16 February 2007: for immediate release
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today condemned the government’s continued failure to facilitate a consultation on the issue of replacing Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system.
In light of yesterday’s High Court ruling castigating the government for its sham consultation on nuclear power, CND pointed out that an eerily similar process is now taking place around Trident replacement.
Over the past year, ministers have given assurances that there would be a full consultation on Trident replacement. Despite this, the government ignored calls for a Green Paper setting out all options including non-replacement. Now, with only a few weeks before a likely parliamentary debate and vote, a meaningful consultation has yet to take place.
In the spirit of a full consultation, CND Vice President Bruce Kent has written to all 22 cabinet ministers inviting them to join him in a public discussion about the White Paper and its conclusions.
CND is also currently awaiting a legal opinion on the Trident consultation from Michael Fordham QC on behalf of Peacerights.
121 MPs have now signed EDM 579, which calls on the government to extend the period of consultation on Trident replacement to allow for a full debate and public consultation (note 1).
Kate Hudson, Chair of CND, said:
‘There is a democratic deficit when it comes to the decision on Trident replacement – a recent poll indicates that 59% of the population is opposed to the government building a new generation of nuclear weapons. Despite this the government continues to ignore requests for debates on the issue, believing it can simply push this decision through without proper scrutiny.’
Commenting on the High Court’s decision on nuclear power, Ms Hudson said:
‘It puts the democratic principles which we stand for to shame when it falls on the judiciary to tell the government it hasn’t done what it has promised. The High Court was right to demand that the government go back and engage in a proper, full consultation on nuclear power. This is a vindication of the widespread outrage at the government’s railroading of the issue. The government must learn its lesson from this case and provide the public with the full consultation we deserve on Trident replacement.’
CND, the Stop the War Coalition, and the British Muslim Initiative are organising a national demonstration in London on Saturday 24th February, calling for ‘No Trident’ and ‘Troops Home from Iraq.’ It is expected to be Britain’s largest anti-nuclear demonstration in decades.
Notes to Editor:
1. EDM 579 states, ‘That this House notes the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of 28th June 2006 that the White Paper The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent would be accompanied by an announcement on the means of consultation for the fullest possible debate; is concerned that there has been no provision made for public consultation; believes that a period of three months is insufficient for a discussion on a decision of this magnitude; and calls on the Government to extend the period of consultation to enable all political parties and other organisations with a legitimate interest to undertake full discussion and consultation which will enable them to present their views and make representations to hon. Members before a debate and vote.’
2. For further information and interviews please contact Rick Wayman, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
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.
5. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.