THE BLOG

Call to Halt Nuclear Weapons Convoys

27/01/2016 17:42 GMT | Updated 26/01/2017 10:12 GMT

Since my election to Westminster last May, nuclear convoys have on several occasions passed through my constituency of Midlothian, along busy commuter routes and in close proximity to homes, business and schools.

These convoys pass almost without warning - apart from eagle-eyed civilian trackers - and with no regard to the danger they could pose to local communities. When my constituents learned of these convoys, they were horrified, and understandably so. Although I wrote to the Secretary of Defence at the time and lodged Q's to ministers I, and my constituents, have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of safety information, reassurances and transparency available.

Pushing this matter against a Tory government hell bent on maintaining and renewing our Nuclear weapons has been difficult, and the opportunity to raise this in the chamber was a great step in raising awareness of the issue, both within my own constituency and as an issue for the whole of the UK.

Because this is not just an issue for Midlothian, or Scotland - there is a never-ending movement of weapons and components between Berkshire, where the weapons are made and service, and Coulport in Argyll, where they are stored and loaded.

If Trident is renewed, this movement could increase as older weapons are decommissioned and new ones come online. These convoys travel under time constraints, sometimes overnight, sometimes in severe weather conditions where you and I would choose not to travel.

I am also concerned about the convoys being a terrorist target and the risks of detonation should an attack on a convoy happen. We are all far too aware of the appalling damage, and the loss of life that a terrorist attack can result in - but, running convoys of nuclear weapons through the country does nothing to deter that.

That is why I used last week's Ten Minute Rule Bill to discuss controls on the transportation of nuclear weapons - I am calling on the UK Government to clarify what safety measures they have in place, and ultimately to put a stop to convoys travelling through our towns and cities.

A Ten Minute Rule Bill is a type of Private Members Bill that is introduced in the House of Commons that allows a backbench MP to make the case for a new piece of legislation in a speech that can last up to ten minutes. The Bill is now due to receive its Second Reading in the House of Commons on Friday 4th March 2016.

If the Bill progresses this will put a stop to nuclear weapons convoys that drive past homes, shops and schools on their way to and from Coulport in Argyll and I am delighted to have received parliamentary support for this proposal.

Ideally, I hope this bill helps to persuade other MPs - even those in favour of Trident renewal - to agree there are real risks involved in nuclear convoys. The convoy policy as it stands lacks transparency, is counter-productive in protecting us from terrorism, and shows a blatant disregard of our own citizens; it should not be based on an argument of convenience at the expense of safety.

It is my ultimate hope that increased awareness of the frequent movement of these convoys driving Nuclear Weapons material near our schools, nurseries and our front doors will strengthen the calls to rid the UK of nuclear weapons once and for all.