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M6 - Nuclear Deterrent
#1
Mr Speaker, I beg leave to offer the House the following Motion:

Quote:That this House supports the continued existence of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent, recognizes its essential role to national security, and supports the construction of a fourth Vanguard-class submarine.
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Mr. Speaker,
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It is the ultimate responsibility of any government to ensure the safety and security of our people and our nation. Ever since the detonation of our first atomic device in 1952 – Operation Hurricane -, and with the development of a policy of an independent nuclear deterrent in the 1950’s, said deterrent has been a vital component of our national defence and security, and it has been further strengthened and developed thanks due to tireless work of different and subsequent governments which understood the significance, importance and responsibility that comes with being of the world’s nuclear powers. Today, we invoke this fact to present this motion, to seek the support of this House not only for the principle of the continued existence of the British nuclear deterrent, but for an important upcoming decision which we hope may transcend parties and ideologies.
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Mr. Speaker, I will not waste the time of the House by going into excessive detail as to the subject of Trident and our new, vibrant Vanguard-class submarines, but I will place particular emphasis on their relevance as the key component of the nuclear deterrent. The world is evolving rapidly. This is a fact which we cannot wilfully ignore ordismiss. Today’s threats are different than those of yesterday, and tomorrow’s threats will be different than the ones we face on this very moment. But even  if the situation in Eastern Europe continues to evolve and hopefully does so in a positive dimension for those of us who love liberty and democracy, such events would in no way constitute a credible excuse for entertaining irresponsible notions of dismissing our nuclear deterrent.
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Even if a future comes in which Russia becomes a partner rather than a vital foe to our national security, there will be threats in the air. Whether it is the potential for nuclearterrorism, the rise of rogue nuclear states or factions, or even the descent of already consolidated powers into recklessness, anarchy or authoritarianism, it  would be the height of irresponsibility to assume the nuclear deterrent of this United Kingdom no longer serves a purpose. Our current threats are serious, and the future ones will be serious as well. It is the belief of this government,  and hopefully also of the House, that the continued existence of our independent nuclear deterrent is absolutely vital to the national interest. We come today to the House to reiterate this belief, to seek the opinions of the different political parties and members of Parliament as to whether they also share this belief. And, in the opposite case, to hear why this is so.
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Mr. Speaker, leaving aside the matter of principle which constitutes our unyielding support for the nuclear deterrent, there are also practical matters to consider. Leaving aside the necessary discussion on the fate of tactical nuclear weapons and the potential changes to their role – undoubtedly affected by the times -, the government elected at the next General Election will face an important decision surrounding our modern, brand-new nuclear submarines. The Vanguard-class submarines have always been meant to be four for practical and strategic reasons. As many honourable members know, “Vanguard” was recently launched and is soon to be commissioned. “Victorious” is fast approaching completion. Excellent progress has been made on “Vigilant”. And now is the time to decide on whether to move forward and order the fourth submarine to Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering.
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This Government believes firmly that the fourth submarine must be ordered, laid down, built, deployed and armed, joining the Royal Navy as a vital component of the nuclear deterrent. The evidence shows that only retaining the present three submarines would leave us with no insurance or contingency capabilities, diminish the effectiveness of the nuclear deterrent, and place further strain on the crews that already work so hard to ensure the system works with complete and total efficiency. To scrap it would not only not prove cost efficient, it would represent a serious setback in terms of our national defence and would, among other issues, cost constituencies such as Barrow-in-Furness thousands of jobs. Mr. Speaker, in 1980 this House voted overwhelmingly in favour of the nuclear deterrent. Today we wish to consult the opinion of the House on its relevance, continued existence, and the practical matter of a fourth Vanguard class submarine, in the hopes that support both for the deterrent and its practical needs are indeed shared by the overwhelming majority of honourable members.
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I should like to close these remarks by paying tribute to the submarine crews which already take part in ensuring the nuclear deterrent works. Their work is a difficult one, involvinglong periods at sea away from their families, carrying out a duty that helps keep Britain safe, working selflessly for the safety of the nation. We owe them a debt of gratitude which is impossible to estimate, and today I personally and sincerely thank them for their continued service to this nation.
Rt. Hon. Edward Winter MP - Conservative and Unionist Party
Member of Parliament for Ashford (1987 - Present)

