Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire, has said the costs of Trident are ‘spiralling out of control’ as the UK government’s defence cuts face further scrutiny from MPs.
The comments came as new UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson made his first appearance in front of the cross-party Defence Select Committee at Westminster.
SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes, who sits as Scotland’s only MP on the committee, questioned the state of the MoD’s finances after the National Audit Office last month revealed a £20 billion black hole at the heart of the defence budget.
Under cross examination from MPs, MoD officials admitted that £300 million had to be found from front line commands in order to finance the Dreadnought programme – also known as the Trident Successor.
As the budget for the nuclear deterrent comes from the normal MoD defence budget, any increases in Dreadnaught costs must be found by cutting conventional defences: something which Tory Select Committee chair Julian Lewis MP described as ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’.
The National Audit Office has warned that the spiralling costs of the UK’s nuclear weapons could destabilise the rest of the conventional defence budget.
Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:
“The Defence Secretary has finally admitted what the SNP has been saying for years: that every penny spent on Trident is a penny less on our increasingly squeezed conventional defences.
‘’The UK government will always prioritise funding for immoral, redundant weapons of mass destruction over the men and women serving on the front line.
‘’This Tory obsession is having real and lasting effects on morale as training is cancelled, equipment is skimped on, and rents in service accommodation rise.
‘’The fact that the MoD is now having to go cap in hand to the Treasury shows that Trident spending is spiralling out of control.”