership with local authorities, housing associations and others, could build up to 650,000 new affordable homes. Of course, home building, where it is needed, would stimulate the economy in ways that simply ploughing £100 billion into nuclear weapons would not. For the money spent investing in housing in that way, the Treasury would benefit from higher-value employment, reducing expenditure on in-work and out-of-work benefits, and the investment would help to ease the UK’s acute housing crisis, as the CND so ably demonstrated in its “People not Trident” document.

In terms of education, investing roughly a quarter of the amount earmarked for Trident would result in a fivefold return on investment. In its regular publication, “Education at a Glance”, the OECD demonstrated that for every £1 invested in higher education by the UK Government, the return is £5 over the working life of the graduate. This arises from higher tax revenues and lower outlays resulting from reduced unemployment. As the OECD said, investment in education boosts jobs and tax revenues.

The alternatives are there. Plaid Cymru has long supported investment in infrastructure and public services as a means of reducing the deficit over the long term.

Mr Marcus Jones: I understand what the hon. Gentleman says about all the things that he would like the money to be spent on instead of Trident, but is that not all based on the assumption that we are still going to be here and a potential aggressor has not unloaded its nuclear weapons arsenal on to us because we had no deterrent?

Jonathan Edwards: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, which brings me to the next part of my speech—the defence and security justifications for Trident renewal. Again, the arguments do not properly stack up. If the UK did not already possess nuclear weapons and I were to stand here today and argue for us to spend £100 billion on them, I do not believe anyone would support me. Trident is not an independent deterrent. The software, hardware and expertise are all provided by the US. Indeed, the UK could not fire Trident, heaven forbid, without the permission of the US. Supporters of Trident renewal will say that the world is a dangerous place, and that spending £100 billion on nuclear weapons offers peace of mind. “The first duty of Government is the security of its people, and the world is a dangerous and unpredictable place,” they will say. “Nuclear weapons are the ultimate insurance policy.”

Those are both arguments that we have heard during today’s debate. Yet this line of argument ignores the current strategic security challenges that the UK faces, and spending £100 billion on nuclear weapons is a dereliction of duty in the face of those challenges. In addition, to describe nuclear weapons as an insurance policy is an odd turn of phrase, given that insurance policies are designed to pay out after an undesirable event has taken place, not to prevent it from happening in the first place. If nuclear weapons were ever used, the consequences would be catastrophic.

Mr Kevan Jones: I know the hon. Gentleman’s party is clear that it does not want to be part of NATO. Is he comfortable, then, with the fact that his partner on the motion, the SNP, is happy to join NATO and to join the nuclear umbrella which that membership gives?

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Jonathan Edwards: It is true Plaid Cymru and the SNP come from different political traditions. The SNP looks more towards the Nordic countries, which are members of NATO. Plaid Cymru looks more across the Irish sea towards Ireland, which is not a member of NATO. I do not see the contradiction in working together on a joint motion on Trident renewal. It is a different issue from NATO membership.

In the age of asymmetric warfare, surely it is better to have troops, not Trident, as a means of meeting security challenges. Indeed, the list of generals and top military figures who oppose Trident renewal, viewing it as a waste of money that would not meet security requirements, is for ever growing. The former head of the armed forces, Field Marshal Lord Bramall, the retired Army generals Lord Ramsbotham and Sir Hugh Beach, and Major General Patrick Cordingley signed a letter to The Times that stated:

“Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently face or are likely to face, particularly international terrorism…Our independent deterrent has become...irrelevant, except in the context of domestic politics.”

Former NATO commander General Jack Sheehan also called on the UK to ditch Trident.

Improving global security by strengthening the non-proliferation regime would lead to a de-escalation of international tensions, ensuring budgetary flexibility for the Ministry of Defence to allow it to prepare a more effective response to the actual security challenges facing us today, instead of locking it in and chaining it to several decades of nuclear weapons. The UK Government should be adhering to their legal obligations, including their responsibilities as a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. They should be showing diplomatic leadership and helping to guide multilateral disarmament initiatives, such as paving the way for a global nuclear abolition treaty.

The UK’s recent one-sided Trident commission concluded that there would be no lasting gains if the UK were to abandon its nuclear weapons programme. Meanwhile, international experts disagree. Dr Hans Blix, the former United Nations weapons inspector and chair of the weapons of mass destruction commission, recently said that the UK should abandon Trident altogether, and that that would be a “big gain” towards disarmament, pointing out:

“Japan and Germany seem respected…even without nuclear weapons”.

All our European neighbours, except France, consider themselves to be safe and secure without nuclear arsenals.

The only nations that could remotely pose a nuclear threat to the UK in the foreseeable future are Russia and possibly China. However, despite current tensions relating to Ukraine, there has generally been a positive trend in the UK’s and the European Union’s relationships with both countries since the end of the cold war. Sir Michael Quinlan, a former permanent under-secretary at the Ministry of Defence and an expert on nuclear deterrence, wrote that,

“even if grounds for unease about Russia’s internal evolution intensify, it is hard to imagine that country re-emerging as a military threat to the political freedom of the countries of the European Union”.

Not only is the defence and security case for Trident extremely weak, but politicians would do well to listen to the voice of the public on this matter. In a February

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2014 ComRes poll, 65% of respondents said they would feel uncomfortable living near a nuclear weapons base and 64% thought there should be an international convention banning nuclear weapons. In June 2010, 63% of the public said that they would back scrapping Trident to reduce the deficit in a BPIX survey for

The Mail on Sunday

. Only 30% of the public would spend money on Trident when offered the alternatives of spending on nurses’ salaries or affordable homes, according to a YouGov poll for

The People

in July 2009. A poll by Populus in March 2007 found that 72% of the public did not support the Government’s plans to replace Trident.

The forthcoming election represents the opportunity for the electorate to vote on their priorities—weapons of mass destruction or public services. In Wales, there is a long tradition of opposing nuclear weapons, not only from a non-conformist-inspired pacifism with its roots in the Welsh radical tradition; there is also the practical issue of what a small country like Wales would need nuclear weapons for. Where would they be housed or stored? Could we reasonably ask our compatriots to live next to them? The answer is, of course, no. Much as the other smaller countries of Europe—and even the larger ones—seem to get along just fine, we do not need nuclear weapons.

5.3 pm

Mr Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con): In following the hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards), it is worth reflecting on how important it is to have these debates. We do not necessarily hear anything new and startling emerge in the arguments put forward, but it is important that the British public—our voters—see that we are having this discussion. If there was one shortcoming in the decision taken at the end of Tony Blair’s reign, it was that it was felt to have been taken in an unseemly rush. It is absolutely right that we should continue to debate this matter until the maingate decision is taken.

The hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr remarked that the main decision is going to be taken after the next election. To that extent, this debate is rather otiose. It is not a turning-point debate; it is about political positioning. To some extent, it is rather laughable. I would not usually pick holes in a motion, but this one says that this House believes that Trident should not be renewed. We know what the Scottish and Welsh nationalists mean by the motion, but we are not renewing Trident; we are renewing the submarines. We are not renewing the missiles or the warheads, but simply renewing the submarines. For the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart), currently sitting in the place of the SNP leader, to say that a vote against this motion is a vote for “stockpiling” nuclear weapons really is an exaggeration. That does not excuse itself from the mouth of a unilateralist.

There are many points to pick up from the debate. The cost needs to be put in context. The extra cost that has occasioned this debate is a mere—I say a mere—£261 million. That is a tiny, minute part of the defence budget. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, it is merely a pull forward of what will be spent later, and spending it now probably saves money in the long term. Even if one accepted this £100 billion lifetime cost of Trident over, say, 50 years, that would be less than our net contribution to the European Union in

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each of those years. It would be less than many other costs that we sign away without a breath. I will never forget the day we underwrote all the banks with hundreds of billions of pounds of capital in an extraordinarily under-populated and uncontroversial debate. This is a relatively small decision—less than HS2, as was pointed out.

The right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Dame Joan Ruddock), who used to represent CND and apparently still does, asked why we should waste this money on weapons that we never use. This is another misconception. These weapons are in use every day. They are deployed and they are ready to fire at a few moments’ notice. They are not targeted on any particular country or city, but they are ready to be deployed in anger on any day of any year at any hour. I echo the Secretary of State’s tribute to the Trident submarine crews and their families and all those who support their operation. It is an immense achievement that we maintain a continuous at-sea deterrent.

The presence of this capability at our disposal in the oceans helps to shape the global security environment. It is not just to keep us safe; it is to keep the world safe. It is to keep all those non-nuclear members of NATO under an umbrella. It is to engage the United States in what happens in Europe. If we gave up our nuclear weapons and France gave up its, which I presume is what is advocated by proponents of the motion, why would the United States be bothered to defend us when we cannot be bothered to defend ourselves? That is what the US would think; in fact, it is what the US already thinks in respect of conventional capability. If we were to take our piece off the board, it would be the final nail in the obligation of the US to defend us in extremis. It is the same question as whether we would pull the trigger to defend a non-NATO country without any nuclear capability, should Russia become aggressive with that country.

Mr MacNeil: What is the difference between the hon. Gentleman’s policy and attitude towards this issue and the policy and attitude of people in America who feel that they need to have handguns to protect themselves “for security”?

Mr Jenkin: I do not think there is a parallel. The people who own handguns as individuals are not accountable for their behaviour. We have a licensing system in this country that is vigorous, makes people much more accountable and limits the number of such guns in circulation, particularly when it comes to people who might be less accountable. I can understand the hon. Gentleman’s rather trivial point, but it is a rhetorical debating point, so I am not going to spend much time on it.

There is another question that we keep hearing: “Is this really an independent deterrent?” I have spent plenty of time around a deterrent and around people who know about the deterrent, and if the Americans had some secret switch in some bunker in the United States that could disable our deterrent and prevent us from firing it, I think that we would know about it. That switch does not exist. The fact is that once the submarine is at sea, the command and control of the firing of the weapons system is completely autonomous. One of the factors that give us leverage over American policy is

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that if this country were in trouble, or if Europe were in trouble, America too would be in trouble, because the possibility of a nuclear exchange would bind it inextricably into the conflict. Europe and the United States have many mutual interests, and there are many reasons why we should support each other’s security policies, but, in extremis, we can strengthen that position by means of the capability that we possess.

