For immediate release: 08 November 2006
With only a week until the Queen’s Speech, a majority of backbench MPs have now demanded a debate on the replacement of the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system.
271 MPs (53%) across all parties have signed at least one of eight Early Day Motions1 laid down in this Parliamentary session on one of the most controversial decisions this government will have to make.
Of these, 117 Labour MPs (55%) have demanded a debate, including the former Foreign Office Minister Chris Mullin, the Labour members of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Fabian Hamilton, Eric Illsely, Sandra Osborne and Ken Purchase and the Labour members of the Defence Select Committee David Borrow, David Hamilton and Brian Jenkins.
The growing pressure on the government to open the debate has meant ministers, including the Prime Minister as well as Margaret Beckett, Des Browne and Jack Straw have repeatedly stated their commitment to the debate but they have as yet failed to initiate it.
MPs as well as campaigners are concerned at the government’s commitment to spending tens of billions of pounds on weapons of mass destruction when other important areas require huge public spending.
Recently, the Labour Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change Colin Challen MP said, “The cost of Trident is too great since it doesn’t seem to have a strategic purpose any more. We can’t fight climate change militarily and it’s the greatest threat we face. Logically, that means we don’t spend money on Trident but on mitigation and adaptation measures for climate change.”2
Kate Hudson, Chair of CND, said: “The Prime Minister has stated that a decision will be made on replacing Trident this year, and the government has stated its commitment to a public debate. But time is drawing on and we have yet to see the government facilitating any such debate. No minister has yet made a convincing case for a replacement and with growing public demands to tackle climate change, the government must consider what are its spending priorities to ensure a secure future for the country. A full debate and parliamentary decision on these issues is essential when these issues confronting Britain are so crucial to our future. An announcement of the timetable for debate would be a welcome inclusion in the Queen’s speech next week.”
Notes to Editor:
1. The 8 EDMs calling for a debate on Trident are: 649, 1113, 1197, 2575, 2652, 2694, 2702, and 2703. A list of the MPs who have signed each EDM can be seen at https://www.cnduk.org/pages/tracker.htm or contact the CND Press Office for a copy of the spreadsheet.
2. The Guardian, “Could Scrapping Trident Save the Planet?”, 04.11.06
3. An ICM poll from June 2006 showed that 81% of the British public believes that any decision on Trident replacement should be made by Parliament, not the Prime Minister alone. Click here for a full copy of the poll.
4. According to a July 2006 ICM poll, 59% of the British public opposes a replacement of Trident when presented with a cost of at least £25 billion. Click here for a full copy of the poll.
5. For further information and interviews please contact Rick Wayman, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
6. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 32,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.