Commons Debate – 19 October 2010

Debate House of Commons, Strategic Defence and Security Review 19 October 2010

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): Given that a nuclear attack on the UK by another state was judged by yesterday’s national security strategy to be of “low likelihood” and in the light of the formal exclusion of Trident from the strategic defence and security review, will the Prime Minister use the delay in the Trident main gate decision to allow a full public review of the necessity of nuclear weapons?

The Prime Minister: I think that there will be a continuing debate in this country about nuclear deterrence. I have been through the arguments in my own mind a thousand times, and I always come up with the same answer, which is that, in an uncertain, unsafe and dangerous world, with countries like Iran trying to get a nuclear weapon, it would be a profound mistake for Britain to discard her nuclear weapon. But this debate can always take place in this House. I think that my party has a very settled view on it, and the White Paper safeguards that, but it is for others to make up their own minds.

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): The nuclear non-proliferation treaty commits this country to long-term nuclear disarmament and to take steps to achieve that. The Prime Minister has just announced the replacement of the Trident nuclear system at some point in the future. Is this not illegal under the terms of that treaty, and how much money will it cost us to develop another generation of weapons of mass destruction, when what we need is peace and a nuclear-free world?

The Prime Minister: Our proposals are within the spirit and the letter of the non-proliferation treaty. Also, I did not necessarily come to the House today to try to make the hon. Gentleman happy, but I did announce that we would be reducing the number of warheads on each submarine from 48 to 40, and our operationally available warheads from fewer than 160 to no more than 120, which is all contained on page 38 of this excellent document today, which I commend to him.