Thursday 14 June 2007
[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]
The Presiding Officer (Alex Fergusson): Good morning. The first item of business is a debate on motion S3M-169, in the name of Patrick Harvie, on Trident.
Elaine Smith (Coatbridge and Chryston) (Lab): On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Under our standing orders, would it be in order for the member who lodged the motion to withdraw it and to replace it with a motion without notice that omitted the words "at this time", thereby making it akin to the amendment that I lodged, which was not selected? If so, we could have on the table a position that was clearly anti-Trident. That is not the case at present because my amendment was not selected and, as it stands, the motion is not anti-Trident. If that is possible, I trust that Patrick Harvie will act accordingly so that we have an anti-Trident position on the table.
The Presiding Officer: It would be in order to do as Elaine Smith suggests, but it is only fair to point out that motions without notice can be accepted only at my discretion. She will be aware that I had to make very careful considerations last night. I should point out that I would not be minded to accept such a motion this morning.
George Foulkes (Lothians) (Lab): On a point of order, Presiding Officer.
The Presiding Officer: One moment, Lord Foulkes.
I also point out that there will obviously be opportunities for Elaine Smith to raise the issues that she wishes to raise in the normal course of debate.
George Foulkes: My point of order is somewhat different from that of my esteemed colleague. I had hoped that, as a new Presiding Officer, you might have given some thought to the wisdom of accepting for debate any motion that was clearly not on a devolved area. This Parliament has a range of important matters to consider and the more time we spend discussing reserved matters, the less time we have for discussing important devolved matters. Have you given fresh consideration to that issue? Will you give your views on why issues such as Trident are to be discussed by the Scottish Parliament?
The Presiding Officer: George Foulkes will be aware that the Parliament has on many occasions debated matters that are reserved to Westminster. I am not sure that his point is a point of order—it is an issue that he should take up with his business manager, who is on the Parliamentary Bureau, which agrees the Parliament's business.
We now move to the debate. Mr Harvie, you have seven minutes and time is tight.
Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green): I appreciate that, Presiding Officer.
There are some members for whom this morning's debate is their first opportunity to debate Trident in the Parliament, but there are others who will no doubt be thinking, "Here we are again." However, although we debated the subject a number of times during the Parliament's second session, it has been six months since our most recent debate on it.
The arguments have been well rehearsed. We have discussed the cost of the system, which affects Scottish devolved services. The cost of Trident has an impact on the amount of money left to spend on other priorities, on many of which people in Scotland would prefer money to be spent.
We have debated the strategic decision and whether replacing Britain's nuclear weapons system at this time would influence other countries to seek to acquire nuclear weapons. We have debated the hypocrisy of a country that has waged war on other countries over allegations of weapons of mass destruction and has pursued sanctions against such countries for wanting those weapons. We have debated the role of deterrence and whether the original strategic idea behind the possession of weapons of mass destruction is in any way relevant to the modern world or whether that argument died with the cold war.
We have debated the importance to local areas of the jobs associated with Trident. We have considered how many jobs really rely on Trident and how the areas in question might seek economic diversification.
We have debated the United Kingdom's international responsibilities under the non-proliferation treaty and the requirement on us to work towards disarmament. We have heard the former Labour First Minister recount his personal journey from unilateralism to multilateralism, which I believe he spoke about sincerely. However, multilateral disarmament is still disarmament. Those of us who argue against the deployment of a new generation of submarines and, ultimately, of nuclear weapons make the case that replacement fails even the multilateralist cause because it amounts to unilateral rearmament.
Just about every argument for and against the replacement of Trident has been heard in the Parliament, but three things have happened since the Parliament's most recent debate, six months ago, on the issue.
First, in January, an opinion poll carried out by ICM for the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament found that almost two thirds of Scots opposed the plan to replace Trident. That figure rose to 73 per cent if the price tag was set at £50 billion, which some people consider a conservative estimate.
Secondly, on 14 March, a clear majority of Scottish MPs at Westminster voted against the Government's proposals: 33 Scottish MPs were against them, including a majority of Labour members, 22 were in favour of them, and there were four abstentions.
Thirdly, in May the numbers in this Parliament changed. I believe that a clear majority of members here also oppose the UK Government's proposals. It is clear that there is a range of views within that majority. Some members, including me, many Labour Party members—I am sure that Elaine Smith comes into that category—most Scottish National Party members, some Liberal Democrat members and perhaps even some Conservative members, are strongly opposed to the idea of replacing Trident at all. Other members qualify that, by reference either to multilateralism or to delaying a decision.
A majority of MSPs oppose the current proposals and although I share Elaine Smith's regret that her amendment was not selected, its selection would not have altered the decision at the end of today. The Parliament can either vote by a clear majority to show its opposition to the proposals to replace the weapons—
Sarah Boyack (Edinburgh Central) (Lab): Surely we are talking about an important point, politically. Many of us do not consider the motion's use of the words "at this time" to be appropriate. There is a distinct difference between not supporting the replacement of Trident now and not supporting it at any time. The arguments against Trident rest whether we are talking about it being replaced this year, next year or in four years' time. If someone does not support the system, they do not support it—full stop. Surely we should have the right to have that debate in the Parliament.
Patrick Harvie: We have debated that position on several occasions. I sought to put before the Parliament a position that could gain the support of a majority of those members who are against the Government's proposals. A majority of members are against the Government's proposals and I hope that all those members, regardless of their motive for reaching that position, will be able to express it at decision time. If we do that, the message from Scotland will be very clear—the majority of Scots and a clear majority of their elected representatives in both Parliaments reject the Government's plan. I hope that members will unite behind that position, regardless of our differences on the other issues.
Sadly, the amendments are disappointing. Largely, each of them seeks to replace the policy position with an expression of deference, even though all political parties have in the past debated and voted on policy positions on a number of reserved issues. I thought that we had got over that in the second session. Not only on Trident, but on a wide range of other issues, including international development—which the Executive parties raised—the Parliament found its voice. As citizens of the world, we have a responsibility to act and to express views on issues that are not within the Parliament's legal remit. I say to George Foulkes that even local authorities in Scotland—including councils that are dominated by members of his party—have a long tradition of internationalism and of expressing views on international issues, and they should be proud of doing so.
I close by quoting Professor William Walker, who spoke at the recent conference organised by Scottish CND. He said:
"there is a unique situation in Scotland. There are nuclear weapons in a land where the mood of the Parliament and of the country is opposed to them. The Parliament has a right to express society's views. Even if it doesn't take steps to obstruct nuclear weapons—"which we can within devolved powers—
"it can ask questions within the UK. It can raise a voice of dissent from an important new institution within a nuclear weapon state. This could have effect internationally."
I urge all parties and all members who oppose the UK Government's plans to replace the Trident weapons system and, in the interim period, its submarine system to reject the amendments and vote for the motion unamended.
That the Parliament congratulates the majority of Scottish MPs for voting on 14 March 2007 to reject the replacement of Trident and calls on the UK Government not to go ahead at this time with the proposal in the White Paper, The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent.
