def070524 - No.54

Session 2006-07, 24 May 2007

Publication of Special Report


The Government will actively support parliamentary scrutiny of the Trident replacement submarine, missile and warhead programme, the Ministry of Defence tells MPs.  In a response to the House of Commons Defence Committee’s report on the Trident White Paper, the Government undertakes to make available to the Committee details of the Vanguard-class submarine life extension programme, and of the options for the replacement of the nuclear warhead, as they become available, together with the associated costs.

The Government’s response, published today, supplements the interim response provided in March. It gives additional information on:

  • the timing of decision-making, including why a decision on participation in the Trident D5 missile life extension was required in 2007;

  • the Government’s plans for promoting non-proliferation and the multilateral nuclear disarmament; and

  • the factors which will influence the decision on whether to opt for a three- or four-boat fleet of submarines.

Commenting on the Government Response, Committee Chairman Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP said, “The Government’s Response to our Report is welcome, but it misrepresents our report. In saying that we did not challenge the fundamental decisions in the White Paper, it implies that, as a Committee, we endorse the decision to retain and renew the deterrent. This is not the case. The whole purpose of our inquiry was to challenge the Government’s proposals and subject them to scrutiny, not to come down on one side of the argument. Members of the Committee hold differing views on the merits of the deterrent as reflected in the vote in the House.

Now that Parliament has endorsed the decision to retain and renew the nuclear deterrent, it is up to the Government to deliver the programme on time and to cost. Replacing the Vanguard-class Trident submarines will be a huge undertaking, and the MoD must ensure that the problems which beset the Astute programme are not repeated. We plan to monitor closely the MoD’s stewardship of the programme and industry’s performance in delivering an affordable submarine platform. The Government has said that maintaining the deterrent will not come at the expense of the conventional capabilities of our Armed Forces: we plan to keep them to their word.”

The Government’s response is published today in the Defence Committee’s Eleventh Special Report of Session 2006-07, The Future of the UK's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: the White Paper: Government Response to the Committee’s Ninth Report of Session 2006-07, HC 551.


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. The Committee’s report is available at

3. News Release: No. 54


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