Another question that we keep being asked is, “Does deterrence work?” There is evidence that it does, and those who argue that deterrence had nothing to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war are flying in the face of that evidence. There was an arms race, and the options that were available to the Soviet Union as it sought to solve its internal problems by expanding were contained by deterrence. It lost the arms race because it could not afford to keep up with the cost of the technology that the west could afford.

Mr MacNeil: If deterrence worked and mutually assured destruction worked, why did Colonel Petrov not respond in the 1980s when he thought that five missiles were bound for the USSR? If what the hon. Gentleman is saying were true, the world would have been annihilated in the 1980s.

Mr Jenkin: We do not expect the people who man the nuclear weapons systems in responsible countries such as ours—I even include Russia in that—to act as automatons; we expect them to use their judgment, and Colonel Petrov used his judgment. I would expect anyone in a position of that kind to use his judgment. As for the idea that we are all living on a knife edge because there will be some hideous nuclear accident at any minute, there is absolutely no evidence of that. The book that was referred to by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford, speaking for CND, is full of scare stories, none of which has actually led to any disaster. That is because safety is built into the systems, and those postulated disasters are extremely unlikely to occur.

The point that I make to the hon. Gentleman is the point that I would make to the right hon. Lady. Why does he think war between great powers ended at the same time as nuclear weapons were invented? It is because war between great powers possessing nuclear weapons suddenly became unthinkable. Other wars have occurred, but they have been wars in which the participants have not had nuclear weapons. The reason we live in what is perhaps a safer world is that we live in a world with nuclear weapons. I know that the hon. Gentleman will find that very hard to accept.

Mr MacNeil: What has happened since the end of the second world war is that colonial wars have ended. Colonialism has gone and imperialism has gone, and that is why wars between the great powers have gone. There was a change in the mindset of many countries when colonialism went. It had nothing to do with nukes.

Mr Jenkin: I hear the hon. Gentleman’s assertion. There was a great competition between two great powers from 1945 until 1990, but it never resulted in an all-out conflict because both sides possessed nuclear weapons. I think that that speaks for itself.

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Why must the United Kingdom be the country that carries this responsibility? That is another question that we hear. I am afraid that it is an accident of history. We must because we can, and we must because others cannot or will not. Do we want Germany to become a nuclear power instead of us? Do we want France to be the only nuclear power in Europe? Do we want Italy and Spain to become nuclear powers? No. They do not want to, and we do not want them to. It is better for us to have a limit of two nuclear powers in Europe, and to share the responsibility with the United States. That is the way in which the dice of history have fallen, but it has advantages for us. We are one of the most powerful countries in the world. We project our power and status through the possession of nuclear weapons, and we hold our position on the P5 as a nuclear weapons state. We are, even now, one of the great powers in this world, providing global security for us and our allies, and indeed for so many of the countries that might consider themselves our enemies—that is one of the ironies of the situation—and shaping the global strategic environment in all our interests, not least our own.

Let us deal with another myth: the idea that scrapping Trident would allow a spending bonanza on other public programmes or on defence. There is no evidence to suggest that the Treasury would allow the cancellation of Trident and allow the Ministry of Defence to keep that money to spend on conventional weapons. No amount of expenditure on conventional weapons that we could possibly afford would replace the stabilising and security effects of possessing the nuclear deterrent.

The one really laughable bit of this debate is the Liberal Democrats’ attempt to revive their now totally discredited “Trident Alternatives Review”. Why do we need four submarines? I hear the caveat the Labour party gingerly puts on its commitment to that, but the fourth submarine is so far in the future that it will not affect the spending plans of the next Government or the one after, so the problem is almost academic at this stage. The question is whether or not we build submarines one, two and three—I will settle for that. We have four submarines to ensure the resilience of the system towards the end of its life. If we did not have four, we would by now have suffered an interruption of the continuous at-sea deterrence. If we do not maintain that, we have a part-time deterrent, which is no deterrent; there is no point in a temporary deterrent.

Let us deal with the fantasy that we could create joint-role submarines. The Americans may have them but they have 12 submarines. For them to maintain a continuous at-sea deterrence, they can have some submarines doing completely different tasks while some of their nuclear ballistic missile submarines are carrying out the deterrent role. They have a completely different force concept from us, and it would be improper to import it. They do not understand how we can manage continuous at-sea deterrence with just four submarines and they admire the resilience of our system. We should not fiddle with it, or we will disturb its resilience.

People then ask, “Why not have a cheaper or different system?” That argument has all been disposed of, because there is no cheaper or different system of which to avail ourselves, be it submarine-launched cruise missiles, land-based missiles or air-launched weapons. We would require

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new submarines. There is no submarine that can carry a nuclear-tipped cruise missile. There is no nuclear cruise missile. We would have to develop a new warhead and a new missile to have nuclear-launched cruise missiles. We would need to have a new submarine because the payload of a nuclear cruise missile is so much bigger than a conventional cruise missile. We would need to develop a completely new submarine, which is what we are doing for the Trident system in any case—it is actually the cheapest system available. There is no alternative system. If we were to diversify into a completely new weapons system, it could be argued that we would be in breach of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty because we would not be replacing like with like.

Let us deal with the concept of these different proposals, and the idea that we should abandon the continuous at-sea deterrence and keep our submarines on the Clyde until there is an emergency. Let us imagine that halfway through the Ukraine crisis we had decided to deploy our ballistic missile submarine to a continuous patrol. The cameras would have been out and the families would have known. When a submarine sails, people know about it. The submarine deploys down the Clyde on the surface, so people can take pictures of it—it is not difficult—so the world would have known that we were escalating the crisis. To make ourselves safer we have to escalate the crisis—what an absurd position to put ourselves in. Were there a real crisis at that moment of escalation, our deterrent on the surface, visible by satellite, would itself be vulnerable to attack; we would be inviting a pre-emptive attack in order to prevent us from deploying our deterrent capability.

It is strategic nonsense to move to a part-time deterrent, and the same applies in respect of submarine-launched cruise missiles. A cruise missile is a subsonic weapon, whose launch would be detected and tracked long before it arrived on target. It would be vulnerable then to interception. How many cruise missiles would we need, to be able to provide a credible deterrent? Nobody knows —nobody knows the costs of this, but they would be astronomical. In any case, it is likely that our enemy would launch a ballistic missile, which would arrive on target in our own country within minutes and long before our missile had arrived at its target. Therefore, it is not a deterrent. The same goes for land-based missiles: there is no land-based system available. Where would we put it if we were to have a land-based system? [Interruption.] Incidentally, we would need to develop our own warheads to deploy on any different weapons system, and that cost would have to be factored in.

The “Trident Alternatives Review” has been completely trashed and rubbished. The reason that the option appears to be on the table is not that the Liberal Democrats believe it is viable—I do not believe they do—but that they think it is a bargaining chip to use in the negotiations with one of the two major parties at a time of a hung Parliament if that were to emerge after the general election.

The two main parties are quite near to making it clear to the Liberal Democrats that there is simply no deal. Until that stupid policy is taken off the table, there is no conversation to be had about any future coalition with the Liberal Democrats. That is what should have happened in 2010. I am sorry that it did not, but I am very encouraged by the confidence and determination of the Labour party that continuous at-sea deterrence, will be maintained after the next election. There is a simple

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reason why that should happen: it is entirely probable, indeed almost certain, that there will be a clear majority in this House for continuous at-sea deterrence and the Trident submarine system—there was a majority last year and in 2007. Even if there is a party in coalition with a caveat, the majority of this House wants to maintain this system and that is the obligation. That is something that we can demonstrate for the public good, without party politics, across the Floor of the House. There is consensus and agreement on this. Sometimes we put our national interests ahead of our own party interests and we get on with the job that we are here to do, which is to govern our country and keep it safe.

5.22 pm

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin). I listened very carefully to his words, as I did with all the other Conservative hawks. Indeed, we have heard a few Labour hawks, too. I say to him that there is at least an intellectual consistency running through the heart of the debate. We heard it during the period of high Thatcherism when there was a real and substantial threat and we knew what we were up against with the Soviet Union. We are hearing it again now, but we do not know from where the threat is coming or from what we are trying to protect ourselves. I have no idea at whom these weapons will be targeted. Even if we had a nirvana of world peace, we would still have the Tory hawks arguing for their nuclear weapons. They would be telling us why they were an absolute necessity and why the deterrent would have to be a feature of every community in our country.

I want to get back to what motivates us. I know what motivates the hawks on the Tory Benches. They like their nuclear weapons—of course they do—and they think they are an important feature of this country. But we all come to this matter with a set of principles—a value system—that helps to inform the important decisions that we have to take as public representatives and legislators. That is our political and moral compass, and it helps us to determine our approach to public life and the important decisions that we take in this House.

Nothing is more important to me than my fundamental belief, desire and drive to rid my country of nuclear weapons and to end the absurdity, nonsense and madness of nuclear deterrence. For me, it is an unshakeable imperative and a moral, non-negotiable responsibility. I could never countenance agreeing to have nuclear weapons as an ongoing feature of my nation.

I am appalled that my beautiful country is defiled by the presence of these evil weapons of mass destruction, 40 miles from our largest city. My lovely Scotland—

Mr Kevan Jones rose—

Pete Wishart: Yes, I know what the hon. Gentleman is going to say, so let us get it over with.

Mr Jones: The hon. Gentleman said that he had a principled position to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons, but he is prepared to join NATO, which is a nuclear alliance. Would he, as an SNP member in an independent Scotland, join the nuclear planning group and allow nuclear-armed submarines to visit Scotland?

