Weekly Westminster Insights

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.

Amy  @amy_keegan

SNP’s Spring Conference

Up in Scotland at #SNP19 there were a lot of discussions around the SNP’s opposition to Trident.

Westminster tweets of the week

Westminster tweets of the week


Deidre Brock MP questions government on nuclear submarines

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.”

Westminster debate nuclear weapons

On 10th April the House of Commons debated the motion “that this house has considered the 50th anniversary of the continuous at sea deterrent.”

The full text of the debate is available here. 

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 asks the government about the Iran deal

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.”