On 24th January 2013 a House of Lords debate took place on prospects for multilateral nuclear disarmament and Britain’s role. The debate, secured by Lord Ramsbotham and Lord Hannay, discussed the Trident programme and whether like-for-like renewal was the best option.
TLG Convenor Lord Browne of Ladyton argued that the reliance on nuclear weapons as a deterrent was a ‘decreasingly effective and increasingly risky’ defence strategy. Baroness Warsi noted the significant challenges for disarmament, especially in the risk of proliferation from North Korea and Iran. Britain, she argued, has shown ‘considerable leadership’ in reducing the number of nuclear weapons but only by building trust between states would multilateral disarmament be possible.
Lord Ramsbotham, HoL
Tom King, former Conservative defence secretary, also questioned whether a like-for-like replacement for Trident was needed, affordable and best suited to deal with 21st century security threats.
Lord Ramsbotham concluded the debate by stating that all issues surrounding nuclear disarmament should be addressed, and was particularly glad the continuous at sea deterrence policy was called into question for its cost and efficacy.
Debates, and both written, and oral questions have all addressed the topic of Nuclear weapons this week.
Jim Cunningham MP has written to ask Liam Fox if he will publish in full the Trident replacement value-for-money review.
Read Dr Fox’s response here.
Bridget Phillipson MP also wrote the Defence Secretary to ask (1) how many suppliers of (a) equipment, (b) personnel, (c) parts and (d) assembly facilities for the Vanguard-class Trident submarine maintenance project there are in each (i) Government Office region, (ii) local authority area and (iii) parliamentary constituency; read the Minister’s reply here.
TLG member Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP in a debate on NATO in the Commons addressed Foreign Secretary William Hague MP, he stated:
The Lisbon statement said nothing on the future of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. As the Foreign Secretary will be aware, the United Kingdom gave up its tactical nuclear weapons in the 1990s, as militarily useless and politically irrelevant. Will the British Government now support multilateral negotiations between NATO and Russia, so that tactical nuclear weapons can be removed from Europe as a whole?…you can read Mr Hague’s response here.
In a debate in the House, Jeremy Corbyn MP addressed the Secretary of Defence to ask him, ‘Exactly how much money, would be spent between now and then  in preparing for the decision to replace [the current Trident Missile System]?’ Read Dr Fox’s reply here.
TLG convenor Lord Desmond Browne, and TLG member Baroness Shirley Williams were invited to speak at a conference at the LSE Thursday 2 December 2010. Hosted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) to launch their 2010 Yearbook on Nuclear Weapons in Europe, Browne and Williams discussed NATO’s strategic concept, and the current status of both American and European efforts to encourage multi-lateral disarmament. You can read a brief summary of the event here. You can also download and listen to a Podcast of the event here.