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Part-time Nuclear Deterrent

Volume 559: debated on Monday 25 February 2013

14. What assessment he has made of the credibility and effectiveness of a part-time nuclear deterrent. (144317)

As stated in the 2010 strategic defence and security review:

“The Government will maintain a continuous submarine-based deterrent and begin the work of replacing its existing submarines.”

A deterrent works only if it is credible and available. All the evidence points to a continuous at-sea deterrent, based on Trident, as the best way to deliver the UK’s deterrent effect. A part-time deterrent—for example, where we do not have a submarine permanently on patrol—would make us vulnerable to a pre-emptive strike, and the act of deploying the deterrent in a period of tension would risk escalation at a potentially critical moment.

One of the key elements of our nuclear deterrent has been its uninterrupted nature. Does the Minister agree that it is vital that we not only maintain that continuous deterrent, but refrain from conducting defence policy with an idealistic, flip-floppy, Lib Dem view of the world?

My hon. Friend draws me to make some disparaging comments before the by-election. I shall refrain from doing so, but I most certainly agree with him.