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I am grateful for that intervention. That has been one of the highlights of the debate, and it is why it is so important that Plaid Cymru, the Green party and the SNP have brought this debate to the House. As I say, Trident renewal will be the biggest spending decision made by the next Parliament, yet the UK Government have no idea of the lifetime costs of the project, despite work done by CND and others.
Let me outline further how some of the £100 billion to be spent on Trident renewal could be spent instead. Although the cost of building homes varies throughout the UK, the average cost is around £150,000. That means that the Government, in partnership with local authorities, housing associations and others, could build up to 650,000 new affordable homes. Of course, home building, where it is needed, would stimulate the economy in ways that simply ploughing £100 billion into nuclear weapons would not. For the money spent investing in housing in that way, the Treasury would benefit from higher-value employment, reducing expenditure on in-work and out-of-work benefits, and the investment would help to ease the UK’s acute housing crisis, as the CND so ably demonstrated in its “People not Trident” document.
In terms of education, investing roughly a quarter of the amount earmarked for Trident would result in a fivefold return on investment. In its regular publication, “Education at a Glance”, the OECD demonstrated that for every £1 invested in higher education by the UK Government, the return is £5 over the working life of the graduate. This arises from higher tax revenues and lower outlays resulting from reduced unemployment. As the OECD said, investment in education boosts jobs and tax revenues.
The alternatives are there. Plaid Cymru has long supported investment in infrastructure and public services as a means of reducing the deficit over the long term.