It is just a little more than 50 years since we entered the nuclear age and, in those 50 years, the world has become more rather than less committed to nuclear weapons. Two such weapons were exploded in anger half a century ago but, luckily, although vast amounts of money have been spent buying and stockpiling nuclear weapons, we have held back from using them again—so far.
If we are not using nuclear weapons, why do we continue to buy them? If we continue to buy and stockpile them, why do we believe that we can continue to tell others that they should not do the same? Fifty years ago, only one country had them, but how many have them now? In truth, who knows? Currently, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China are the official nuclear weapon states because they have all signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, while India, Pakistan and Israel are unofficial nuclear weapon states because they have not signed the treaty—and that list should now probably include North Korea.
To put it crudely, the previous justification for spending money on nuclear weapons was: if we did not, they would and they might use them, so we better have them too because that might put them off. It was a small club that only a few could afford to join. The bombs got bigger, better and more expensive. They could kill more or, better still, kill lots and perhaps leave buildings standing.
If deterrence was the justification, it was a dangerous one. After all, any state could make the same argument and, if one concedes the logic, one can hardly say that it should apply only to those and such as those. However, that is, in effect, exactly what we have been saying.
That was then; where are we now? The UK Government invested heavily in Trident as a replacement for the old Polaris and what changed? The protest songs and banners had to,
Until recently, the estimated cost of Trident's replacement was £15 billion to £25 billion. Apparently, the annual maintenance costs over the weapons system's expected 30-year lifespan were left out of the calculation of that figure. If we factor those in, it seems that the son of Trident will cost the UK something in the region of £76 billion. We never used Polaris, we never used Trident and we will never use the son of Trident, but it looks like we will buy it, despite being signed up to the non-proliferation treaty.
I apply that logic to buying shoes that then sit in the wardrobe and never get worn. I consider it a waste of money.
I want to know why we are contemplating spending such vast amounts of money on the son of Trident when we will not use it. Other members will talk about the better uses to which that money could be put, and they will be right to do so. If the Government can afford £76 billion for missiles, it can afford a few bob for job creation and diversification.
Opposition to nuclear weapons in general, and to Trident and its replacement in particular, goes far beyond any financial considerations. At its heart, the argument is a moral and ethical one. That is why the Scottish National Party motion is shorn of any sub-clauses that might cloud the issue. If members believe nuclear weapons to be wrong, they must vote for the motion, but I see from the amendments that Labour and the Liberal Democrats appear to be in favour of nuclear weapons. I say to Jackie Baillie in particular that it seems craven and cowardly to state the obvious point that nuclear weapons are a reserved matter, with the implied criticism that we should not be debating the issue despite her call for "the widest possible debate" in the country. If Jack McConnell really wants to end the cringe factor in Scottish
With respect to those who try to have it every which way, there is no place to hide on the matter. Either the Parliament is part of the national debate or it is not, and that national debate is profoundly moral. Whom do we contemplate using the weapons against? It is surely not enough to say that we must have them as a deterrent. During the cold war, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was the target of choice. Which nation or nations now fulfil that role for the UK, or is an independent UK nuclear capability simply to be seen as part and parcel of the USA's nuclear capability at one remove? Recent international events might lead us to that conclusion, so is our target really whoever the USA decides is its target? Are we to spend £76 billion on weapons that really only exist to fit into the USA's strategic interests? Alternatively, are we really going to spend that much money to obtain a bargaining chip to use against Iran's future disarmament—assuming that Iran goes on to become another of the unofficial nuclear states—all the time arguing that Iran has no right to nuclear weapons but we do?
During the cold war, there was a deterrence doctrine known as mutually assured destruction—or MAD for short—and learning about it was like slipping into some perverse Alice-in-Wonderland world. The acronym gave away the truth of the matter. When we brandish weapons whose only purpose is mass and indiscriminate slaughter, we give up all right to preach to others about the morality of the choices that they make. I ask the Parliament to keep faith with the marchers on the long walk for peace. In particular, I ask the Labour members who had the unbelievable effrontery to go out and greet the marchers last week to keep faith with them. I ask the Parliament to keep faith with the church leaders who are calling for us to turn our faces away from Trident. I ask that we keep faith with our consciences, and I ask the Parliament to support the motion.
That the Parliament believes that there is no justification for the renewal or replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system.
I approach the debate with a sense of déjà vu: another SNP debate, another reserved matter. I will digress for a second to point out to the SNP that, in a seminal piece of work, the Electoral Commission identified that almost 60 per cent of people in Scotland were critical of the Parliament because it spent too much time talking about issues over which it has no power. The SNP might want to reflect on that.
No. I will give a friendly warning to the SNP: the people of Scotland will soon begin to wonder whether there is any point in having SNP MPs at Westminster. Are the sorrowful six incapable of making the case there, where—let us not forget this point—the decision will be made? Let us consider that for a minute. I looked back at Hansard and found that Angus Robertson asked a question in December 2005. That was nine months ago. There was also a question in June 2005, six months earlier, but I had to look back to 2002 before I found anything else.
Perhaps my research is not that great, but it is interesting that, in the place where the SNP can influence matters and argue for change, it just does not bother. It prefers instead to work through this Parliament, which is not the body that will be responsible for the decision. Of course—wait for it—the SNP believes that independence is the answer to all ills.
