Proliferation in Parliament
Written Ministerial Statement
Debates and Oral Questions
Written Ministerial Statement
The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): The armed forces are an essential element of our national security. They provide the ultimate defence against direct threats to the UK and its overseas territories. They tackle threats to our national security overseas by helping to address conflict, instability and crises across the globe. I know there is strong support in this House for their achievements.
The Government’s current priority for the armed forces is to ensure they have the equipment and support they need for operations in Afghanistan. We have approved over £2.2 billion from the reserve for urgent operational requirements in Afghanistan. Overall spending from the reserve, above costs met from the MOD budget, was over £2.6 billion in the last financial year.
But, in parallel, we must ensure the armed forces are fit for the challenges of tomorrow.
The policy set out in the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) and subsequently adjusted in the SDR New Chapter and the 2003 Defence White Paper, delivering Security in a Changing World has stood the test of time.
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However, it is now more than 10 years since the SDR and the challenges facing defence have inevitably changed in that time.
I am therefore announcing that the Government is beginning a process that will enable a strategic defence review early in the next Parliament. That review, to be set in the context of the national security strategy, will be designed to ensure that we develop and maintain armed forces appropriate to the challenges we face and the aims we set ourselves as a nation.
As a first step, we will undertake an examination of a range of issues, including:
I intend to publish the results of this work in the form of a Green Paper
in early 2010. I recognise there is a wide range of views on these important
issues and hope the Green Paper will help build a consensus on these critical
underlying issues for defence.
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At the weekend I visited Hong Kong and Singapore, where one very different security topic dominated the media. North Korea’s detonation on 25 May of its second nuclear bomb was a clear breach of UN Security Council resolution 1718. Here in London, there is a tendency to sit back and watch events unfold in North Korea as if there was no impact on the national interests of the United Kingdom and in the hope that others, such as the US and China, will take care of matters. However, the truth is that, like it or not, we are affected by events in North Korea.
Last week at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Asian security conference, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said:
All in the House could endorse that statement. The transfer of nuclear weapons or material to other nations or non-state actors should be viewed as a threat to the security of this country, our allies and our wider global interests. North Korea is notoriously unpredictable, and at the moment its motives and the likely next steps are extremely unclear. The North Korean regime has sold missile technology to Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria. Consequently, it is not irrational to believe that future sales by North Korea might include nuclear technology and know-how.
That nuclear threat is being mirrored in the middle east by Iran, in another clear breach of international law. I have heard voices on both sides of the House say that we should learn to accommodate Iran as a nuclear weapons state. I believe that there are three reasons why we must not. The first is the nature of the regime itself,
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and the second the willingness of Iran to destabilise its neighbours via Hezbollah and Hamas. We have seen their involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Do we want fissile material added to that mix?
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are all likely to want to follow suit. Our failure to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions will inevitably lead to the potential for a nuclear arms race, with all the costs, dangers and futility that that would bring. Surely we want to leave something better to the next generation than a nuclear arms race in the world’s most unstable region.
Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex) (Con):
Whichever Government are in power, we will fight our way through this period of stringent financial controls as a result of the recession and getting our debt back under control. We will get through that, one way or another. We need to nurse our defence forces through what will be a difficult period, but what will we be
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aiming for at the other end? Will we be aiming to be the power that can
project military force throughout the world, fight alongside the United
States and maintain its influence in the forums of the world because we
will maintain our nuclear deterrent and have aircraft carriers, strike
aircraft and the breadth of technological capability that means that we
can interact and fight on a global basis? Or are we going to become just
another passenger on the American aircraft carrier, with little say and
little influence over an increasingly unstable world that threatens the
safety and prosperity of our citizens and the people we represent?
Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Solicitor-General what investigations the Serious Fraud Office has conducted into BAE Systems since January 2004.
The Solicitor-General: There have been four investigations conducted
by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into BAE Systems plc. All four investigations
began on 14 July 2004. The SFO decided to discontinue the investigation
into the affairs of BAE Systems plc.—as far as they relate to the Al Yamamah
defence contract with the Government of Saudi Arabia—on 14 December 2006.
The other three investigations continue.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of the procurement of (a) aircraft carriers, (b) Joint Strike Fighter, (c) the Trident replacement programme, (d) Type 45 destroyers, (e) the Future Rapid Effects System, (f) Astute Class submarines and (g) Typhoons in the next 12 months.
