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Trident Renewal

Part of Opposition Day — [13th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:27 pm on 20th January 2015.

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Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Shadow Secretary of State for Defence 4:27 pm, 20th January 2015

I very much agree on the need for us to recognise our international obligations.

On the subject of NATO, I would like to return to a point that others have made. Is it not time for the Scottish Nationalists to be frank and open with us all? NATO is a nuclear alliance. The Scottish National party wants to be a part of that nuclear alliance. It has to recognise—I say this with respect—that membership of NATO comes with membership of the nuclear umbrella group and the nuclear planning group. Every single nation that the SNP points to as not having nuclear weapons is a member of that nuclear planning group, and is therefore involved in nuclear possession. The SNP position appears to be: no to nuclear weapons unless they belong to NATO. I understand that the motion has been moved not only by the Scottish National party, which is in favour of being in NATO, but by Plaid Cymru and the Green party, which are against being in NATO. Clearly, the smaller parties need to talk to each other.

Labour is clear. Let me say this unequivocally: our position, in an increasingly uncertain and unstable world, is that it is right for the UK to maintain a credible, minimum independent nuclear deterrent based on a continuous at-sea posture. It is right to want to deliver that deterrent in the most capable and cost-effective way, and in a way that best contributes to global security. It is right, therefore, to want to examine all the UK’s military capabilities, including nuclear, as part of the next strategic defence and security review, and to state that we would require a clear body of evidence for us to change our view that continuous at-sea deterrence provides the most credible and cost-efficient form of deterrent. That is why, as the hon. Member for New Forest East mentioned, in 2007 Parliament voted to maintain the deterrent and to authorise spending on the concept phase and initial gate. It is why MPs will be asked again to vote on constructing a new class of Vanguard submarines in 2016. As the Defence Secretary said, no single successor submarine will be built until approval is guaranteed by this sovereign Parliament. We should not forget that this is a programme that would create thousands of high quality jobs and apprenticeships in Scottish docks, Barrow construction yards and throughout a multibillion pound supply chain that will benefit about 850 companies, the overwhelming majority of which are based right here in the UK.