For immediate release: 30 June 2006

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today welcomed the Defence Select Committee’s demand for a full public and parliamentary debate on the replacement of Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system.

The Committee’s report, which is the first from a planned series of Inquiries, comes as an ICM poll shows that 81% of the British public believe that any decision on Trident replacement must be made by a vote in Parliament, not by the Prime Minister. (1) (2)

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said,
“Blair’s announcement on Wednesday in the House of Commons that a decision on Trident replacement will be made this year places a block on full discussion and debate.  How can this take place before the publication of the promised White Paper and the conclusion of the Defence Committee Inquiries? The public and MPs must be made fully aware of all options for Trident replacement and the full implications of each option before a deciding vote on the issue in Parliament. The government has repeatedly promised the ‘fullest possible debate’ on Trident replacement while simultaneously insisting that Britain must build a new generation of nuclear weapons. Their attempts to pre-empt a full public and parliamentary debate show that the overwhelming majority of the British public are correct – this decision should be made by Parliament, not taken in secret by the Prime Minister.”

CND also welcomes the inclusion by the Defence Select Committee report, released today, of abolition of Britain’s nuclear weapons system as one of the options to be considered. The report also gives thorough consideration to the issues of status, independence and current and future threats, but highlights the failure of the government so far to facilitate a full debate.

The Committee’s report also strongly criticised the Ministry of Defence for its refusal to participate in the inquiry.
Ms Hudson said, “How can the government claim that it is committed to a full debate on this issue when the MoD, the ministry responsible for our nuclear weapons programme, refuses to participate in parliamentary inquiries into the future of nuclear weapons in Britain? All relevant government ministers and departments must fully participate in future inquiries in an open and transparent manner.”

CND expressed disappointment that the Defence Select Committee’s report did not address Britain’s obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Informed that the Foreign Affairs Committee was the correct place to address this issue, CND has attempted to meet with Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett to discuss the matter. The written request has met with no response. Ms Hudson said, “Britain and the other declared nuclear weapon states committed themselves to undertaking negotiations to achieve nuclear disarmament 36 years ago, and re-affirmed that commitment in 1995 and again in 2000. Building new nuclear weapons to replace Trident would be in breach of this commitment, and would likely start a new nuclear arms race.”


Notes to Editor:

1. ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1012 adults aged 18+ by telephone between 14-15 June 2006. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
2. For a copy of the full ICM poll, please contact Rick Wayman, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 700 2350 or 07968 420 859
3. For further information and interviews please contact Rick Wayman, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
4. 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.