I say to Nicola Sturgeon that I am genuinely curious to know whether, in a brave new independent Scotland, the SNP would view Trident as an asset or a liability in its negotiations with Westminster? Would it hang on to it for a bit in order to barter it away and trade it for something else? What would its approach be? We deserve to know, because I am not convinced that Nicola Sturgeon has thought that through. In that policy vacuum lie uncertainty and instability.
The point is simple: I posed Nicola Sturgeon a question but she is unable to answer it, and the record will reflect that.
I pay a genuine tribute to the many people who marched from Faslane to Edinburgh last week. Many are from my constituency and, indeed, many are party colleagues of mine. I respect their commitment to the issue. It is fair to say that many people have campaigned for nuclear disarmament over the years. I acknowledge in particular the contribution of the churches, the trade unions and many communities besides. A nuclear-free world and achieving world peace are aspirations that we all share. We may differ on how to achieve those aims, but I know of no sane person, inside or outside the chamber, who wants nuclear weapons ever to be used anywhere in the world.
It is right that there should be the fullest public debate about Trident. There are questions that need to be answered, but I make no apology for commenting about the economic impact of Faslane. [Interruption.] The SNP may scorn, but it is important. The 7,000 direct jobs and 4,000 further jobs in the supply chain represent one quarter of the total workforce in the Dumbarton constituency. That is a staggering number of jobs. I have been accused—[Interruption.] Kindly listen. I have been accused in the past of using that as an excuse for keeping nuclear weapons. Far from it—those are the facts; they might be uncomfortable to the SNP, but they are real and must be addressed. Hard politics is about having the maturity to get beyond the rhetoric and accept our responsibility to the people who work in the defence industry.
Roseanna Cunningham and Bruce Crawford are very quick to defend Ministry of Defence jobs in their constituencies, and rightly so. However, they would pull us out of NATO and throw our defence workers in Faslane and Coulport on the dole. Oh yes, I almost forgot—there is also Alex Salmond's wee, pretendy Scottish navy. It has been promised to Rosyth, but when the SNP thinks that we are not looking, it promises it to Faslane in the west. There would be only a handful of jobs.
In concluding, let me congratulate the Greens. At least they have started to recognise our responsibility to the workforce. However, their scorecard reads six out of 10, as they make the mistake of letting Westminster off the hook. I do not understand why we constantly seek to use MSPs as messengers when we have Members of Parliament whom we can lobby directly. After all, it will be their decision.
I respect all views expressed in the chamber, but I will continue to argue that if we truly want to rid the United Kingdom of nuclear weapons, we have to mitigate the consequences of so doing. I will not take lessons in morals or ethics from the SNP, because people expect real action, not rhetoric and most certainly not the empty posturing of the SNP.
I move amendment S2M-4864.5, to leave out from "believes" to end and insert:
"notes that decisions pertaining to national defence, such as any future replacement of Trident, are reserved to the Westminster parliament; notes that the United Nations Security Council plays a vital role in working for peace and security on a global basis; welcomes the United Kingdom's role within both the United Nations and NATO; notes that the General Election manifestos for 2005 of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties called for the retention of an independent nuclear deterrent; believes that there should be the widest possible debate on the future security of Scotland, the United Kingdom and the wider world, covering all options on Trident, including non-replacement; notes the comments of the UK Government that no decisions on replacing Trident have yet been taken;
Liberal Democrats north and south of the border have a long-standing commitment to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons on a multilateral basis while retaining the UK's current nuclear deterrent until progress has been made to that end.
Replacing the Trident system is clearly a reserved decision for Westminster, but the Liberal Democrats believe that it is vital for a properly informed public debate to take place.
Does the member agree that, even if we accept the distinction between reserved and devolved matters, one problem is that votes in the House of Commons are determined by members elected on the first-past-the-post system rather than any kind of proportional representation?
That is the democratic system that we have. We are a democracy and must abide by its results. I know that we would all like to see proportional representation throughout the United Kingdom.
In the aftermath of last year's failure of both the nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference and the United Nations summit to make any meaningful progress on nuclear disarmament, the Liberal Democrats are continuing to press the UK Government to initiate arms reduction talks. To say the least, it is hugely disappointing that, although the Prime Minister said that there would be the fullest possible debate, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown has pre-empted the debate with his recent statement making a clear commitment to replacing the Trident system.
Liberal Democrats believe that the chancellor's commitment to replacing our strategic nuclear arsenal is a huge mistake. It makes a mockery of the call for a full and inclusive debate. What is the
What sane Prime Minister would ever launch an intercontinental nuclear missile attack on another country aimed at destroying civilian population centres? That is what the weapons system is for. Mutually assured destruction always was a mad concept when it held sway between NATO and the Warsaw pact countries in the days of the cold war. It is equally mad in today's world. What sort of chancellor on the one hand condemns weapons of mass destruction held by other countries while on the other hand plans to update, improve and replace our own weapons of mass destruction?
I can envisage no circumstances—no circumstances at all—in which a so-called strategic nuclear deterrent such as Trident or a replacement for it could possibly be used. I look forward to hearing other contributors to the debate, but I have yet to hear anyone who can outline a scenario in which they would advocate the use of the Trident missile system. If the replacement for Trident is to cost the British people billions of pounds but is of no military value whatsoever, what is its purpose?
