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I will make some progress first. I have only just started my speech, so let me have a minute or two.
I am grateful for the opportunity to outline clearly our position on nuclear deterrence and multilateral disarmament. The Labour party is an internationalist, multilateralist party, and proud to be so. We are firmly committed to working with our allies and partners around the world to advance our ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and we are proud of our strong record in office on multilateral nuclear disarmament.
The previous Labour Government abolished the UK’s free-fall bombs, reduced the number of deployed warheads from 96 to 48, and almost halved the UK’s nuclear warhead stockpile to 160. Today, a written statement in response to the hon. Member for Moray, states that the current Government have continued that policy with further reductions from 48 to 40 warheads, and that available operational warheads have reduced from 160 to 120—something we all commend. However, we believe that the Government could be doing more to advance that agenda. That is why, as the Defence Secretary said, the shadow Foreign Secretary and I wrote to the Prime Minister in November, urging the Government to ensure UK representation at the recent Vienna conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons—a conference they did attend in the end.
Multilateralism is making progress and the UK took the lead in achieving global reductions and international bans on landmines, chemical and biological weapons and cluster munitions. A strong and consistent voice for nuclear disarmament on the world stage means that the UK has played its part in reducing the global nuclear stockpile by more than 70% since the end of the cold war.