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Trident Renewal

Volume 745: debated on Monday 19 February 2024

The Dreadnought submarine programme remains within overall budget and on track for the first of class, HMS Dreadnought, to enter service in the early 2030s. Inflation has remained higher than expected for an extended period and has had an adverse impact on the cost forecasts for the programme compared with the forecasts from a year earlier. As the programme is in its preliminary phases, it is too early to provide cost estimates for the replacement warhead programme.

I think that means the Minister does not know what the total lifetime cost of Trident replacement is going to be. Budgets in Government Departments and households alike are under immense pressure because of rampant inflation. Why do everybody else’s budgets have to be under pressure but there seems to be a blank-cheque approach to the renewal of Trident?

That is an extraordinary thing for the hon. Gentleman to say. He knows that we will shortly be publishing, before the end of the financial year, our supplementary estimate for the defence nuclear enterprise for the financial year. But as he knows, there is a cost in not having a deterrent. That is his policy: to do away with the deterrent on a unilateral basis, despite all the terrible threats we can see in the world and the nuclear sabre-rattling from Russia. His policy would be abject folly. We will invest in providing that ultimate guarantee to the people of the United Kingdom.

I know that the Minister and most of the House, leaving aside those on the Scottish National Benches, will agree that the continuous at-sea deterrent is absolutely central to the defence of the realm—there is no question about that at all. Does he agree that we must find a way of replacing Trident within budget, and that the worst possible thing that could happen to Trident would be an SNP Government in Scotland?