Today Scottish Labour MP Ged Killen submitted a motion for debate in Westminster Hall “that this House has considered the diversification of the defence industry in Scotland.
Welcome to our weekly update on what is going on in the Houses of Parliament from CND’s Parliamentary Officer, Amy Keegan.
Last week saw MPs return to Parliament after Easter break and the release of the House of Lords International Relations Committee report into the nuclear risk. The comprehensive report was launched ahead of the 2019 Preparatory Committee of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference which starts today at the UN in New York. The report concludes that risk of nuclear use has risen and sets out recommendations for the UK government to re-engage. On the launch of the report, Chairman of the Committee, Lord Howell of Guilford said “We are now dangerously close to a world without arms control agreements, paving the way for a new arms race and for increased risk of nuclear weapons use. Disintegrating relationships between nuclear possessor states, new capabilities and technologies, mixed with a lack of communication and understanding, mean that the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater now than it has been since the Cold War. The 2019 Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference next week is an opportunity to push for an increase in dialogue and transparency between the Nuclear Weapon States to show a demonstrable commitment to disarmament. We urge the Government to take our serious concerns into consideration, and use the Preparatory Committee to address them.” The government will have to respond to the report by the 24th of June. See CND’s response to the report.
This week in Parliament, the Public Accounts Committee starts its inquiry into the “dismal failure” to decommission old nuclear submarines that was revealed in this report from the National Audit Office. The committee will hold an evidence session hearing from witnesses from the Ministry of Defence, Submarine Delivery Agency and Babcock on Wednesday at 2.30pm. This Friday it looks like the Westminster Abbey ‘celebration’ of the so-called continuous at sea deterrent will be going ahead and we’re working with Parliamentary CND MPs to voice our protest in Parliament. For more on CND’s wider response to this see here.
As always, I’ll share updates throughout the week here.
Up in Scotland at #SNP19 there were a lot of discussions around the SNP’s opposition to Trident.
— Angela Crawley (@AngelaCrawley30) April 28, 2019
— Leanne Dobson (@Leanne_Dobson) April 28, 2019
#SNP19 unanimously approves @snpkelvin @maryhill_snp @SNPCND motion laying out a roadmap for a nuclear-free Scotland – delighted to speak in support & in the company of legendary peace activist Brian Quail #BairnsNotBombs #NuclearFreeScotland @scottishcnd pic.twitter.com/XBC5wHEPpC
— Patrick Grady (@GradySNP) April 28, 2019
The threat that nuclear weapons could be used is growing, as this report shows. I support its calls for the government to engage in meaningful dialogue with nuclear weapons states. Instead of tearing up treaties, we must act to create a nuclear-free world.https://t.co/SmznKKbFbk
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 24, 2019
Our cross-party report on the rising & changing nuclear risk, & how UK policy must adapt to respond: including recommendations to engage directly with Russia, to clarify the UK's nuclear posture, & to be less dismissive of the proponents of the #NuclearBan Treaty. @LordsIRCom https://t.co/XQjPUjh5kn
— Stewart Wood (@StewartWood) April 24, 2019
This morning, the House of Lords International Relations Committee has published its report on 'Rising nuclear risk, disarmament and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty', in which the Committee concludes that the risk of nuclear use has increased. https://t.co/zJNAdvAtGC
— Lords International Relations & Defence Committee (@LordsIRCom) April 24, 2019
The report has been released and is available on the Lords website.
The Houses of Parliament will be back on the 23rd April.
Good first steps but this falls far short of the fully funded programme we need to deal with legacy submarines in Devonport and Rosyth. Key here is funding and ‘borrowing’ line of credit for civil nuclear clean up to include these subs. https://t.co/oNQ04z94Ou
— Luke Pollard (@LukePollard) April 12, 2019
In debate on nuclear weapons, minister unable to answer what moral authority we have to lecture other countries not to acquire nukes, when we ourselves are upgrading ours?
Does he really believe world where all countries have nukes would be safer than one we have today? @CNDuk
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) April 10, 2019
I am proud of my family record, historically & currently, in armed forces & I won’t be lectured to about my respect for service personnel. Of course I am grateful for work of submariners. It is telling @GavinWilliamson went low when I asked him about nuclear sub decommissioning https://t.co/NWI8f7lBem
— Neil Gray for Airdrie & Shotts (@neilgraysnp) April 12, 2019
🥀 Jeremy Corbyn abandoned his principles and the majority of Labour MPs voted with the Tories to impose Trident on Scotland against our will.
☮️ Nuclear weapons are abhorrent and a huge waste of money. The only way to remove them from Scotland is with independence. pic.twitter.com/8Br0nDctdD
— The SNP (@theSNP) April 10, 2019
— Douglas Chapman 🏴 (@DougChapmanSNP) April 10, 2019
Deidre Brock asked the Secretary of State for Defence “how many nuclear-powered submarines have been dismantled under the Submarine Dismantling Project? If he will publish which submarines are laid up in afloat storage at Rosyth waiting for dismantlng under the Submarine Dismantling Project; and on what date each of those submarines was laid up? And which submarines are laid up in afloat storage at Devonport waiting for dismantlement under the Submarine Dismantling Project; and on what date each of those submarines was laid up?”
Stuart Andrew Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence responded “The National Audit Office published a report on 3 April 2019, following their investigation into submarine defueling and dismantling. The report acknowledges the complex nature of activities to defuel and dismantle our decommissioned submarines and includes the most recent information on the status of the submarines and projects involved.The details can be found in Figure 5 of the report which is available at the following link. We remain committed to the safe, secure and cost-effective defuelling and dismantling of our nuclear submarines as soon as is practically possible. This commitment is illustrated by the recent success with commencement of the initial dismantling of the submarine Swiftsure, which has been followed immediately by commencement of the initial dismantling of Resolution.”
On 10th April the House of Commons debated the motion “that this house has considered the 50th anniversary of the continuous at sea deterrent.”
At the end of the 4 hour debate Parliament voted on the motion. The results were:
241 ayes: 192 Conservatives, 37 Labour, 8 DUP and 4 Independent MPs
33 noes: 28 SNP, 4 Plaid Cymru and 1 Green Party
The Marquess of Lothian asked Her Majesty’s Government “when they last discussed policy towards Iran and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the government of the United States.”
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office responded “We have been clear with the US about our determination to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action at all levels. The Foreign Secretary spoke to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on 5 March regarding Iran, and the British Ambassador in Tehran was in Washington DC meeting a range of representatives in the US Administration during the week of 11 March.”