Letter: Bill for Trident still to be paid

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The Independent Online
Bill for Trident still to be paid

Sir: I admire Clare Short's honesty. There should be more decent people like her in Parliament. However, she is simply wrong in asserting in her speech to the Labour Party conference that "there are no savings to be made by scrapping Trident" (report, 4 October).

Whoever briefed Ms Short presumably put it that as about pounds 10bn of the pounds 12bn of the construction costs for Trident submarines has already been committed and the rest will have been expended by the time of a May 1997 election, Trident is a financial fait accompli. Wrong.

The huge hangover costs of Trident are its operational, repair, refit and decommissioning costs. Estimates vary from Greenpeace's pounds 21bn to pounds 38bn calculated by Sir Ronald Mason, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence, who chaired the working group that advocated the purchase of Trident from the United States.

As Ms Short battles for resources after she becomes minister for overseas development next year, she should not overlook the Trident savings pot.

Dr DAVID LOWRY

Stoneleigh, Surrey

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