Michael McMahon (Hamilton North and Bellshill) (Lab): Eight years on from the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, the views of Donald Dewar, quite rightly, remain important to much of what happens here. I am never totally comfortable when speculating on what his stance would have been on any given ituation, but I am as confident as I can be that although he did not want to shackle in any way the matters that could be aired here, it was never his intention for members continually to attempt to give parliamentary authority to matters over which the Parliament has no competence.
Sandra White (Glasgow) (SNP): Will the member take an intervention?
Michael McMahon: Let me make some progress.
The Labour Party will not be an accessory to such endeavours. The people of Scotland clearly decided the responsibilities of the Parliament when they voted for the devolved settlement. The settlement was established and we respect that judgment. The constitutional settlement contained in the Scotland Act 1998 clearly established the boundaries between devolved and reserved issues. That is why in the past six years no disputes between this Parliament and Westminster have had to go to the Privy Council. However, members on the Labour benches have detected that, in the early weeks of this session of the Parliament, the new Executive and some other parties have no such scruples in relation to respect for the settled will of the Scottish people. We do not intend to waste Parliament's time on matters for which it is not responsible.
Alasdair Allan (Western Isles) (SNP): The Parliament has already heard many expressions of deference to Westminster. Will the member also defer to the majority of Scottish MPs at Westminster, who—unlike, apparently, members on the Labour benches opposite—have a view on the issue?
Michael McMahon: We will not defer to anyone, but we will respect the devolved settlement. It is ironic that at a time when Alex Salmond is challenging Westminster for encroaching on cottish legal matters, we are encroaching on Westminster's responsibilities for defence matters. We want to use this Parliament to focus on the matters over which it has power and for which it has responsibility, and to ensure that there is no free-for-all that shows no respect for the devolved settlement or the cause of good government.
Sandra White: The member mentioned that he respected the judgment of the Scottish people, yet he does not respect their wishes. The vast majority of the Scottish people do not want Trident on their shores, down the road on the Clyde. Will he xplain his position?
Michael McMahon: The wishes of the Scottish people are for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom and for MPs to represent their views on defence matters in Westminster—MPs are elected to go there to deal with that issue. We should recall that the reason why this Parliament came into being was that we did not want vital matters of importance to the people of Scotland to be squeezed into short debates held after midnight at Westminster. To squeeze a reserved matter into a short debate here is little better than what happened previously in London.The Labour Party believes that the role of the Scottish Parliament is to concentrate on and debate the matters for which it has competence.
Patrick Harvie: The member seems unclear about whether we are debating the issue for too long or short a time. Why does he support—as I do—the Labour Party when it brings international development issues to the chamber but reject the notion that we should debate other issues of importance to the people of Scotland, such as this reserved issue?
Michael McMahon: The debate is both too short and unnecessary.
The Labour Party is concerned that our minority Government and some Opposition parties want to make the discussion of reserved matters almost the norm in this session. That is what we are opposed to this morning. We take a stance against that tendency, which is why we have never sought to lodge motions on matters that were not our responsibility. Other parties would serve this place better if they followed that principle, rather than merely posturing for effect.I move amendment S3M-169.3, to leave out from "congratulates" to end and insert:
"affirms that defence policy is, and should remain, the responsibility of the UK Parliament."
Jamie Hepburn (Central Scotland) (SNP): Will the member give way?
The Presiding Officer: No. I am sorry but the member has finished his speech.
Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con): Ladies and Gentlemen—I mean Presiding Officer. [Laughter.] I am in the wrong forum all of a sudden. I am back at the student union.
It is disappointing that as their first subject for debate in this session the Greens have picked a reserved issue—not just any reserved issue but one that, as Mr Harvie said, the Parliament has debated many times before. I am not sure whether any more light will be shed on the issue than was shed on previous occasions. The reality is that no matter what the Parliament resolves at 5 o'clock, it will mean nothing whatever. This is a massive exercise in self-indulgence on the part of the Greens and their supporters in the Parliament. It means nothing.
I came along this morning hoping that the Labour Party in Scotland might have rediscovered its backbone. I was sadly mistaken. There was little evidence of that backbone during the recent election campaign, when I sat in hustings meetings with various Labour candidates—some of whom are here today—in different parts of the country. By remarkable coincidence, not a single Labour candidate with whom I shared a platform during the election campaign supported the Labour Party's policy on Trident. Every single one of them seemed to oppose it.
I hoped that this morning we might hear Labour Party members defend party policy on Trident—a policy that has often been stated in the House of Commons. Sadly, even the redoubtable Mr McMahon was disappointing. In his speech—which lasted five minutes, with lots of interventions—he said not a word about the substantive issue of Trident. If Labour Party members will not do so themselves, it is, again, left to the Conservatives to defend the position of the Labour Government at Westminster.
George Foulkes: Will the member give way?
Murdo Fraser: I will happily give way to someone who may be prepared to defend the position of the Labour Government.
George Foulkes: Will the member first of all confirm that he did not appear on any platform with me, so that I am excused?
I am prepared to defend our position, but I will defend it in a forum that has responsibility for the issue, and not here, where we have no such responsibility. I do not believe that we should turn the Parliament into a protest movement, which is what some members of other parties want. I hope that Murdo Fraser realises that he is contradicting himself. First of all, he says that we should not discuss the issue; then he says that Labour Party members have no backbone because we have not lodged a substantive amendment. He cannot have it both ways.
Murdo Fraser: I appreciate that Lord Foulkes is a relative newcomer to the chamber, but he will be aware that we have debated reserved issues on many occasions in the past—as indeed, to be fair, do other fora throughout the land, such as local councils. I do not have a particular problem with debating Trident, but we should get on with debating the real issue, about which we have heard very little in the previous two speeches.I wish that we lived in a world without nuclear weapons—a world in which they had not been invented or in which they could be uninvented. However, we do not, and neither of those things is possible. So long as others have nuclear weapons, we should retain them. I remember the debates in the 1980s about unilateral nuclear disarmament. The debates today are not so different—only the faces of the unilateralists have changed. Back then, Tony Blair, John Reid and Jack McConnell had all signed up to CND and were all opposed our nuclear deterrent—all of them wrong to a man. They now accept the error of their ways, because the onservatives won that debate. They have been converted to our cause. I believe that we should retain our nuclear deterrent because we live in an increasingly uncertain world. We do not know where the threats are coming from, and we do not know where the rogue states might be that threaten our security in 30 or 40 years' time. It would be madness to give up our deterrent at this time.
The unilateralists were wrong in the 1980s and they are wrong today. It would be foolhardy for us to give up our nuclear weapons unilaterally. We should reject the Green motion and, even if the abour Party are too feart to make the arguments their party stands for, they can still serve their party's will.
I move amendment S3M-169.1, to leave out from "congratulates" to end and insert:
"notes that defence matters are wholly reserved to Scotland's other Parliament at Westminster and that on 14 March 2007 a majority of MPs voted for the replacement of Trident."
Mike Rumbles (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) (LD): It is legitimate for the Greens to bring the subject of Trident for ebate in the chamber. It is important to be able to debate the issues, so let us remind ourselves of some of the facts. All the UK's tactical nuclear weapon systems have been taken out of service. The UK's nuclear force is now limited to its strategic deterrent, which is Trident. We spent huge resources on procuring Trident and we spend a substantial part of the UK's annual defence budget on the system.
