BUSINESS QUESTION – TRIDENT EDM – 14 December 2006

Dr Julian Lewis: May we have a debate on early-day motion 361 on the replacement of Trident, tabled by the Shadow Defence Team in terms very similar indeed to the robust terms of the Prime Minister's statement?

[That this House believes that the United Kingdom should continue to possess a strategic nuclear deterrent as long as other countries have nuclear weapons; and accordingly endorses the principle of preparing to replace the Trident system with a successor generation of the nuclear deterrent.]

If the answer is that we can await the debate and vote in three months, will the Leader of the House at least confirm that he and his hon. Friends will sign the Early-Day Motion, as it is so close to his own Prime Minister's policy?

Mr Straw: Happily, I have been spared any requirement to sign Early-Day Motions since I entered the Shadow Cabinet in 1987. We have already said that there will be a debate on Trident and it will be on a substantive motion. It will be in early March, I think. We are not signing the Early-Day Motion –

Dr Lewis: Why not?

Mr Straw: Because we do not sign Early-Day Motions. The hon. Gentleman knows that very well. As they are all directed at the Government, it would be eccentric if we signed them. Anyway, I am glad to have been spared the requirement. The hon. Gentleman knows what our position is.