The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today welcomed the decision of Liberal Democrat conference to prioritise discussion of an emergency motion on Trident, saying it “shows the real distaste most Lib Dems feel at vast spending on Trident when almost every other area is facing severe cuts”. The issue had previously been excluded from discussion by the Conference Committee on the grounds that it had been discussed recently.The Emergency Motion [see note 2] is due to be proposed at 9am on Wednesday by newly-elected MP Julian Huppert (Cambridge). Julian Huppert, together with Tessa Munt, MP for Wells – both members of Parliamentary CND – spoke at a packed anti-Trident fringe meeting on Saturday night hosted by the Lib Dem Peace and Security Group and the Lib Dem Say No to Trident group, together with CND.

Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: “The prioritisation of the Trident motion shows the real distaste most Lib Dems feel at vast spending on Trident when almost every other area of public spending is facing severe cuts. Significant numbers of Lib Dem members and voters were won over to the party exactly because of distinctive policies on issues like nuclear weapons – stances that cannot be glossed over now the party is in government. We strongly hope the conference will follow through on its decision to prioritise this issue by passing this motion, and that Lib Dem ministers demand the full consideration of Trident through its inclusion in the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

“Polling shows 57% of Lib Dem members reject Britain’s retention of nuclear weapons altogether and only 7% support the ‘like for like’ replacement planned by the Defence Secretary [note 3]. The grassroots are clear in their opposition to Trident and even Nick Clegg has spoken of the difficulty of justifying the huge cost to those who are having their benefits cut. We strongly hope the leadership will back the view of their members and support this motion. The billions of pounds at stake, and the cuts that spending them on Trident would cause, make this a very serious issue, not just for defining the Lib Dems’ role in government but for every person who relies on public services in the country at large.”

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Emergency motion: Trident, 9am, Wednesday 22nd September
Winchester and Chandler’s Ford and 30 conference representatives

Conference notes that:

i) In July the Chancellor announced that the Ministry of Defence will have to fund the £20bn-£30bn capital costs of a ‘like-for-like’ replacement for Trident.
ii) The Defence Secretary has warned that this means severe restrictions in the way Britain operates militarily, regiments could be axed or the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy amalgamated.
iii) The exclusion of Trident from the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) is now untenable; it should be included and receive the scrutiny which strategic, political and financial circumstances demand.

Conference calls on the Liberal Democrat ministers to:

1. Press for the extension of the SDSR to allow a full review of the alternatives to ‘like-for-like’ replacement of Trident.
2. Ensure the SDSR considers cost-saving options such as ending continuous at-sea patrols and extending the life of Vanguard submarines.
3. Ensure the SDSR makes explicit the opportunity cost of Trident replacement – in terms of cuts to troop numbers and equipment programmes.
Poll, 16th September 2010:
As you may know, there is currently debate about whether or not the UK should replace its Trident nuclear weapons system. Current policy is to replace the Trident submarines with a new fleet of boats, and to replace the ballistic nuclear missiles they carry at a later date. Which of the following options would you favour most?

Replace Trident with a broadly comparable system – 7
Replace Trident with a cheaper system – 32
Not renew Trident and give up nuclear weapons altogether – 57
Don’t know – 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.