First Secretary of State (1992 - Present)
Secretary of State for Defence (1992 - Present)
XP: 1 / Issue Champion (Falklands)
#2
Mr Speaker,

I beg that this motion be printed and read a second time.
#3
Peter Shore:

Mr. Speaker,

I would firstly like to join the Right Honourable Gentleman in paying tribute to the servicemen who work tirelessly to maintain our nuclear deterrent and keep our nation safe in an uncertain and dangerous world.

I would also like to thank the Right Honourable Gentleman for the motion he has presented to the House today, though I am sceptical it was presented in a serious push to democratise our defence policy. After all, as the Right Honourable Gentleman has outlined the House has already voted for the proposals he has laid out today a decade ago and Conservative governments since have retained a mandate to carry through with the nuclear deterrent. This government is, some would say, a little slippery, and I admire their tactile manoeuvring. The government is hoping to create a source of division that would show the Labour Party to at least be one tenth as divided as we have seen this Conservative government be of late. Or, perhaps even better, they would like us to be united in dogmatic opposition to the nuclear deterrent so that come the next General Election they can run some weak on defence ads that can get their base excited.

Unfortunately for the Right Honourable Gentleman, he may find himself disappointed as neither of those expectations are going to be satisfied.

I would, firstly, remind the Right Honourable Gentleman that it was a Labour government that established Britain's nuclear deterrent and that achievement is ours to claim. And Shadow Cabinet is united in continuing in that spirit. Still, in their usual chase for votes - and there's many up for grabs by this Conservative government as their repeated corruption and incompetence has led so many of their voters to flock away - they have pulled this unnecessary Parliamentary stunt.

That does not mean I am in total agreement with the Defence Secretary on this manner. His dogged belief that the nuclear deterrent is to always stay, no matter the global picture, no matter whether our strategic interests change or not and whether or not global disarmament in a possibility is rather foolish if I do say so myself Mr. Speaker. Successive governments have recognised the global danger posed by nuclear weapons, and while that danger certainty justifies the United Kingdom maintaining its stock, it also means we have an interest in disarmament - in our enemies disarming in particular - and multilateral disarmament is a useful means of achieving such.

Indeed, before the Defence Secretary inevitably jumps to this as some left wing ideal, I'd point out that the UK is signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons which commits us to eventual multilateral disarmament. It is successive governments in British that have agreed with the spirit of multilateral disarmament, and I would be quite confused if the Defence Secretary wishes to break from that spirit now. Multilateral global disarmament would protect Britain from the very threats he has named, and lead to a safer and more secure world free from the prospect of nuclear annihilation.

But, naturally, the Labour Party recognises we are where we are, and that the deterrent remains a crucial component of our defence strategy. While we should push for global disarmament, we should never be afraid to defend ourselves and possess nuclear weapons in a world where our enemies possess nuclear weapons.

It is a shame, then, Mr. Speaker, that the way the current system operates leaves us less able to act in our own defence interests, and instead leaves us somewhat beholden to the United States. I don't need to go into detail to this House about how many aspects of our nuclear deterrent, both functionally and operationally, is dependent on the consent of the United States. That has, in part, been a failure of this government which we condemn: far from allowing us to act in our own strategic interests, the way the deterrent functions at present leaves us unable to exert and act in our own interests. A key component of our defence infrastructure is dependent of the US President. I do not think that is wholly sustainable.

It's time to pull the wool from over our eyes and change that. It may be more costly, and more time consuming, but it is absolutely crucial for our sovereignty. The Right Honourable Gentleman discusses Trident's importance to many communities such as Barrow-in-Furness - and he's right. But too many jobs are outsourced, again, to the United States in the establishment and functioning of our own nuclear deterrent. Labour will call on more of those jobs going to Barrow, and fewer to the Americans.

