UK's Nuclear Deterrent

Part of Terrorist Attack: Nice – in the House of Commons at 4:48 pm on 18th July 2016.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 4:48 pm, 18th July 2016

May I start by welcoming Mrs May and congratulating her on her appointment as Prime Minister? I wish her well in that position, and I am glad that her election was quick and short.

I commend the remarks the Prime Minister made about the horrific events in Nice. What happened was absolutely horrific: the innocent people who lost their lives. One hopes it will not be repeated elsewhere. I was pleased she mentioned the situation in Turkey, and I support her call for calm and restraint on all sides in Turkey. After the attempted coup, I called friends in Istanbul and Ankara and asked what was going on. The older ones felt it was like a repeat of the 1980 coup and were horrified that bombs were falling close to the Turkish Parliament. Can we please not return to a Europe of military coups and dictatorships? I endorse the Prime Minister’s comments in that respect, and I pay tribute to the Foreign Office staff who helped British citizens caught up in the recent events in France and Turkey.

The motion today is one of enormous importance to this country and indeed the wider world. There is nothing particularly new in it—the principle of nuclear weapons was debated in 2007—but this is an opportunity to scrutinise the Government. The funds involved in Trident renewal are massive. We must also consider the complex moral and strategic issues of our country possessing weapons of mass destruction. There is also the question of its utility. Do these weapons of mass destruction—for that is what they are—act as a deterrent to the threats we face, and is that deterrent credible?

The motion says nothing about the ever-ballooning costs. In 2006, the MOD estimated that construction costs would be £20 billion, but by last year that had risen by 50% to £31 billion, with another £10 billion added as a contingency fund. The very respected hon. Member for Reigate (Crispin Blunt) has estimated the cost at £167 billion, though it is understood that delays might have since added to those credible figures—I have seen estimates as high as over £200 billion for the replacement and the running costs.