We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Continuous At-Sea Deterrent

Part of Parental Rights (Rapists) and Family Courts – in the House of Commons at 6:31 pm on 10th April 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Wayne David Wayne David Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement) 6:31 pm, 10th April 2019

My right hon. Friend makes an important point. I will come on to the SNP’s interesting position in a moment.

The case for this country’s nuclear deterrent is overwhelming. It has been put forward with eloquence and determination by Anne-Marie Trevelyan, my hon. Friend John Woodcock and others, but it was particularly well put by the Chair of the Defence Committee, Dr Lewis. I would like to quote an article that he wrote back in 2006:

“the purpose of a British nuclear deterrent remains what it has always been: to minimize the prospect of the United Kingdom being attacked by mass destruction weapons. It is not a panacea and it is not designed to forestall every type of threat. Nevertheless, the threat which it is designed to counter is so overwhelming that no other form of military capability could manage to avert it.”

That was true when he wrote it and it is certainly the case today.

This is a debate that has gone on for generations; the debate about deterrence is not new. In that context, I would like to refer to one of my predecessors, a man by the name of Morgan Jones. He was the first conscientious objector elected to Parliament and he represented Caerphilly. I have produced a book on him that will be available in all good bookshops in three weeks’ time. In the early 1930s, Morgan Jones, who had been a strong pacifist in the first world war and throughout the 1920s, reluctantly came to the conclusion that it was necessary for Britain to defend freedom and protect democracy by re-arming and being prepared to stand up against the evil of fascism. That is an important lesson that we should not forget today.

Some people argue that the world has changed over the past few years: the polarisation between east and west—between the free world and the so-called communist world—no longer mars the globe and we have seen the emergence of non-state players such as al-Qaeda and ISIL. The world has changed, yes, but let us be clear that the threat of state players is still with us. Recently, we have seen the development of a new style of old-style nationalism, particularly in China and Russia. I pay tribute to the way my hon. Friend Mrs Moon has highlighted these facts very clearly. We see China becoming increasingly assertive in the South China sea—the East sea as the Vietnamese refer to it. We have also seen Russia being increasingly assertive and, I have to say, duplicitous with regard to Ukraine, Estonia and many other places.

Although the case for modern deterrence is overwhelming, one of the interesting points of the debate has been the position articulated by the Scottish National party. If anybody wants to have their cake and eat it, it is the SNP Members. We heard from Brendan O’Hara and Stewart Malcolm McDonald that they want nothing to do with the nuclear deterrent and they want Britain to abandon it. Nevertheless, as my right hon. Friend the Member for North Durham said, they want to continue to be part of NATO, which of course is a nuclear alliance.