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Trident Renewal

Part of Opposition Day — [13th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 3:55 pm on 20th January 2015.

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Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Conservative, New Forest East 3:55 pm, 20th January 2015

I am flattered to know that my hon. Friend the Chairman of the Committee reads my writings, and even quotes them back to me. I am very grateful to him.

I want to stress that I believe that the SNP has chosen this debate today—I congratulate Angus Robertson, who I am pleased to see back in his place to hear my contribution, on securing it—with a particular political scenario in mind. SNP Members know that the majority of Labour Members and their supporters across the country agree with the concept of nuclear deterrence. They know that an overwhelming majority of Conservatives agree with nuclear deterrence. They are hoping to obtain something that they can use in the event of a future hung Parliament, in precisely the way that the Liberal Democrats were able to use their bargaining power to secure the postponement of the passing of the maingate decision from this Parliament to the next one. I think that was a terrible decision and it set a terrible precedent, but I am greatly reassured by the strength of the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary today.

When my hon. Friend the Minister winds up, I wish to hear that something will be done about the future of Trident and the holding of the maingate vote on time, as scheduled, in 2016 similar to what we have said about other areas of policy. We have seen authoritative statements in the press that no coalition will be entered into by the Conservatives unless it provides for an in/out referendum on the EU; similarly we have seen that no coalition will be entered into by the Conservatives unless it provides for passage of the draft Communications Data Bill. Those are two very important issues, but I submit that the future of the British minimum strategic nuclear deterrent is just as important as those two issues, if not more so. Until that vote is held, and held successfully, I shall continue to press those on my Front Bench for a commitment that we will never again allow the future of the strategic nuclear deterrent to be used in the way that it was in 2010 by a minority party in coalition negotiations.