We go to see Jess Phillips, MP for Yardley

Jess Phillips + HG CND for Blog Post (Dec 2015).JPG-cropped

Members of Hall Green CND with Jess Phillips

Jess Phillips outside Office

Jess Phillips outside her office

Following our visit to Roger Godsiff (MP for Hall Green) with a view to arranging a debate on Trident we dropped into to see Jess Phillips at her new permanent office on the Yardley Road in Acocks Green.   At another busy surgery session  (We have often noticed that being an MP is hard work!)  Ms Phillips was keen to emphasise that she grew up in a CND supporting household and that her parents were active in Kings Heath CND when she was young.  She agreed – indeed volunteered – that Trident is an expensive item, set to cost over 100 billion pounds in its lifetime, and noted that this would pay (for example) for all the nurses needed by the NHS at present.  However she is concerned about international security issues and describes Trident as ‘the nuclear ‘deterrent’.

She readily agreed to represent the Labour Party’s still pro-Trident policy position, and is willing to debate with Roger Godsiff on Trident at some time, early next year,  probably in February, when the parliamentary recess is on (She thought that might be easier for both herself and Mr Godsiff.)    We are grateful to Jess for being prepared to enter into the spirit of our democracy by taking part in a public debate on what is clearly at present a vital matter.

We would also like to take this opportunity of thanking both Jess and Roger for voting against the recently highly controversial parliamentary motion to bomb Syria.  This is an issue in which CND has taken some interest because there are still so many unanswered question.  We feel that there is always a danger that any military operations between countries could escalate to something much worse and in this case we also note the particular tensions between Russia and the West which have come into play.

Watch this space.  We will announce the date and the venue, for this debate, and the exact wording of the motion,  when these have all been arranged.  Meantime, we note that there has recently been quite a lot  general feeling expressed that there should be a formal Trident based discussion in the West Midlands soon.  With this in mind we are also pleased to announce that we now have the support of West Midlands CND who will assist with additional funding and publicity.

Trident renewal: Costs Secrecy

The issue of Trident was revived later in yesterday’s Defence questions by a couple of Liberal Democrat MPs:

Dr Julian Huppert: Whether any components for the construction of Trident replacement submarines are to be purchased prior to main gate decision in 2016?

Dr Fox: We are currently considering the initial gate business case for the successor submarine and, as part of the next phase of work, we would expect to purchase some long-lead items so that the first boat can be delivered in 2028.  This is normal good practive for major build programmes.

Dr Huppert: How much is the Minister planning to spend on Trident replacement before he gets parliamentary approval in the main gate?  Will he seek parliamentary approval of such spending?

Dr Fox: By definition, until the initial gate business case has been approved, I am not able or prepared to give a figure.  We will make that information available in due course, when decisions have been made.

Tessa Munt: It would appear from the answers to freedom of information requests that the steel, the computer systems and the combat systems, among other things, for the first submarine have been ordered and will have been paid for.  It also appears that the three reactors for the first three submarines will have been ordered and paid for before MPs can scrutinise the main gate business case.  What will remain unspent for the first submarines?  Will we be so financially committed that the whole main gate decision is made irrelevant?

Dr Fox: Whatever amount of money is spent on the lead items, technically it is up to any Parliament at any time to determine whether any programme can or cannot go ahead.  It is clear from the coalition agreement that we are committed to maintaining a continuous at-sea minimum credible nuclear deterrent that will protect this country from nuclear blackmail and ensure that we make our role apparent in  reductions in total nuclear armaments.

See more in The Guardian 15 January, Richard Norton-Tayler’s revealing article.

Stop Even More Building at Aldermaston!

Recent Building at Aldermaston

Not happy about even  more of your money being wasted on Trident at Aldermaston, with attendant dangers to the local populace.  Let your objections be known by signing a standard letter to Berkshire County Council – you can modify if you like, or sign as is.  It still counts:  quick and easy.

http://www.cnd.iparl.com/lobby/47

Information about the safety and environmental risks posed by a newnuclear weapons research facility which is to be built at the AtomicWeapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston should be released to thepublic, according to the Nuclear Information Service (NIS).