There is a legitimate argument about whether any UK Government would ever use our nuclear deterrent. I think that it is important not only to set out my party's position but to make clear my own views on what is an important moral question for everyone. I cannot envisage any scenario in which use of the Trident missile system would be justified. I am at one with the many leaders of civic Scotland and our churches who have given a moral lead on the issue. During my 15 years' service in the Army—even during the cold war—I found little support among my colleagues for the diversion of funds to strategic nuclear weapons at the expense of our conventional forces.
Bill Butler (Glasgow Anniesland) (Lab): Is Mike Rumbles saying that the Liberal party is against Trident in principle both now and at any time, or just for now?
Mike Rumbles: Trident is an important moral issue for every MSP and every person in Scotland. It is important for each individual to take a view on the issue. At the moment, I am expressing my view. In a moment, I will emphasise my party's view on the matter.
Sarah Boyack: Why does the member not answer the question?
Mike Rumbles: The member should wait.
I have yet to hear anyone—even Murdo Fraser—outline the circumstances in which a UK Prime Minister would launch a so- called independent system to destroy millions of innocent people. I do not think that I will ever hear that.
Enough of my personal views on the matter—I want to emphasise my party's view. As much as we would like to see the weapons go, the Liberal Democrats believe that unilateral nuclear disarmament is not the best way forward. We believe that the key to a safer world is to make real progress on multilateral nuclear disarmament. We must be willing to take part in the disarmament process and we want the UK Government to press for a nuclear weapons convention to formalise all the nuclear states' commitment to disarmament.
It is entirely wrong for the UK to commit to renew our so-called independent nuclear deterrent when there is no need or justification for doing so.
Patrick Harvie: Will the member give way?
Mike Rumbles: I cannot give way, unfortunately, as I have only a minute left.
The argument that we must renew Trident because of the unserviceability of Royal Navy submarines is patently nonsense. That is why we are happy to join others today to congratulate the majority of Scottish MPs who made the right decision and voted against the UK Government's line that we should renew our strategic nuclear weapons. Most of our MPs, from all parties—except the Conservatives—joined together to reject that nonsensical argument.
It is clear to us that no effective case has been made for a successor to Trident. In any case, it must be right that the proper place in which to decide whether to replace Trident is the UK Parliament. That is why we lodged our amendment. The Liberal Democrat party is a federal party. We believe that domestic decisions for Scotland are best made here in the Scottish Parliament. However, although it is entirely appropriate for the Parliament to take a view to feed into the decision-making process, actual decisions on the defence of the realm are clearly and correctly the preserve of the UK Parliament.
The Liberal Democrats want real nuclear disarmament to make the world a safer place. The way to do that is to engage with others on multilateral nuclear disarmament. I urge members to support the Liberal Democrat amendment and then vote for the motion as amended.
I move amendment S3M-169.4, to insert after "Trident":
"recognises that decisions on matters of defence are matters within the responsibility of the UK Government and Parliament".
The Minister for Parliamentary Business (Bruce Crawford): I welcome this morning's debate on Trident and the Green Party's motion. Trident is a vital issue that divides public opinion and political parties. However, as others have said, it is evident that a clear majority of the Scottish public is against a new generation of weapons of mass destruction. The people of Scotland have shown their opposition to Trident time and time again. As Patrick Harvie said, today is the fourth time in just over a year that the Parliament has discussed Trident. That perhaps shows the importance of the issue and how strongly people feel.
This Government is happy to continue to debate the arguments for and against Trident. In the past, the intellectual argument was that that the Soviet bloc represented a threat and that nuclear capability provided a form of deterrent, kept the peace and prevented further wars.
George Foulkes: In all sincerity, does not Bruce Crawford—as a minister in the Scottish Parliament, which has substantial responsibilities and makes decisions that affect the people of Scotland—find it demeaning to turn the Parliament into a protest movement?
Bruce Crawford: I find it utterly demeaning for someone such as George Foulkes to come here and try to put the Parliament in a box and constrain what it wants to do.
Of course, the end of the cold war put paid to the previous theory, which by any reasonable measure no longer holds water. The UK Government's white paper admits:
"Currently no state has both the intent to threaten our vital interests and the capability to do so with nuclear weapons."
It is far from clear who our enemies are and why a nuclear capability is thought necessary. To be blunt, the UK Government's position that there is no known enemy means that multilateralism is dead. No one can argue a position of multilateralism if there is no known enemy.
The Government is happy to talk about the costs, including the merit of spending, on the basis of some threat from a mythical enemy, £25 billion in capital and perhaps as much as £100 billion in lifetime costs—an obscene sum—to replace a system of weapons of mass destruction that runs counter to long-standing international non-proliferation agreements. That money could be better spent on public services such as schools, hospitals and housing.
How many more debates will we have during the coming months and years on the rights and wrongs of the son of Trident? Where will those debates take us? Of course, in an independent Scotland we would not have such debates because no weapons of mass destruction would be based in Scotland. In our election manifesto, we stated that Scotland should be free to remove nuclear weapons from our shores. Short of the full responsibilities of independence, the Government will reflect on the views of the majority of Scots and carefully consider which aspects of the plans to replace Trident impact on devolved areas. We will do what we can, using those responsibilities, to persuade the UK Government to change its stance.
We also intend to hold a summit with key stakeholders to agree a joint position against Trident and get the best ideas and proposals from an alliance of people from throughout Scottish life who oppose the son of Trident. We will stand up for our beliefs and do all that we can to represent Scottish opinion on these vital matters. I compare that principled position with the position of the Liberal Democrats.
Bill Butler: At the assembly that is to be called, will the minister invite English and Welsh opinion as well?
Bruce Crawford: I called it a summit. We will consider who we appropriately invite along to that, but provided that it is an alliance of people who believe what we believe—that Scotland should be free from weapons of mass destruction—I think that that is pretty fair.
Until today, the Liberal Democrats' position was typical of what we might expect from a party whose policy bends in the wind and which thinks, "Let's not decide on Trident today." The Liberal Democrats have now made up their minds—at least, I thought that they had, but their amendment seeks to remove from the Green party's motion the words:
"and calls on the UK Government not to go ahead at this time with the proposal in the White Paper, The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent."
Mike Rumbles: Will the minister take an intervention?
The Presiding Officer: The minister is in his last minute.
Bruce Crawford: By seeking to remove those words, the Liberals have to all intents and purposes abandoned their party's position. I congratulate them. They managed to lodge a McNulty amendment by trying to be clever, but they ended up making fools of themselves. Unfortunately, they might succeed in giving succour to those who want to press ahead with the son of Trident, whatever the price.
This Government stands for a nuclear-free Scotland—a successful, peaceful and prosperous nation that meets its obligations to the other nations of the world. Trident and the UK's nuclear arsenal have no place in our vision for a modern Scotland.09:45
Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton) (Lab): I refer members to my contributions to the various debates on this subject that have taken place in the chamber—I do not intend to rehearse the arguments in detail again. Murdo Fraser did not share a platform with me, but he will be able to read the Official Report.
I will concentrate on the impact on and disruption to the lives of the people who live on the Roseneath peninsula and have to cope with the blockades organised by Faslane 365. I say at the outset that peaceful protest plays a vital part in a democratic society, and we ave a long and respected tradition of it in this country. Many of the rights and freedoms that we enjoy today were gained because people were prepared to protest. I therefore defend absolutely the right to peaceful protest.
