Hansard on Trident January - March 2007

Categories: 

25.01.07 - 06.03.07, Hansard - Written Answers to Questions, 22 Jan 2007 : Column 1555W Trident

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in which year he expects that the Trident nuclear capability would, if not upgraded, become obsolete. [116808]

Des Browne: As the White Paper we published on 4 December makes clear, even with a life extension, our existing Vanguard boats will leave service from the early 2020s. Unless we participate in the life extension programme for our existing Trident D5 missiles, it will not be possible to retain the missiles in service much beyond 2020, except at much greater cost and technical risk.

22 Jan 2007 : Column 1556W Trident

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what technical steps need to be taken by United States personnel prior to the UK being able to fire a Trident missile at an independently identified target. [116812]

Des Browne: United States personnel would have no involvement in this process.

19 Jan 2007 : Column 1367W Submarines

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the potential vulnerability of submarines at sea to detection by future space-based technology. [116010]

Mr Ingram: holding answer 17 January 2007]: /Careful assessment has concluded that it is unlikely over the life of the next generation of submarines there will be any radical technological breakthrough that might diminish materially the current advantages of the submarine over anti-submarine systems. Provided we continue to invest in suitable research and development on effective counter-measures, we believe the risks to the submarines operating under the surface on patrol will remain manageable.

18 Jan 2007 : Column 1264W Nuclear Weapons Use

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the UK would be prepared to use nuclear weapons against an /(a)/ nuclear and /(b)/ non-nuclear adversary; under what circumstances the UK would use nuclear weapons; and if he will make a statement. [116652]

Des Browne: I have nothing to add to paragraph 2-11 and section 3 of the White Paper ‘The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent’ (Cm 6994) published on 4 December 2006, copies of which are available in the Library of the House. We would only consider using nuclear weapons in self defence and even then only in extreme circumstances.

16 Jan 2007 : Column 1006W Nuclear Submarines

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment he has made of the factors enabling United States Ohio-class Trident submarines to have longer in-service lives than United Kingdom Vanguard submarines; and what lessons can be drawn from them for the benefit of the future nuclear deterrent; [105755]

(2) what assessment he has made of /(a)/ whether Vanguard submarines have typically operated (i) at a higher level of intensity and (ii) for longer periods at sea than United States Ohio-class Trident submarines and /(b)/ the effect of those factors upon the differential in-service lives of those submarines. [105756]

Des Browne: [holding answer 11 December 2006]/: I refer the hon. Member to paragraphs 1-4, 5-6 and 6-5 of the White Paper, ‘The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent’ (Cm 6994), published on 4 December 2006.

When detailed concept work begins on a new class of SSBNs, we will take into account relevant lessons from the submarine-building experience of other countries, including the United States, as we would normally do on a programme of this kind.

16 Jan 2007 : Column 1007W Nuclear Submarines

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what he expects the projected in-service dates to be for each of the proposed new Trident submarines. [107860]

Des Browne: [holding answer 11 December 2006]:/ As the Government stated in the White Paper, ‘The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent’ (Cm 6994), published on 4 December 2006, we expect that continuous deterrent patrols could no longer be assured from around 2024 if the first of the new submarines were not in place by then.

The White Paper made clear that we are not yet in a position to make a firm judgment about how many submarines we require in future. It is too early to determine subsequent in-service dates.

*10 Jan 2007 : Column 583W
Nuclear Deterrent*

*Dr. Cable:* To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how each of the options outlined in the White Paper The Future of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent was tested for viability. [113826]

*Des Browne:* The process by which the options were assessed is described in detail in section 5 and annex B of the White Paper “The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994), published on 4 December 2006. Copies of the White Paper are available in the Library of the House.

*10 Jan 2007 : Column 583W
Nuclear Deterrent*

*Dr. Cable:* To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors determined /(a)/ the expected operating cost of the Trident replacement cited in the White Paper The future of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent and /(b)/ the costs of Trident cited in 1994; and if he will make a statement. [109888]

*Des Browne:* A number of factors determined the estimate (set out in paragraph 5-14 of the White Paper: “The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994), published on 4 December) of the expected in-service costs of the UK nuclear deterrent once a new fleet of SSBNs comes into service. The estimate drew on: projections based on the actual and planned future maintenance and operating costs of the current system, including manpower costs; assessments of in-service costs of system components; studies of potential infrastructure and disposal costs; projected costs of the Atomic Weapons Establishment; and an assessment of the impact of risk.

