Continuous At-Sea Deterrent

Part of Parental Rights (Rapists) and Family Courts – in the House of Commons at 4:40 pm on 10th April 2019.

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Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Conservative, Worthing West 4:40 pm, 10th April 2019

I am not as qualified as many to speak in this debate, but I remind those who wish to look into the subject further that they should read the 1934 book “Peace with Honour” by Alan Alexander Milne. He had served continuously in the first world war and in the book he wrote the reasons why war should become unacceptable—he argued for pacifism. In 1940, after he had re-enlisted, he wrote a book called “War with Honour”, in which he explained what had gone wrong.

In the middle of the 1934 book, A. A. Milne imagined a situation in which Germany attacks the United Kingdom in 1940. He asked what would happen if Russia said that it would join on our side but set various conditions. We have to understand that people have been thinking about such issues rather more deeply than, from some of the remarks we heard, the Scottish National party—but I want to leave them to one side.

I will move on to the other great person who could deal with the constitutional, policy and moral principles of nuclear deterrence: Sir Michael Quinlan. He was permanent secretary at the Department of Employment when I served there as a junior Minister. He then moved back to the Ministry of Defence, which was his real home.

While working for Government and before he got moved to the Treasury in 1980 or ’81, he wrote some words that were not known to be his at the time:

“Our task now is to devise a system for living in peace and freedom while ensuring that nuclear weapons are never used, either to destroy or to blackmail.”

No one has yet made a serious case that our abolition of the continuous at-sea deterrent would do much to reduce the possibility of blackmail or the risk of destruction.