Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Cambridge MP Huppert Challenges Minister On Expert Advice Over Trident


Trident 2 Missile System

A leading government Minister has rejected the “expert advice” of military generals over the controversial Trident nuclear weapons programme following a challenge from Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert,

Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond dismissed claims by Field Marshal Lord Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham and General Sir Hugh Beach that nuclear weapons are “completely useless as a deterrent to the threats we currently face”.

Yesterday (Monday, June 18) Julian asked Mr Hammond, during Topical Questions in the House of Commons, whether he agreed with the generals who also said “the case is much stronger for funding our armed forces with what they need to meet the commitments actually laid upon them”.

However Mr Hammond refused to accept this argument, suggesting that the fact that they were all generals made them not impartial.

Mr Hammond’s comments came after the government announced that it was investing £1.1 billion over the next 11 years to retain the country’s ability to build submarine nuclear power plants, and pave the way for Trident renewal, if the government in 2016 decides to go ahead with this.

Later Julian said: “We are facing major cuts to our front line troops and our armed forces do not have some of the equipment they need; yet we are spending billions of pounds on replacing an outdated nuclear defence system that we don’t need and don’t want.

“This view is supported by three leading generals who have experienced first-hand the threats to this country. Yet both Conservatives and Labour are ignoring the evidence in front of them and pushing ahead with an investment programme which makes no sense.

“I will continue to challenge them on this issue until the Trident nuclear programme is consigned to the history books where it belongs.”

The full text of Julian’s question and Mr Hammond’s response reads as follows:

Julian: Does the Secretary of State agree with Field Marshal Lord Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham and General Sir Hugh Beach that “nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats we currently face” and that “the case is much stronger for funding our armed forces with what they need to meet the commitments actually laid upon them?” Will he accept their expert advice?

Philip Hammond: “I might observe that those people all have one thing in common that might make them slightly partial in this debate. I find it extraordinary that anyone can stand up in this House after 65 years of nuclear-armed peace and say that a strategic deterrent does not make people safer. The possession of a strategic nuclear deterrent has ensured this country’s safety. It ensured that we saw off the threat in the cold war and it will ensure our security in the future.”