The research group is concerned that excessive secrecy surroundsproposals to build ‘Project Hydrus’, a new hydrodynamics research facility at AWE Aldermaston, where warheads for the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system are manufactured. A planning application for thenew facility was submitted to West Berkshire Council last month.

Key information about Project Hydrus, its impacts, and the risks itposes has been withheld from the public by the Ministry of Defence,which claims that releasing such information into the public domainwould be “contrary to the interests of national defence”.

NIS has published a detailed briefing about the planned new facility(attached) and has posted a copy of the MoD’s justification forwithholding the information, released under the Freedom of InformationAct, on the NIS website.

Lack of information about the impacts means that the planning committeeand the public must rely entirely on the judgement of AWE andgovernment regulatory agencies to decide whether risks posed by the newfacility are acceptable and safeguards for protecting the public are adequate.  The new facility will pose a number of environmental and safety risks which are not addressed in the Defence Exempt Environmental Assessment:

  • Radioactive plutonium will be used in some of the tests conducted inthe facility, and so radioactively contaminated wastes will begenerated, which will be stored on site pending development of a National Repository for the UK’s radioactive waste.
  • Explosives will also be handled and detonated as an integral part ofthe experimental programme.- X-ray radiation from the high powered x-ray machines used to recordimages during experiments poses a potential hazard to human health.
  • The costs  have not been disclosed by the Ministry of Defence, but are certain to amount to hundreds of millions of pounds, at a time when the country faces great economic difficulties.  Anew high-powered hydrodynamics facility at the USA’s Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory in New Mexico eventually cost more than $US 1 billion to construct and commission.

Peter Burt, Director of the Nuclear Information Service, said: “TheMinistry of Defence’s view that people have no right to know about thehazards which they face from a major nuclear establishment is what wewould expect to hear from a creaky old Soviet dictatorship, and not a modern democratic government.

“Clearly Project Hydrus is far more than a replacement for AWE’scurrent hydrodynamics facilities. Alongside the Orion high powered laser and new supercomputing facilities, Project Hydrus will play a core role in AWE’s warhead research programme and would be vital in the design of any new nuclear warhead.”

Information about the safety and environmental risks posed by a new

nuclear weapons research facility which is to be built at the Atomic

Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston should be released to the

public, according to the Nuclear Information Service (NIS).

The research group is concerned that excessive secrecy surrounds

proposals to build ‘Project Hydrus’, a new hydrodynamics research

facility at AWE Aldermaston, where warheads for the UK’s Trident

nuclear weapons system are manufactured. A planning application for the

new facility was submitted to West Berkshire Council last month.

Key information about Project Hydrus, its impacts, and the risks it

poses has been withheld from the public by the Ministry of Defence,

which claims that releasing such information into the public domain

would be “contrary to the interests of national defence”.

NIS has published a detailed briefing about the planned new facility

(attached) and has posted a copy of the MoD’s justification for

withholding the information, released under the Freedom of Information

Act, on the NIS website.

Lack of information about the impacts means that the planning committee

and the public must rely entirely on the judgement of AWE and

government regulatory agencies to decide whether risks posed by the new

facility are acceptable and safeguards for protecting the public are adequate.

The new facility will pose a number of environmental and safety risks

which are not addressed in the Defence Exempt Environmental Assessment:

– Radioactive plutonium will be used in some of the tests conducted in

the facility, and so radioactively contaminated wastes will be

generated, which will be stored on site pending development of a

National Repository for the UK’s radioactive waste.

– Explosives will also be handled and detonated as an integral part of

the experimental programme.

– X-ray radiation from the high powered x-ray machines used to record

images during experiments poses a potential hazard to human health.

