The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today called on new Secretary of State for Defence Bob Ainsworth to immediately announce a delay in the Initial Gate decision for the Trident replacement programme as his first act in the job.
The call came as the number of MPs demanding a delay until Parliament was in session exceeded 150.
In an Early Day Motion tabled by Jeremy Corbyn MP, over 150 MPs, including 80 Labour members, call on “the Initial Gate decision be delayed until Parliament is in session and can be presented with the report for scrutiny” .
The Initial Gate is the decision point at the end of the ‘concept phase’ for the Trident replacement programme. It will include a decision on whether the Vanguard submarines should be replaced by three or four new boats, and marks the start of the design phase. The Ministry of Defence has announced that the Initial Gate decision will be made in September whilst Parliament is in recess. Ministry of Defence Permanent Under Secretary of State, Sir Bill Jeffrey KCB, told the Public Accounts Committee in November that “these would normally be decisions taken by ministers” .
CND also welcomed the resignation of John Hutton, who as senior minister responsible for Trident replacement enthusiastically supported the nuclear weapons programme. Hutton was MP for Barrow, where the replacement submarines will be designed and constructed.
Kate Hudson, Chair of CND said, “The new Cabinet has to face facts. The Labour government has gone against the grain of public opinion on too many issues, one of which is Trident. To regain public trust and support, the government must now become properly accountable and rethink its approach to a range of issues, including Trident replacement.
Aside from the moral argument, the country cannot afford to waste public money on replacing Trident, particularly in the current economic crisis. The idea that the government will give the nod to costly new design work whilst Parliament is closed for the summer is outrageous. This is not something that right-thinking MPs or members of the public will accept.
At a time when President Obama is leading new disarmament initiatives, there is no case for Trident replacement. Bob Ainsworth should immediately announce that the Initial Gate decision will be delayed until MPs can debate it after the summer recess.”