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Trident Renewal

Part of Opposition Day — [13th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 1:49 pm on 20th January 2015.

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Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock Labour, Lewisham, Deptford 1:49 pm, 20th January 2015

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman does not know his history. There have been hundreds of wars since that time and hundreds of thousands of people have died. Many of the wars were proxy wars between the superpowers, so his argument is completely invalid. If he argues that deterrence is so wonderful because the weapons are never used, then he has to ask: why have them at all? Let us get rid of them rather than posture and spend vast fortunes and create a situation in which, at the very least, accidents and misjudgments could happen. The point about luck is that eventually it runs out, and that could happen.

It is instructive to inquire how other countries and institutions view the nuclear weapon states. I had an opportunity to find that out last December when I attended a conference organised by the Austrian Government on the humanitarian effects of the use of nuclear weapons, to which Angus Robertson has already referred. Building on two previous meetings hosted by Norway and Mexico, this conference was attended by representatives of no fewer than 157 Governments. Most telling were the contributions of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, the bodies on which the whole world depends, regardless of politics, in cases of natural disaster. Let me quote from their statement:

“Even though only a few states currently possess nuclear weapons, they are a concern to all states…They can only bring us to a catastrophic and irreversible scenario that no one wishes and to which no one can respond in any meaningful way.”

Their statement continues:

“All other weapons of mass destruction, namely chemical and biological weapons, have been banned. Nuclear weapons—which have far worse consequences than those weapons—must now be specifically prohibited and eliminated as a matter of urgency.”

I do not think that there is anyone who could not respect a statement from the Red Cross and the Red Crescent.