If Mike Rumbles does not believe that there is any conceivable military use for the replacement of Trident, why does he want to retain Trident or any other nuclear deterrent? The same criticism applies to our current deterrent as would apply to one that will not deter in the future.
Mark Ballard should pay attention to what I am saying. We believe in multilateral nuclear disarmament. We want the Government to take the initiative and use our weapons systems to convince other countries to move down the path that we want to move down.
I am running out of time, so I will close. I ask myself what Trident's purpose is, because it does not have any military value. It seems to me to be a very expensive status symbol for Gordon Brown,
In the great debate on the issue, which should be taking place across the length and breadth of the country, I hope that our MPs will listen to the moral lead given by the heads of the Christian churches in Scotland. I have heard criticisms of them, but this is exactly the lead that our religious leaders should be giving the nation. There can be no moral justification for the use of Trident or its successor. When the decision is taken by MPs in Westminster, I hope that our own phalanx of Scots MPs from all parties make the right decision.
I move amendment S2M-4864.3, to leave out from "believes" to end and insert:
"wishes to see the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons; notes the UK Government's commitment, made in June 2005, to reach a decision on the replacement of the Trident system by the end of the current Westminster Parliament; further notes that the Secretary of State for Defence stated in June 2005 that 'no decision on any replacement for Trident has been taken, either in principle or otherwise'; calls on the UK Government to ensure that there is a full public debate on the issue; further calls on the UK Government to press for a new round of multilateral arms reduction talks, and believes that the United Kingdom's current minimum nuclear deterrent should be retained for the foreseeable future until sufficient progress has been made towards the global elimination of nuclear weapons."
Nuclear weapons are immoral, illegal and should have no future here.
Jack McConnell said in the chamber two weeks ago that Trident should be included in international disarmament negotiations. Jackie Baillie, the Lib Dems and the Tories also say that multilateral disarmament works. If it works, Trident will be negotiated away, so where is their plan to provide alternative employment to those who will lose their jobs, or is that they do not have a plan, because they know that their policy has failed over 50 years, is failing and will continue to fail? They do not plan for a non-nuclear future because they do not believe that multilateralism will succeed in our time.
I am old enough to remember the excitement generated by the Lucas Aerospace shop stewards' plan to guarantee jobs by phasing out that company's involvement in military production. The trade unions at Lucas spent two years consulting the entire workforce, from engineers to secretaries. The eventual plan that they produced was a response to employees' wish to spend their
The unions took their plan to the Labour Government for support—what a waste of time. What did Labour do? Nothing. What did we lose as a result? Instead of more killing machines, the workforce suggested diversification into medical equipment, aids for disabled people, portable kidney dialysis machines, wind turbines, solar cells, heat pumps, small-scale electricity generation, energy conservation, hybrid electric cars and a road-rail vehicle. That was all back in 1976. If the Labour Government had listened 30 years ago, Britain would now be a world leader in renewable energy and not frantically playing catch-up and having to buy all its wind turbines from Denmark or Germany.
The Lucas Aerospace trade unionists were visionaries. We need some of that vision now. That is why my amendment says that we should look to the future. Let us stop throwing tens of billions of pounds into a weapons system that is aimed at a Soviet Union that does not exist. Instead, let us consider the skills at Faslane and Coulport and what future markets will need in the age of peak oil and climate change. Let us stop pouring money into misery and plan for the socially useful alternatives that a nuclear-free Scotland could produce.
Both member parties of the coalition claim to believe that multilateral talks will rid Scotland of nuclear weapons. Where is their plan for how that will happen? Where is their plan for the workforce? They should prove that their commitment is more than just mealy-mouthed words to disguise a central promise to follow the US Government across the world and to house whatever weapons of mass destruction it tells us to. If members believe that a non-nuclear future is possible, let us plan for it now.
I move amendment S2M-4864.4, to insert at end:
"but also recognises the concerns of workforce unions, such as the GMB, and therefore calls on the Scottish Executive to prepare Scotland for a weapons of mass destruction-free future by producing a plan for the redeployment of workers, such as at Faslane and Coulport, for peaceful purposes."
In presenting the motion, the SNP has hit the nail on the head. The motion makes it clear that people are either for or against unilateral disarmament. The Conservative party definitely stands in the against section. One reason why we did not lodge an amendment to the motion was that we felt that
When I listened to Roseanna Cunningham's speech, I felt that we were revisiting old arguments that I heard in the 1990s and 1980s and back in the 1970s. I picked up an election leaflet from Sedgefield in 1983 by no less than Tony Blair, in which he condemned the Tories for considering spending £10 billion on Trident. The one difference between Roseanna Cunningham and Tony Blair is that he now has responsibility for the government of this country and for protecting its citizens. He has governmental responsibility, which Roseanna Cunningham has never tasted. Tony Blair has recognised the reality.
I am sorry, but I have only four minutes for my speech.
I have no difficulty with going along with the Labour amendment, but I will make one point to Jackie Baillie. The Government promised a debate on the issue in this session of the Parliament and I eagerly await its committing to that debate.
In her amendment, Jackie Baillie refers to
"reductions in the ... nuclear weapons arsenal".
