Methodist Church calls for open debate on Trident replacement

Methodist Church calls for open debate on Tridentreplacement

  • £10 billion decision needs to be taken during currentparliament
  • Church urges members to lobby MPs for full debate

The Methodist Church has called on the Government to hold anopen debate on the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system.Trident is due to be decommissioned in 2024 and according to theMinistry of Defence, the decision on Trident must be taken withinthe lifetime of this Parliament. Tony Blair says that no decisionhas yet been made but has stated that retaining a nuclear deterrentis 'the right thing': however, The Methodist Church believes thatit is vital that the issue is properly understood and debatedbefore a decision is made.

Steve Hucklesby, the Secretary for International Affairs for theMethodist Church said 'following the widely-perceived failure ofthe nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference in May, itis more important than ever that the UK takes a lead in the effortto eliminate nuclear weapons. The Hiroshima Day commemorations onSaturday 6 August, which mark the 60th anniversary of the first useof the atomic bomb, serve as a reminder of the appalling effects ofnuclear weapons. We have the opportunity to set an example for therest of the world. At a time when the UK is apparently unable toafford to meet our promise on spending on international developmentof 0.7% of GDP until 2013, it is only right that we have a full andopen debate on a replacement of Trident that would cost at least£10 billion.'

Anthea Cox, Co-ordinating Secretary for Public Life and SocialJustice for the Methodist Church said 'part of the debate we wantis to ask whether Britain's national security depends on a weaponssystem that can only be used to inflict widespread devastation onanother nation-state. The threats we increasingly face are notdeterred by our nuclear weapons because they come from groups,individuals or ideologies, rather than nations.'

In 1996 the Methodist Conference expressed its belief that 'asmore and more countries achieve nuclear capability, majordisarmament measures are urgently needed to avoid globalproliferation' and called for 'a genuine willingness to foregoBritain's own nuclear capability (whether unilaterally ormultilaterally) in order to stop nuclear proliferation.' TheMethodist Church is therefore asking its members to contact theirMPs to request a public debate on the renewal of Trident, and toask them to engage with the question of the renewal of Britain'snuclear weapons capabilities.