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Continuous At-Sea Deterrent

Part of Parental Rights (Rapists) and Family Courts – in the House of Commons at 5:20 pm on 10th April 2019.

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Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Labour, Warley 5:20 pm, 10th April 2019

Stewart Malcolm McDonald said that he did not want to get involved in struggles with chimney-sweeps, which seemed somehow a nod towards the concept of deterrence. However, as I am afraid is normal for contributions from the Scottish National party, he spent most of his speech attacking Labour party policy and the Labour party. It was more about internal politics in Scotland, I feel, than the national issue we are discussing.

My hon. Friend Nia Griffith made an excellent speech reaffirming current Labour party policy, in line with long-standing party policy and indeed the bipartisan policy of British Governments of both parties. My right hon. Friend Mr Jones drew attention to the Attlee-Bevan Government’s record in developing the nuclear deterrent; not, as seems to have been implied, in some bombastic gesture but in response to being cut off from nuclear information by the McMahon Act. They had to decide whether Britain was to maintain an independent capability, and they made the right decision.

Today we are discussing the 50th anniversary of HMS Resolution, built under the Wilson Government, which first sailed in April 1969. As has been mentioned, under the last Labour Government, a resolution of this House was carried overwhelmingly to renew that capability. It is only a shame, as I said in interventions, that the Cameron coalition Government did not go through with that. That caused considerable delay and dislocation not only to the industry but to the operation of the CASD, which had to be maintained at considerably increased maintenance costs.

That, frankly, only reinforces my view of the previous Prime Minister, David Cameron: deep down, he was shallow. There was very little there. He believed in very little, and he allowed himself to be dragged around by the Liberal Democrats while they pursued all sorts of fanciful alternatives for maintaining a nuclear deterrent, whether land-based or cruise missiles. It is interesting today that while there have been genuine and proper disagreements about whether we should have a nuclear deterrent at all, there has been no mention of those fanciful alternatives that were basically a way of kicking the can down the road. That seems to have been the default setting of Conservative Governments since 2010.