Such reductions have happened since the early 1990s. In 1993, the Tory Government got rid of the battlefield armaments, and the strategic defence review of 1998 further diminished our nuclear strike power. All that is welcome and it would be nice to think that those changes had some payback multilaterally.
One point that worries me about Jackie Baillie's amendment, and the Labour Party's commitment when it says that no decisions have been made, is that, in recent years, the budget for nuclear weaponry research at Aldermaston has flatlined. However, in the next couple of years, that budget will escalate greatly. I make no criticism of that. The Government would not be doing its job if it did not ensure that we were in a fit state to make the major decision on whether Trident is continued when the time comes. It is right that investment should be made, but we should not hide behind words.
The Liberal amendment is a bit woolly. We would all like all nations to get rid of nuclear weapons and we all wish that nuclear weapons had never been invented, but they were invented and they exist. People who say that they have not worked as a deterrent ignore the facts of history. The fact is that nuclear weapons have worked as a deterrent and have kept the major nations apart.
I am sorry; I have no time to give way as I am just about finished—I had only four minutes.
When people such as John Reid—a former communist, former supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and recently the Secretary of State for Defence—recognise the importance of nuclear weaponry to the country, everyone in the chamber should sit up and take notice.
I congratulate the Greens on their comments on economic development. I only wish that a minister with economic development responsibility were here to respond, because that would have interested the chamber. I also wish that the debate could go on longer, but it cannot, and my time has run out.
I welcome the debate. The subject may be a reserved matter, but the vote at the end of the day will clearly show Scottish voters where the current crop of MSPs stands on the issue.
Jackie Baillie's amendment is a typical fudge. Her hypocrisy beggars belief. Her speech was full of nice, soppy words, but nobody was fooled. Labour here and in the other place is morally bankrupt. After hearing Jackie Baillie's speech, I doubt whether she would recognise a moral or an ethic if it hit her in the face.
The outcome of the debate will be of particular interest to people who participated in the long walk for peace, whom I had the privilege of joining for part of the way. Those people were from all walks of life and backgrounds and were of all ages. They will watch the vote at 5 pm carefully.
The motion is clear and unequivocal: people are either for or agin Trident, now and in the future. There will be no hiding place, particularly for members who displayed a big flurry of support in front of the TV cameras outside the Parliament last Tuesday, one of whom hinted that she had been sent there by the First Minister.
No, thank you.
Few dispute that the nature of world security has changed from the situation half a century ago. We have gone from superpowers and cold wars to intrastate rather than interstate conflict and from cross-border disputes to no-borders terrorism. In such situations, nuclear weapons are useless. Only Bush, Blair and their followers believe that they can bomb their beliefs on the world. Such ideologies fuel international terrorism rather than placate it. The international warfare that is perpetrated by fearless suicide bombers will be defeated not by nuclear weapons but by superior intelligence and diplomacy.
Nobody has suggested that Iran and North Korea seek to develop weapons with a wish to attack us, yet Britain—at the same time as keeping and even talking about replacing Trident nuclear weapons—tells us that those countries should not develop their own arsenal. What blinds the politicians who tell us that with their attitude of do as I say, not as I do? They must be persuaded that that superior and patronising attitude has no place in the world of the 21st century.
Blair and Brown have said that they want Trident to be replaced. The First Minister's idea of using Britain's nuclear deterrent as a bargaining chip in international negotiations has been described by British officials close to the talks with Iran as stupid and completely ridiculous.
The SNP's stance on Trident has been clear and unequivocal for as long as I can remember. It is to scrap Trident and to make Scotland nuclear free. The money saved could be put to much better use. The estimated cost of replacing Trident is £25 billion—about £2.1 billion for Scotland. That could pay for new secondary schools, five new hospitals, 30 new community sport centres, 100 new doctors, 100 dentists and 200 teachers—the list goes on. The money would be much better spent in that way.
The choice next May is clear—between those who strut the international stage, increasing international terrorism with their blind arrogance, and the chance to use our resources to change Scotland for the better and to make it a haven of peace, rather than a home for nuclear weapons.
Never mind that it is unacceptably expensive at between £25 billion and £40 billion; that it is economically wasteful at a time when the national health service is being drained of its life blood, state education is wearing out at the knees and elbows, the building of social housing is almost at a standstill and one in three children is born into poverty; and that its presence on the Clyde makes us one of the world's number
It is to the shame of the Parliament that the Executive refuses to turn its back on weapons of mass destruction. The minister and others may argue today that Trident is a deterrent. Is that right? If it is, why is the planet ravaged by war? If Trident is a deterrent, can other countries have it? Is it a deterrent when we have it, but a weapon when they have it, as a friend pointed out last week? As Gordon Brown pointed out—in those days, he at least looked as if he had principles—weapons of mass destruction make us a target and not a haven for peace.
The minister and others may also point to Trident as a source of employment. Jackie Baillie is wrong to make that point. As has been said, there is a multitude of areas in which workers' time, energy and skills could be redeployed. Does Jackie Baillie know that if we paid every worker at the Faslane base £40,000 per year to stay at home, that would be a lot cheaper than replacing Trident? The Executive sat back while workers in the public sector—hospital workers, civil servants and council workers—lost their jobs, but there was no rush to plough millions into it to create and protect jobs. Is that not hypocrisy?
