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At-sea Nuclear Deterrent

Volume 612: debated on Monday 27 June 2016

4. What assessment he has made of the viability of alternatives to a continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent for protecting national security. (905476)

The 2013 Trident alternatives review considered alternative systems and postures for the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent and concluded that no alternative is as capable, or offers the same degree of resilience, as continuous at-sea deterrence.

Some have expressed concern that with advancing technology, our submarines can now be detected and discovered by underwater drones. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that that is not the case?

Yes, we are confident that our submarine fleet remains safe and secure. We devote considerable resources to assessing capabilities and new technologies that could threaten the operation of our deterrent, including potential threats from the development of cyber and unmanned underwater vehicles. I am happy to reassure my hon. Friend on precisely that point.

Whoever stands at the Opposition Dispatch Box or at the Government’s, there is a cast iron majority in the House to do the right thing by Trident’s successor and to reach outwards to defend our nation, rather than to turn inwards. Will the vote still happen before the summer recess?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. There is clearly a majority—[Interruption.] There are those who are opposed in principle, but there is clearly such a majority in this House. I believe that it is right that this House should vote on the principle of the renewal of the deterrent, and I very much hope that he will not have too much longer to wait.

With the Type 26 frigates well behind schedule, it has been said that the Navy has “run out of money” to progress these contracts. Given the perilous state of the economy since Friday morning, will the Secretary of State give us an assurance that we will—please, please—run out of money for Trident as well?

The schedule for the Type 26s has not yet been set. These ships are likely to cost between £500 million and £1 billion each, and I will not sign a contract for these ships until I am satisfied that they represent good value for the Royal Navy and good value for the taxpayer.