The estimate of the lifetime operating costs of Trident provided by the MOD to the House of Commons Defence Committee in 1993, shortly before the first of the Vanguard class submarines, HMS Vanguard, entered operational service, included projections for: manpower and related costs of the crews of the submarines and associated civilian staff; the costs of refits of the submarines over the lifetime of the force; the costs of stores and stores personnel and transport; a share of the running costs of the Clyde submarine base; the costs of the Atomic Weapons Establishment; in-service support of the strategic weapons system and the submarine; and decommissioning and disposal of the submarines.

*9 Jan 2007 : Column 522W
Nuclear Weapons*

*Lynne Jones:* To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether simulations and experiments at the strategic Sandia laboratories in New Mexico were carried out in support of the UK’s Trident missile system; and if he will make a statement. [109877]

*Des Browne:* Under the terms of the 1958 UK/US Mutual Defence Agreement (Cm 537, as amended), the Ministry of Defence and the Atomic Weapons Establishment maintain collaborative contact with Sandia National Laboratories, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, and the Los Alamos National Laboratories.

This contact, which may include the placement of specific work packages with the US facilities by or on behalf of HMG, principally relates to the stockpile stewardship programmes that ensure the continued safety and reliability of the UK’s nuclear weapons stockpile. I am withholding further details of such activities as their release would, or would be likely to, prejudice national security.

**
**9 Jan 2007 : Column 522W
Nuclear Weapons**

*Dr. Cable:* To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there will be an increase in his Department's budget to finance the new nuclear deterrent proposed in the White Paper “The future of the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent”; and if he will make a statement. [109890]

*Des Browne:* I have nothing further to add to paragraph 5-15 of the White Paper “The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994), published on 4 December 2006.

**
**9 Jan 2007 : Column 522W
Nuclear Weapons**

*Dr. Cable:* To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to paragraph B-14 of The future of the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent, (1) what level of investment in research and development there will be on effective counter-measures to monitor submarine movements; [109892]

(2) whether the cost of investment in research and development on effective counter-measures to monitor submarine movements is included in the estimated operating cost of 5 to 6 per cent. of his Department's budget. [109893]

*Des Browne:* Our overall strategy for investment in research and development is set out in the Defence Technology Strategy, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. The technologies relevant to ensuring effective counter-measures to attempted monitoring of submarine movement have been identified as priorities in both the Cross-Cutting Technologies section (B2) and the Maritime section (Bl1). The MOD invests in these technologies for anti-submarine warfare and, under current plans, will continue an appropriate level of investment.

No specific allowance has been made for the costs of such continuing investment in the estimate of the expected in-service costs of the UK's nuclear deterrent once a new fleet of SSBNs comes into service, set out at paragraph 5-14 of the White Paper: “The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994), although the estimate makes allowance for the cost of mid-life update of the submarines and also for financial risks and uncertainties.

9 Jan 2007 : Column 523W Nuclear Weapons

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what estimate he has made of the costs of /(a)/ D5 nuclear missiles and /(b)/ other ballistic missiles; [109957]

(2) what assessments were made of alternative /(a)/ ballistic and /(b) /cruise missiles other than those referred to in the White Paper “The future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent”. [109958]

Des Browne: I have nothing further to add to paragraphs 5-10 and B-4 and Box 5-1 of the White Paper “The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994), published on 4 December 2006.

9 Jan 2007 : Column 523W Nuclear Weapons

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the US Administration on providing submarines for the Trident project. [113257]

Des Browne: As stated at paragraph 6-3 of the White Paper ‘The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent’ (Cm 6994), published on 4 December 2006,

“It would be our intention to build the new SSBNs [ballistic missile submarines] in the UK, for reasons of national sovereignty, nuclear regulation, operational effectiveness and safety, and maintenance of key skills.”

