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

The hon. Lady, the leader of the NATO parliamentary delegation, makes the point better than I could, and I am grateful to her for doing so.

I occasionally speculate what would have happened had not Mr Putin but his FSB predecessor become President of Russia. Had Nikolay Kovalyov become President, things might not be so rough now—nor for Ukraine—but that is not the issue.

We have to prepare for whatever happens in any major country around the world. We have to remember that one of the reasons why we had our independent deterrent was to give a second place of decision making, so that people did not rely only on the Americans being prepared to respond, but thought we might if we had to. I hope that we never do have to.

I recommend that real students of policy operating in this field get the collected correspondence of Sir Michael Quinlan and go through the essays in the book edited by Francis Bridger in 1983 for the chapter that Michael contributed. It followed on from the work of the Catholic bishops’ conference in the United States, and all that has guidance for us now. It does not say what we have to do in the future, but it gives us the reasons for where we have been in the past 50 years.

I join with others in paying tribute to the submariners and to the people in the dockyards and the like who have kept the deterrent going. One of the proudest times in my life was when I held a dinner in 2003—two years before the 200th anniversary of Nelson’s death at Trafalgar—at which I sat down with two Marine generals and 38 admirals. Those admirals were there to represent the people of all ranks who had served and all the civilian contractors who had helped. We thank them.