I acknowledge the Faslane 365 activists' determination to make their views known, but their illegal blockades cause more severe disruption than just preventing workers from clocking in at the base. In fact, the activists have caused little, if any, disruption to the base's operation. Instead, students have missed examinations, carers have been unable to get to their older and more vulnerable harges, and others have been unable to get to work or to go about their daily lives. That is to say nothing about the potential for fatalities if emergency vehicles are caught up in the blockades.
When not actively stopping the flow of traffic, protesters are known to illegally paint road markings and obscure sight lines for drivers. That is not just further disruption, it is criminal damage that could cause accidents.
Jamie Hepburn: Will the member take an intervention?
Jackie Baillie: I would rather make progress.
Members will be aware that the SNP supports Faslane 365, the organisation that is responsible for the blockades. In a letter from Alex Salmond's office, I was told that the SNP support does not extend to the blockading of adjacent roads. However, there is really only one road in and out of the peninsula, and supporters of Faslane 365 are blockading it quite deliberately. Will SNP members encourage their First Minister to withdraw his support for that illegal action but not necessarily his support for the principle of what Faslane 365 is trying to do? Mr Hepburn wishes to intervene. I look forward to receiving a yes or no answer from him.
Jamie Hepburn: The member is not actually going to get a yes or no answer—
Jackie Baillie: Then I am not going to accept the intervention.
I turn to the Greens, who take a principled stance on the issue. I quote from an e-mail from Robin Harper to one of my constituents.
Alasdair Allan (Western Isles) (SNP): Will the member give way?
Jackie Baillie: No.
These are Robin Harper's words, not mine:
"Given that my perception was that these blockades were I thought designed to make things difficult at the base, not aimed at the local community, and that according to recent reports, the protesters are fighting amongst themselves, I am seriously considering withdrawing my support—I need to consult with colleagues, and write to the camp before I take such a step, so give me a little time over this".
That is a well-judged comment.
If members need to be further convinced, they should consider the ill-conceived proposal to hold a disco and barbecue with live music outside the gates of Faslane cemetery. I am grateful that that will not now happen. The organisers did not realise the sensitivities and I commend them for changing their view. That is an illustration of the problem for local people, and I encourage Robin Harper and others in the chamber to reflect on it.
In closing, I refer to Peninsula 24/7, which is a group formed by local people to give them a voice in what is going on in their area. I ask all MSPs and parties that support Faslane 365 to think about the consequences for local people, many of whom do not support the presence of Trident on the Clyde.
What about the peace camp? I understand that there have already been two evictions, and on that basis it looks like "Big Brother" has nothing on the peace camp at Faslane. It is hardly behaving in
unity to oppose Trident, which is what Faslane 365 seeks to do.
Bob Doris (Glasgow) (SNP): On a point of order, Presiding Officer. As a new member, I would like some clarification for those who might intend intervening in subsequent debates. If a member gives way to an intervention, can they stand up again if they do not like what the intervening member is saying? I understood that Jackie Baillie had given way.The Presiding Officer: Yes, if the terms of the intervention have been breached. Ms Baillie made quite clear the basis on which she was taking the intervention, and Mr Hepburn made it equally clear that he was not prepared to accept it, so she was quite entitled to get back on her feet.
Sandra White (Glasgow) (SNP): I remind members that Trident is a weapon of mass destruction, is evil and has no place in a fair and civilised society. It is hypocritical of the Westminster Government to verbally and physically attack any country for aving any remote connection to nuclear weapons while it is retaining and renewing weapons of mass destruction on its own soil. It is also immoral and dishonest of Westminster to sign up to the non-proliferation treaty that calls for complete disarmament while ignoring its obligations by voting for the retention and renewal of that category of weapons.
It is also dishonest to claim—and I want to lay this one to rest once and for all; I hope that Jackie Baillie will listen—that removing Trident will cost 11,000 jobs. The removal of Trident will cost just over 1,000 jobs, and it is an absolute fact that those workers can e redeployed through a programme of diversification for a peaceful world, and not just a peaceful Scotland.
Jackie Baillie: Will the member take an intervention?
Sandra White: No. The member would not take an intervention so I will not take one.
Many members say that Trident is a reserved matter—we have heard that from George Foulkes and members of other unionist parties. I and a majority of the Scottish people say that it is not a reserved matter. Trident is on Scottish soil down there on the Clyde, and we in the Scottish Parliament have to decide to get rid f nuclear weapons and Trident for the sake of the Scottish people.
How do we go about that? Bruce Crawford touched on the powers that we have over transport, planning and the legal system. This Parliament can do lots of things to thwart the
progress of Trident with the legislative tools at our disposal.
Mike Rumbles: Will the member take an intervention?
Sandra White: No, I am sorry.
We could insist that we become an observer at the non-proliferation treaty committee on the ground that we wish Scotland to be nuclear-free.
Bill Butler: Will the member give way?
Sandra White: I am sorry, but I do not have time.
Patrick Harvie and others have reminded us that some local authorities are already nuclear free. We could make our representation to the non-proliferation treaty committee before 2010, when the real decision will be made. I have not just plucked this idea out of thin air; precedents have been set. I mentioned Palestine in a motion previously, but Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan all signed up to the NPT after the break-up of the Soviet Union, and Palestine has observer status.
Undoubtedly, George Foulkes will say that Westminster must have something to do with it, and perhaps he will run down to his Westminster masters and tell them exactly what is happening in this Parliament. I hope that he does. Maybe they will object, but it is worth exploring the issue to ensure that we highlight Scotland's people's wish to be free of nuclear weapons. We are here to serve the people of Scotland.
Our neighbour, Ireland, which is also a signatory to the NPT, said:
"States should not develop new nuclear weapons ... or undertake the replacement or modernisation of their nuclear-weapon systems"
while they are committed to the non-proliferation treaty. That is the reality. This Parliament must show Westminster and the rest of the world that Scotland will not put up with nuclear weapons on her shores, and the decision that we make today could have a great impact on Westminster and the rest of the world by showing that.
John Park (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab): I enter this debate having been gainfully employed at Rosyth dockyard and Faslane naval base. My contribution comes from the perspective of someone who owes their place in this Parliament to having learnt difficult and sometimes harsh lessons while refitting Royal Navy ships and submarines.
It is important to remember that thousands of workers throughout Scotland are proud—as I was—of their contribution to the defence of the United Kingdom and to the growth of the Scottish economy. Despite members' different perspectives, I am sure that all will join me in paying tribute to those workers, particularly those at Rosyth who are currently in dispute with their employer. Those workers and I understand that Trident is an emotive issue that divides public opinion.
I recognise that there are people in my party who have been on both sides of the debate. I point out that there are people in the SNP who have also been on both sides of the debate—indeed, the First Minister was a vociferous campaigner for bringing Trident jobs to Rosyth in the early 1990s. One of the most interesting aspects of that campaign—in relation to which Murdo Fraser gave us an interesting history lesson—is that, if the contract had been awarded to Rosyth in 1993, we would be talking about a lot more jobs in Scotland than we are now. However, we all know what happened in 1993: a certain Malcolm Rifkind betrayed Scotland and made a decision in the interests not of national security but of the political survival of his party in the south-west. That flawed decision cost the taxpayer £666 million. Forgive me, therefore, if I find it difficult to take seriously the Tories' crusade for efficient government.
