Today’s debate on Trident

I’ve received a number of emails regarding today’s House of Commons debate on Trident and have reproduced my response – which I’ve just sent out – in full below:

Thank you for your recent email regarding today’s debate about investing in a new fleet of submarines armed with trident nuclear weapons.

It is no great secret that I am sceptical about the merits of this course of action. Since I was elected in 2010 I have been a member of the Parliamentary Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and in each session I have signed a succession of Early Day Motions to this effect:
http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/110
http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/909
http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/1477
http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/1924
http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/96
http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/150
http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/37

However it is equally well known that my party’s official position is to support trident renewal, albeit subject to consideration as part of a Strategic Defence and Security Review to be held if we are successful in the upcoming General Election. This would consider both cost implications as well as strategic necessities, recognising the role of the defence sector to the UK economy, and concerns around protecting and develop a highly skilled workforce. Our final position would then be put to a vote of parliament in early 2016, which is commonly referred to as the ‘Main Gate’ decision (both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are also committed to a vote at this time).

Today’s vote has been initiated via an ‘opposition day’, whereby one of the parties not in Government gets to choose the subject of the debate, and is not part of any official decision making process. As a consequence this vote will not be interpreted as a substitute for the Main Gate decision, and parliament would have to return to this issue in early 2016 regardless of its outcome. I have therefore chosen to abstain on the vote, and will continue to make the case against renewal to my party colleagues in advance of the Main Gate decision.

I know you may find this response disappointing. I would be more than happy to engage further with constituents on this issue.

Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

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Mail Room: Trident

Nuclear disarmament is an issue in which I have a lot of interest personally, and on which lots of constituents contact me. I’ve recently received a number of postcards which highlight the cost of replacing Trident – close to £100 billion – at a time when public services are being slashed across the board.

Trident submarine

There are also moral and political arguments against a renewal – a decision which will make the world a more dangerous place than it is today. I set out my response to constituents as you can see below:

Thank you for your recent postcard regarding the UK’s Trident nuclear submarines.

I am a member of Parliamentary CND and I can assure you that I and my colleagues oppose the renewal of trident and will continue to put the case for non-nuclear alternatives as and when we can. You may wish to note that I have signed Early Day Motion 1924 in support of the current review into alternatives to trident replacement. Please find a copy enclosed.

However I regret that neither this review nor the previous Strategic Defence and Security Review have been allowed to consider all options – including non-replacement and a non-nuclear defence policy. I believe a broader review should be carried out before the Trident replacement Main Gate decision in 2016. This could then inform the thinking of all political parties before the General Election.

Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.

You can view the Early Day Motion mentioned above here.

If you would like to comment further on this issue, please feel free to contact me on sheila.gilmore.mp@parliament.uk.

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