HC Deb 16 November 1982 vol 32 c142
13. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has received any representations from Scotland in support of Government policy to locate the Trident nuclear missile base in Scotland.

Mr. Blaker

Our records do not distinguish between correspondence according to the residence of the author.

Mr. Canavan

Does the Tory[...] Government not realise that if they persist in trying to foist Trident on to the people of Scotland they may come up against direct action even more widespread than the recent events at Greenham Common? In view of the threat to peace that nuclear weapons pose, should it not be the Prime Minister who is gaoled for breach of the peace instead of the 16 courageous women who are the victims of a grave miscarriage of justice?

Mr. Blaker

I am confident that when the people of Scotland fully understand the merits of Trident and the fact that it is the most efficient successor to Polaris at the most reasonable cost, they will support it. I am encouraged in my assessment of the views of the people of Scotland by a recent opinion poll, published in the Glasgow Herald on 18 October, which showed that a clear majority of Scottish people thought that Great Britain should retain nuclear weapons. In no category of age, sex or class was there a majority opposed.

Mr. Marlow

Will there not be greater public reluctance about the siting of cruise than the siting of Trident as the British Government, in which the nation has a deeply enduring trust, have physical control over Trident, whereas the American Government have physical control over cruise?

Mr. Blaker

My hon. Friend knows the arrangements for cruise. They will be the same as those that have applied to American nuclear forces in this country for many years under successive Governments—the bases cannot be used without the consent of both Governments.

Mr. Denzil Davies

Since more than half the expenditure and most of the maintenance and servicing on Trident will be done in the United States, and since no one in his right senses believes that Great Britain will be engaged in a nuclear exchange with Soviet Russia against the will of the United States, why do the Government not cancel this ridiculous project, which distorts our defence strategy and places an intolerable burden on public expenditure?

Mr. Blaker

There is no doubt that Trident in British hands will be an independent strategic nuclear deterrent, as is Polaris at present. It is still our assessment that 55 per cent. of the work on Trident will come to this country.