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Pete Wishart: That intervention was predictable. The hon. Gentleman is like a stuck record. I have been to Denmark—I actually sold 250,000 records in Denmark with my previous group—and for him to tell the Danes that they are a nuclear power would be a gross—

Mr Jones rose—

Pete Wishart: No, I will not give way. I have heard that so many times: Denmark, Norway, Spain. Canada, for goodness’ sake, got rid of American nuclear weapons and is still in NATO. The hon. Gentleman does not understand and I am not prepared to take an intervention from him. He is a stuck record, spinning round and round all day, and I think the whole House is sick of it.

My peaceful Scotland is host to the largest silo of weapons of mass destruction in western Europe. Lorries carrying all sorts of parts to service and keep this genocidal arsenal roll happily along the roads of Scotland almost unnoticed and untroubled with their death-maintaining cargo. Weapons of mass destruction such as Trident sit uneasily and angularly with everything I know about the fantastic values of my country. It is a country of social solidarity, trying to promote the common weal and strong community values, yet my country hosts the biggest arsenal of genocidal weapons in western Europe.

Mr Mike Weir (Angus) (SNP): Is not the situation actually worse than that? A previous speaker talked about other nuclear installations around the country, but is it not the case that convoys are bringing these nuclear weapons through the city of Glasgow to get to Faslane?

Pete Wishart: I heard, and I am sure my hon. Friend is aware of these reports, that these cargoes were being shipped through the city centre of Glasgow only last week. That is what we have to put up with in Scotland: these death convoys on our roads.

I am so pleased that nuclear weapons and Trident became a defining iconic feature of the independence referendum. The progressive voices of Scotland got together and ensured that this debate was promoted and taken around the halls of Scotland. I am so proud that I was on the right side of the debate. I would never side with people who believe in nuclear weapons and who continue to support the case for them.

We are not even asking the House to scrap nuclear weapons, or even to reduce their number. We are simply asking the House not to agree to £100 billion of new nuclear weapons. We use the terms multilateralist and unilateralist, but by committing ourselves to Trident renewal we are indulging in a unilateral nuclear rearmament. We are adding to the stock of nuclear weapons worldwide, and that does nothing for the ambition mentioned by those on the Labour Front Bench of ridding the world of nuclear weapons and it does nothing for achieving any multilateral aim.

We are asking the House not to agree to pursue £100 billion of spending on weapons of mass destruction that can never be used. This will be the second time in two weeks that those on the Labour Front Bench and their colleagues will walk through the Lobby with the Tories. Last week, they committed themselves to £30 billion of further austerity, agreeing with the Conservatives.

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Today, they will march through the Lobby with the Tories to support them on the subject of £100 billion of spending on nuclear weapons. Last week, Labour said that it was all a gimmick. They have not described our debate today as a gimmick, although I have seen some reports of that, but they are still prepared to support the Conservatives on both issues. People are rightly asking what on earth Labour is for.

We need to hear exactly what people believe will be the biggest spending issue of the next Parliament. Already, £250 million is being spent each year on what is called the assessment phase—the lead-in phase to Trident renewal. Some £1.4 million a day is being spent on preparing for this weapon of mass destruction and an estimated £1.24 billion has been spent on the project so far. That just happens to be the same amount as the Chancellor has pledged to find in new money for the NHS.

We do not know how much this project will cost. We say that it will be £100 billion, but that figure was challenged by the Conservatives. The Secretary of State refused to say how much it would cost, and when he was challenged on the figure, we got nothing from him. We do not know the Government’s estimate of the cost of all this. They talk about the maingate decision in 2016. I suggest to Ministers that they should slam that main gate closed and leave it padlocked. This country does not want Trident renewal.

How can we justify spending so much money on obscene weapons of mass destruction when food banks are a feature of every community in every constituency in Scotland? The Westminster establishment parties have rarely been held in such contempt. The Westminster elite who run those parties can barely get more than 30% support in the polls. The Westminster establishment parties are so out of kilter with what the public want and the everyday experience of people in every community it is no wonder that they are held in such low esteem and that the House is held in contempt.

The motion is signed by members of the SNP, the Green party and Plaid Cymru, which suggests that we are beginning to do something different. It is an absolute challenge to the old failure of the Westminster—Tory/Labour, Labour/Tory, austerity-voting, Trident-supporting —establishment. We offer the people of Britain the opportunity of a different way of doing things: a progressive alliance that is not prepared to accept that we just go along with £30 billion of further austerity spending and the renewal of Trident weapons.

I am pleased about that, because it means that people in England, for example, do not have to vote for a Europhobic, immigrant-loathing, quasi-racist UK Independence party. They and my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) have something substantial to support and vote for. We have already seen the results, with a Green surge. No wonder that the Labour and Tory parties want Nigel Farage, another establishment public school banker, to take part in the election debates. It does not surprise me that they will do everything that they can to keep my hon. Friend and the SNP out of those debates, although the Prime Minister has stood up, rather late, for the inclusion of the Green party.

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Let us see what these weapons do, and challenge and test the assumptions of my friends, the Conservative defence hawks who enjoy nuclear weapons so much. There were unashamed in saying that Trident and weapons of mass destruction were necessary as a virility symbol, allowing us to be part of the P5—as if the British people cared the least bit about any of that. The British people care about spending on the NHS and education. They are concerned about food banks. Being able to sit with other nuclear powers to play with their toys? I do not think that that is what the British people want, and we are beginning to see that in opinion polls here.

We are told that deterrence works because of all sorts of external threats. We have heard some really dodgy stuff about the prospect of using nuclear weapons against Ukraine, and including that in any discussion or debate.

Mr Jenkin: If France, Britain and America do not dominate the P5, who does? There is always talk about other powers joining the P5. If India, or perhaps less savoury countries, joined the P5, that would not be good for British security and the democratic world. We are there for a purpose, which is to serve the democratic world, and we do it very well.

Pete Wishart: That is the difference between the hon. Gentleman and me. He believes that that is important, but I could not care less about that sort of thing. I believe that it is increasingly the case that the British people could not care less about that. We are struggling—there is real need and deprivation—with Tory obscenities like the bedroom tax. Does he honestly believe that people in the constituency of the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Jim Sheridan) care whether they can sit around the table with the big boys and their weapons of mass destruction? No, I do not believe that that is the case, and the British people have begun to wake up to that.

The Government say that nuclear weapons defend us against threats. The biggest threat we face is from IS and jihadists, who would be almost delighted if we threatened them with weapons of mass destruction. They would celebrate and punch the air, because Britain would be turning it on—they would appreciate and enjoy it. This is a weapons system designed to deal with the Brezhnevs of this world, not the bin Ladens. It is a cold war response to a cold war situation, and it is ill equipped to deal with the very serious external threats that we face. North Korea is a cartoon caricature of a totalitarian state. Are we seriously suggesting that we contain these nonsensical states with nuclear weapons?

I do not even know whether we are an ally of Iran this week or an enemy, such is the state of continuing flux with all the former enemies who are now new friends. We cannot keep pace with identifying who these external threats are, but the only thing we must consistently have is nuclear weapons to threaten them. If there was ever a logic to nuclear weapons—it would be a perverted logic if so—it was the idea of mutually assured destruction during the cold war: “We could kill all you guys because you could kill all our guys.” It is utter madness to think that that is an applicable argument in this modern age with this new variety of threats.

We are going to spend £100 billion on these weapons of mass destruction that we will never use just so that the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin)

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and his friends in the Conservative Government can sit at the top table. This is on top of the £30 billion of extra austerity promised to us by both the Conservative party and the Labour party. People are increasingly talking about a new alliance with the 30 per centers, as we could call them—the Conservative and Labour parties, which cannot get above that figure. That is a realistic prospect, because this will be the second time in a week that they have voted together on such issues. There is a new way of doing things in this country and a new alliance is beginning.

Mr Marcus Jones: The hon. Gentleman is expressing the view that nuclear disarmament is very popular. When was the last time that a Government in this country were elected on the basis of nuclear disarmament?

Pete Wishart: Let me tell the hon. Gentleman about the front page of a national newspaper in Scotland today showing that 60% of the Scottish people are now opposed to nuclear weapons. That is people in the constituency of the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, in my constituency, and in the constituency of the hon. Member for West Dunbartonshire (Gemma Doyle). This is now a popular movement that is beginning to gain traction.

Gemma Doyle (West Dunbartonshire) (Lab/Co-op): Let me clarify this for the record. I have seen the figures that the hon. Gentleman mentions, and he excluded the “don’t knows” in that poll. In fact, fewer than half, not 60%, of people hold the position that he describes.

Pete Wishart: The hon. Lady and I have been through lots of opinion polls in the past year. If she is so confident about her position, she should go out on the hustings and explain why Scottish Labour is a nuclear party that is prepared to spend £100 billion on Trident renewal. That is what she will have to do, and I wish her all the best in trying to get re-elected on that basis, because there is now an alternative.

There is a new way of doing things. The Westminster establishment and the Westminster elite that run this place are beginning to experience real electoral difficulties. People across the country are recognising that the old ways of doing things are not good enough. Cold war weapons for an austerity future: that is what both parties are promising, and that is what will be rejected at the next election.

5.38 pm

Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the part-polemic by the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart). He was unable to answer a question put to him when he was challenged by Opposition Front Benchers about the extent to which his party, as the head of an independent Scotland, would be prepared to shelter under the American nuclear alliance. That is an important question that his party has to answer.

I say that from the perspective of someone who intends to vote with the hon. Gentleman this evening. It is right that there should be a proper debate about this, and I therefore welcome the debate that his party colleagues have introduced. We should have a cool, calm consideration of the merits of the Trident weapons system. Over the

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course of a decade, I have been increasingly uncomfortable about the prospect of renewing this weapons system. It is a system, and we are renewing the submarines that make up part of it. Some people have said that the motion is therefore technically in error, but without the submarines the system is pointless and without the missiles it is pointless. That is what the motion means and it is on that basis that I support it. Let me explain why.