The outcome of discussions with the US on future co-operation in this area is set out in the exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and President of the United States, published on 19 December 2006. Copies of the letters are available in the Library of the House.

8 Jan 2007 : Column 325W Nuclear Weapons

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the availability of the skills necessary in the UK to enable the construction of submarines for the Trident project. [113256]

Des Browne: Such an assessment was set out in Section B of the White Paper, “Defence Industrial Strategy” (Cm 6697) published in December 2005, copies of which are available in the Library of the House. The Ministry of Defence also participated fully in the House of Commons Defence Committee’s recent investigation into the Manufacturing and Skills Base. Their report, “The Future of the UK’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: the Manufacturing and Skills Base” (HC 59) was published on 19 December.

**

8 Jan 2007 : Column 98W Nuclear Disarmament

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the 13 practical steps toward nuclear disarmament referred to on page 13 of the White Paper CM6994, in respect of which of these steps progress has been made; and if he will make a statement. [108787]

Des Browne: We continue to support and have made progress on the “13 Practical Steps”, agreed at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2000, which are applicable to the UK. These are listed in 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Final Document, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. The 13 steps are:

     1. The early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
     (CTBT).

     2. A nuclear testing moratorium pending entry into force of the CTBT.

     3. The immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a non-discriminatory, multilateral, and effectively verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty. The negotiations should aim to be concluded within five years.

     4. The establishment in the Conference on Disarmament of a subsidiary body to deal with nuclear disarmament.

     5. The principle of irreversibility to apply to all nuclear disarmament and reduction measures.

     6. An unequivocal undertaking by nuclear-weapon states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

     7. The early entry into force and implementation of START II, the conclusion of START III, and the preservation and strengthening of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

     8. The completion and implementation of the Trilateral Initiative between the United States, the Russian Federation, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

     9. Steps by all nuclear-weapon states toward disarmament including unilateral nuclear reductions; transparency on weapons capabilities and Article Vl-related agreements; reductions in non-strategic                 nuclear weapons; measures to reduce the operational status of nuclear weapons; a diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies; the engagement of nuclear-weapon states as
     soon as appropriate in a process leading to complete disarmament.

     10. The placement of excess military fissile materials under IAEA or other international verification and the disposition of such material for peaceful purposes.

     11. Reaffirmation of the objective of general and complete disarmament under effective international control.

     12. Regular state reporting in the NPT review process on the implementation of Article VI obligations.

     13. The development of verification capabilities necessary to ensuring compliance with nuclear disarmament agreements.

We have signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty, continued to observe the moratorium on nuclear weapons testing, continued to press for the negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament, without preconditions, of a fissile material cut-off treaty whilst maintaining our moratorium. We have demonstrated our commitment to the irreversibility of nuclear disarmament. We continue to reiterate our unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of our nuclear arsenal leading to nuclear disarmament and have undertaken several unilateral steps towards nuclear disarmament including reductions in warhead numbers, increased transparency by publishing historical accounting records of our defence fissile material holdings and reduced the operational status of our deterrent.

All fissile material no longer required for defence purposes is under international safeguards. We continue to reaffirm our commitment to achieving the general and complete disarmament objectives of Article VI. We report regularly in a number of different formats and fora on the progress we have made under Article VI. We have pursued a widely welcomed programme to develop UK expertise in methods and technologies that could be used to verify nuclear disarmament. Finally, we produced a series of working papers culminating in a presentation at the 2005 NPT Review Conference. The Atomic Weapons Establishment continues to undertake research in this area.

8 Jan 2007 : Column 99W Nuclear Submarines

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many warheads in the stockpile of operationally available warheads will be dismantled as a result of the reductions in the stockpile announced in the White Paper CM6994; and if he will make a statement. [108792]

Des Browne: The 20 per cent. reduction in the maximum number of operationally available warheads from fewer than 200 to fewer than 160, announced in the White Paper “The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994) published on 4 December, will be matched by a corresponding number of warheads (ie about 40) being dismantled.

8 Jan 2007 : Column 99W Nuclear Submarines

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the procurement timeframe is for the programme to build new Vanguard-Class ballistic missile submarines; at what stage he expects main gate approval; and if he will make a statement. [108798]

Des Browne: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) on 12 December 2006, /Official Report/, columns 395-96W.