The one thing that I reject in this debate is the notion that there is public outcry about the replacement of Trident. I just do not see it. Perhaps it is indicative of views in the area of west Fife in which I live and in the wider Fife area but, during the election campaign, not one person mentioned Trident to me.
Bill Butler: Obviously, workers' interests are important. However, does John Park agree that the Scottish Trades Union Congress—nem con—is against Trident renewal now and at any time?
John Park: Bill Butler is absolutely correct that that is the STUC's position. However, I am representing the views of the people of Mid Scotland and Fife. The STUC and CND carried out excellent research into the consequences for jobs of cancelling Trident. Unfortunately, it considered only the removal of Trident from Scotland rather than the removal of Trident from the UK, and obviously there are jobs at Aldermaston and Devonport that rely on Trident. However, it was a sober piece of research and a great contribution to the debate.
On the extent to which the public are talking about Trident, I point out that, since entering Parliament, I have had considerably more correspondence complaining about the removal of the tolls from the Forth bridge than I have had about the renewal of Trident. Perhaps I should use my judgment in that regard.
Being a new and enthusiastic MSP, I was keen to get some feedback from constituents on the subject of the debate before speaking in it. Given the timescales, that proved to be difficult. However, this week I received e-mails highlighting the content of the debate before I even knew what the motion was—there must be some good organising going on in the Green party.
The people I have managed to speak to divide fairly equally on both sides of the debate. I am sure that we could become preoccupied with the semantic question of what is devolved and what is reserved, but the clear issue that has been raised in the feedback that I have received is that people do not know why the Scottish Parliament is talking about this issue. Although there may be strong views on either side of the argument, it is important that we do not ignore the silent majority in the middle.
The Presiding Officer: I call Bill Kidd, to be followed by Jim Tolson. Mr Tolson, I must ask you to keep your remarks to about two and a half minutes, if you could.
Bill Kidd (Glasgow) (SNP): It is a pleasure and an honour to deliver my first speech in Parliament on what I believe will be an historic day—a day on which we hammer the first nail in the coffin of the British Government's weapons of mass destruction programme.
I congratulate the Greens on securing this debate, to which we in the SNP are delighted to contribute, as the motion keeps faith with the many thousands of Scots who voted for all the parties in this chamber. The true consensus among members of this Parliament reflects the broad consensus throughout Scotland against the maintenance of nuclear weapons in our nation. It forms a solid bond through civic Scotland, the STUC, Scottish CND, the churches, voluntary organisations and the 76 per cent of the Scottish people who would rather that the £25 billion cost—at least—of upgrading Trident was spent instead on public services such as schools, keeping hospitals local, and police and fire services.
Bill Butler: Will the member give way?
Bill Kidd: I am sorry, but I cannot; this is my first speech.
During the long years of the cold war, we were constantly told that it was only the threat of the Soviet Union that necessitated the endless waste of billions of pounds of public money, but now we see the truth—instead of the promised peace dividend following the fall of the Berlin wall, we witness the gimlet-eyed global imperialist sabre rattlers in Washington and Westminster, who will never allow their hands to be prised from their nuclear phallic symbols until forced to do so by a committed public voice. Is that unfair?
Alex Johnstone (North East Scotland) (Con): Yes.
Bill Kidd: I do not care, because article VI of the non-proliferation treaty states:
"Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."
The replacement of Trident would commit the UK to owning nuclear weapons until at least 2050, which, since the NPT came into force in 1970, would mean 80 years of complete failure to disarm—in other words, barefaced duplicity.
Meanwhile, last week's report from the Federation of Small Businesses showed a Scotland where swathes of rural and urban poverty are still commonplace, early death stalks housing schemes, small businesses go to the wall and 600,000 carers struggle to keep body and soul together as they are denied the resources that are wasted on bombs that must never be used. As I have spent all my life living just 30 miles from the spectre of first Polaris and now Trident, I am qualified to speak out against the spurious arguments of those who want to continue the despoliation of our land, our waters and our sense of ourselves as human beings by spending our hard-earned wealth on big-boy's toys over which we have no control.
Allow me to exercise a word that we have all got used to over the past few weeks—consensus. There is a genuine feeling of camaraderie on Trident in this land. By standing together against Trident, we will be embarking on an historic journey towards common humanity and a more prosperous and peaceful future for all.
I commend the motion to Parliament and the people of Scotland.
Jim Tolson (Dunfermline West) (LD): I will try to keep my speech as short as you requested, Presiding Officer, but you will appreciate that it is quite difficult to cut big chunks out of a speech. Accordingly, I will not take any interventions.
I speak in this debate as a member with a somewhat unusual background, in that I spent well over a decade working on Trident and Polaris nuclear submarines and believed strongly that our having a nuclear deterrent protected us. That was my view in the 1980s and 1990s, when I worked on refitting our fleet of nuclear submarines at Rosyth dockyard. That view was the key to my livelihood, and I believed that it was also the key to the policy of mutually assured destruction—MAD.
Some views that are held, often with great passion, should remain fixed and others should be flexible as time and circumstances change. My firm belief in the 1980s that the country should have a nuclear deterrent has changed with circumstances and time. I have seen, all too often, reports of our overstretched armed forces battling in many areas of the world, defending the rights of Britain and its allies, with a lack of people and equipment and without the flexibility to respond quickly to new threats. That seems all the more nauseating when we consider the cost of materials and equipment that are involved in facilitating the four nuclear submarines that make up our fleet. I recall being told, when I was a young apprentice in the mid-1980s, that a simple bolt cost more than £5 for a submarine but only 5p for a ship.
It is right that Britain should have an effective, flexible and well-trained armed force. However, even with Mr Putin's recent sabre rattling, I no longer feel that a fleet of submarines with multiwarhead, intercontinental ballistic missiles is needed to defend the rights of Britons at home and abroad.
The cost of replacing our Trident nuclear submarine fleet is estimated at £20 billion—although I am certain that it would be much more once the fleet was brought into service—but the cost of decommissioning the submarines, storing the submarine hulks in the long term and dealing with the dangerous and highly radioactive materials that we bequeath to future generations for thousands of years is incalculable. That is why Liberal Democrats north and south of the border have a long-standing commitment to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons on a multilateral basis.
I welcome the opportunity to support my federal colleagues and debate these important issues in a Scottish context, while recognising that defence is, rightly, reserved to the Westminster Parliament.
Christina McKelvie (Central Scotland) (SNP): I am delighted that my first speech in a debate is on an issue that has been close to my heart since the age of about 15.
During the recent elections, some Labour candidates argued that Scots should drop our principled objection to nuclear weapons. That is from the party that committed our armed forces to war on the pretence that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that had to be found and destroyed. We were told, however, that we should tolerate weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde, because jobs depended on them.
The truth is out now. Jobs are going at Faslane, but the weapons of mass destruction are still there. The jobs have nothing to do with Trident. They are not dependent on it and, whether it stays or goes, they are at risk from UK Government decisions. In fact, the STUC and Scottish CND produced a joint report in March year that showed that renewing Trident would cost jobs. Just to be clear: if Trident is renewed, it will still cost jobs in Scotland.