The clinching argument for me—although I also want to refer to lots of other issues—is the opportunity cost of spending, let us say, £100 billion on renewing the weapons system over its lifetime. I am wearing the regimental tie of the Light Dragoons and want to make it clear that I spent a long time in defence, professionally and then subsequently as a special adviser in the Ministry of Defence and then in the Foreign Office. I remember trying to plan a scenario, in a political sense, for the circumstances in which the United Kingdom would decide to use nuclear weapons or weapons of similar destructive power, but, frankly, I found it impossible to find such a scenario. I think that that is still the case, and the deterrent effect of that uncertainty has been discussed.

Thirty years on from the decision taken in the 1980s to acquire the Trident system, things have changed significantly and, given the opportunity cost of acquiring the system, I believe that the decision to spend £100 billion should be altered. This weapons system is of much less practical utility than it used to be in deterrence terms and, given the cost-benefit analysis, the time has come to say that this is a business that the United Kingdom should probably get out of. As a nation, given the other potential demands on our defence budget, we can no longer justify the expense.

I listened carefully to the arguments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin)—he made an extremely good speech—and they need to be addressed. First, if we buy this system, will it come at the expense of other parts of the defence budget? My view is that it will. My hon. Friend maintained that if the system is not bought, the Treasury will not give the Ministry of Defence the money. However, we have just made a significant political commitment to maintain defence expenditure at 2% of GDP.

Mr Jenkin: Have we?

Crispin Blunt: It was a political commitment made by the leaders of NATO at a summit hosted by the United Kingdom, so I believe we have made that commitment. The Government have not made it explicit and the Prime Minister will not do so before the general election, because we have to address serious budget issues and he is, rightly, giving himself room for manoeuvre. Everyone present knows that defence expenditure is already at historically low levels in terms of its share of national wealth. We are making economies in defence and in my view our defence posture is, frankly, incoherent, because we can no longer afford a coherent defence policy for the United Kingdom owing to the amount of resources we are devoting to it.

That is an issue for another debate, but it illustrates the point about the cost of acquiring this system. In the 1980s it cost between 2.5% and 3% of the total defence budget. The cost of renewing the system will be at about

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the same level of real expenditure, which means that it will cost about 6% of the defence budget. In private conversations with colleagues who share the same background as me, when I ask them whether they would rather have that money spent on the field army or on acquiring this weapons system, their answer is clear: they would rather have it spent on actual deployable defence—soldiers, sailors, airmen and the equipment deployed with them on operations—or even on the deterrence that a decent set of conventional armed forces provides. The names of some of the distinguished former Chiefs of the Defence Staff or those in other roles who have questioned the value for money of taking such a sum out of the defence budget have already been paraded.

I would argue very strongly to the Defence Secretary that if we are committed to this system, we should understand that it is a political weapons system, and that it is of very doubtful military utility. I do not entirely buy the deterrence argument, but that is a qualified position, because all these things are matters of judgment. If we do buy the argument, however, that should not come at the expense of a coherent defence programme. If we need 2% of GDP to provide a coherent conventional defence programme, we should buy this political weapons system not out of that budget, but from a separate source of funding.

In an intervention on the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock), I asked just how much he would spend on acquiring this weapons system. He represents Barrow, where the submarines will be made, so I understand that his view of their value is rather different from that of other Members. However, we must answer this question, which we have not properly addressed: at what point does the expense become unaffordable for the United Kingdom?

I am perfectly content to continue to shelter under the American nuclear umbrella. I accept that the decision matrix would be profoundly different if the United States of America was not a rock-solid ally, the Atlantic alliance was not extremely important to the Americans or we could not place the same degree of reliability on their support as we now do. If we had good reason to believe that the United States was not going to be intimately tied into the defence of ourselves and Europe, the decision would be different. I happen to believe, however, that our interests are so closely intertwined, as they have been in all sorts of ways, that we can continue to rely on that alliance.

Frankly, I am not sure that the Americans place very much value on a separate source of nuclear deterrence decision making in London. I think that they would prefer us to bring such resources to the table in the form of deployable conventional forces. The United States Government will not of course take a public view that embarrasses the UK Government, but if we scratched them, we would find that they would rather we had more effective conventional forces.

I do not buy the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex that we would lose the money from the defence budget altogether and not be able to spend it on anything else. However, even

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if the money was lost, it would have value: £100 billion off the debt or spent on other parts of the public service would be valuable.

I therefore ask: what are we buying with the system? There should be a debate about whether we are buying security or, given the laws of unintended consequences, insecurity. The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire said that he thought we were buying status for our leaders so that they can parade themselves appropriately at conferences. I do not buy that argument—our leaders are perfectly capable of thinking in hard terms about what hard security is affordable—but I am concerned about the political background to this discussion, and about whether we can have a sensible debate on the cost-benefit analysis of acquiring this system.

The problem is the inheritance of the politics of the 1980s. When the decision was made to acquire the Vanguard and Trident system, the then Labour Opposition came out against it in 1983 as part of the “longest suicide note in history” that they presented to the United Kingdom electorate. I think that that policy was wrong and that at the time, because of the cold war, it was right to renew the deterrent. The people of the United Kingdom took the same view in the general election, as they did about the rest of the basket of promises that Michael Foot and his colleagues presented to the country, and they gave that policy, very properly, an extremely large raspberry and possibly the biggest Conservative majority in the history of Parliament—I am sure I will be corrected if that is wrong.

The scarring effect of that event, and the fact that there might be some proper debate, particularly on the Opposition Benches, means that dissent is suppressed. I am proud to stand here as a Conservative and question the efficacy of the decision under discussion, particularly in terms of its opportunity cost. It may be that I have discounted my future career prospects to such an extent that I feel free to make these points, but for the benefit of the Government Whip who is making a note, I say that this is where my judgment lies currently, but it would not prevent me from exercising collective responsibility to support the decision as part of any future Administration. [Laughter.] We should be able to have this debate and ask questions. How much money would we be prepared to spend on this system if its cost was not going to be 6% of the defence budget? What about if it was 10% or 20% of the defence budget? At what point does it cease to be sensible to invest in this system?

Many Members support deterrence in principle, or at least are not against the possession of weapons of this destructive power in principle—that is a perfectly proper position to take, although I do not share it because to a degree I buy the arguments that I grew up with in the 1970s and 1980s about the principle of a defence. I agree that during the cold war these weapons ensured that the world did not elide into direct hot war engagements that had the ability to escalate into catastrophe. The potential for catastrophe at the root of deterrence in a cold war, bipolar world kept us safe, but we are now in a different world and different calculations must be made.

My view is that for the United Kingdom, 6% of the defence budget is not justifiable, and that also relates to my view of Britain’s place in the world. Unlike most of my colleagues, I would be prepared to put our permanent seat on the Security Council up for negotiation and debate in a reform of the UN Security Council, to try to

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make that institution more effective. I think it is difficult to justify a British veto on the UN Security Council, and because it is so difficult to justify, the veto is hardly ever used by the United Kingdom. We must also think about Britain’s role in the world, and I do not think that we have properly had the debate about exactly what we can bring to the councils of the world, and what Britain’s position in the world should be.

We will be much better equipped to defend our interests if we are a wealthy, successful, entrepreneurial and trading nation that looks out to the entire world, and I am not sure that landing us with a weapons system that we are never going to use is a sensible use of resources, and it therefore might become a burden—

Mr Speaker: Order. I am loth to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. He is making an extremely interesting speech, which is being listened to with respect. He said that the debate needed to happen and I just want, very politely, to make the point that six other hon. Members, who will have a lot less time than the hon. Gentleman, are waiting to speak. Therefore, I feel confident in predicting that his last sentence is coming.

Crispin Blunt: I am very grateful, Mr Speaker. I looked around to see who was standing and got to a different number, so I am immensely grateful and will conclude my arguments.

I had taken the view of the hon. Member for North Devon (Sir Nick Harvey) that there should be an alternative way of buying this kind of deterrence, or at least some kind of deterrence, in a cheaper way. I now accept that the alternatives review has answered that question, and has at least made the decision matrix around this much clearer. I do not think it is now possible, on the basis of that work, for us to buy a deterrent in a different way.

However, I gently point out to those who think that by renewing these weapons we are buying an invulnerable system, that I do not think we are. I think the nature of surveillance under the sea will make the future generation of submarines much more discoverable than present science suggests, and the question of Scottish independence will come around again in the lifetime of this weapons system. Had we had to move this weapons system from an independent Scotland, the cost of making a base for it in Plymouth or elsewhere would have been eye-watering. All those uncertainties need to be factored in. On that basis, and on the opportunity cost, I will with deep regret be voting against most of my colleagues this evening.

5.56 pm

Mrs Madeleine Moon (Bridgend) (Lab): It is an old adage in Parliament that there are no votes in defence. Perhaps today has blown that out of the water. As I sat here, I was wondering whether the party political stuff should enter into this debate on a crucial defence and security issue. I have come to the view that it is helpful. I think the public need to know where the parties stand and the consequences of the votes they will be casting in May.

I was disappointed that the Secretary of State chose to refer to the Labour party as “the shower opposite”. Personally, I found that offensive and it was beneath the dignity of his office. I therefore feel free to point out that he was wrong to suggest that the Labour party is in any way lacking a total commitment to

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“a minimum credible independent, nuclear deterrent, delivered through a Continuous At-Sea Deterrent”.

I will point out to the Conservative party that the one thing on which I have agreed with the Scottish National party is that its decision—in front of the Defence Committee, the Secretary of State seemed not to understand or know about it—to remove the capability offered by the Nimrod maritime reconnaissance and attack aircraft, the MRA4, would, as the National Audit Office has said, have an adverse effect on the protection of the strategic nuclear deterrent.

The Secretary of State told the Committee that the planes were not available and had never flown. Later in the evidence session, however, we were told by a senior officer in the RAF that he had actually flown the MRA4. Let us get our act together. Let us get our facts accurate. The Labour party is for a continuous at-sea deterrent and is committed to the defence and security of the United Kingdom.