8 Jan 2007 : Column 99W Nuclear Submarines

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the /(a)/ planned service life at construction and /(b)/ actual service life was for each decommissioned nuclear submarine that has been in service with the Royal Navy. [108805]

Des Browne: Information on the planned service life at construction of the Dreadnought, Valiant-Churchill and Resolution Classes of nuclear submarine is not readily available. The actual service life of vessels in these classes was as follows:

/Vessel/     /Actual Service Life in Years/

HMS Dreadnought

19

HMS Valiant

28

HMS Warspite

23

HMS Churchill

20

HMS Conqueror

21

HMS Courageous

21

HMS Resolution

27

HMS Repulse

28

HMS Renown

28

HMS Revenge

25

The Swiftsure Class of nuclear submarines were designed with a hull life at construction of at least 25 years. The actual service life of those vessels that have been withdrawn from service is as follows:

/Vessel/     /A// ctual service life in years/

HMS Swiftsure

18

HMS Sovereign

32

HMS Spartan

26

HMS Splendid 

22

8 Jan 2007 : Column 100W Nuclear Submarines

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate his Department has made of the cost of developing a new design of submarine reactor with a passive cooling system that could function without relying on cooling pumps. [108807]

Des Browne: The existing pressurised water reactors in Royal Navy submarines have a passive cooling system that functions without relying on main coolant pumps.

**

8 Jan 2007 : Column 100W Nuclear Weapons

Lynne Jones:To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the countries that have the capability of firing a nuclear weapon that could reach (a) the UK, (b) Japan and (c) Venezuela. [108973]

*Des Browne: Several countries have the capability to fire nuclear armed missiles which are able to strike a range of targets around the world including the UK, Japan and Venezuela. These capabilities are summarised in Box 2-2 of the White Paper ‘The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent’ (Cm 6994), published on 4 December.

**

8 Jan 2007 : Column 100W Nuclear Weapons

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will break down by main budget heading the costs of the new Trident nuclear deterrent. [109889]

Des Browne: Paragraphs 5-11 to 5-14 of the White Paper: “The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994), published on 4 December, set out our current estimate of the overall costs involved in sustaining our current independent statement. A more accurate breakdown is not yet available. Copies of the White Paper are available in the Library of the House.

8 Jan 2007 : Column 100W Nuclear Weapons

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will prove a break down by main budget heading the costs of replacing the nuclear fleet with three submarines. [109955]

Des Browne: I have nothing further to add to paragraph 5-11 of the White Paper: “The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994), published on 4 December, copies of which are available in the Library of the House. At this very early stage of the procurement process, we are not in a position to break these estimates down in the way requested, for either a four or three submarine fleet.

*8 Jan 2007 : Column 101W
Nuclear Weapons

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which external organisations provided estimates for the costs of option /(a)/ one, /(b)/ two, /(c)/ three and /(d)/ four, outlined in the White Paper The future of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent. [109959]

Des Browne: The cost estimates reflected in paragraph 5-2 of the White Paper: “The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrrent” (Cm 6994) were produced within the MOD, with some assistance from costing experts in Qinetiq.
**

8 Jan 2007 : Column 110W Submarines

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimates have been made of the cost of modernising the submarine infrastructure at /(a)/ Coulport and /(b)/ Faslane. [109886]

Des Browne: As stated at paragraph 5-11 of the White Paper “The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994), published on 4 December 2006, copies of which are available in the Library of the House, our initial estimate of the procurement costs for infrastructure will be in the range of £2-3 billion over the life of the new ballistic missile submarines. These estimated costs include modernisation of infrastructure at Coulport and Faslane to support the UK’s strategic deterrent.

**
8 Jan 2007 : Column 111W Trident

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what environmental impact assessments (EIAs) his Department has undertaken of the /(a)/ deployment, /(b)/ infrastructure facilities required for maintenance and /(c)/ facilities used for decommissioning redundant or replaced parts of the Trident nuclear weapons system; and whether these EIAs have been published. [105267]

Des Browne: The Ministry of Defence has undertaken a number of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) in connection with the Trident nuclear weapons system. During the deployment of Vanguard Class submarines, EIAs are conducted whenever there is a requirement to do so, for example prior to the discharge of bilge water. Such EIAs are not published as to do so could enable deductions to be made on the operational location of the submarines and would, or would be likely to, prejudice the security of the United Kingdom.

