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As I have said, the evidence before us is that the continuous at-sea deterrent requires the current posture. What we have said is that, as part of the strategic defence and security review, we will consider whether a continuous at-sea deterrent can be delivered in a more cost-effective way. That is exactly what the Defence Secretary said in his remarks earlier today. I suggest to the Minister that the important principle here is that there is continuous at-sea deterrence. It is incumbent on all of us to do that in the most cost-effective way.
Of course, a decision on the UK’s future nuclear capabilities must primarily be based on strategic requirements and an assessment of the global proliferation and disarmament agenda. However, does that mean we can afford to ignore the thousands of livelihoods that depend on our building a new class of Vanguard submarine? Neither should we be drawn into a debate between funding vital public services and maintaining the deterrent. A future Labour Government would commit to delivering public services that the British people can be proud of and to maintaining the security of the country.
As well as issues of capability, costs and jobs, it is right to ask serious questions about how the UK can best contribute to multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts, and for that, Britain needs to show leadership on the global stage. It does not need a part-time deterrent of the like proposed by the Liberal Democrats—or whatever Sir Nick Harvey was talking about. Theirs is a policy that would only add to instability and insecurity and which their own “Trident Alternatives Review” did not even consider worthy of consideration.
Is it not more telling that the review by the British American Security Information Council into Trident—a cross-party, independent assessment of the UK’s nuclear capabilities that, unlike the “Trident Alternatives Review”, did consider unilateral disarmament as an option—recommended that the UK continue its current Trident system while seeking to further enhance our multilateral disarmament record. For the avoidance of doubt, it is worth quoting a section of the report. On page 6 of the 2014 final document, it says:
“Based upon the two key specific considerations, namely national security concerns and responsibility towards the”
“Alliance, the Commission has come to the unanimous conclusion that the UK should retain and deploy a nuclear arsenal, with a number of caveats expressed below. Most notably, it remains crucial that the UK show keen regard for its position within the international community and for the shared responsibility to achieve progress in global nuclear disarmament.”
We could not agree more. The UK should maintain the minimum, credible, independent nuclear deterrent through a continuous-at-sea system, delivered in the most cost effective way, while advancing along the path to multilateral disarmament. We have the opportunity to advance the cause of global disarmament for a safer world. Britain can play a leading role in this while ensuring the security of the British people. Let us grasp this opportunity.