I am pleased that we have a red line regarding some of the coalitions being talked about. The public need to understand that it will be impossible for Labour to enter a coalition with the Scottish nationalists, the Green party and Plaid Cymru, because of their red line on removing the nuclear deterrent. That is fine; at least we know where we stand. The public also know where the Liberal Democrats stand: they want to buy nuclear submarines but park them somewhere. It is like saying, “We’ll have a burglar alarm on our house but we’ll never turn it on, because we don’t believe there are any burglars out there.” The party political thing has gone too far but it has been helpful, in that at least the public now know where the parties stand.

Those opposed to the nuclear deterrent like to take the moral high ground, as if opposition to mass slaughter and a desire to protect this green and pleasant land were more in their blood than in the blood of we who believe that a nuclear deterrent is essential to the protection of the UK. I used to be a paid-up member of CND. When I was first elected to the House 10 years ago—new Members arrive with nothing, no office, no computer, no staff—the first letter that came across my desk was from a Mrs Hopkins in Bridgend, asking where I stood on the nuclear deterrent. I thought I knew where I stood, but I wanted to be the best MP that Bridgend could have, and I was not just going to tell her what my opinion was. I did my research and I spent a lot of time in the Library, and she was shocked by the letter she got back, because it was not what she had expected, and neither was it what I had expected to write. Having done the research and looked at all the risks and arguments, I realised that the nuclear deterrent was critical to Britain’s defence and security.

There has been lots of talk about finances and how much of the defence budget we should be comfortable with spending. We are told it is 5% or 6% at the moment, but some ask, “What if it rose to 10%?” Quite honestly, I would be worried about what the Government were spending the money on, and whether they were spending across the board and taking the security of the UK seriously, if the majority of our defence budget was going on the nuclear deterrent. It is part of a package. It is not the only thing; it is part of the thing. Yes, there are new risks and threats to this country—there always are—but just because there are new ones coming does not mean that the old ones have disappeared, because they have not; they are still there, and they are serious.

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I am a member of the Defence Committee and of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, so I talk a lot with other Governments about defence issues and where Britain stands in the world of defence. I have been to the Pentagon and the State Department, and I have asked them how critical is Britain’s nuclear deterrent. They see it not as an add-on, a joke, an irrelevance, but as essential to NATO. How do they think the American people would feel if we said, “We can’t afford to spend this, so you fess up. You pay for Britain and the rest of NATO’s nuclear capability”? That is not going to happen—let’s be real. America should not and cannot pay for the whole of the defence of NATO. It already pays too much, which is why Britain, at the NATO conference, was urging NATO allies to step up to the 2%. It is why we were so vociferous about it.

I have not just talked to the Americans; I have talked to countries in eastern Europe who face the nuclear threat and know the reality of Russia. They are terrified of that nuclear threat from Russia. It is something we need to take seriously. I have talked to the Afghans and the Pakistanis. I have repeatedly asked questions and the thing that comes out clearly is that nobody in the world would feel safer if we stepped back from our responsibilities to maintain our nuclear deterrence.

This debate is timely and important. I am aware, Mr Speaker, that you want others to speak, but may I briefly say that if Members still have any doubts, they should look at the Trident commission, which was cross-party and reported in July 2014? It said:

“If there is more than a negligible chance that the possession of nuclear weapons might play a decisive future role in the defence of the United Kingdom and its allies in preventing nuclear blackmail or in affecting the wider security context with which the UK sits, then they should be retained.”

They were cross-party speakers—key individuals in the history of this House. That was their finding; it should be ours too.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: There is just under seven minutes for remaining speakers, so I would appeal to colleagues to help each other.

6.7 pm

Mr Alan Reid (Argyll and Bute) (LD): This has been a very interesting debate. I very much want to see a world free of nuclear weapons and we should put every effort into the nuclear non-proliferation treaty talks to try to achieve that. Nuclear weapons are an appalling invention but the reality is that they have been invented. If Britain were to give up our nuclear deterrent unilaterally, as the movers of the motion propose, that would not persuade one single other country to follow suit. It is not our nuclear deterrent that worries me, but that those who wish us harm might obtain a nuclear deterrent themselves.

Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) (LD): I, like my hon. Friend, believe in multilateral disarmament. He has studied the issue carefully. Does he believe that there is any realistic alternative to Trident as the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent?

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Mr Reid: No, there is no realistic alternative. The Government were right to have the review, which showed clearly that Trident was the minimal-cost credible nuclear deterrent.

We have no idea what nuclear threats might emerge over the next 50 years. A nuclear deterrent is like an insurance policy; the intention is never to use it, so it may appear to some to be a waste of money. But if it succeeds in its aim of deterring possible adversaries, it has done its job and is worth the money.

The Vanguard submarines are nearing the end of their life and next year we must take a decision on whether to replace them. It was right to put off a decision for as long as we could so that we have the most up-to-date information available to us before taking that decision, but next year is definitely the final possible date for taking that decision. Barring some dramatic and unexpected breakthrough on multilateral nuclear disarmament, the right decision next year has to be to build the replacement submarines for the Vanguards.

Since the end of the cold war, Britain has contributed greatly to nuclear disarmament. We have given up our tactical maritime and airborne nuclear capabilities, as well as our nuclear-capable Lance missiles and artillery. Britain possesses the smallest nuclear capability of any of the five nuclear weapons states recognised by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and we have only one delivery platform.

It is very important to note that there are no proposals to upgrade the capability of the Trident system or to acquire additional nuclear warheads. The motion is incoherent. It talks about not replacing Trident, but Trident refers to the missiles. It is not the missiles that need replacement; it is the submarines. Next year’s decision is purely about building new submarines to replace those that will soon go out of service. The SNP in its motion wants us not to renew Trident, yet it wants to join NATO, a nuclear weapons alliance, and it wants to be protected by French and American nuclear weapons. That policy is just incoherent.

A submarine system with ballistic missiles remains the most effective and least vulnerable form of deterrent. Aircraft can be shot down. Land-based silos are vulnerable to attack. In contrast, a submarine can hide in the depths of the ocean. The submarine base at Faslane is in my constituency, and, like other speakers, I pay tribute to all those who serve in our submarines and their families. Our submariners are very committed to serving their country and are away from their families for months on end. I also pay tribute to those who work at Faslane and the armaments depot at Coulport. They carry out very highly skilled jobs with an extremely high level of professionalism.

We should be doing our utmost to work to rid the world of nuclear weapons, and I was pleased to hear the Defence Secretary say that Britain will be hosting a non-proliferation treaty conference next month, but it would be wrong for Britain, as the movers of the motion want, to give up our nuclear deterrent unilaterally. That would not remove anyone else’s and would not make the world any safer.

6.11 pm

Phil Wilson (Sedgefield) (Lab): I apologise for missing part of this debate, but I had duties to perform on the Serious Crime Bill this afternoon.

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When I was 20 years old Mrs Thatcher had just been elected for the first time, and it was the height of the cold war. Like any idealistic 20-year-old, I wanted to live in a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear annihilation. I did not think it was too much to ask. I was young and had the rest of my life ahead of me, so I joined CND.

CND wanted to get rid of nuclear weapons unilaterally —“just like that,” as if they could be magicked away. Although CND’s approach to nuclear disarmament was well-meaning, the organisation elevated unilateral nuclear disarmament from a tactic to a principle. CND implied at the time that “If you’re a unilateralist, you’re a peace lover. If you’re a multilateralist, you’re a warmonger.” I doubt very much that the British people are warmongers and they taught me a valuable lesson in 1983 when they let the Labour party know in no uncertain terms at the ballot box what they thought of our position on unilateral nuclear disarmament. Shortly after that, I left CND.

I relay that story because I believe those who are unilateralists hold strongly held convictions, but so do multilateralists. Both unilateralism and multilateralism are tactics—they are a means to an end—and are not principles. A world of peace and a world free of nuclear weapons and of the threat of nuclear annihilation are the principles and the goals we should be pursuing. To hold up unilateralism as anything more than a tactic and to try and portray it as a superior and moral principle is a lamentable fallacy and could turn, like this motion before us today, into something wholly disingenuous and hypocritical. For example, I do not understand how the SNP can promote unilateral nuclear disarmament and want to see the removal of nuclear bases from the Clyde, but want to stay part of NATO, which is a nuclear alliance. I now understand, however, that the SNP wants to remain part of NATO only if NATO takes all possible steps to bring about nuclear disarmament. I think we can all agree with that objective whether we are unilateralists or multilateralists, and we already know that nuclear stockpiles have been significantly reduced by NATO members through multilateral action. The SNP would have the deterrent move south of the border, because if there were, God forbid, a nuclear catastrophe, any nuclear fallout would stop drifting north once it reached Hadrian’s wall.

But what is the principle at stake? For the SNP it is a belief in a narrow-minded and short-sighted nationalism, where its contribution to a nuclear weapon-free world is the removal of such weapons from Scottish soil while leaving the deterrent itself intact because, after all, the SNP wants to be protected by NATO’s nuclear umbrella. That is what I mean about its being disingenuous. For the rest of us, the principle at stake is a secure world where prosperity is shared and people live as best they can together. For me that is a laudable ambition and it is one that the SNP will say it adheres to, but how do we achieve that ambition—by withdrawing from the world and making our country smaller, or by embracing the world with all its faults? Surely it is the latter approach that offers the best chance of success.

However, I believe that the supporters of the motion want to retreat from the world and renege on their responsibilities by giving up on the tools already at their disposal to do the job. What do I mean by this? The nationalist parties may seem bigger than they are because

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they are taking on more than what they are. In this case, they are taking on the rest of the United Kingdom, but their stated ambition of breaking up the United Kingdom will diminish not only Scotland but the opportunity to achieve what the SNP sees as the most important goal of all—a world free of nuclear weapons, which we all want to see. The irony is that the SNP and Plaid Cymru will never achieve any of this without remaining part of the UK. That is why the motion is disingenuous. The proposers of the motion know that; and if they do not, at least the Scottish people do.

