Commons Debate – 15 March 2010

Debate at the House of Commons on Defence in the World (Monday 15 March 2010)

Mr. Bob Ainsworth (The Secretary of State for Defence): The armed forces of the United Kingdom provide the country with a unique instrument for the protection of Britain’s national security and the promotion of our national interests. Whether it is protecting the shipping lanes from piracy, defending our dependent territories on land, in the air or at sea, providing humanitarian assistance, keeping the peace in areas of conflict, or fighting to protect national and international security, they are a force for good, and the people of Britain are rightly proud of them.

………

Dr. Liam Fox (Shadow Secretary of State for Defence; Conservative): Since the last strategic defence review in 1998, the world has become a more dangerous place. Transnational terrorism, nuclear proliferation, the battle for cyberspace and the effects of climate change are all playing a part in destabilising the equilibrium of global security.

On proliferation, while countries such as Libya have seemingly given up their ambitions for weapons of mass destruction, North Korea has successfully tested two nuclear bombs. Iran is on the verge of acquiring a nuclear weapon, and continues to be a net exporter of terrorism and instability to its neighbours in the region and beyond. The nature and behaviour of the regime in Iran, and the risk of triggering a nuclear arms race in the middle east, are a cause of growing anxiety. In my view, this is the biggest emerging threat that we face.

………

Nick Harvey  (North Devon; Liberal Democrat): We have a nuclear deterrent. It is there, it is paid for, and it has another 20 years of life in it. The point is that the hon. Gentleman already seems hellbent-now, here, in 2010-on deciding that there should continue to be a nuclear deterrent during the 30 years between 2030 and 2060. He view appears to believe that that should happen irrespective of any other development in any part of the globe. He has already made that decision, and in so doing has held in contempt the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which calls on the nuclear states to use their best offices and sincere endeavours to negotiate away nuclear deterrents over a period of time.

………

Bill Rammell (Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence): The hon. Gentleman asked about Trident. He wrongly, unjustly and erroneously said that this party and this Government were hell-bent on renewing Trident. Our position-I want to make it very clear to him-is that we believe in seeking a world free of nuclear weapons. We have been, as is acknowledged by independent experts, the most forward-leaning of the nuclear weapons states in terms of disarmament, with a 75 per cent. reduction in the explosive capability of our nuclear arsenal over the past 13 years. We committed to starting the process of renewing Trident and keeping that policy constantly under review because not to do so would have meant effectively committing to unilateral nuclear disarmament at some stage in the future, regardless of the circumstances and of progress in multilateral disarmament.

………

Please click here to read more of the debate

Advertisements