Trident

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th November 1989.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Allen McKay Mr Allen McKay , Barnsley West and Penistone 12:00 am, 28th November 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the cost to date of lobbying in the United States of America in favour of Trident.

Photo of Mr Alan Clark Mr Alan Clark , Plymouth, Sutton

The United Kingdom Government have not incurred any additional costs in lobbying for Trident.

Photo of Mr Allen McKay Mr Allen McKay , Barnsley West and Penistone

Does the Minister not think that if the United States is serious about strategic arms reduction, as I believe that it is, what he calls representations and what we call meddling in the internal politics of the United States proves two points? The first is that the nuclear deterrent Trident is not independent. Secondly, could we not be accused of trying to block the START agreement, of interfering and probably of increasing the time that it will take for a worldwide reduction in nuclear arms?

Photo of Mr Alan Clark Mr Alan Clark , Plymouth, Sutton

I entirely disagree with the hon. Gentleman. The strategic nuclear deterrent has been the principal contributory factor in maintaining the peace for the past 45 years. Anyone who considers rejecting or diminishing that is culpably rejecting his duty for the security of this country. In terms of representations to the United States authorities, I found that the chairmen of the appropriations committee and the armed services committee, both of whom I met recently, were entirely convinced of the necessity for the system. That has been shown by the fact that funding has been reinstated.

Photo of Ian Taylor Ian Taylor , Esher

Will my hon. Friend give us the latest progress on the trials of the Trident system in the United States? Does he agree that it is important that those trials are successful so that we can deploy Trident as early as possible according to the time scale of the 1990s to ensure the continued security of this country?

Photo of Mr Alan Clark Mr Alan Clark , Plymouth, Sutton

The trials resumed at the beginning of December and my information from the United States Navy is that it assumes that the trials will be successful.

Photo of Mr Dick Douglas Mr Dick Douglas , Dunfermline West

Will the Minister reflect not just on the costs of the representation to the United States but on its effectiveness? Has he seen the report from the Brookings Institute, which casts grave doubt on whether the United States should proceed with the D5? What happens to the so-called independent deterrent if the United States relinquishes the concept of going ahead with the D5 missile?

Photo of Mr Alan Clark Mr Alan Clark , Plymouth, Sutton

I do not know about the Brookings Institute, but everyone I spoke to in Washington was entirely convinced about the necessity of the system. The fact that Congress withheld funds after three test firing failures seems a reasonable way to apply pressure, but the funding has been reinstated and the test programme resumes on 1 December.