HC Deb 11 November 1999 vol 337 c707W
Mr. Wigley

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received calling for the United Kingdom's nuclear forces no longer to be in a state of continuous alert; and if he will make a statement. [97129]

Mr. Hoon

We have received a number of representations from organisations and members of the public about our nuclear deterrent, including its alert status. The Strategic Defence Review (SDR) announced that submarines on patrol are at a reduced day-to-day alert state reflecting improved strategic conditions. We maintain only one submarine on patrol at a time, its missiles are not targeted and are at several days "notice to fire". We also considered other more radical de-alerting measures in the SDR, such as taking submarines off deterrent patrol and removing warheads from their missiles and storing them separately ashore. We concluded that neither, in current circumstances, is compatible with maintaining a credible minimum deterrent with a submarine-based nuclear system.