Diana Johnson's response to an epetition via CND .
Thank you for contacting me recently concerning the renewal of the UK's independent nuclear deterrent and the related EDM 150.
Unfortunately, due to my position as a Shadow Minister, I am unable to sign any EDMs.
I appreciate that Trident and continuing the UK's independent nuclear deterrent provoke strong and passionately held views. For this reason I am very glad to receive constituent's letters on this issue, which I take very seriously. I have also written to the Secretary of State for Defence, Phillip Hammond MP, with your concerns to highlight to him the strength of feeling on this topic.
I agree with you that it is important that the UK undertakes a wide-ranging and considered review of the defence capability we will need in order to meet current and future threats to national security.
The House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in 2007 (by 409 votes to 161) to proceed with the renewal of our independent nuclear deterrent. The Government have now decided to proceed with the concept and design phase ('Initial Gate') of a new generation of Trident nuclear submarines. I agree with this since this means the ultimate decision over whether or not to proceed with renewing Trident (the 'Main Gate' phase) will take place in 2016.
I believe that in an uncertain and unpredictable global environment and as long as other countries have nuclear weapons it is right that the UK maintain our independent nuclear deterrent. It is vital, though, that the replacement of our nuclear deterrent programme represents good value for money and that it meets our strategic defence needs.
The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which Labour had committed to establishing in its 2010 Manifesto, reported in October 2010. It undertook a value-for-money assessment of the Trident successor programme and made a number of recommendations including reducing the number of launch tubes on each new Vanguard submarine, further reducing the UK's nuclear stockpile and extending the lifetime of the existing nuclear submarines by 9 years. It is important that any final decision to replace the UK's independent nuclear deterrent is based on cost and capability and that the final design, nature and scale of the replacement are in the interests of national security.
The Government also conducted a review of alternatives to a like-for-like replacement for Trident, published in mid-2013. Ruling out a land-based nuclear deterrent as too risky, it found that the only alternative was to have a non-continuous submarine-based deterrent, for example by having two Trident submarines rather than four. As this would mean Britain no longer had a 24-hour nuclear deterrent in place, Labour believes there is no alternative to renewing Trident. As the Review shows, it is the most cost-effective way of ensuring the UK maintains the minimum credible independent nuclear deterrent.
On the wider issue of nuclear disarmament, I agree that the UK should seek to further reduce our nuclear arsenal (we have already done so by 75% since the end of the Cold War). In the long-term, Labour is committed to multilateral nuclear disarmament, creating a world free of nuclear weapons.
Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views.
Labour MP for Hull North