'TORY CHALLENGE ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS'

Independent – 21 June 2005

The three responses (letters, 16 June) to my letter of 14 June on Labour and the nuclear deterrent are gratifying in their contradictions.

According to Stephen Pullinger, the Government's evasiveness over whether or not it will replace Trident is "welcome" and the question of any replacement clearly wide open.

According to Laurie Marks, however, it is "bizarre" and "preposterous" to suggest that Labour will not go ahead with a new deterrent when Trident comes to an end.

Nigel Chamberlain of the British American Security Information Council seems to agree with me that the Government is being evasive and that it is right to press them to come clean.

Curiously, no Defence minister has chosen to write to you, though Dr Pullinger apes John Reid's feeble point in the House on 6 June that the Conservatives did not mention the deterrent in our manifesto: this was, of course, because – unlike Labour – our commitment to maintaining a nuclear deterrent as long as other countries have nuclear weapons has never been in doubt.

Will the Defence Secretary now advise your readers whether this is equally true of the Government?

Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
Shadow Defence Minister
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA