§ Mr. Hancock
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the impact of, and reasons underlying, the change from minutes to days, as a measure of the United Kingdom's deterrent capability. 
§ Mr. Hoon
There has been no impact on our ability to deter threats to our interests. As we made clear in the Strategic Defence Review (SDR), improvements in the strategic environment now enable us to safeguard our national security at a lower level of nuclear deterrent readiness.
One element of the change in posture announced in the SDR was the decision to maintain our nuclear forces at a "notice to fire" measured in days, rather than minutes. This reduced state of alert allows greater use of ballistic missile submarines for secondary tasks. The flexibility of the Trident system ensures, however, that we can restore a higher state of alert should it ever become necessary to do so.