We are told by the Labour Government in London that the running costs of son of Trident will be about the same as those of the current system. That is £2,000 every minute, £120,000 an hour, £3 million per day and more than £1 billion a year on top of the capital costs of £20 billion to buy the beasts in the first place—for a weapon that we are told will never be fired. It is like saying that everyone should carry a knife to avoid being attacked with a knife, or that we should all carry guns to make society safer.
Trident is economically inept, morally repugnant and spiritually bereft. The presence of those weapons in Scotland's waters is an insult to all of us who believe that peace is preserved by diplomacy before war and compassion before coercion. It is also an insult to all of us who believe in spending public money wisely.
I am not a pacifist, but I recognise the impotence, vanity and sheer waste in a weapon such as Trident. It cannot be a defensive weapon, but we are promised that it will never be used in aggression. What exactly is its purpose?
I would rather be a citizen of a nation that looks to persuade and co-operate than bully and cajole, and I would rather be such a citizen safe in the knowledge that my country was free of weapons of mass destruction.
Mutually assured destruction is not the only mad aspect of nuclear weapons. The very idea that London is considering renewing Trident falls into that category.
Defence may be reserved in the strict legal terms of the Scotland Act 1998, but morality, decency and common sense are not. We have a moral duty to oppose that which we see as a waste of national resources.
I support the motion in Patrick Harvie's name, I welcome the stand taken against nuclear weapons and I am pleased that it is the majority viewpoint of the Scottish people. We have the opportunity to make it clear that we believe that nuclear weapons have no place in Scotland, and we should take that opportunity and make Scotland's voice heard.
The Deputy Presiding Officer (Alasdair Morgan): I thank the member for her brevity.
Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab): Over the past few months, I have read a great deal about the issue, and it is clear to me that the alliance against the renewal of Trident and in favour of nuclear disarmament is bigger and wider than at any point since the second world war. For many, including myself, the issue is still rooted in the fundamental moral objection to nuclear weapons. I applaud in particular the leadership of the churches and other religious leaders in putting that view so strongly in recent times.
However, many people will not be persuaded by those arguments, which is why we have also to consider the strategic and security arguments. That is where I am struck by the number of people who have changed their minds since the 1980s, including many in the Conservative party—members can read Michael Portillo in last week's Sunday Times, and Michael Ancram is even stronger on the subject. Lord Hattersley, who supported nuclear weapons in the 1980s, has said that
"to posture about the importance of nuclear independence is to fight the battles of the past."
Henry Kissinger and three other high-level architects of the cold war, in a remarkable article in The Wall Street Journal on 4 January, said that the reliance on nuclear weapons for deterrence
"is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective"
in the modern world. They called on nuclear weapons states to engage seriously in nuclear disarmament.
Former chief of the defence staff Lord Brammall, speaking before George Foulkes in a recent House of Lords debate, said:
"it is difficult to see how the United Kingdom can exert any leadership and influence on the implementation of the non-proliferation treaty ... if we insist on a successor to Trident".—[Official Report, House of Lords, 24 January 2007; Vol 688, c 1137.]
The non-proliferation treaty is crucial to the debate. The treaty is a bargain: nations without nuclear weapons promised not to develop them and, in exchange, nuclear weapons states promised to pursue negotiations towards nuclear disarmament in good faith. As Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, asked recently, how can Britain expect other countries to refrain from acquiring nuclear weapons if it upgrades Trident? It is supremely urgent that we stop nuclear proliferation, which is why the UK Government must change its disastrous policy decision.
I supported Elaine Smith's amendment, as I preferred its wording, but it was not selected for debate, so, given the urgency, I will vote for the Green party motion.
Elaine Smith (Coatbridge and Chryston) (Lab): It is unfortunate that the back-bench amendment in my name, which was supported by several comrades and is printed in section F of today's Business Bulletin, was not chosen for debate, because it is the only clear anti-Trident position.
As it stands, the motion is not anti-Trident; it is party-political posturing by the Greens and is designed to appease the Liberals by using the words "at this time". If we are not to renew Trident "at this time", when are we to do so? A year from now? Two years? Five years? Clearly, it will be at some time. My position is clear: Trident should never be replaced, neither at this time nor at any time.
Storing our own weapons of mass destruction is wrong, replacing them is wrong and using them would be not only wrong but reckless, despicable and immoral. I hope that my views are perfectly clear: replacing Trident is wrong and using it would be an abomination. That is also the view of a number of my colleagues on the Labour benches, and it is unacceptable that they cannot express it.
If we are going to have a debate, we should have a proper one. The reality is that the Greens thought that replacing Trident was such an important issue that they split their time this morning, giving us only half the available time on an issue of world peace. Then they lodged a motion that is wishy-washy at best and pro-Trident at worst, when they could have set out a clear anti-Trident position by leaving out the three little words "at this time".
If we were in the Parliament that actually has responsibility for Trident, a fudge might be better than nothing—if it was the only game in town and we could try again later. However, this Parliament can merely express an opinion. To make that opinion one that says, "We don't want to replace Trident at this time," is ridiculous. It is a wasted opportunity.
The motion is not anti-Trident, it is not a principled position and it is duplicitous. On those grounds, I will find it extremely hard to support it at decision time.
Iain Smith (North East Fife) (LD): I am happy to make a winding-up speech on behalf of the Liberal Democrats.
I want first to make it clear that our position as a party is clear and has not changed one bit, whatever Bruce Crawford might say. Jim Wallace made that clear in his excellent speech in the debate on Trident last year. As we set out in our amendment then, we rejected the reasoning in the Government's white paper that we had to make a decision on renewing Trident in spring 2007. As Jim Wallace said:
"We have argued a cogent case that crucial decisions on whether and how to procure a successor system to Trident need not be taken before 2014, when a clearer picture could have emerged of the proliferation of states that possess nuclear weapons and their ability to threaten ... Britain's security."—[Official Report, 21 December 2006; c 30690.]
It is important that we consider the debate in the context of whether multilateralism or unilateralism will ultimately bring the best overall result not just for Britain but for the whole world. The majority of our party support the multilateral route. There is a sizeable minority in the Liberal Democrats who support unilateralism, and there always has been, but as a party our majority position is that multilateralism is the best way forward.
It would make more sense for us to take our nuclear weapons to the table in 2010, when the next round of multilateral treaty discussions takes place, than to just say that we are going to get rid of them. Exactly how would Britain getting rid of our nuclear weapons result in North Korea, Iran or any other nation that is considering nuclear weapons deciding not to go ahead?
Sandra White: Will the member take an intervention?
Iain Smith: In a moment, when I have finished this point.
Equally, if Britain decides now to renew our nuclear deterrent and possibly increase it, how will that help to persuade the countries that are considering going down the nuclear route that they should not do so? Neither approach is correct.
Sandra White: Will the member take an intervention?
Iain Smith: The Liberal Democrat position is that we should not agree to renew Trident. We should instead reduce the number of warheads and take the remaining weapons to the table in 2010.
Sandra White: The member mentioned countries that are looking to develop nuclear weapons. How can we persuade them not to do that when Britain is renewing its nuclear weapons?
