Part-time Nuclear Deterrent

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 25th February 2013.

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Photo of Karl McCartney Karl McCartney Conservative, Lincoln 2:30 pm, 25th February 2013

What assessment he has made of the credibility and effectiveness of a part-time nuclear deterrent.

Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

As stated in the 2010 strategic defence and security review:

“The Government will maintain a continuous submarine-based deterrent and begin the work of replacing its existing submarines.”

A deterrent works only if it is credible and available. All the evidence points to a continuous at-sea deterrent, based on Trident, as the best way to deliver the UK’s deterrent effect. A part-time deterrent—for example, where we do not have a submarine permanently on patrol—would make us vulnerable to a pre-emptive strike, and the act of deploying the deterrent in a period of tension would risk escalation at a potentially critical moment.

Photo of Karl McCartney Karl McCartney Conservative, Lincoln

One of the key elements of our nuclear deterrent has been its uninterrupted nature. Does the Minister agree that it is vital that we not only maintain that continuous deterrent, but refrain from conducting defence policy with an idealistic, flip-floppy, Lib Dem view of the world?

Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

My hon. Friend draws me to make some disparaging comments before the by-election. I shall refrain from doing so, but I most certainly agree with him.