The SNP’s stance will diminish what it wants to achieve. If the United Kingdom were no longer united, and if the SNP’s sister party, UKIP, had its way and we left Europe, the UK’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council would rightly be jeopardised. That would be a disaster because—I know this is not popular with the SNP and Plaid Cymru—Britain is a force for good in the world. I do not believe in a little England; I believe in a Great Britain. Britain is a force for good which should not be diminished by impotent nationalism which believes that the best way of solving the problems of the world is withdrawing from the world.

If the SNP has its way, it may see the removal of a nuclear deterrent from Scotland to another part of these islands that it shares with the rest of us, but it will further diminish the prospect of achieving its stated aim of a nuclear weapon-free world. Like nuclear fall-out, my aspirations for a world free of nuclear weapons do not end at Hadrian’s wall. Until agreement can be reached on further reductions in nuclear weapons, Britain should be at the table shaping the future, not succumbing to it. Let us not forget that it is not just England that is represented on the UN Security Council as a permanent member, but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Why the SNP wants to relegate Scotland from such a seat, I do not know.

If we do not take ourselves seriously, no one else will. In a globalised world the trick is not to be small and make ourselves even smaller, but to walk tall and be part of, not against, something greater than ourselves. As a consequence, Trident or its equivalent continually at-sea as a deterrent is the burden that we need to carry until multilateral disarmament opportunities arise. As I learned in the early 1980s, wishful thinking gets us nowhere.

6.18 pm

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): I apologise to the House for not being here at the start of the debate. As I explained to you in a letter, Mr Speaker, I was attending the funeral of a friend of mine, Mike Marqusee, a great writer who passed away last week. He had an enormous funeral this afternoon. My hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) was there, too. When I informed the massive audience that we were leaving to come to vote against Trident, they burst into rapturous applause.

Mike Marqusee wrote a great deal and thought a great deal. He started by opposing the Vietnam war and spent his life campaigning for peace and a nuclear-free world. During the funeral we received a message from another good friend of mine, Achin Vanaik, who is an anti-nuclear campaigner in India. He does not want India to have nuclear weapons or to be a nuclear power,

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and he does not want Britain to be a nuclear power. He wants to see a nuclear-free world. He is not alone. There are millions around the world who do not see nuclear weapons as their peace and their security. They see such weapons, first, as an enormous expenditure and, secondly, as an enormous threat to this world.

I attended the Vienna conference on the humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons, along with other colleagues from the House. I was very pleased that, at the last moment, the British Government decided to attend, as did the United States Government. That was a good step forward, because they had not attended previous conferences in Oslo and Mexico. I hope that all the delegates took in the reality of what a nuclear explosion is. When Members talk glibly about the deterrent or the threat—the possibility of deterring people through the use of nuclear weapons—they should pause and think for a moment. If someone says that they have a deterrent and it is a threat, they must be prepared to use it. If anyone anywhere in the world uses a nuclear weapon of any size, millions die and there is an environmental catastrophe, a global recession, a food shortage and a nuclear winter. It would mean the destruction of an awful lot of things that we hold very dear. We talk glibly about the security that these weapons give us, but that security is one of destroying everything that we hold dear. Perhaps we should be a little less glib and a little more sanguine about the real humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons.

Next month, the Government will host a meeting of the P5, the permanent members of the UN Security Council that also happen to be the five declared nuclear weapons states, but please let no one tell me that if a country gives up nuclear weapons it can no longer be a permanent member of the Security Council, because that is simply not the case. Presumably, the meeting was designed to work out the line to take ahead of the five-yearly review conference on nuclear weapons, which will take place in New York in May.

The non-proliferation treaty was the product of good work by the Wilson Labour Government, and others, in 1970, and contains two key demands. The first is that the five declared nuclear weapons states—Britain, France, China, Russia and the USA—take steps towards disarmament. The second is that all other signatories agreed not to develop nuclear weapons, and the declared nuclear weapons states agreed not to export nuclear technology. Is the development of a new submarine and nuclear weapons systems by Britain part of taking steps towards disarmament? Or is it the very opposite—taking steps towards re-armament? Perhaps we could have more credibility by going to the P5 meeting in February with a proposal for the non-replacement of Trident and the start of a process of disarmament by all five P5 members. We could report back to the conference in May.

We have been discussing morality and credibility. At the conference on the humanitarian effects of war, the British representative, the ambassador to Vienna, delivered a speech on behalf of the Foreign Office in which he outlined the British Government’s case for nuclear weapons, which was that they believe them to bring security—we have heard many of the same arguments today. It was

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met with silence, sadness, disappointment and incredulity, particularly after we had heard from people who had witnessed nuclear explosions and seen their effects.

That speech was followed by one from the representative of the South African Government, who explained how South Africa had nuclear technology but had specifically given it up in order to make the continent of Africa a nuclear weapons-free zone. How did the conference receive that speech? There was amazing sympathy, support and optimism. We offered pessimism, threats and insecurity; the South Africans offered hope and some kind of justice around the world. I hope that the House will understand that many of us will never give up on the idea that we can and will live in a nuclear-free world, and that our existence as a country does not depend on being able to destroy the rest of the planet.

When 2016 comes, we will presumably be invited to vote on the replacement of the Trident nuclear missile system and expenditure on it of about £100 billion over the next 25 years. That is an utterly incredible sum of money. I obviously hope that we do not undertake the renewal, and that if we do we never use the weapons. An enormous amount of resources is taken up in creating a weapon of mass destruction when we could be setting our engineering industry, which is highly skilled, highly motivated and able to produce many things, to producing things of social and economic good rather than the drain involved in the cost of nuclear weapons. That, in turn, would help our economic development, whereas the development of nuclear weapons will not.

To those who say that it is all for our security and that our security is enhanced by nuclear weapons, let me say this. If we follow that argument, any country in the world can say, “We need nuclear weapons.” Iceland could say it wants them; Paraguay could say it wants them; Japan could say it must have nuclear weapons—the list goes on, the countries get bigger and the possibilities become more dangerous.

The last review conference reiterated the previous decision that there should be a middle east weapons of mass destruction-free zone conference that would be hosted by the Finnish Government. It did not happen, and because it did not happen, Egypt walked out. Others in the Arab League and in the region warned that if this conference did not take place, there would be a danger to the whole non-proliferation treaty process. I hope that the Government are aware of that danger. Every single country at the last review conference agreed that the conference I mentioned for the middle east should take place, and I hope that it will. It would provide a way of getting Israel and Iran around the same table. We got together on chemical weapons and a load of other things, so we should get together on that. Otherwise, there will be a danger of a nuclear arms race developing across that region, with obvious dangers to the rest of the world.

Others wish to speak, so let me conclude with these thoughts. We were elected to this place to try to improve people’s lives; we were elected to represent our constituents and to ensure that they have homes, jobs, schools, hospitals and security. A secure world is not created by an arms race, and it is not created by creating more and more threats. A secure world is created by looking at the issues that divide the world—the racism that divides the world; the poverty that divides the world; the environmental destruction that divides the world. Can we not look in a

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different direction and deliver a different foreign policy, rather than hold to the arid idea that all we need to do is to spend phenomenal sums of money in order to threaten to destroy the whole planet?

6.28 pm

Katy Clark (North Ayrshire and Arran) (Lab): It is a huge pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) and to join him in paying tribute to Mike Marqusee—I knew him, too—who was involved in many campaigns, including many anti-war ones.

I am very pleased to have the opportunity to put on record my opposition to Trident and to Trident renewal. I believe that continuing the Trident programme would be wrong politically, economically and militarily. At the beginning of the debate, there was a good deal of discussion about the costs of Trident, which have been disputed. What we know, however, is that if we look at the history of nuclear weapons systems, the costs have escalated and the eventual costs have on every occasion been hugely greater than was originally indicated by the Governments in power.

Some £100 billion, or something of that nature, is an absolutely obscene amount to spend in a country where the gap between rich and poor is getting greater, where far too many of our constituents are relying on food banks and where the political debate is dominated by discussion of what cuts should take place. It is interesting to note that some of the strongest advocates of Trident renewal are also the most robust advocates of cuts in other areas of public expenditure, such as public services and welfare. I do not believe that a decision to proceed with Trident, and the Trident renewal at maingate in 2016, will be acceptable to any of our constituents in any part of the country.

Too much of the debate has been dominated by the politics of the 1980s, and Labour Members believe that the politics of those years still dominate much of the thinking on this issue. The hon. Member for Reigate (Crispin Blunt) made the same point in one of today’s most interesting speeches. I think that, over the decades, the arguments of those who believe that the retention of a nuclear capability is not a sensible use of Britain’s resources have become stronger and stronger. Nuclear weapons are no defence against the challenges that we face from terrorism; indeed, the more nuclear installations we have, the more vulnerable we become. We need to devote all our energies to nuclear disarmament throughout the world, and to the prevention of nuclear proliferation.

As has been pointed out repeatedly, all the arguments advanced by those who believe that it is essential for Britain to have nuclear weapons are equally valid in respect of every country in the world. We need to act politically in order to put nuclear disarmament at the top of the agenda. We need to turn up at discussions, as the British Government often do not. Deciding not to proceed with Trident, and to use the money in other ways, would be a hugely important step symbolically, and would have a huge impact throughout the world.

Given that a decision will be made in 2016, we need to engage in a full and open debate about whether Britain actually needs nuclear weapons. Certainly they are hugely unpopular in the part of the world that I represent, where we see the weapons and the submarines.

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Only last Thursday, a nuclear convoy travelled through the roads of many parts of Scotland. It is clear that what the main political parties are saying is increasingly out of step with public opinion. We should be concentrating on redeveloping our economy by investing in defence diversification and in growth and jobs, rather than spending money on nuclear weapons systems, which are an incredibly ineffective and inefficient method of job creation.

I hope that Members in all parts of the House will make it clear this evening that we must have a proper debate, and that we must make a decision that will be in the interests of the people of this country.

6.33 pm

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): I am very pleased to follow the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Katy Clark), and, indeed, the hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn), who is a fellow member of the council of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. I am also very pleased to speak in support of this important motion. I support it for moral, security, economic and legal reasons.