And because I can anticipate the hysteria of Honourable Members in the benches opposite who wish to talk of the special relationship: this is nothing to do with our friendship with America. The United States is, and will remain, crucial allies and friends of the United Kingdom. The same can be said of the Europeans, and we know the majority of us would be incandescent if we outsourced any of our foreign and defence policy to the Europeans - try as this government may. The same applies to the United States: we have different tactical and geopolitical interests to our American friends, and it is right for us to be able to act in our own interests. 

So Mr. Speaker, the government want us rehash the same old debate which has been had and won on whether we as a nation would like a nuclear deterrent. That is something we have long accepted. But today, Mr. Speaker, we have the opportunity to begin the process of Britain having a wholly independent nuclear deterrent, and to regain our sovereignty in the process. Lets see if the government has the spine to vote for such a proposition.

I therefore table the following amendment to the government's motion, Mr. Speaker, and am hoping the government will be kind enough to accept it as friendly:

"That this House supports the continued existence of the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent, recognises its essential role to national security, supports the construction of a fourth Vanguard-class submarine, will ensure that the fourth Vanguard-class submarine will be functionally and operationally independent from the United States of America, encourages the government to lay out of a plan of action to ensure the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent is functionally and operationally independent from the United States of America and condemns the government for its outsourcing of our defence policy and nuclear deterrent to the United States of America."
#4
Mr Speaker,

The Opposition's arguments hinge on the baseless claim that the United States controls our nuclear defence. This is a nonsense stated as fact. Vanguard is a British endeavour, and remains wholly under our control. We would not rely on American support for any launch to occur. Despite the labour of waffle that the Opposition have thrust upon this debate, they have not provided a shred of evidence provided to show anything different.

So it is clear that the amendment proposed is little more than a smokescreen to allow Labour to vote against the integrity of our nuclear defence. I hope they will prove such an assessment wrong, and vote for this motion as it stands.

It will come as no surprise that the government rejects the proposed amendment.
#5
Mr. Speaker,

The Prime Minister says in one breath that concerns that we have dependence on the United States for our nuclear deterrent are false, and then says in another that she rejects our amendment. If the Prime Minister sincerely believes that we are already functionally and operationally dependent on the United States, then she has nothing to fear from our amendment. Her rejection of such a common-sense amendment speaks volumes. I plan to vote for the amendment to the motion and, if it is adopted, I plan to vote for the motion as amended.
JOHN BROWN
Labour MP for The Wrekin (1987-Present)

Biography | 3 XP | Constituency Appeal | Issue Champion (The Pound)
#6
Mr Speaker,

The government rejects the amendment on the grounds that it condemns us for something we have not done.

Defence is not outsourced. Our security is managed at home in Britain.

For an Opposition struggling to justify quite how it will vote down the amendment, it is no surprise that the spinning has started already.
#7
Mr Speaker,

The Government claims that our nuclear deterrent is independent of America but the unfortunate facts of the matter are that the system is US bought, depriving British jobs, and US maintained, depriving British jobs. Does the Right Honourable Lady agree with me that the nuclear deterrent should be a source of British employment in the British technology and military sectors rather than outsourcing defence contracts to the Americans?
Nicholas Eden
MP for Vauxhall (1974/1 - Present)
Labour
#8
Peter Shore:

Well, well, well, Mr. Speaker, the government really is pulling the wool over its eyes, isn't it? To say the nuclear deterrent being controlled by the United States is 'baseless' is, one may say, 'a bit of a reach.' Its very establishment and maintenance is dependent on US military bases, such as King's Bay in Georgia. That gives the United States considerable power over Trident - and thus power over ourselves.

The government had the opportunity to begin the process to put that to an end, with Opposition support, today. Instead, it chose not to. That is a disappointment. Labour will be clear though: we will never vote to oursource our jobs, power and influence to another country. 
#9
Division!
Redgrave | A-Team
#10
Abstain
Nicholas Eden
MP for Vauxhall (1974/1 - Present)
Labour


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