def070307 - No.36

Session 2006-07, 7 March 2007

Publication of Report


The Defence Committee today publishes its report on the Government's nuclear deterrent White Paper (Ninth Report of Session 2006-07, The Future of the UK's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: the White Paper, HC 225-I).

The MPs analyse the findings and conclusions of the Government's White Paper. They consider the timing of decisions, the scale of the UK's nuclear deterrent, the role of nuclear deterrence in the 21st Century, legal and treaty aspects of the decision on retention and renewal of Trident, and deterrent options and costs.

The MPs do not express a view on the merits of retaining and renewing the UK's nuclear deterrent. Their intention is to inform the public debate by exploring the key issues and questions which should be addressed in that debate. The MPs say:

€ The UK has made significant cuts in its nuclear arsenal since the end of the Cold War and has made considerable efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, but there is a need for a much stronger narrative on the Government's forward commitment to achieve nuclear non-proliferation

€ There is no consensus among lawyers about the legality of the Government's proposals. It is likely that political, rather than legal, issues will be decisive in shaping the debate over the future of the UK's nuclear deterrent

€ The Government has been more open about its decision-making on the nuclear deterrent than any in the past. They hope that the Government, and the MoD in particular, will learn that greater transparency is to its own, as well as to the public, advantage.

Commenting on the report, Committee Chairman Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP said "The House of Commons will debate and vote on the Government's proposals for the future of the UK's strategic nuclear deterrent on Wednesday 14 March. Our report examines those proposals and explores the key issues which should be addressed in that debate. We do not express a view on whether the UK should retain a nuclear deterrent. Instead we set out the competing arguments and highlight specific areas where the Government should provide additional information. I hope that our report will allow Members of Parliament to make an informed judgement about the White Paper and about the future of the UK's nuclear deterrent."


1. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP (Chairman), Mr David S Borrow MP, Mr David Crausby MP, Linda Gilroy MP, Mr David Hamilton MP, Mr Mike Hancock MP, Mr Dai Havard MP, Mr Adam Holloway MP, Mr Bernard Jenkin MP, Mr Brian Jenkins MP, Mr Kevan Jones MP, Robert Key MP, Willie Rennie MP, John Smith MP

2. News Release: No. 36


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