BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 12:26 UK

Newbury candidates debate nuclear weapons

David Rendel, Liberal Democrat 2010 candidate for Newbury
Mr Rendel says Aldermaston is already decommissioning weapons

The government could save £100bn if it does not replace the Trident nuclear missile system, according to the Liberal Democrat candidate for Newbury.

David Rendel said AWE Aldermaston, where the weapons were developed, could continue as a decommissioning site.

But Conservative Richard Benyon and Labour's Hannah Cooper, said nuclear weapons were vital for security.

Both said they were concerned about the threat to jobs at Aldermaston if the weapons programme was scrapped.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Rendel said: "There is a £100 billion there to be saved at a time when we are desperately looking for savings and, lets face it, the other parties haven't produced very many."

'Centre of excellence'

He added: "One of the things that Aldermaston is growing in employment in is actually getting rid of and taking to pieces other nuclear weapons as well and I think that's something we can be very, very proud of - the fact that we are taking part in disarmament as well as arming people."

I certainly feel safe knowing it's there and lets not forget the other countries that do rely on the UK to protect them as well.
Hannah Cooper
Labour candidate for Newbury

However, the Conservative candidate Mr Benyon said: "None of us in this room or beyond it are able to predict the kind of world we are going to be living in in 20, 30 or 40 years time.

"It seems crazy to me that when other countries are acquiring nuclear weapons that we should just wash our hands and say we want no more of it.

"We also have this wonderful centre of excellence in west Berkshire which is our constituency's biggest employer."

Ms Cooper, for Labour, agreed with Mr Benyon. "That money is not just about building the weapons it is also about investing for the future," she said.

"There's the skills and the talents of the people there and the local employment that it brings.

"Where would they go if we didn't have that, would they leave? Would we have a brain drain in that area?

"It is a deterrent. I certainly feel safe knowing it's there and lets not forget the other countries that do rely on the UK to protect them as well."

The candidates standing in the Newbury constituency so far are: Conservative: Richard Benyon; UK Independence Party: David Black; Labour: Hannah Cooper; Green: Adrian Hollister; Liberal Democrat: David Rendel; Independent: Brian Burgess; Apolitical Democrats: David Yates.

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