Commons Debate – 5 July 2010

House of Commons, Monday 5 July 2010

Trident

Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry, Conservative): When he plans to publish the results of the Trident value-for-money study.

Dr Liam Fox (Secretary of State, Defence; North Somerset, Conservative): The Ministry of Defence’s work on the value-for-money study should be completed at the end of this month. The findings will go to the Cabinet Office, and will then be considered by the National Security Council. The council’s conclusions will inform the strategic defence and security review and the comprehensive spending review, which will be published in the autumn.

Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry, Conservative): I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. Will the results of the value-for-money study include plans on the infrastructure that supports our deterrent?

Dr Liam Fox (Secretary of State, Defence; North Somerset, Conservative): It might help the House if I tell my hon. Friend that the programme will cover the timetable itself, submarine numbers, the number of missiles, missile tubes and warheads, infrastructure and other support costs, and the industrial supply chain.

Katy Clark (North Ayrshire and Arran, Labour): Given that Trident is costing us perhaps £1 billion or £2 billion every year, and an estimated £96 billion over its entire lifetime, does the Minister agree that we should listen to the military figures who are increasingly saying that it is not necessary and counting it as something to be considered in the comprehensive spending review?

Dr Liam Fox (Secretary of State, Defence; North Somerset, Conservative): Ultimately, it is up to the Government to decide what the policy should be. There is a wide range of advice, military and otherwise. The House came to the conclusion that it did in 2007 on the basis that we believed that that was a cost-effective way for this country to go forward with a nuclear deterrent. We know that abroad there are a number of countries trying to develop nuclear weapons. We do not know what will happen between now and 2015-the time scale for the Trident replacement programme-and we cannot play fast and loose with Britain’s defences.

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