Is that not a hypocritical stance?
Iain Smith: Sandra White should have listened to what I was saying rather than try to intervene. I said clearly that we do not believe that we should renew our weapons, because that would damage multilateralism. No decision needs to be taken now on the question of renewing Britain's nuclear deterrent.
I turn to the question whether the Parliament should have this debate. Of course, the Parliament is entitled to debate any issue that it wishes. It is free to do so, and on many occasions we have debated issues over which the Parliament and, more important, the Scottish Executive have no power to act. Of course we can do that, and we should rightly do so. However, it is also important to recognise the limitations. The people of Scotland must be clear that the Scottish Parliament cannot make decisions on such matters and that we are having this debate to express views rather than to take decisions. The Scottish Parliament cannot prevent the use of nuclear weapons. That is where the Greens' and the SNP's positions are particularly inconsistent. They want Scotland to withdraw from the decision-making process on whether to renew Trident, because they do not want Scotland to be part of the United Kingdom and its defence. However, if Scotland were not part of the UK, it would have no say on whether to renew the Trident weapons system. Perhaps we would have a say on where weapons would be based, but we would not have a say on whether they should be replaced.
I cannot see any difference between nuclear weapons being based in Faslane or Falmouth. The issue is whether we should have Trident and whether we should renew it. I want Scotland to be part of a United Kingdom in which we send elected people to the UK Parliament to represent our views and have a say; to assist with decisions on whether, as part of defence policy, Trident should be renewed; and to take decisions for us. That is important to us. However, the Scottish Parliament should express its view, which I am sure it will make clear in the vote at 5 o'clock.
Alasdair Allan: Will the member take an intervention?
The Deputy Presiding Officer: He is winding up.
Iain Smith: We should not withdraw from the important decision-making process in which Scotland is involved as part of the United Kingdom.
Jackson Carlaw (West of Scotland) (Con): What an indulgence this debate is: it will have all the force of the early to mid-1980s nuclear-free council nonsense, with their nuclear-free bin bags. There was gesture politics then and there is gesture politics now.
Of course Trident and the defence of our realm are a huge concern to the people of Scotland. They are, no doubt, a concern to my mother's bridge circle, but when that circle gets together it does so to play bridge, not to discuss Trident—at least as far as I know. A full agenda of responsibilities is devolved to the Scottish Parliament and we should concentrate on devolved subjects, but if we must have such debates, we must.
One image that has stayed with me from my involvement in youth politics more than 20 years ago is of a spoof film poster—a mocked-up version of a "Gone with the Wind" poster, produced by the anti-Trident lobby. In it, Ronald Reagan substituted for Clark Gable; he swept up in his arms Margaret Thatcher, who substituted for Vivien Leigh. It had the immortal catch line:
"She promised to follow him to the end of the earth and he promised to deliver it".
It was one of many entertaining posters in a campaign that reached a crescendo in the 1980s and then collapsed, not because it naturally ran out of steam, but because events demonstrated that all those who had passionately fought in its support had been wrong. In essence, those who were wrong then are posing the same arguments again now. The Conservative Government stood alone at first, but then, as it was shown to be right to endure the political pain that was endured by standing firm, we were joined by less consistently brave souls. The majority of the public in the UK consistently supported a nuclear defence strategy.
The end of the cold war, which was a massive personal political achievement for President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher, was the decisive moment in the history of post-war Europe—I thank the Greens for giving the Scottish Parliament an opportunity to pay a fulsome and heartfelt tribute to President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher. With President Gorbachev, who recognised the resolve that an increasingly discredited Soviet Union could not match, those politicians made our lives materially more secure and, by extension, liberated a continent not only from a menacing shadow, but literally with respect to the democratic and revolutionary changes thereafter.
When the last real Labour Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan, secretly upgraded Polaris, which paved the way for Trident, he could not have foreseen what lay 20 years ahead. The inability of any politician to foresee events not just for their own generation but for the next generation must inform any decision that is taken now. I accept that the situation now is totally different: there is no natural or immediately credible target against which to aim our missiles with certainty. Some conclude from that that there is no threat or that such threat as there is is so general and non-governmental or regime generated that a nuclear response is superfluous—ludicrous, even. I think that that was what Bruce Crawford argued, but the failure of that argument is that such a position serves only for today.
Just as Callaghan, Thatcher and Reagan could not foresee the demise of the cold war threat, Westminster—the responsibility in question lies there—is now considering, and preparing for, a future in which we can only imagine, and cannot know, the prevailing dangers to our country. Jim Tolson may have changed his mind, but if he changes his mind again in 10 years' time, it will be too late if we have not made the appropriate investment.
I support what Jackie Baillie and John Park said. People who work in the community in question should not be made to feel that they are doing anything other than proudly participating in the defence of their country.
We have chuntered on with another example of the student union politics that the Parliament should eschew. The Green party, which lodged the motion, should, like any other party, reflect on why it suffered defeats last month. However, as I said, if we must have such a debate, we must.
The world is every bit as uncertain now as the future is unpredictable, and our judgment should be no different from that of the previous generation. Trident remains essential to our future security. We are not required to love it, but our well-being demands that we have it.
Michael McMahon: In my opening speech, I concentrated on our concerns about having this debate; in my closing speech, I will comment on issues that have been raised during the debate.
The Green party's motion clearly shows that it has few scruples. It is a so-called anti-nuclear peace party, but its lodging a motion that proposes only a delay in a vote on implementing a new nuclear arsenal merely to make a transparent and feeble attempt to cobble together an anti-Labour majority in the chamber is an example of political deception that is almost unparalleled in the Parliament. We probably should have expected such a fraud, given the way in which the Greens have recently dodged transport and environmental issues to serve their new nationalist masters. For a pacifist party, the Green party has become adept at the military two-step as Green members dance around each issue making excuses for their latest sell-out.
Rhona Brankin (Midlothian) (Lab): Does the member agree that it sits rather ill for the Green party to lodge such a motion for its first debate in the new session, given that its members failed to turn up to discuss the future of agri-environment schemes for the next seven years?
Michael McMahon: I could not agree more.
Perhaps worse is the fact that the debate is based on the most facile, superficial and obtuse argument possible, which Bruce Crawford and his colleagues have again put eloquently. The Greens and the nats are so opposed to Trident that they want to pursue a course that would lead Scotland to utter impotence in making decisions on it. The independence parties regularly say that they want Scotland to be like Ireland. If they follow their line of reasoning to its natural conclusion, that is exactly where they will be in relation to Trident. I agree with Iain Smith about that.
Alasdair Allan: Will the member take an intervention?
Michael McMahon: No. I want to make progress.
Durness in the Highlands is further away from Faslane than is Donegal. The member of Parliament for Durness has a vote on Trident at Westminster, but no elected representative in Donegal can have an input into that debate. If Scotland gained independence from Westminster and was like Ireland, Whitehall would still own and control Trident missile systems and would make Scotland, like Ireland, the powerless neighbour of a nuclear state.
Jamie Hepburn: Is Michael McMahon calling for the reincorporation of the Republic of Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?
Michael McMahon: The member's intervention is not clever—and nor was his intervention in Jackie Ballie's speech. He will need to step to the mark if he is to make interventions that contribute to the debate.