A couple of weeks ago, Carolyn Leckie, Frances Curran and I spent hours—in some cases, days—on the long walk for peace, which was an amazing event. I congratulate the event's organisers and participants, some of whom are here today. The walk took us through housing schemes and communities. Anyone who took part in it will have noted people's warm response, their understanding of the issue and their desperation to get rid of nuclear weapons. On housing schemes up and down Scotland, people are making the connection. They understand that they do not have new housing, but they do have weapons of mass destruction.
The Parliament needs to speak out. It is no excuse to say that this is a reserved matter and that the big boys did it and ran away. The Executive could speak up if it had the will to do so. Perhaps the First Minister could write a reference for those of us who are arrested for protesting against the war and WMDs when we next appear in court.
I am sorry, but I am in my last minute. The member did not give way during his speech.
If he had the will, the Minister for Transport could bar the supply of parts for and the maintenance of new weapons via our roads and railways. He has the power to do that. If the Parliament wanted to respond to the needs and demands of the people of Scotland, it would speak up and show courage, to make this country a place in which we understand peace and not weapons. Why is it that when anyone else has something like Trident it is a weapon, but when we have it it is a deterrent? Let us scrap Trident and make this country a place where we talk about peace, not war.
It strikes me that the length of the Labour amendment is in proportion to Labour's embarrassment on the issue. I congratulate Phil Gallie on his honesty—at least the Tories do not hide behind half a page of verbiage.
During the cold war, there were two positions—pro-nuclear, because nuclear weapons were a deterrent, and anti-nuclear, for all the reasons that Roseanna Cunningham has laid out. It is not provable which theory was right, although Phil Gallie thinks that it is. Those of us who were teenagers during the Cuban missile crisis remember spending an anxious couple of days waiting to find out which theory was right. However, at least during the cold war our conditions for using the deterrent were clear—once the Russian tanks crossed the West German border, the clock had begun to tick. Now they are not clear. The Trident boats still patrol the oceans, although we are told that launch directions are not programmed into them. As Mike Rumbles asked, when would we use them? Whom do they deter by sailing the oceans? No one dares say.
We are informed that we are in the midst of a war on terror, but what act of terrorism has Trident ever stopped or will it ever stop? The previous deterrent strategy was dependent on rationality—the idea that both we and the Soviets would act rationally. However, even if nuclear weapons could ever work as a deterrent, they do not work with those who do not act rationally, such as rogue states. When did North Korea last act rationally? Terrorists who obtain nuclear weapons—suicide bombers writ large—will not act rationally. The deterrent argument simply does not work for the most likely source of a nuclear attack in this day and age.
Faced with that unpalatable fact, the Government must come up with another argument to justify spending £25 billion on replacing Trident. As the First Minister said at First Minister's question time a couple of weeks ago, Trident is now a negotiating tool. If it were brand spanking
What about a new Trident? I do not subscribe to the notion that it would be an efficient bargaining tool anyway, but are we really going to spend £25 billion or more on a new bargaining tool? Is that really the First Minister's position? Is that the best thing that we can do in Scotland in the 21st century with our share of £25 billion? I presume that even Labour members do not sign up to the idea that all the money comes from England to subsidise the valuable nuclear deterrent that we have on the Scottish coast. I do not believe that the people of Scotland think that that is a good use of our share of the money or of the United Kingdom's expenditure of £25 billion. We should not go down that road.
As has been outlined, the arguments against nuclear weapons are both numerous and compelling. There is not just the moral argument that it is absolutely repulsive for us to have a weapons system that literally can destroy the lives of millions of ordinary citizens; there is also the fact that nuclear weapons do not discriminate between combatants and non-combatants in any dispute and destroy those lives in an indiscriminate manner, which makes them illegal. That is why the International Court of Justice declared that nuclear weapons—not just their use but their possession—are illegal and why the continuing protests against the Trident weapons on the Clyde are justified.
There is also the financial argument. Members mentioned the figures only a couple of times, but it is important that we do so more often. The replacement of Trident would not cost £25,000 million; there would be a commitment of £76,000 million to replace and maintain Trident over the next 30 years, according to figures from the House of Commons. The choices that must be put to the
The debate is more and more tied up with the movement for independence. Jackie Baillie and others say that the weakness in our argument is the fact that decisions are reserved to Westminster, but that is the strength of our argument. As we approach the historic 2007 Scottish Parliament elections, people who are committed to peace and want nuclear weapons to be removed from Scotland must realise that all the political parties in Scotland that are committed to independence are also committed to unilateral nuclear disarmament. In other words, if people want to vote for peace next May, they must vote for a party of independence. The movement for peace and the movement for independence are more integrally linked than they have ever been.
Instead of a planet that spends £561 billion on weapons and only £32 billion on feeding the world, let us have a planet that spends money on feeding the world. Let us have a planet that spends money on creation, not destruction.
I am privileged to take part in the debate.
Where do the Russians, the Americans, the French or the Israelis keep their nuclear weapons? Ours are in Faslane. During the cold war, I was terrified to death to think that everyone knew that our weapons were housed at Faslane. Russian nuclear weapons were targeted on Faslane 365 days a year.
