At the mention of nuclear today our thoughts turn to the situation in Japan and all of those affected by the earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear emergency. I can only hope that the situation at Fukushima is soon contained and the risks minimised for everyone affected.
Here in the UK, there is another nuclear issue that is silently inching forward without parliamentary approval or public awareness – nuclear weapons replacement.
Last October, we were all told that the decision to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system had been put on hold. According to the Lib Dems and the coalition’s recent defence review, the decision to replace the submarines that carry UK’s Trident nuclear weapons has been delayed until 2016. This means that the next government is supposed to make the decision on replacing our nukes.
But, in reality, the first purchases of equipment for replacing Trident are already being made, casting major doubts on the promised two to four-year delay on the final decision.
Through a Freedom of Information request we’ve learned that the MoD plans to purchase what they call 'long-lead' items, like submarine hulls, propulsion systems, and various other parts of the combat systems. The first of these purchases - buying the steel for the hulls - may be authorised by the MoD in the next weeks. In short, this is such a shopping list that there'll be little left unspent on the Trident-wielding submarines by the time decisions are made in 2016.
In response, Greenpeace have sent a briefing to all UK MPs to inform them that it seems Trident are going ahead without their approval. Soon after, MPs acted, putting down a parliamentary early day motion (EDM 1477 – Trident Submarine Proposals) to protest this premature purchase of steel and to insist on more insight before the UK government are financially tied in to the purchase - just like the debacle with the aircraft carriers.
These MoD vanity projects are the last thing this country needs when we’re losing vital public services to spending cuts. So we urge you to please write to your MP and ask them to support the early day motion and condemn this premature purchase of steel before a formal decision has been made to replace Trident.
Please ask your local MP to sign EDM 1477 – Trident Submarine Proposals
- You can find out who your MP is, and how to contact them, by entering your postcode at www.theyworkforyou.com
- Then check to see if they’ve already signed EDM 1477. If so, please do email them anyway to thank them; if not please do ask them to sign.
- Look at your MP’s personal website to find out how best to contact them. If in doubt please send a letter to them c/o House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA
Some points you can make in your letter:
- Ask them to sign Early Day Motion 1477 – Trident Submarine Proposals. EDM’s serve as a valuable tool for MPs who want to foster debate and show government and their public where they stand on key issues. This EDM will stand as a rallying point for MPs who expect more oversight and debate about Trident before the money is spent.
- Even though the defence review delayed the decision on Trident replacement until 2016, it looks as if most of the first subs are already being paid for by the MoD.
- These purchases, like the purchase for steel, require more parliamentary oversight, as we don’t want to be financially tied into replacing Trident, as we were with the aircraft carriers
- There has been a lack of transparency on Trident and the only recent review on it, the Value for Money Review, has been suppressed by the MoD. While many of us are paying the price for deep cuts, the government must answer why we need Trident and how much it’s going to cost.
- The MoD’s inability to ensure value for money is legend.
- This was recently highlighted by the Public Accounts Committee that reported this “cycle of failure” was continuing under the coalition government. And true to form, the MoD’s poor accounting has been proven once again with the defence review allowing another £4bn in funding gaps
- Tell your MP how you personally feel about Britain renewing their nuclear weapon system.
Finally, please ask your MP for a reply to your letter, and when you do receive their response please post it as a comment on this blog post.
And if you'd like to help Greenpeace challenge the Trident renewal process in future, join our peace and disarmament group.