Many constituents have contacted me regarding the debate on Trident renewal yesterday (20th January, 2015).
Unfortunately, as Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Nuclear Energy and a member of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, I felt I should speak out about the crisis engulfing North Sea Oil and Gas, which was being debated in Westminster Hall at the same time. You can see my contribution to that debate here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150120/halltext/150120h0001.htm#15012054000001
Like many I want to see a world free of nuclear weapons. That is why I am pleased that the Labour Party recognises the importance of Britain leading international efforts for multilateral nuclear disbarment and non-proliferation. The last Labour Government was the first Government of a nuclear power to call for an end to nuclear weapons while in office, leading directly to the establishment of the Global Zero campaign.
Following the action we took when in Government, the next Labour Government would actively work towards global multilateral disarmament, pushing for further reductions in global stockpiles and the number of weapons. This would be done in line with our assessment of the global security landscape. We would also continue to take a leading role internationally to push for global security anti-proliferation with nuclear and non-nuclear states. This is a vision shared by President Barack Obama and Labour would work with the United States and other allies, such as, France, to advance ‘Global Zero’, to determine an action plan for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
The success of past international bans on weapons of mass destruction such as landmines, cluster munitions, chemical and biological weapons demonstrates how we can work to reduce them internationally. The Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference 2015 will be a key moment for a Labour Government to show leadership in achieving progress on global disarmament and anti-proliferation measures.
It is important to remember how much progress has already been made through multilateral negotiations. At its peak, the USA and Russia have over 60,000 nuclear warheads. The number stands at just over 16,000 and it is projected to fall to less than 8,000 by 2022. The UK’s nuclear weapons now represent around 1% of total global stockpiles. Multilateral negotiations are beginning to show concrete results.
The nature of the security threats facing Britain today differs from that of the threats we faced fifty years ago. From fragile and conflict-affected states, to natural disasters and humanitarian crises, to the increase of cyber warfare, it is clear that traditional military responses will not be sufficient to tackle the most salient security issues of the future. With other nations possessing nuclear weapons, and nuclear proliferation remaining a deep concern, we can never be absolutely certain as to what the future security landscape will look like.
Labour has said that we are committed to a minimum, credible independent nuclear deterrent, delivered through a Continuous At-Sea Deterrent. It would require a clear body of evidence for us to change this belief.
In the lead up to the next Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2015 we want to see an open, inclusive and transparent process, examining all capabilities, including nuclear. It must also examine cost implications as well as strategic necessities, recognising the importance of the defence sector to the UK economy, and the need to protect and develop a highly skilled workforce. To this end, a Labour Government will be continuing consultation, involving the public and others, on the UK’s future defence and national security issues.