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Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the originally planned lifespan of the Vanguard-class Trident submarines is (a) 25 and (b) 30 years. (98170)

[holding answer 1 November 2006]: The Vanguard-class submarines were procured with a designed operational life of 25 years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when a decision will have to be made on whether or not to participate in the Trident D5 missile life extension programme; and what the estimated cost is of participating in the programme. (98560)

[holding answer 31 October 2006]: It remains our intention that decisions on the future of the UK’s nuclear deterrent will be taken later this year, following which we will publish a White Paper. In this context, previously we have indicated in our response (published on 26 July 2006) to the First HCDC report on the Future of the UK’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent, that one of the early decisions required relates to possible UK participation in the life extension programme for the Trident D5 missile. The estimated costs of the options available for maintaining our nuclear deterrent will be set out in the White Paper.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what method will be used for the decommissioning of Trident; and over what time scale he expects the decommissioning to take place. (98726)

[holding answer 1 November 2006]: Decommissioning of the current Trident system is still some way off. It is therefore too early to discuss the precise methods that will be used to decommission Trident and over what time scales this will take place. Officials are however investigating these as part of the work to prepare for decisions, which will be taken later this year, on the future of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent.