Letters: Labour must hold Trident debate now

Many people would prioritise spending on health or education, on infrastructure, job creation or supporting the vulnerable rather than on replacing Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons. Others would argue that spending over £100bn on a cold war weapons system – rather than maintaining our troops or combating cyber warfare – is detrimental to the national interest. Many of us see that there is no strategic, economic or moral case for nuclear weapons, but others who think otherwise. It remains a controversial debate (Cheers in the sun as Obama promises nuclear cuts, 20 June). A decision on the replacement of Trident is due to be taken in 2016. If the Labour party is to form the next government, now is the time to debate it, in an open fashion, to arrive at an informed policy – leaving aside past prejudices – in Britain’s best interests. For Labour to regain trust in its ability to govern openly and transparently, it must show it is confident enough in its own processes to have it. This year’s Labour party conference is the time to debate this crucial issue.

Nick Brown MP Newcastle East
Martin Caton MP Gower
Katy Clark MP North Ayrshire and Arran
Michael Connarty MP Linlithgow and Falkirk East
Jeremy Corbyn MP Islington North
Paul Flynn MP Newport West
Sheila Gilmore MP Edinburgh South
Fabian Hamilton MP Leeds North East
Kelvin Hopkins MP Luton North
John McDonnell MP Hayes and Harlington
Michael Meacher MP Oldham West and Royton
Joan Walley MP Stoke-on-Trent North
Claudia Beamish MSP South Scotland
Neil Findlay MSP Lothian
Christine Chapman AM Cynon Valley
Jenny Rathbone AM Cardiff Central
Julie Morgan AM Cardiff North
Julie James AM Swansea West
Baroness Ruth Lister
Clive Lewis PPC Norwich South
Nancy Platts PPC Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven
Lisa Forbes PPC Peterborough
Ann Black NEC
Lucy Anderson London NPF rep
Nick Davies Wales NPF rep
Ruth Davies Yorkshire and Humber NPF rep
Annabelle Harle Wales NPF rep
Jenny Holland East of England NPF rep
Chris Hughes North West NPF rep
Sally Hussain London NPF rep
George McManus Yorkshire and Humber NPF rep
Doug Naysmith South West NPF rep
Alice Perry London NPF rep
Nicholas Russell Labour Disabled Members Group NPF rep
Lorna Trollope Eastern Region NPF rep
Darren Williams Wales NPF rep

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Royal Navy to get its first drone

£30m contract will see ScanEagle aircraft launched from the back of ships using a catapult

The navy is to get its first unmanned drone, an “eye in the sky” that will be launched from the back of its ships by catapult.

The ScanEagle has a wingspan of just over 3 metres, weighs 22kg, and will fly at 60 knots. It was bought by the Ministry of Defence in a £30m contract with Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing Defence UK Limited.

It is the first drone designed and built specifically for naval operations. The contract is the latest in what is certain to be a long-term drone programme for all three branches of the armed forces. ScanEagle will complement existing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities used on operations including helicopters and long range radar, the MoD said on Thursday. It is already used by the navies of other countries.

It will be operated by a specialist team on board the ship who will analyse the information the drone gathers using what the MoD described as state-of-the-art sensors, before remotely guiding it back to the ship.

Captain Ian Annett said the ScanEagle represented an important addition to the navy’s “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability”.

He said: “Its ability to deploy during the day and night, coupled with the technology it uses, will give commanders a clearer picture of the operational situation whenever it’s required.”

The minister for defence equipment, Philip Dunne, said the drone “provides the Royal Navy with proven surveillance capability that has already been used on operations by other nations, so we know we are getting top-quality equipment. The technology is off-the-shelf and will be available to the Royal Navy as soon as possible.

“Our continued investment in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems is essential to keeping our armed forces up to date with the latest capabilities and this will be a central part of the MoD’s investment in new equipment over the next 10 years.”

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