– Hydrodynamic experiments generate noise and vibration. AWE is

concerned that disclosure of specific information on noise and

vibration signatures could be used to help enemies gain an

understanding about warhead configurations.

– Construction traffic will have an impact in the local area,

particularly upon Aldermaston village.

Although the costs of Project Hydrus have not been disclosed by the

Ministry of Defence, they are certain to amount to hundreds of millions

of pounds. Anew high-powered hydrodynamics facility at the USA’s Los

Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory in New Mexico eventually cost more

than $US 1 billion to construct and commission.

NIS considers that the multi-million pound costs of building a new

hydrodynamics research facility at Aldermaston cannot be justified at

the current time, when deep cuts in public spending planned over the

next few years will correspond with the construction period for Project

Hydrus.

Peter Burt, Director of the Nuclear Information Service, said: “The

Ministry of Defence’s view that people have no right to know about the

hazards which they face from a major nuclear establishment is what we

would expect to hear from a creaky old Soviet dictatorship, and not a

modern democratic government.

“It is entirely reasonable for the public to ask what steps are being

taken to guarantee their safety, and information about the risks posed

by Project Hydrus should be published before the development is given

the go-ahead.

“West Berkshire Council does not have to grant planning permission in

the absence of adequate information about the impacts of the facility,

and the planning committee should insist that AWE and the Ministry of

Defence operate to the same standards of disclosure as any other developer.

“Clearly Project Hydrus is far more than a replacement for AWE’s

current hydrodynamics facilities. Alongside the Orion high powered

laser and new supercomputing facilities, Project Hydrus will play a

core role in AWE’s warhead research programme and would be vital in the

design of any new nuclear warhead.”

For more information please contact Peter Burt on 0118 958 8281 or

07790 409339, and visit the Nuclear Information Service website at

http://nuclearinfo.org Regular updates on Twitter:

New Government and CND

Now that the dust has settled we thought we should offer a review of the situation vis-a-vis ourselves and the new Government.

There is now an outline of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition agreement up on the Liberal-Democrat website here.  The section on defence is interesting:

The Government will be committed to the maintenance of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, and have agreed that the renewal of Trident should be scrutinised to ensure value for money. Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case for alternatives.  We will immediately play a strong role in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, and press for continued progress on multilateral disarmament.”
Sure it is not everything we asked for.  It is nothing like.  However, maybe this is a start.  The renewal of Trident to be ‘scrutinised’, the case for ‘alternatives’ is to continue to be made.  If we can actually reduce the cost and number of nuclear weapons,  rather than go on increasing, then there is a little chink of light at the end of the tunnel?  We would like to think so, although   National CND, at present,  is seeking  further clarifiation on the Liberal Democrat positiion here,  at  present.  See their website article: “Liberal Democrats must Clarify Coalition Agreement on Trident Replacement” here

The Lib-Dems are promising to “play a strong role in the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.”   CND will be monitoring this.

Locally, in our area of five constituences, the only change has been in connection with reorganised boundaries.  We retain the following MP’s whose views are listed on our Candidates Views posting: John Hemming (We should drop Trident, but retain a cheaper nuclear defence and puruse the NPT) Roger Godsiff (Several EDMs against Trident proposed in previous parliaments.), Lorely Burt (Has signed several EDMs against Trident) Steve McCabe (Strongly in favour of retaining Trident), Caroline Spelman (strongly in favour of retaining Trident).  We will continue to work and liase with sympathetic, or partially sympathetic MPs were possible, and hope to maintain a dialogue wiith those who are not sympathetic to our views.

Another Busy Afternoon … (1 May 2010)

Seen a lot of people walking through Acocks Green on 1 May staring thoughtfully at leaflets?  A lot more people in Acocks Green have heard of CND and of Trident now!    ‘Just like old times’ one person said, after taking a leaflet.   Two different people had stories of mothers who were old CND campaigners: one at Greenham common.  But  now we are reaching a new generation, too.   One young woman took a leaflet questioningly:  ‘What is this about, exactly?’  On being told, and asked if that made sense, she said ‘Yes.  It does actually.’  and walked away looking thoughtful.  This is our second foray onto a local high street in recent weeks.  This is more than just a trip down memory lane though.  Now we know it works, we will be doing more!