For the infrastructure facilities required to support the maintenance of the system, an EIA was undertaken for Faslane and Coulport entitled “Proposed Development at the Clyde Submarine Base (Faslane and Coulport) Environmental Impact Assessment”. This was published in May 1984. The MOD also lodged an EIA in support of the D154 Project in Devonport with Plymouth City Council in 1994. No EIAs have yet been completed in respect of decommissioned redundant submarines.

**
8 Jan 2007 : Column 111W Trident

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his estimate is of the time it would take to procure further Trident D5 missiles. [108974]

Des Browne: As set out in paragraph 2-5 of the recent White Paper, "The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent, (Cm 6994), we believe that no further procurement of Trident D5 missiles will be necessary. Copies of the White Paper are available in the Library of the House.

**

8 Jan 2007 : Column 111W Trident

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the availability of /(a)/ project management and /(b)/ nuclear decommissioning expertise between (i) 2007 and 2012, (ii) 2013 and 2017 and (iii) 2018 and 2024 on projects related to Trident. [109486]

Des Browne: The Department aims to ensure that it has sufficient expert personnel to meet current and future nuclear programme demands through external recruitment, internal staff development and close involvement with industry. This includes those personnel required for the project management and nuclear decommissioning disciplines. The assessment of the likely demand for nuclear experts is undertaken in conjunction with the Nuclear Sector Skills Council who maintain an oversight of the issues surrounding the national requirement for staff with key nuclear skills, both civil and military. In addition, the MOD is represented at the Nuclear Employers Steering Group, which monitors trends at a national level to scope the likely future demand for staff.

25 Jan 2007 : Column 1944W Trident

*Dr. Gibson:* To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the conclusions of the naval base review will be available to the House prior to the debate on Trident replacement; and if he will make a statement. [116647]

Des Browne: The Government have committed to a full debate on our decision to renew the UK's independent nuclear deterrent. It is only right that Parliament has the opportunity to debate and vote on this decision. The outcome of that debate will, therefore, inform the naval base review.

1 Feb 2007 : Column 513W Trident

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many contributions have been received from /(a)/ members of the public and /(b)/ organisations on the consultation on a replacement for Trident. [110734]

Des Browne: [holding answer 23 January 2007]: /The Government received approximately 350 letters, either direct or through MPs, between the announcement of 4 December on the future of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent and 18 January. We do not as a matter of routine record whether these letters are from individuals or organisations.

6th February 2007 Defence - Nuclear Weapons
**
*Column 788W
**
Mr. Alan Reid:* To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors were taken into account in reaching the conclusion in the White Paper on the future of the UK's nuclear deterrent that the upper limit on the number of operationally available warheads should be 160; and what (a) methodology and /(b)/ calculations were used in reaching that conclusion. [119285]

*Des Browne:* As we said in paragraph 4-9 of the White Paper ?The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent?, /Official Report/, column 6994, published on 4 December, in determining the scale of minimum nuclear deterrent,

"We need to make a judgment on the minimum destructive capability necessary to provide an effective deterrent posture. This judgment requires an assessment of the decision-making processes of future potential aggressors, and an analysis of the effectiveness of the defensive measures that they might employ."

The new upper limit of less than 160 operationally available warheads reflects the results of that judgment, together with our NATO commitments, and the way in which we operate the deterrent submarines. I am withholding further details as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the defence of the United Kingdom.

**

*Written Answers 27th February - 6th March

27 Feb 2007 : Column 1206W
Scotland
Trident*

*7. Pete Wishart: *To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the Scottish Executive on the siting in Scotland of facilities related to the Trident weapon system. [122166]

**

*Mr. Douglas Alexander: *I have had recent discussions with the Scottish First Minister on a range of subjects.

