§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. George Robertson)
Following the announcement of the strategic defence review, we have received many written submissions concerning our nuclear deterrent. We have placed in the Libraries of both Houses copies of those submissions where authors have agreed that we should do so.
§ Mr. Amess
In the light of the sincere views that the present leader of the Labour party held when he was first elected to Parliament in 1983 in opposing all nuclear weapons, and as those views are held sincerely today by many other Labour and Liberal Members of Parliament, is the strategic defence review considering in any way the abandonment of Trident?
§ Mr. Llew Smith
Who are these nuclear weapons aimed at? Who is the enemy? Would my right hon. Friend be willing to press the button to involve this country in a nuclear confrontation?
§ Mr. Robertson
Since 1994. the nuclear weapons of this country as well as of America and Russia have been de-targeted. They are not, therefore, pointed at anyone at present. The decision whether the nuclear deterrent would or should be used would not be taken by the Secretary of State for Defence, but I remind my hon. Friend that, like 4 all Labour Members, he fought a general election campaign on a manifesto that said that we would retain Trident.
§ Dr. Julian Lewis
Will it cost or save money if the Government decide, as a result of the strategic defence review, to reduce the warheads on Trident? If, as I suspect, it will cost money to take off the existing nose cones and put on new ones with fewer warheads, is that not a terrible waste of scarce defence resources?
§ Mr. Robertson
The strategic defence review will be based on the foreign policy priorities of the Government and indeed of this country, and we will assess what changes can be made in this country's nuclear posture that are compatible with maintaining a minimum credible deterrent.