After the first world war, people talked about lions led by donkeys. The MOD is the ministry of donkeys—I am talking not about the politicians but about the civil servants and the military people who drive them on and tell them what to say. The civil servants are so thick that they cannot face the reality that the cold war is over. It is a dead cold war. It no longer exists. In a pathetic attempt to put down an uprising of terrorists, the MOD has sent troops to Afghanistan, where 250,000 Russian
I will tell members why we will renew Trident. We will do so because our good Prime Minister, Mr Blair, said to George Bush, "George, you might not have peerages to sell for your election funds, but you can recompense manufacturers of weapons of mass destruction." Do members remember talk of weapons of mass destruction and the untimely death of Dr Kelly and all the rest of it? The threat of WMDs was laid out daily by the Prime Minister, but there turned out to be no such weapons in Iraq. However, there are weapons of mass destruction at Faslane, which are a constant threat to us.
I have said before in the Parliament that an attack on Faslane by terrorists would wipe out the central belt of Scotland. If three or four lady pensioners can make their way into Faslane and wander about for four hours, we can imagine what the security must be like down there. However, the ministry of donkeys seems not to worry about that sort of thing; it just ploughs on.
I grew up in a world that was free of nuclear weapons. I was 15 in 1945 when the bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. During the war, we thought that that was great, but as I grew up and understood the damage that the nuclear weapons had caused when they wiped out two conurbations in Japan, it made me a convert to and a great believer in CND.
I am appalled by the absence of Labour Party members in the chamber. I did not leave the Labour Party; the Labour Party left me. The Labour Party that I knew was strongly in favour of doing away with weapons of mass destruction. It is a sad indictment of the party that its members are not present to stand up for what is right, in the way that they were brought up to do, and call for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction. We must not renew Trident; it is a farce.
Roseanna Cunningham opened the debate by saying that the motion gives members no place to hide. She was wrong, which is sad, because we have witnessed a desperate attempt by the Labour Party and in particular the Liberal Democrats to find a place to hide, although they have been presented with a clear moral choice: should we replace Trident or not?
Phil Gallie made his position clear. He is an old cold warrior who believes in the nuclear deterrent and would like to retain nuclear weapons. His
"the United Kingdom's current minimum nuclear deterrent should be retained for the foreseeable future until sufficient progress has been made towards the global elimination of nuclear weapons."
The Liberal Democrats propose that we wait until everyone else has given up their nuclear weapons before we get rid of ours. They cannot foresee a future without nuclear weapons.
That is a travesty of what I said. It is obvious that the member was not listening. Our amendment refers to the current system; it does not talk about replacing the system. That is absolutely clear, as is my position. I will vote for the SNP's motion—if we ever get there and the Tories and the Labour Party do not combine to defeat it.
However hard Mike Rumbles tries to hide, the Liberal Democrat amendment is clear: it does not foresee a future without nuclear weapons and it wants to retain them, despite all of Mike Rumbles's good, strong arguments that they make no sense.
Alasdair Morgan laid out clearly why the negotiating strategy of Mike Rumbles and others who support the notion of multilateral disarmament simply will not work in practice.
Does the member accept that thousands of Labour Party members and trade unionists are against the renewal of Trident? The way to convince Westminster MPs is by persuasion—as in the Green's logical amendment—rather than by the abuse that is coming from some members of the SNP. Party-political sectarianism will not work.
I am not going to respond to any party-political sectarianism, but I respect Bill Butler and many people in the Labour Party and the trade union movement who have been unequivocal in retaining their opposition to nuclear weapons and supporting nuclear disarmament—unlike the First Minister.
Chris Ballance was right: if people believe in multilateralism and doing away with these illegal and immoral weapons, they should be planning a future for Scotland that is without weapons of mass destruction. The fact that the people who promote this multilateral nonsense do not believe
Multilateralism has not worked for the past 50 years, but South Africa has unilaterally disarmed and Ukraine has unilaterally disarmed. I look forward to a future in which the UK and Scotland join that list. Unilateral disarmament is the only way we will be able to get rid of these illegal and immoral weapons. Let us take that step. I urge members to support the SNP motion and the Green amendment.
I am pleased to restate Liberal Democrats' views on the Trident missile system: we believe in the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons. We are clear that the Trident system must form a part of multilateral arms reduction talks. As Mike Rumbles said, we see a key role for the UK Government in bringing about such talks.
Last year, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference failed. We believe that that was the cue for leadership on the international stage by the UK Government. Instead, what we got was a series of mixed messages from the UK Government. In June 2005, the Secretary of State for Defence said that no decision had been taken on the replacement for the Trident missile system. In February, the Prime Minister told the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons that there would be the "fullest possible parliamentary debate". However, the Chancellor of the Exchequer then appeared to pre-empt such a debate by saying that Trident was to be replaced.
Mr Rumbles made his own position clear.
It is hard to understand the haste with which the UK Government seems to wish to proceed to a decision on replacement. In June 2006, a House of Commons Defence Committee report on the future of the UK strategic nuclear deterrent apparently stated that no binding decision needs to be made before 2014. Alasdair Morgan's point that the obsolescence of the system degrades its potential within multilateral talks is not as strong as he believes.
Yes, I will certainly take that posture and seek to persuade my colleagues, as Bill Butler will hear.