Leafleting on Trident in Acocks Green - for 2010 General Election

Bruce Kent’s Visit to Birmingham, 24 April 2010: Why We Should Trash Trident

Whilst doorpersons turned late comers  away from a packed meeting,  with no more room to stand, perenial CND favourite,  Bruce Kent addressed an attentive audience at Carrs Lane Church Centre in Birmingham, on 24 April,  in the run up to the General Election.   Bruce said that  in anti-nuclear campaigning we should concentrate on a single issue campaign.  Today Trident is that issue.

Bruce on Trident

Bruce Trashes the Case for Trident

Bruce asked why we are spending around £100 billion (a sum, Bruce pointed out, most people cannot even imagine) on renewing Trident submarines.   Moreover, every job in the nuclear armaments industry is subsidised to the tune of £9,000 per year.  Many people are now questioning what exactly Trident is for. Trident has never prevented wars.   The last two decades have seen more wars than ever.  The money which is spent on Trident is greater than the entire budget for world develoment.  Money spent on improving the lot of other countries would forge us far more allies than Trident ever has, whilst the effects upon the environment of nuclear production, and the greater threats from nuclear disaster, would be removed.  Even more worringly,  owning Trident sends out a very dangerous message to non-nuclear states:  in a world of big nuclear weapons the way to be ‘safe’ and to be a grown-up state is to get some nukes.  Trident helps to  cause world escalation of nuclear weapons, not to cure it.  In particular, it has  encouraged politically unstable states to develop nuclear weapons programmes.

More people than ever are now questioning the value of, and the point of, Trident.  Around two thirds of the population are opposed to the renewal of the four nuclear submarines.   This month alone, four generals have called for a review of  Trident, to assess the real value of Trident in opposing any threat.  The President of the  International Red Cross called for an end to the outdated philosophy of that nuclear weapons are necessary and the Liberal-Democrats have, if elected, promised not to renew Trident.

We need a committee decision, Bruce said.  The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty calls for a convention.  Now is the time to press for that convention.

Meantime, in the General Election, we need to reach as many parliamentary candidates as possible.  Candidates need to understand that this is an issue which is  just not going to go away.  CND is on the move.  The street stalls are coming back, but, these days CND, and the  anti-nuclear movement is also becoming a well  established presence on the internet.

Standing Room only for Bruce

Bruce Kent with Members of Hall Green CND

Bruce Kent with Hall Green CND members Bert Gedin and Brenda Boshell


Hall Green CND Goes on the Election Campaign Trail

Campaigning in Acocks Green  - Saturday 17 April

Campagining in Acocks Green - Saturday 17 April - Brenda gives the lo-down on Trident

There’s a general election on.  So we thought it was about time we did what CND groups are supposed to do during elections.  We collected our posters, placards, stall, clipboard, leaflets … banner … and we stood outside the Post Office in Acocks Green.  Nearly everyone took a leaflet.

Instead of Trident, I would like ... (What else would YOU spend 76+ billion on?)

Lots of people could think of other things to spend their money on …

We had some good conversations, too.   One of our members is from Sweden:

Passer By:  If we have nuclear weapons it makes us safer, you see, because other countries don’t want to attack us.

Ulla: Where I come from, in Sweden, everyone feels very safe because we haven’t got any nuclear weapons.  That way we are not involved, and who would want to attack?  In that way, Swedish people feel sorry for me, living in the UK.  They think I am so much more vulnerable.

Passer By: ‘I’d never thought of it that way before.  I will have to go away and have a think.

Still Think Our Banner's Rather Nice!

We will be there again – 2 p.m., on Saturday 1st May.  If you are around, do drop by and say hallo.  If you are standing in the election we would LOVE to see you!