30 November 2006: for immediate release
With the government White Paper on Trident Replacement expected on Monday, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today called for a period of genuine consultation, without a pre-determined outcome. The current process appears to be government decision, followed by White Paper, consultation, parliamentary debate and vote. That process is the wrong way round. CND calls for a consultation and debate prior to a government decision.
The Trident nuclear weapons system is an artefact of the Cold War, and it is widely believed that it has no relevance in the new security context, where terrorism and climate change are the greatest threats. As Britain faces a decision on nuclear weapons that could see us nuclear-armed for decades to come, CND argues that all options must be considered, including non-replacement of Trident.
As part of its contribution to the consultation process, CND has published an Alternative White Paper (see note 2 below), making the case for non-replacement. A central theme of the Paper is that development of new nuclear weapons by the existing nuclear weapons states will provoke proliferation and a new nuclear arms race.
CND also calls upon the government to pursue multilateral initiatives, including Hans Blix’s proposal for a World Summit on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and advancing the draft Nuclear Weapons Convention, lodged with the UN, which would outlaw nuclear weapons.
CND Chair Kate Hudson said, ‘The government has promised a three month consultation period on Trident Replacement, but what is the point of a consultation if the decision is already made? The government must outline the process for a genuine consultation, and must explain how the results of that process will feed into the decision-making process. We are not interested in a consultation as window-dressing for a foregone conclusion – we need genuine democracy on this crucial issue’.
Jon Trickett, Labour MP for Hemsworth, West Yorkshire, said, ‘There should not be a pre-determined outcome on a decision of this magnitude. There is more than one alternative to Trident replacement and there should be a full debate on each one.’
Linda Riordan, Labour MP for Halifax, said, ‘If the Government is really serious about taking into account the views of its own backbenchers and others, then they would extend the consultation timetable and also allow a free vote. I suspect though, they have already made up their minds. I would encourage everyone who objects to these proposals to let their MP know.’
Dai Davies, Independent MP for Blaenau Gwent, said, ‘It seems clear to me that the Cabinet has already decided that they will support Trident replacement. What worries me is that the vote is a fait accompli. I doubt there will ever be a proper debate within the Labour Party, never mind parliament. What we need is a resolution in the UN calling for multilateral disarmament on the line advocated by CND Chair Kate Hudson. What moral authority do we have to criticise Iran and North Korea about their real or imagined nuclear programmes when we are renewing our own nuclear arsenals?’
David Taylor, Labour MP for North West Leicestershire, said, ‘There is adequate time available to review this issue. The Commons will take a dim view of any decision on Trident replacement being rushed through. The Labour Party should formally consult all constituency Labour parties, party branches and affiliated organisations and publish the results before the vote.’
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North, said, ‘The government should be producing a Green Paper outlining the options of disarmament, saving money and obeying international law rather than just a plan to continue the immoral holding of nuclear weapons.’
Ronnie Campbell, Labour MP for Blyth Valley, said, ‘The promised consultation, debate and vote are useless exercises to rubber-stamp what has already been decided by Tony Blair and a few people around him. I am completely opposed to Trident replacement. I do not know how, when and against whom we shall use it. The colossal amount of money that will be spent on Trident would rather be used on social services like housing, education, health and transport. Like the vote on the Iraq war, about 100 MPs will vote against or abstain. The rest of the Labour MPs who are certain to vote with the Tories will regret in years to come why they voted yes.’
Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, said, ‘Someone will have to do a Herculean task to justify a replacement for Trident. Any macho argument that we need to replace Trident to maintain our world position is morally bankrupt. I fear the decision may be being rushed, its timetabling must not simply satisfy Blair’s needs.’
Gordon Prentice, Labour MP for Pendle, said, ‘The Labour Party has been kept out of this debate – I believe the party members across the country should be given a vote. I will be asking the Labour Party General Secretary to consult the party, not just the NEC or the National Policy Forum but the local members in the constituencies, the trade unions and affiliated organisations. They should be allowed a voice.’
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. Click here for a full copy of the poll.
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. Click here for a full copy of the poll.
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.