Let me begin with the legal reasons. I believe that using Trident would be illegal. That is what the International Court of Justice concluded about nuclear weapons in its advisory opinion of 1996, an opinion that reflected international humanitarian law and the principle that states must never use weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets. Even more specifically, that is the opinion of lawyers from Matrix Chambers who were asked for their judgment on two separate occasions, and who determined in both instances that

“The use of the Trident system would breach customary international law”,

in particular, under article 2(4) of the UN charter. The same lawyers found:

“Renewal or replacement of Trident at the same capability is likely to be inconsistent with Article VI”

of the non-proliferation treaty, to which the UK has been a signatory since 1968.

I wish to spend a moment discussing the NPT, because those in favour of nuclear weapons often cite it when making the case that countries such as Iran should not seek to acquire nuclear weapons. I certainly do not want to see Iran acquire nuclear weapons, but I recognise that the NPT is based on two key clauses. It is based on a bargain, the first part of which is that nations that do not have nuclear weapons should not seek to acquire them. The other part of the bargain—the forgotten part—is that nations with nuclear weapons should seek to negotiate them away in all earnestness. We seem to forget that second part, and we are not seeing much earnestness from Members on either side of the House.

It is useful briefly to consider the claim, often repeated by many Government and Opposition Members, that we need Trident for our security. I argue that nuclear weapons make us less safe. They divert major resources away from tackling our main security threats, and the Government have stated that the security threats we face today are primarily terrorism and cyber-attacks; I would add climate insecurity to that list. It is not difficult to find experienced military and political figures

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who confirm that nuclear weapons are not strategically useful. I do not often quote Michael Portillo, but when he was Defence Secretary he described Trident as

“completely past its sell-by date”.

As I have said, the former head of the armed forces has described our nuclear weapons as “completely useless” and “virtually irrelevant”.

We need to examine this word “deterrent” in a bit more detail, because it is used far too simply. Calling Trident “the deterrent” as though that were somehow an intrinsic part of its identity is just plain silly—the language does not confer the capability to deter any more than calling a cat “dog” would give a cat the ability to bark. We need a mix of tools for deterrence and security, rather than investing blind faith in voodoo defence based on a cold war weapon that cannot deter but could very well obliterate us. The truth is that the idea of a nuclear deterrent is a public relations euphemism from the early days of the cold war. It was meant to close down debate by making nuclear weapons sound as if they were safe, sensible, useful and necessary—but they are not. Military history is littered with examples of too much reliance being placed on the latest weapon that some leader believed would deter. The consequences were often tragic, in part because those relying on the notion of a deterrent had failed to pay attention to the really important things that would have kept their people safer and more secure.

So it is even more short-sighted and dangerous for Britain to rely on a weapon of mass destruction that, if launched, would put our own survival at risk. If we are going to debate deterrence, we should do so honestly, recognising that it is a complex relationship requiring us to understand the fears, threat perceptions, and needs and values of others, and to communicate carefully and effectively. The best deterrence of all is to work with other nations to address the global threats we face, such as fossil fuel-induced climate disruption, transnational trafficking in weapons, people and drugs, and the poverty and desperation that fuel so many conflicts and so much hunger and violence around the world.

Perhaps even more controversially for some Government Members, Britain needs to have a realistic view of its role in the world. We can be a force for good, and I hope we are, but the truth is that we are a small nation in an interdependent world. Recognising that fact, rather than seeking to grandstand on the world stage, might just be an important step towards making us more secure. The MOD has made clear its knowledge of the fact that climate change plays a big role in the major strategic threats we face. It has put on the record that things such as coastal flooding, climate-driven migration and rising food prices owing to drought and water stress will be some of the most significant impacts of climate change over the next 30 years, and that those pose a far greater security risk than anything a nuclear weapon might help us with. I agree strongly with that view.

I want to reiterate what others have said about the obscene cost of Trident. To be seeking to spend £100 billion on Trident replacement and maintenance at any time would be a massive diversion of funds from more socially useful things, but to do so at a time of economic austerity, when we have 1 million people using food

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banks and welfare is being slashed for so many of the most vulnerable in this country, is morally wrong and obscene.

Let me conclude by saying that that £100 billion could pay for 150,000 new nurses, tuition fees for 4 million students, 1.5 million affordable homes, insulation of 15 million homes and 2 million jobs. Those are concrete, tangible things that we could have and yet we are turning them down, not in return for something that will genuinely give us security, but, even worse, in return for something that is likely to make us less safe.

6.39 pm

Hywel Williams (Arfon) (PC): We have had a very good, full and thoughtful debate. I thank everyone who has taken part, even those with whom I fundamentally disagree.

Speaking as I do for Plaid Cymru, I must begin by referring to the largely empty Labour Benches. I understand that Labour MPs are on a one-line Whip, and Welsh Labour MPs on the whole appear to have taken full advantage of that indulgence. Over the past few days, I have seen copies of many messages to Welsh Labour MPs, asking them to be here today. The empty Benches speak eloquently of their response. Some Welsh Labour MPs believe sincerely in the nuclear deterrent. The hon. Member for Bridgend (Mrs Moon), who is in her place, is one such MP. I respect her for her position and for explaining her views. I am afraid that, for others, it is a matter of calculation. There is a grim balance between mutually assured destruction and, sadly, what effect a vote either way today will have on Members’ majorities in May. There are, however, Labour MPs and one Tory MP who have spoken in favour of our motion, and they are a shining example to others.

Some Welsh Labour MPs have dismissed today’s debate as posturing, a gimmick and a stunt. Opposition to aerial bombardment has been central to Plaid Cymru’s policy since our very earliest days—opposition that was tragically proved correct by the Nazi bombardment of Guernica and the destruction in the blitz of so much of central London, Coventry, Liverpool, Swansea, Glasgow and some of the great European cities such as Dresden. Then we have Hiroshima and Nagasaki and all the bombing in later years from Korea to Vietnam and Iraq to Afghanistan. We must mention also those women, some of whom were from Plaid Cymru, who marched all the way from Cardiff to Greenham to set up the first peace camp—some posturing, some gimmick, some stunt.

My hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) opened the debate with a long, detailed and very thoughtful speech. He made some hard-headed and practical points that would sit well in the mouths of military people. He looked at alternative ways to spend the money that goes into Trident and at the costs of Trident, and that has been a continual theme today. I was disappointed that the Secretary of State would not or could not answer that particular question on costs.

My hon. Friend posed a particular question about marine patrol aircraft, and again we got no answer. He finished by pointing out that there is determined and national opposition to the matter in Scotland. In reply, the Secretary of State talked about the fearsome nuclear arsenal in the world—17,000 nuclear weapons. He pointed out quite reasonably that the Russians are modernising,

20 Jan 2015 : Column 179

that North Korea is looking for capability, that Iran is dangerous and so on. He pointed out all those dangers. He also talked about the current threat from ISIL and again referred to Russia and Ukraine. He stressed that the nuclear threat is there for the long term.

The Secretary of State was questioned by my hon. Friend about the total cost of Trident. It is interesting because some Members put that cost at £25 billion to £30 billion. Others suggested £130 billion. Whatever way we look at it, that is an enormous amount of money. The point was made that that money could be spent in a much, much better way.

The Secretary of State mentioned the jobs that are dependent on the nuclear industry, such as those at Faslane. Other Members also made that point.

The right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Dame Joan Ruddock) made an excellent speech about how the decision would lock us into nuclear deterrence for a very long time and about how the dangers have changed over the years. She also talked about the dangers of a nuclear winter.

The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Oliver Colvile) talked about Trident as the cornerstone of membership of NATO and noted that jobs in his constituency are reliant on its renewal.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr Godsiff) made a careful and thoughtful speech in which he pointed out that security is best achieved collectively with other countries and I welcome his support for our arguments today.

The hon. Member for North Devon (Sir Nick Harvey) outlined the Liberal Democrat position and also pointed out that the world has changed. He questioned the utility in 2015 of a system that was first devised in the ’70s and ’80s and also pointed out the other choices. Tellingly, he pointed out that there is now discussion about bringing the Army down to 60,000 members, rather than 80,000. He then explained the Liberal Democrat position on retaining capability as a contingency, but I must confess that I did not quite follow his argument. No doubt those arguments will be rehearsed again as we approach the election.

The hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock) rehearsed the mutually assured destruction argument for Trident. He said that he was proud of Labour’s record, and when he was asked by the hon. Member for Reigate (Crispin Blunt) when Trident would not be affordable, he seemed to say that it was a wonderful bargain. He is the MP for Barrow.

The hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart) talked about Armageddon, not economics, making a good general point, and then went on to the new bogey man, Russia, and a possible attack on the Baltics, a possibility that other Members discussed and roundly dismissed. He finished with an interesting point when he said that it is not just about kit but about a determination to defend ourselves. The character reference reminded me of Mr Tony Blair’s reference to the United Kingdom as a war-fighting nation. Wales is not a war-fighting nation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil) argued that if nuclear weapons are so good, why should not everyone have them? He also pointed towards the interesting possibility of a Labour-Tory coalition after the election.

20 Jan 2015 : Column 180

Many hon. Members spoke and I apologise to them for not being able to refer to their speeches. I should mention the hon. Member for Bridgend, about whom I spoke earlier, as a fellow Welsh Member. She welcomed the political debate and we will engage with her in the run-up to the election. I suspect that those are words that she might come to regret. She said that Labour is in favour and that there would be no coalition, so can I tell her from this Bench that we do not want one? She also explained her conversion from CND membership to supporting Trident and I found that very interesting. Other Members, including the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Phil Wilson), have moved from supporting the CND to supporting Trident.

There were eloquent and passionate speeches from my hon. Friends the Members for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) and for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas). Those will repay close heed. In fact, this entire debate should be read and examined by people well outside this House as the arguments have been rehearsed well and interestingly. I think we can say that a line has been drawn this afternoon. On this side, we have the Green party, Plaid Cymru and the SNP as well some of our friends in other parties, whereas on the other side we have the other parties.

