UK's Nuclear Deterrent

Part of Terrorist Attack: Nice – in the House of Commons at 7:06 pm on 18th July 2016.

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Photo of Roger Godsiff Roger Godsiff Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green 7:06 pm, 18th July 2016

I have debated these issues with the right hon. Gentleman on a number of occasions and I respect what he says, but I just do not agree with him.

The second argument put forward is that if the UK did not have nuclear weapons, it would, somehow, lose its place on the UN Security Council. That is nonsense, because when the Security Council was formed only one of the five permanent members had nuclear weapons—America. If it is now argued that to be a member of the UN Security Council, one has to have nuclear weapons, countries such as Japan, Germany and Brazil, which have legitimate claims to become part of an enlarged Security Council, would not be allowed to join, but three countries would be able to join—North Korea, Israel, and Pakistan, because they all have nuclear weapons.

The third argument is that nuclear weapons give us protection in an ever-changing world. This country, like all other developed countries, faces threats to its security from rogue states, international terrorist groups and groups within our own society who want to destroy it. As I have said many times, these threats are best met by our membership of NATO, the most successful mutual defence pact in history. It never attacked anybody between the time it was set up in 1948 and the end of the cold war. The tragedy of NATO has been that after the cold war—after the Berlin wall came down—it changed from being a mutual defence pact and became the world’s policeman, and that has caused enormous problems in its member countries. I believe that our security is best guaranteed by NATO, but I also believe that all the countries of NATO should contribute towards the cost of the nuclear umbrella; they should not get a free ride from America.

The way to deal with threats from terrorism, domestic or international, is by having a fully staffed and fully financed Security Service, by ensuring that the police have the money to do the job they need to do and by ensuring that our own conventional forces are given the tools for the job when they are sent into military conflicts on our behalf. The Chilcot report, which came out a week or so ago, graphically identified the deficiencies in materials and protections that our troops in Iraq faced. British soldiers should not go into any conflict on our behalf without the best equipment and protection we can give them.

Let me make this final point. We have witnessed terrible terrorist atrocities in the past year or so, and we witnessed the London bombings, but did our ownership of nuclear weapons prevent these things? We saw what happened in Paris and at the weekend in Nice, but did France’s nuclear deterrent prevent those things from happening? I am not convinced that spending a huge sum on renewing our nuclear deterrent, which I do not believe is independent, is justified; we should support NATO, back it and contribute to it, but I am not convinced that this is value for money. That is why I will vote against the motion this evening.