Continuous At-Sea Deterrent

Part of Parental Rights (Rapists) and Family Courts – in the House of Commons at 2:38 pm on 10th April 2019.

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Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence 2:38 pm, 10th April 2019

We are intending to see the first decommissioning of submarines over the coming year. That important issue needs to be addressed. My hon. Friend Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Luke Pollard have been looking at it and have made some very important contributions. It is an issue that the Ministry of Defence takes very seriously. I was hoping—this was obviously very naive of me—that Neil Gray was going to talk about Scotland’s pride at being the home of our submarine forces, about the economic benefit that our continuous at-sea nuclear benefit delivers Scotland, about the fact that 6,800 people are employed at Her Majesty’s Naval Base, Clyde, and about the fact that that will increase to 8,500. It is disappointing that he could not talk with a bit of pride about the service personnel who contribute so much. This is about saying, “Thank you”, to the submariners who have continuously put their lives at risk and done so much for our nation to keep us safe. I hope that all Members in this House, regardless of their view about the continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent, will have the courtesy to pay tribute to those brave men and women. We cannot wish away the rise of the atomic bomb, especially given that there are some 14,500 nuclear weapons on this Earth. That is not to say we have given up our determination to create a nuclear-free world. On the contrary, we have been at the forefront of arms reduction. Since the height of the cold war, the United Kingdom has reduced our forces by more than 50%. We have delivered on our commitment to reduce the number of warheads carried by our Vanguard submarines from 48 to 40, and we have decreased the number of operationally available warheads to no more than 120.