Mr. Quentin Davies: The current estimated expenditure on the procurement of the programmes listed for the next 12 months up to the end of financial year 2009-10 is provided in the following table:
The total estimated expenditure includes equipment procurement costs only and excludes any related equipment support or overhead expenditure.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent on defence procurement in each of the armed services in the latest year for which figures are available; and how much of that expenditure was incurred in Scotland in each service.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Defence budget is spent as efficiently as possible to deliver value for money in producing required military capability, but is not allocated on a regional basis or by individual service. For example, military equipment is provided for the armed forces by the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation, which receives the top level requirements under the guidance of the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Capability). These are determined on a capability basis.
Estimates for direct MOD expenditure on equipment and non-equipment, and civilian and service personnel in Scotland are provided in the following table. Expenditure has been expressed as a percentage of the MOD’s total worldwide actual cash expenditure. It is not possible to give a final figure for expenditure for Scotland as our
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contractors may place subcontracts with organisations outside Scotland. Moreover, companies in Scotland may receive defence subcontracts from firms elsewhere in the UK.
The MOD presents estimates of annual procurement of goods and service in the UK broken out by industry sector and estimates of aggregate MOD equipment expenditure annually in “The UK Defence Statistics2, which can be found at the following link:
The most recent data covers 2002-03 to 2006-07 and the data for 2008-09 will be published on 27 September 2009. Given that there is no regional consideration to the defence budget, we will no longer produce a regional breakdown of direct defence employment and associated expenditure after then.
There is a strong manufacturing base in Scotland as a result of sustained
investment by the UK Government. The Scottish Affairs Select Committee
report into Employment and Skills for the Defence Industry in Scotland,
published in June 2008, said that “the defence industry is vital to Scotland”.
Defence and aerospace industries generate nearly £2.31 billion in sales
and together with the MOD support almost 50,000 jobs and a record number
Asked by Lord Astor of Hever
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Government of the United States about progress with ratifying the Anglo-US Defence Trade Treaty.
The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor
of Bolton): Her Majesty's Government continue to discuss the defence
trade co-operation treaty with the US Government at all levels. The treaty
still awaits ratification by the US Senate. The UK has worked hard to
ensure that members of the Senate are aware of the importance the UK places
on the treaty and the benefits for both nations in operational and industrial
terms. MoD and FCO officials in the British embassy in Washington regularly
discuss treaty implementation with their US colleagues in preparation
Question Asked by Lord Dykes
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether in the current economic circumstances they will cancel major long-term defence projects such as aircraft carriers, fighter aircraft and missiles.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness
Taylor of Bolton): We have no such plans.
Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts, The Stationery Office, HC 467-I, July 2009
2.121 The UK remains committed to working towards a safer world in which there is no requirement for nuclear weapons and continues to play a full role in international efforts to strengthen arms control and prevent the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. But the continuing risk from the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the certainty that a number of other countries will retain substantial nuclear arsenals, mean that our minimum nuclear deterrent capability, currently represented by Trident, remains a necessary element of our security. Our nuclear forces make a substantial contribution to NATO’s overall defensive strategy and retention of an independent centre of nuclear decision-making makes clear to any adversary that the costs of an attack on UK vital interests will outweigh any benefits.
2.122 The UK’s nuclear weapons are not designed for military use during conflict but instead are to deter and prevent nuclear blackmail and acts of aggression against our vital interests that cannot be countered by other means. We retain only the minimum amount of destructive power required to achieve our deterrence objectives. Deliberate ambiguity is maintained about precisely when, how and at what scale we would contemplate use of our nuclear deterrent. We will not simplify the calculations of a potential aggressor by defining more precisely the circumstances in which we might consider the use of our nuclear capabilities; hence, we will not rule in or out the first use of nuclear weapons. But the Government has made clear many times over many years that the UK would only contemplate using nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances of self-defence and in accordance with the UK’s international legal obligations.
Ballistic Missile Defence
2.123 The UK continues to work closely with the US and other Allies on ballistic missile defence (BMD). We provide practical support by allowing the US to use early warning radar information from RAF Fylingdales and the satellite downlink at RAF Menwith Hill to route early warning satellite data into the missile defence command and control system. The UK takes a leading role in the work and discussion in NATO to explore the potential development of a missile defence architecture capable of protecting the Alliance territory from future missile attack from states of concern. The UK has no plans to develop or acquire our own missile defence capability, but we keep this under review. The UK continues to carry out research activities with scientific and industrial partners, allowing us to improve our understanding of BMD-related technologies and the technical and political issues associated with strategic and theatre missile defence.
Full text is available at: http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/0981769C-D30A-
© 2009 The Acronym Institute.