Trident would still be replaced, but it would be relocated to a port in England or Wales. Scotland, its First Minister, any future president or even its current cardinal would have no more say over issues relating to Trident than the Taoiseach, the Irish President or any other Irish politician.
Keith Brown (Ochil) (SNP): The Irish do not have Trident.
Michael McMahon: That is right, and they cannot influence the Trident debate.
If the independence movement's ambition is to have no influence over Trident, that ambition is short-sighted. If Scotland wants to have a say on Britain's nuclear missile capability, it must remain part of Britain and allow its MPs to take part in that debate. Scotland will lose its voice on the matter if it gets independence—that is the logical consequence of Scottish independence. However, this debate is not about logic—it is about the all too typical grandstanding that we have come to expect from the nationalist coalition. That is what members have aimed at: Parliament should not be so easily fooled or seduced by the superficiality of the motion, and it should not support it.
The Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture (Linda Fabiani): I welcome the debate and thank Patrick Harvie and the Greens for lodging the motion, as the issue is incredibly important. We should debate the matter until the two thirds of Scots whom Patrick Harvie mentioned are given justice and their right to reject weapons of mass destruction on their shores. That right should be recognised and acted on.
There have been a lot of speeches. I thought some were absolutely super in that they showed depth and knowledge. There were too many to mention them all, so I will address them by party grouping.
I say to Mr Foulkes, Mr McMahon and others that it is the right of parties to decide what will be debated during their debating time. Labour members will recognise that when they get the chance to bring debates to the chamber for the first time as an Opposition party. Right from the start, the Scottish Parliament, across all parties, has had a proud record of debating, discussing and voting on issues that are not technically within its remit.
George Foulkes: You can call me George, by the way, with pleasure.
Labour has already put two motions before the Parliament while in opposition. I spoke to one of them last Thursday, when I made my maiden speech. Both were on devolved matters. We recognise the importance of the devolved areas and the importance of spending time discussing them.
Linda Fabiani: See the way I feel about you just now, George? It is going to be Mr Foulkes for a while longer.
One thing that I very much respected about Jack McConnell as First Minister was the fact that he brought to the chamber issues that were not within the remit of the Parliament but about which members right across the chamber felt strongly—dawn raids and how we treat asylum seekers, for example.
Rhona Brankin: Will Linda Fabiani give way?
Linda Fabiani: I am responding to George at the moment.
Similarly, there was anger right across the chamber about the treatment of the Black Watch. Jack McConnell was not slow to recognise that, or to speak about it. When George Foulkes has been here for a while longer, he will see that we are not a parish council but a Parliament with the right to reflect what people are thinking. We have the right to put forward their views, including the view that we should not have weapons of mass destruction on our shores.
The Deputy Presiding Officer: One minute.
Linda Fabiani: See—I told you I had a lot to say.
Sadly, some Labour members have tried hard to justify being unable to follow their individual consciences on the matter—although following their conscience is what Labour members at Westminster did when Scottish MPs voted against the renewal of Trident. I really enjoyed listening to Bill Butler, Malcolm Chisholm and Elaine Smith. Marlyn Glen did not speak today, but I know that she is re-establishing the cross-party group on nuclear disarmament. I hope that there will be so many members on the group that we will force the Parliament to debate the matter over and over again. That is one of the most important things we can do. I absolutely defend the Parliament's right to do that.
Iain Smith: On a point of order, Presiding Officer. During his speech, Bruce Crawford said that the Liberal Democrat amendment deletes the words:
"and calls on the UK Government not to go ahead at this time with the proposal in the White Paper, The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent."
The amendment in the name of Mike Rumbles would not, in fact, do that; it would add some words after "Trident" but it would not leave any words out of the motion. I would be grateful if you could confirm that that is the case.
The Deputy Presiding Officer: I am sure that members are able to read what is in the Business Bulletin.
Robin Harper (Lothians) (Green): I shall begin by addressing the point that Jackie Baillie made. I support the Faslane 365 campaign—I have not withdrawn my support for it—but I am concerned when any protest movement has unnecessary and avoidable collateral effects on communities. I am very glad that the campaigners withdrew from holding that inappropriate disco, and I hope that Jackie Baillie will continue to address the problems there. I have not heard anything to the contrary. If she wishes me to come along and help to mediate, I will be only too glad to do so. I have also been there to support members of the Scottish Green Party, including Patrick Harvie, in offering themselves for arrest at the base. Let that be absolutely clear.
Elaine Smith: Why is the motion not clearly anti-Trident? Why does it include the phrase "at this time"?
Robin Harper: I would argue that the motion is clearly anti-Trident. The important thing is that the proposal to replace Trident undermines the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, international agreements and international law. We have the opportunity to support those 33 courageous Labour MPs who stood up in the House of Commons and voted against their party in defence of international law. That is the tenor of the motion and what it is about. It gives the Scottish Parliament the opportunity to support those 33 MPs, to support international law and to support the notion that Trident should not be replaced.
Rhona Brankin: Will the member take an intervention?
Robin Harper: Certainly not from Rhona Brankin, given her inappropriate intervention on the matter of the rural affairs debate. I can tell members why we were not here. We wanted to speak and registered our interest to do so, but we were told that we would not get to speak, so we watched the entire debate in our offices.
Mike Rumbles: That is pathetic.
Robin Harper: It is not pathetic; it is what most members do most of the time when they are not engaged in debates in the chamber. That is enough of such Pontius Pilate Jesuitical nonsense.
The opening speakers did not say very much and avoided the tenor of the motion—the import of what we are talking about. Michael McMahon said that he would rather not be an accessory to the endeavour of the debate. I would rather not be a silent and willing accessory to the decision that was made in the House of Commons. This is the chance for the Scottish Parliament to register, on an international scale, its disagreement with that undermining of international law. The debate is not about the devolved settlement; it is about an international concern.
Murdo Fraser tried to take us into the general argument about whether we should have nuclear weapons at all. Yes, that could be debated in the Parliament, but it is not what we are debating today. The Conservatives know our position on that and we know theirs. He said that the debate is a self-indulgence; I say that saying we should not debate the issue in the chamber is a counsel of despair.
Replacing Trident is not a responsible action in the post-cold-war world. The argument that we need Trident as the ultimate defence is absolutely absurd—it is the ultimate bad example to set to the rest of the world. Scotland should become world renowned for its peaceful intentions and commitment to non-violence—the majority of the people of Scotland are committed in that respect—not as a country that aids and abets the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We want the Scottish Parliament to be a Parliament that is opposed to the immoral, illegal and unnecessary replacement of Trident. We want it to be a Parliament of peace, non-violence and integrity, that has the wisdom to recognise the utter folly of pursuing a new nuclear weapons system.
I congratulate Christina McKelvie and Bill Kidd on their speeches, and I thank Malcolm Chisholm, in particular, for his magnificent speech, which deserves a round of applause.
I will finish with what underlies our feelings on the matter. I quote Bertrand Russell, speaking in 1961 for the 12 most senior scientists in the world:
"There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels?"
The Conservatives are always referring back to the cold war. Good Lord, that happened a long time ago.
"We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death."
I ask members please to support the Green party motion, preferably unamended, at 5 o'clock.