That is a cardinal example of the SNP being unwilling or unable to answer a straightforward question. All talk, no action, full of hot air. That is why the SNP is getting nowhere fast in Scotland.
I want to ask one question of the Government before I sit down. We heard earlier from the Secretary of State that the Dreadnought programme is to cost £31 billion, with a contingency built in. However, not so long ago a National Audit Office report pointed out that the programme was extremely expensive, and it is. Of course, it is inevitably putting a huge strain on the MOD’s overall equipment plan. We know that the MOD budget faces enormous difficulties, so I ask the Minister whether he can make any comment about the programme’s cost and how any future cost escalation will be built in.
I also ask the Minister to return to the often put and discussed question of whether the whole programme should be outside the MOD’s budget. It has been suggested that the Treasury is reluctant, and we know that relations between the MOD and the Treasury are not too good and have not been for some time. Does he think the programme and the amount of expenditure is so important that a strong case needs to be made now to ensure that it is taken out of the MOD’s budget and considered separately?
This has been a good debate. We have all paid genuine tribute to the men and women who have kept us safe in this country. We live in a world that has changed profoundly since the decision of Clem Attlee and his Government to give the UK an independent nuclear deterrent, but deterrence is still vital, and the best way to maintain deterrence—and therefore peace—is through our continuous at-sea deterrent.