Ian Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Hywel Williams: I think not, as I have no time at all.

I will in fact finish my speech, saying that peace and peacemaking have been central to the culture of my country for a very long time. I finish with lines from the 19th-century poet, Gwilym Hiraethog, which might be a suitable epitaph for Trident. They are:

“Segurdod yw clod y cledd,

A rwd yw ei anrhydedd.”


“Idleness is the glory of the sword,

And rust is its distinction.”

6.49 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Dunne): Today’s debate has shown one thing above all, which is that the House takes a strong interest in nuclear deterrence.

I should like to begin by congratulating the minor parties on securing the debate, and all those who have made a contribution. I may not be able to refer to everyone individually in the time available. We are fortunate to be able to rely on the crews of our submarines and their families, and the men and women, both military and civilian, who support the nuclear enterprise. Their support is essential to maintaining our nation’s credible and effective minimum nuclear deterrent based on Trident, operating on a continuously at-sea posture, and we thank them for their unwavering dedication.

Ms Gisela Stuart rose—

Mr Dunne: I am afraid that I cannot take interventions.

I remind the House that it is the first duty of any Government to ensure the security of the nation, its people and their vital interests. This Government do not, and will not, gamble with the United Kingdom’s security. We recognise that people wish to be reassured that money spent on replacing the current Vanguard-class

20 Jan 2015 : Column 181

submarines will be money well spent. That has been reflected by several hon. Members in the debate. As my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart), who chairs the Select Committee on Defence, eloquently pointed out, this is not just about money. It is a big decision, but costs are important too. The Government agree that the strategic deterrent should be subject to the same discipline in bearing down on securing value for money for taxpayers that we are applying across defence procurement.

We will continue to scrutinise and improve the procurement programme for Successor, but we should not forget that capability is a long-term issue. We are talking about maintaining a strategic deterrent in service until 2060, and it is essential that we can protect the UK against future uncertainties during that period. The world has always been an uncertain place, and the task of defending the nation has always been supremely challenging, and never more so than in the nuclear age. Some hon. Members have questioned the threats and the nature of deterrence—Members have very different views on the subject. As the Secretary of State said, we are now in the second nuclear age, with existing nuclear powers commissioning new capabilities. The problems of proliferation have become sharper, and the emergence of new nuclear states is a reality. The need for the nuclear deterrent is no less than it has ever been. Only today there have been reports in the US raising doubts about continuing co-operation by Russia and its working with the United States to protect stockpiles of weapons and materials.

We have heard impassioned speeches by Members on both sides of the debate. I commend the consistency that most speakers have shown on this vital topic. I was reminded by some speakers, notably the right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Dame Joan Ruddock), and the hon. Members for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) and for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), of speeches from the 1980s. My hon. Friends the Members for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) and for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) argued with equal passion and considerable expertise. My hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Crispin Blunt) has clearly travelled in one direction in this debate, while at the same time the hon. Members for Bridgend (Mrs Moon) and for Sedgefield (Phil Wilson) have travelled in the opposite direction.

The hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson), as usual, is trying to have it both ways. During the campaign last year on the referendum, which settled the issue of independence for Scotland, he argued that Scotland’s defence would rest on the presumption of NATO membership. To be accepted as a member of NATO requires a nation to accept protection under an umbrella of nuclear compatibility, yet the motion seeks to do precisely the opposite in respect of our own nuclear deterrent. As the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) pointed out, all NATO allies except France, a nuclear-weapons state, participate in NATO’s nuclear planning group, so an independent Scotland would either have to participate in NATO’s nuclear planning process, which would be odd for a Government with a declared opposition to nuclear weapons, or it would have to persuade the 28 allies that it should hold a unique anti-nuclear position in a nuclear alliance—not a credible position.

20 Jan 2015 : Column 182

As my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex pointed out, the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) showed that he did not understand his own party’s motion. We should be clear about this. We are making the maingate decision next year on replacing four Vanguard-class submarines with four Successor submarines—that is, no increase in proliferation or stockpiling of weapons. In fact, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made clear, and as set out in today’s written statement, this Government have already reduced the number of warheads deployed on each boat from 48 to 40 and the number of operationally available warheads from 160 to 120.

The hon. Member for Moray and several others made much of the cost of the overall programme, particularly the sums being spent or committed ahead of the maingate investment decision. It might help the House if I clarify the actual rather than the fantasy costs of the programme. Several hon. Members have referred to £100 billion as the cost of replacing Trident. We simply do not recognise this figure. The Government White Paper presented to Parliament in 2006 estimated a cost of £15 billion to £20 billion, at 2006 prices, for the Successor submarine infrastructure and refurbishment of warheads. We remain within these initial estimates, which in 2011 were updated for the capital costs of Successor submarines to £25 billion at outturn prices.

Some hon. Members acknowledged the economic impact of this programme. In addition to the important design and manufacturing facilities for the submarines at Barrow, which the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock) mentioned, for the propulsion in Derby, and for the warheads in Berkshire, there are of course those involved in the submarine operating base at Faslane—the largest employer in Scotland. We have identified over 850 businesses in the supply chain across the UK that will potentially be involved in the Successor programme. This is one of the largest capital projects in the UK.

The shadow Defence Secretary, the hon. Member for Gedling, revealed two things. First, we heard the renewed commitment to a minimum credible independent nuclear deterrent delivered through CASD—continuous-at-sea deterrence—in the most cost-effective way. I, and other Government Members, welcome that. It will be interesting to see how many of his colleagues join him and me in the Lobby to reject the motion. I hope that he has the support of his party. I noticed that he claimed the support of the leader of the Scottish Labour party, but not of his own leader.

Secondly, and revealingly, the hon. Gentleman declined to confirm, in answer to my specific question, that the Labour party is committed to a four-boat solution. Perhaps this explains the nuances between the hon. Gentleman, who spoke before Christmas of a minimum credible deterrent, and the Leader of the Opposition, who, when challenged, talked of a least-cost CASD.

Vernon Coaker: We should not be playing party politics with an issue like this, but if we are, does the hon. Gentleman agree with the right hon. Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox), who said,

“At the moment the assessment is we need four…So at the moment the technology says four. That’s something that can always be kept under review”?

20 Jan 2015 : Column 183

Mr Dunne: Every study that we have looked at so far has said four, so that is where we stand, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman does too.

Finally, I turn to the position advocated by my hon. Friend the Member for North Devon (Sir Nick Harvey), whom we found dancing on the head of a pin in talking about a bizarre new Lib Dem policy aspiration. Far from a minimum nuclear deterrent capability delivered with a two-boat option for dual use, he has developed a new policy on the hoof—not a part-time deterrent but a kit-part deterrent. Apart from the fact that neither of those options was even considered by the alternatives review, this has demonstrated that the Liberal Democrat party is—

Pete Wishart claimed to move the closure (Standing Order No. 36).

Question put forthwith, That the Question be now put.

Question agreed to.

Main Question accordingly put.

The House proceeded to a Division.

Mr Speaker: I wonder whether in the light of the delay—it has been 17 minutes thus far—the Serjeant at Arms might investigate the delay in both Lobbies.

The House having divided:

Ayes 35, Noes 364.

Division No. 133]


6.59 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Blunt, Crispin

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Clark, Katy

Connarty, Michael

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crockart, Mike

Davidson, Mr Ian

Durkan, Mark

Flynn, Paul

Galloway, George

George, Andrew

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Huppert, Dr Julian

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lazarowicz, Mark

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Lucas, Caroline

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

McDonnell, John

Morris, Grahame M.


O'Donnell, Fiona

Osborne, Sandra

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Stringer, Graham

Walley, Joan

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Tellers for the Ayes:

Pete Wishart


Jonathan Edwards


Abrahams, Debbie

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Baker, Steve

Baldry, rh Sir Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barron, rh Kevin

Barwell, Gavin

Bayley, Sir Hugh

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berger, Luciana

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Blackman, Bob

Blenkinsop, Tom

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brown, Mr Russell

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burnham, rh Andy

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Carmichael, Neil

Cash, Sir William

Chapman, Jenny

Chishti, Rehman

Clappison, Mr James

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Coaker, Vernon

Colvile, Oliver

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Crouch, Tracey

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

David, Wayne

Davies, David T. C.


Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

de Bois, Nick

De Piero, Gloria

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Docherty, Thomas

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doughty, Stephen

Doyle, Gemma

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Dugher, Michael

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Elliott, Julie

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Esterson, Bill

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Field, rh Mr Frank

Field, Mark

Flint, rh Caroline

Fovargue, Yvonne

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Gale, Sir Roger

Gardiner, Barry

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Hague, rh Mr William

Halfon, Robert

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hands, rh Greg

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Healey, rh John

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hermon, Lady

Hilling, Julie

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hunt, Tristram

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Diana

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Graham

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Mr Marcus

Jowell, rh Dame Tessa

Kane, Mike

Kawczynski, Daniel

Keeley, Barbara

Kelly, Chris

Kendall, Liz

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Chris

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Loughton, Tim

Lucas, Ian

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Main, Mrs Anne

Malhotra, Seema

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maude, rh Mr Francis

Maynard, Paul

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McClymont, Gregg

McCrea, Dr William

McDonagh, Siobhain

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGuire, rh Dame Anne

McInnes, Liz

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, Andrew

Miller, rh Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Nash, Pamela

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Onwurah, Chi

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, rh Sir Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perkins, Toby

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Phillipson, Bridget

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Powell, Lucy

Pritchard, Mark

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Sir John

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reckless, Mark

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, rh Sir Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Rutley, David

Scott, Mr Lee

Seabeck, Alison

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Alok

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Simmonds, rh Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, Angela

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spellar, rh Mr John

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Stuart, Mr Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tami, Mark

Timms, rh Stephen

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Uppal, Paul

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Walter, Mr Robert

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Watts, Mr Dave

Weatherley, Mike

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williamson, Gavin

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Mr Rob

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Wright, rh Jeremy

Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr Ben Wallace


Dr Thérèse Coffey

Question accordingly negatived.