**

*28 Feb 2007 : Column 1347W
Nuclear Weapons*

*Mr. Willis: *To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advice he has received on the public consultation on the White Paper The Future of the United Kingdom?s Nuclear Deterrent. [122777]

**

*Des Browne [holding answer 26 February 2007]: *I am fully engaged in the public and parliamentary debate following the publication of the White Paper last year. I have participated in a wide range of discussions, have made a comprehensive speech at King?s College, London and provided wide-ranging evidence to the Defence Committee. Up to 23 February, I had also received some 700 written representations.

**

*28 Feb 2007 : Column 1349W
Trident*

*Dr. Gibson: *To ask the Secretary of State for Defence from which budget heading the spending on a Trident replacement will come; and if he will make a statement. [116649]

**

*Des Browne: *The Government's plans for the maintenance of the independent nuclear deterrent were set out in the White Paper ?The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent? (Cm 6994, published in December 2006). I have nothing further to add.

**

*28 Feb 2007 : Column 1349W
Trident*

*Harry Cohen: *To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much military-grade (a) plutonium and (b) enriched uranium the UK has produced in the last five years; what level of production is required for the existing Trident missile programme; what additional amounts of each type of military-grade material willbe produced by the proposed UK nuclear power development programme; how much of each type of military-grade material is expected to be required following the proposed replacement of the Trident missile programme; and if he will make a statement. [122881]

**

*Des Browne: *On 18 April 1995 the Foreign Secretary announced that the UK had ceased the production of fissile material for explosive purposes. This voluntary moratorium stands and there are no plans tochange this. Work continues in the Conference on Disarmament to promote the early negotiation and agreement of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty to bind countries into ceasing production altogether of fissile material for weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

**
**

28 Feb 2007 : Column 1384W Nuclear Weapons

Mr. David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will assess the effect of renewing the UK?s nuclear deterrent on each of the 10 priority areas outlined in the Active Diplomacy for a Changing World: The UK?s International Priorities, White Paper, Cm 6762. [122758]

Dr. Howells: "As stated in the 2006 White Paper on the Future of the UK?s Nuclear Deterrence, the UK is committed to helping to secure international peace and security. Since 1956, the nuclear deterrent has underpinned our ability to do so even in the most challenging circumstances. This is fully compatible with the International Priorities set out in the White Paper "Active Diplomacy for a Changing World".

**

28 Feb 2007 : Column 1425W Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment his Department has made of the implications of the changes to forecastsof the commercial revenues of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for the future sale of the British Nuclear Group; and if he will make a statement. [118369]

**

Malcolm Wicks: Following discussions with the NDA the NDA's budget for 2007-08 has been settled. The NDA and site licence companies (SLC) will be able to maintain current levels of programme spend and the agreed settlement is actually a small increase over levels of programme spend in the current financial year.

**

1 Mar 2007 : Column 1485W Trident

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will publish the legal advice the Prime Minister received which allowed her to state that the upgrading of Trident is compatible with the UK's obligations under the non-proliferation treaty. [122917]

**

Dr. Howells: As noted in the ministerial code, the fact and substance of legal advice to the Government remains confidential. This enables Government to obtain frank and full legal advice in confidence.

**

5 Mar 2007 : Column 1658W Nuclear Weapons

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the costs of building a new uranium processing facility, warhead assembly and disassembly facility, core punch facility, explosives handling facility and material science facilities at the Atomic Weapons Establishment are included in the estimates for (a) the procurement costs in paragraph 5-12 and (b) the in-service costs in paragraph 5-14 of the White Paper on the Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent. [124011]

**

*Des Browne: *These facilities are part of the programme of investment in sustaining capabilities at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, both to ensure we can maintain the existing warhead for as long as necessary and to enable us to develop a replacement warhead if that is required. The costs of building, and subsequently operating and maintaining, these facilities are included in the estimates set out in paragraphs 5-13 and 5-14 of the White Paper: "The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent" (Cm 6994).

**

6 Mar 2007 : Column 1876W Nuclear Weapons

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what provision was made for the operating cost of conventional forces protecting the nuclear deterrent within the current and projected in-service costs of the UK's nuclear deterrent published in paragraph 5-14 of the White Paper on the Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent. [123987]

**

Des Browne:: Paragraph 5-14 of the White Paper: "The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent" (Cm 6994) refers to the current and future in-service costs of the UK's nuclear deterrent, including the costs for the Atomic Weapons Establishment. It does not include the cost of any conventional forces. This is in line with the way we normally report the costs of the nuclear deterrent.