It would be entirely acceptable for this Parliament to be involved in a national debate; I see no reason why we should not be. The debate would inform the public of the key questions. Precisely against whom is the current system targeted or would a replacement system be targeted? I find it impossible to answer that question. Is the current system truly and fully independent, and would a replacement system be? The current system is clearly not truly and fully independent. Does the public really want a system that is dependent largely on the involvement of the United States?
What will be the impact on jobs and what are the alternative plans if there is to be no replacement? Those questions will need to be addressed.
What about the cost of a replacement system? Many members have referred to a range of uses for the sums of money involved. Of course, one can extrapolate over a period of time and say how many hospitals, teachers and so on could be funded with the resources. However, the figure is not the £15 billion to £25 billion of the initial cost; as Mr Sheridan has said—and the figure comes from the House of Commons itself—the figure is £75 billion or £76 billion over a 30-year period. That is the true cost, and there would have to be a public debate on how the British people want to spend it. I think the answer would be that they would not wish to spend that sum of money on a replacement system.
One alternative has not been discussed in this debate: there are alternative military uses to which the resources released could be put. For example, the United Nations is failing to respond to the crisis in Darfur. The money to replace the Trident system could be devoted to a far more comprehensive and outstanding peacekeeping effort around the world.
This is our second debate on Trident within a relatively short period of time. We have heard many good speeches this morning, displaying passion, commitment and principles. This is an issue on which individual views must be respected and properly understood. The existence of these hideous weapons of destruction is a matter of disquiet to those who wish to keep them as well as to those who do not. Safety issues—let alone all the others—are of enormous importance.
It is of considerable interest that, at one time, Mr Tony Blair, Mr Gordon Brown and Mr John Reid were all believed to be strong supporters of the
"a stability founded on our strength to make the right long-term decisions, a sense of national purpose in protecting our security in this Parliament and in the long term—strong in defence, in fighting terrorism, upholding NATO, supporting our armed forces at home and abroad, and retaining our independent nuclear deterrent. In an insecure world we must and will always have the strength to take all necessary long-term decisions for stability and security."
That implies a presumption, at least on the part of the chancellor, that Trident will be renewed or replaced.
Unfortunately, we cannot destroy the knowledge that led to the production of nuclear weapons. However, we can and do support multilateral disarmament. That is why we supported a test ban, the non-proliferation treaties and other policies to that end, all with a view to reducing tension in the world.
I am interested in the member's comments. Is he aware that the technology to turn Trident into a coercive weapon with warheads capable of accuracy within metres is already being pursued by the US and UK Governments? That would make Trident a first-strike weapon. I ask whether the member supports that, because he will be supporting it if he supports replacement.
I am totally opposed to the idea of a first strike in any context. I am well aware that technology has marched on a great deal, as the member says. However, it should be borne in mind that the existence of the Trident deterrent during the cold war meant that there was no hot war between Russia and western nations and led to a considerable reduction in the number of nuclear bombs in America and Russia.
I am extremely surprised that the First Minister has suggested that Trident should be used as a negotiating pawn in discussions between Britain and Iran. That is especially surprising, given that Labour's defence white paper stated:
"the continuing risk from the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the certainty that a number of ... countries will retain substantial nuclear arsenals, mean that our minimum nuclear deterrent capability ... represented by Trident, is likely to remain a necessary element".
I suggest that such a complex issue will not be resolved by a knee-jerk reaction to a current problem. If the First Minister cannot persuade the British Government on that point, he is unlikely to persuade us.
As I said in the debate on 4 May, I challenge those people who wish us to give up our nuclear
I have two final points. To eliminate wars, the participation of our country and others in the work of the United Nations will be invaluable, because at the United Nations countries that are in dispute can back off without losing face. If Trident has to be renewed, as I suspect it will, it should be done on the ground that it is a regrettable necessity. We support the Labour amendment.
Unlike some people in Scotland, whom Jackie Baillie referred to in her speech, I welcome the opportunities that the Parliament has to discuss non-devolved issues. Some of the best debates that we have had have been on matters on which we cannot legislate, but on which we have the right to express our views. The potential replacement of the Trident nuclear missile system is one such issue. It is just a pity that the Scottish National Party would rather play cheap politics with the subject than give us the opportunity to express our views on it properly. It is an absolute joke that the SNP believes that an issue of such magnitude can be reduced to a discussion of little more than an hour.
Although I recognise that small businesses deserve to have issues that affect them debated in the Parliament, I must ask how the SNP expects us and the Scottish public to believe that it considers nuclear proliferation to be a matter of vital importance when it splits its debating time between consideration of the threat of world obliteration and discussion of strategies for the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises. However, we know that rather than being about ensuring that we have a debate about nuclear missile replacement, this morning's charade is about cheap point scoring and trying to shut down such debate.
I will not take any interventions from the SNP because it has not given us enough time to discuss the subject, although I am happy to indulge in point scoring.
I ask the SNP what we would spend the money that we would save from scrapping nuclear missiles on. The party's spokespeople have a wish list of spending commitments that would make Santa Claus despair. Alex Salmond tells us that he would have the money spent on eradicating world poverty. One would think that, after that, there would not be much change left from the £2 billion that is Scotland's pro rata share of the cost of Trident replacement, but not a bit of it. From press
We are talking about what we could spend in Scotland, which is not £76,000 million. That is the amount that the SNP would require to spend to meet all its commitments.
