I have been contacted by constituents about the test firing of a Trident II D5 missile in June 2016.
As you know, it was reported in January 2017 that a Trident II D5 missile had malfunctioned during a test in June, shortly before Parliament was asked to vote on the Government's plans for the renewal of the UK's nuclear deterrent. This report of a failed Trident missile test is clearly a very serious matter, and we need to know exactly what happened. I am aware that CND is calling for an urgent inquiry into this matter.
On 23 January, the Defence Secretary was forced to make a statement in the House of Commons in response to an Urgent Question about this issue. He confirmed that the Royal Navy conducted an operation in June last year designed to certify HMS Vengeance, a nuclear submarine, and her crew prior to their return to the operation cycle. This included a routine unarmed Trident missile test launch, which is reported to have gone off course.
I spoke during questions on that statement. Here is what I said and the Ministerial reply.
The Government has said that it does not comment on the detail of submarine operations. However, it insists that it has absolute confidence in our independent nuclear deterrent.
While I do not expect the Government to disclose sensitive or inappropriate details, I agree that transparency and clarity are very important. Downing Street has admitted the Prime Minister was made aware of this test when she took office. However, she did not mention it in July when the Commons voted to renew our independent nuclear deterrent.
I believe the public deserves to know the facts on a matter as important as our nuclear deterrent, and to hear those facts from their Prime Minister, not a Sunday newspaper. There is a worrying lack of transparency at the heart of this issue and the British public deserves better.
The House of Commons' Defence Select Committee held a one-off oral evidence session as part of an inquiry on Trident missile tests. I can assure my constituents that I will closely follow the outcome of this inquiry and any recommendations the Committee makes.