**

6 Mar 2007 : Column 1877W Nuclear Weapons

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the work detailed in the breakdown of nuclear liabilities outlined in the answer to the hon. Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn) of 24 July 2006, Official Report, columns 778-79W, on nuclear liabilities, is likely to be carried out before 2055; and which of the items in that answer are includedin the projected in-service costs for Trident and its replacement in paragraph 5-14 of the White Paperon the Future of the United Kingdom?s Nuclear Deterrent. [124012]

**

Des Browne: Some 65 per cent. of the nuclear liabilities outlined in the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn) of 24 July 2006, Official Report, columns 778-79W, are expected to be incurred before 2055. The elements of those liabilities related to the current Trident system are included in the estimate of in-service costs of the UK?s nuclear deterrent set out at paragraph 5-14 of the White Paper: "The Future of the United Kingdom?s Nuclear Deterrent" (Cm 6994). That estimate also includes an allowance for the decommissioning of a successor system.

**

6 Mar 2007 : Column 1877W
Nuclear Weapons

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the role of the British nuclear deterrent in countering terrorism from abroad; whether he plans to revise the new chapter of the Strategic Defence Review on this subject to take account of the White Paper on Trident; and if he will make a statement. [124652]

**

Des Browne: As we set out in paragraph 3-11 of the White Paper "The Future of the United Kingdom?s Nuclear Deterrent (Cm 6994)".

"While our nuclear deterrent is not designed to deter non-state actors, it should influence the decision making of any state that might consider transferring nuclear technology to terrorists."

As such, the position is entirely consistent with the analysis set out in the Strategic Defence Review: New Chapter (Cm 5566).

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6 Mar 2007 : Column 1877W Nuclear Weapons

Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what he expects the annual expenditure on renewing the UK's nuclear deterrent capability to be in each of the next 20 years. [125067]

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*Des Browne [holding answer 2 March 2007]:* Our initial estimates of the future costs (including the procurement costs) involved in sustaining our independent nuclear deterrent capability were set out in paragraphs 5-11 to 5-14 of the White Paper: "The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent", published on 4 December. At this very early stage in the procurement process, we are not in a position to break down these estimates in the way requested.

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Business of the House 1 Mar 2007 : Column 1070

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): Like all other Members, I am very much looking forward to the debate on Trident. Does the Leader of the House believe that Members who say something publicly on Trident should follow that through in the way that they vote in the Division following the debate? Eighty per cent. of the Scottish people oppose Trident and 45 per cent. say that they will switch their vote away from parties that support it. The majority of Scottish Members of Parliament oppose Trident. Would not the public therefore be right to punish those who say one thing and vote another way?

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Mr. Straw: The people who say one thing and do another are Scottish National party Members and their allies; they are the experts on this. I hope that when we come to the day for the debate on Trident there will be a very serious discussion about what is in the United Kingdom?s long-term defence interests. It is not a trivial matter; it is about the future defence of this country, and, indeed, the security of the world. That applies as much to people who are resident in Scotland as it does to other parts of the United Kingdom.

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Business of the House
1 Mar 2007 : Column 1075

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): In welcoming the 14 March debate on Trident on behalf of the shadow Defence Ministers, may I ask the Leader of the House whether he will guarantee that there will be no intrusion by statements on the time for that debate? Will there be protected time?six and a half hours?for that debate? Does he agree that it would send the wrong signal about the importance of this as a defence issue for the Defence Secretary to be relegated, as appears to be the case, to winding up the debate, rather than presenting the case, which he is perfectly capable of doing?

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Mr. Straw: I accept the hon. Gentleman's first point. Unless there is some emergency, we will do everything we can to avoid any statement before the debate begins. Frankly, I think that the second point is rather trivial. The responsibility for that kind of major issue has always been shared between the Foreign Secretary and the Defence Secretary. If I were still Foreign Secretary, it is quite likely that I would open the debate on the issue.