The problem with the SNP is that in spite of its constant demands that there should be a debate, it wants us to agree to motions that would prevent us from taking part in such a debate. According to the SNP, we can discuss the issue only so that we end up agreeing with it and then end the debate there. I want nuclear disarmament. I want the threat of nuclear annihilation to be removed from our planet as soon as possible but, unlike the SNP, I want to consider frankly all the options that would allow us to get to that position, which include bilateral and multilateral disarmament.
I moved from a unilateralist to a multilateralist position during the 1990s. I remember from the debate that took place at that time the old adage that those who want to go alone can always start today, but those who wish to travel with others must wait until the others are ready. That strategy led to nuclear weapons reduction and was successful.
As we look ahead to whether we should replace Trident, I am once again inclined towards unilateralism, but the issue is not as simple as the SNP would have us believe. I want to engage with others in an honest debate and to take on board arguments both for and against unilateralism. I do not want such an important issue to be treated with the contempt that the SNP has shown for it in this morning's truncated debate, which is about not preventing the replacement of Trident, but headline grabbing and constitutional wrangling. I want a genuine debate—that is why I support Labour's amendment, which seeks to allow that legitimate debate to begin.
Last week, we witnessed the culmination of a fantastic effort by everyone who was involved
In the aftermath of the march, the marchers sent all MSPs a message in which we were reminded that we have been elected to serve the people of Scotland. I hope that all of us will always remember that. The message also said:
"As an MSP you can play a critical role in eliminating the scourge of nuclear weapons. If the Scottish Parliament took a stand against any replacement or upgrade of Trident, you will send a strong message to London and the world that there is no place for nuclear weapons. The responsibility to reflect the conscience of the people of Scotland has not been reserved to Westminster."
We wanted to have the debate so that we could reflect the conscience of the Scottish people and concentrate on the strategic, ethical, moral and legal rationale for not replacing Trident. On the whole, we have managed to achieve our aims.
I make a simple invitation to Michael McMahon: bring on a Scottish Executive-initiated debate any time, any place, anywhere. It can be held in Executive time, whenever the opportunity arises. The reality is that Labour members do not want to be embarrassed because they have all changed their minds on the issue. When I heard Michael McMahon say that he changed his mind in the 1990s, I wondered whether having his conscience removed was part of the vetting process that he went through to become an MSP.
As I said, I think his conscience was removed.
"significant reductions in the UK's nuclear weapons arsenal".
There may have been a reduction in the overall payload, but everyone who looks at the facts will realise that now that the Trident submarines have 48 warheads and a much greater capacity to target, they are more effective than any weapons that we have had in the past. That is the reality.
I will take no lectures on jobs from Jackie Baillie, when Labour has been responsible for the loss of 2,500 MOD jobs from Scotland since it came to power.
Instead of spending £5 million a head on the jobs of the people who are involved
At this stage in UK politics, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to influence the outcome of the debate on whether Trident should be upgraded. What do I mean by that? As we are all too aware, the British Labour Party is in the process of replacing its leader and, as a consequence, the UK will have a new Prime Minister. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the next Labour leader and Prime Minister will be a Scot: Gordon Brown. While I accept that he has committed himself to the continuance of the UK's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, I believe that if we in this Parliament were to vote against that, he could be persuaded to alter course.
Why do I believe that? I do so because he has already altered course. He did not always believe, as he does today, in the need for the UK to maintain WMD. Indeed, so opposed was he that, as Rosie Kane alluded to, he said in the House of Commons on 19 June 1984 that Trident was
"unacceptably expensive, economically wasteful and militarily unsound."—[Official Report, House of Commons, 19 June 1984; Vol 62, c 188.]
I believe that his arguments were right in 1984 and that they are even more valid today.
I also believe that Labour members, who were elected to this Parliament to serve and reflect the conscience of the Scottish people, can play a critical role. I wonder about Bill Butler in that regard. Was he struck off the Labour list of speakers in the debate because his views are too strong to be heard in the chamber? At the end of the long march for peace, I saw a number of Labour members outside the Parliament join others to greet the marchers on their arrival here. The role of those Labour members in securing a majority vote in Parliament against the replacement or upgrading of Trident is paramount.
The people who took part in the long march and the majority of the people of Scotland, who believe that there is no strategic, ethical, moral or legal rationale for the UK retaining Trident, are hoping, nay praying, that Labour members will vote with their conscience at decision time. Today, with Labour members' help, the Parliament can make history by voting to bin the bomb and make Trident history. In doing so together, we can begin the process of deconstructing the arguments of those who want to usher in a new period of WMD in the UK.
I agree with the terms of the SNP's motion and, if we get to it, I will support it. However, does the member think that the political posturing that is coming across the chamber from the SNP will
If Elaine Smith had been in the chamber for the whole debate she would perhaps be aware that all the political posturing is coming from the Labour side of the chamber. If she wants to be able to vote for our motion, it is clear what she must do: she must vote against the hypocritical position that the Labour Party has adopted.
I do not know how many members want to do the same as me. I want to be able to say to my grandchildren that I was part of an historic debate in the Scottish Parliament that said enough was enough and signalled the beginning of the end of Trident on the Clyde. Members should vote with their conscience and vote for their grandchildren and those to follow.