1 March 2007: for immediate release
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today condemned government plans to hold a brief debate and then a vote on the replacement of Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system, on Wednesday 14 March.
The parliamentary debate, scheduled to last only six hours, will come just one week after the publication of the Defence Select Committee’s third and apparently final report of its inquiry into Britain’s nuclear weapons programme.
The Defence Select Committee inquiry is the only open form of consultation undertaken thus far on the issue of Trident replacement. It now appears that the full debate promised by the government will not take place.
As of Wednesday, 142 MPs have signed EDM 579, which calls on the government to extend the period of consultation on Trident to allow all points of view to be heard. Many defence experts claim that it is not necessary to make a decision now on Trident replacement, which would allow time for a full consultation.
The Labour Party has repeatedly crushed any attempt to debate the issue within the party. At the 2006 Labour Party Conference, all 17 motions on Trident replacement were ruled out of order. All Trident motions were also ruled out of order at the meeting of the National Executive Committee last January, and delegates were not allowed to vote on the issue at last month’s meeting of the National Policy Forum.
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said:
‘There is no reason why the government needs to take a decision on Trident replacement now. There has been no real consultation – no structured opportunity provided by the government in which ordinary people can engage. There has been no genuine discussion about serious issues such as Britain’s NPT obligations and the effect replacing Trident will have on global nuclear proliferation. What we have heard is inaccurate and one-sided government spin on these issues.’
She continued, ‘The vast majority of the population believes that climate change and terrorism are the top threats we face now and in the future. The government’s plan to spend up to £76 billion on an irrelevant Cold War nuclear weapons system instead of tackling the very real threats we face shows just how out of touch it is with public opinion.’
CND has called an emergency parliamentary lobby on 14th March, the day of the debate and vote on Trident replacement. CND has also organised a rally in Parliament Square from 6-8 pm on the day of the vote.
Notes to Editor:
1. For further information and interviews please contact Rick Wayman, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.