DEFENCE – ATOMIC WEAPONS AND ALDERMASTON – 26 March 2008

[Willie Rennie: Does the Minister accept that his own documentation on the issue clearly states that the main gate for the construction of nuclear submarines is between 2012 and 2014?

The Minister for the Armed Forces (Mr Bob Ainsworth): We go through a process with all defence procurement, and main gate is part of it. An awful lot of work needs to be done before main gate, and I hope the hon. Gentleman does not think that work ought to go ahead without parliamentary approval. To suggest that we do not need to approve decisions until we come to main-gate decisions is not tenable.]

Dr Julian Lewis: The Liberal Democrat argument is appallingly disingenuous. Apart from anything else, the submarines have to be designed, and it was spelled out absolutely clearly why a process of 17 years from beginning to end was necessary. The only point the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife could make that could possibly stand up would be, “Okay, Parliament will have a debate and vote to design the things, but then it has to have another debate and vote to decide whether to start building them”—in other words, the main gate that he keeps wittering on about.

[Mr Ainsworth: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that.]

[For Julian's speech in this Debate, click here.]