New Forest East

PRIME MINISTER – TRIDENT – 20 November 2013

Dr Julian Lewis: Will the Prime Minister rule out the removal of continuous at-sea nuclear deterrence for as long as he is in office?

The Prime Minister: As I told my hon. Friend when he last asked about this issue, if we want a proper, functioning deterrent, we need to have the best. That means a permanent, at-sea, submarine-based posture, and that is what a Conservative-only Government after the next election will deliver.

Dr Lewis: May I reassure my right hon. Friend that that excellent answer will remain on my website for as long as it takes for the pledge to be fulfilled?

I notice that he used the words “Conservative-only Government”. Will he reassure the House that never again will Liberal Democrats be allowed to obstruct or delay the signing of the main gate contracts, and will he undertake to sign those contracts at the earliest possible opportunity?

The Prime Minister: I would say a couple of things to my hon. Friend. First, investment in our nuclear deterrent has not ceased. Actually, we are taking all the necessary steps to make that main gate decision possible. Also, we have had the alternative study, which I do not think came up with a convincing answer. I have to say, however, that I do not feel that I would satisfy him even if I gave him a nuclear submarine to park off the coast of his New Forest constituency. [Laughter.]

Mr Speaker: I rather fear that that is true, having known the hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) for over 30 years.