PRIME MINISTER – TRIDENT REPLACEMENT – 12 July 2006
Dr Julian Lewis: Whether his commitment to retain the nuclear deterrent applies beyond the lifespan of the current Trident submarine fleet?
[The Prime Minister (Mr Tony Blair): We made it clear in our 2005 manifesto that we are committed to retaining the independent nuclear deterrent, and that means for the life of the current system. As I have said previously, decisions on the period beyond that will be taken later this year.]
[SUPPLEMENTARY:] The whole House will note that the Prime Minister was a lot less definite than the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who talked about retaining the nuclear deterrent not just for this Parliament but long into the future. If the decision is taken to replace the Trident submarine fleet, will any successor fleet be funded from the current defence budget, or will extra funds be allocated from outside that budget?
[The Prime Minister: Any decision on funding has to await later negotiation. Most people understand that a decision on the independent nuclear deterrent is very much sui generis. The reasons why we want to retain the deterrent are set out in our manifesto, and I entirely agree with what the Chancellor said.]