Welcome to our weekly update on what is going on in the Houses of Parliament from CND’s Parliamentary Officer, Amy Keegan.
Last week in Parliament was again mostly Brexit focused and therefore pretty quiet on nuclear disarmament news. Last Monday the Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson was in the House of Commons chamber answering questions from MPs on his department. Whilst there wasn’t much new information – Gavin Williamson did state that he would be attending a commemoration service at Westminster Abbey on the 3rd of May for 50 years of the so-called continuous at sea deterrent (CASD.) Hosting any celebration of nuclear weapons is abhorrent, never mind hosting it in a religious space. Westminster Abbey is a ‘royal peculiar’ – meaning that the Church of England doesn’t have control over what happens there. Last year the Church of England passed a motion supporting the UN treaty on the Prohibition of the Nuclear Weapons – so hosting this service there directly goes against this motion. As you can expect, we are working with Parliamentary CND MPs to object to this. Keep up to date with CNDs wider campaigning work on this topic. Gavin Williamson gave this statement on the same day that Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated that The British Government is “committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons and to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.” It’s absurd how the government can on the same day, state that they are committed to getting rid of nuclear weapons, whilst also announcing that they will celebrate them.
This week in Parliament, there will be a general debate on the 50th anniversary of CASD taking place on Wednesday in the Chamber of the House of Commons. General debates are neutrally worded motions that allow MPs to debate a subject without committing the House to an opinion or course of action. I mentioned last week that a group of pro-nuclear MPs had put in a proposal to debate around the 50th anniversary at the end of April so we were expecting it but not this early in the month. We’ll be briefing parliamentary CND MPs before the debate. Tomorrow there will be Foreign and Commonwealth Oral Questions at 11.30am in the chamber of the House of Commons where Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Jeremy Hunt, and his team will answer questions from MPs across the house.
As always, I’ll share updates throughout the week here.