UK's Nuclear Deterrent

Part of Terrorist Attack: Nice – in the House of Commons at 5:53 pm on 18th July 2016.

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Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon Conservative, Newbury 5:53 pm, 18th July 2016

No, I will not take any more interventions.

We have to think through the recent conflicts in our lifetime: not conflicts in which nuclear retaliation would ever have been appropriate, but the Yom Kippur war, the Falklands—mentioned by my right hon. Friend Dr Lewis—the invasion of Kuwait, 9/11 and even last week’s coup in Turkey. We did not know that they were going to happen. Who can say that we would be any the wiser in the event of a coup de main operation that might not have happened if the potential enemy had been deterred by our possession of weapons that made them sit up and think? We need potential enemies to hold in their mind the fact that there is no advantage to them in aggression.

I have spoken tonight about our constituents and about future generations, but let us also talk about the concept of using nuclear weapons. There is a good, honest and decent concept, which goes back many generations and which I can respect, of disarmament and pacifism in this country. I happen to think that in this context it is wrong, but we can respect it. When people talk about using nuclear weapons, they need to understand the doctrine that governs them. Our nuclear deterrent has been used every single day of every single year for which it has been deployed. It does what it says on the tin; it deters.

I am sorry to say it, but no one believes that an independent Scotland would suddenly start to invest in Type 26 destroyers, fast jets and all the other paraphernalia of a nation that somehow wants to engage in the world in the way that Britain does. SNP Members’ sudden attraction to the idea of massive defence spending is complete nonsense.