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Last Updated: Friday, 8 December 2006, 13:39 GMT
Minister is against Trident plan
Malcolm Chisholm
Malcolm Chisholm is communities minister in the Scottish Cabinet
A member of the Scottish cabinet has broken ranks with Tony Blair and Jack McConnell over nuclear weapons.

Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm has told BBC Scotland that he is against renewing Trident.

Mr Blair has already outlined plans to spend up to 20bn on a new generation of submarines that will carry Trident missile systems.

However, Mr Chisholm said: "I just think in the new world, we don't actually need this kind of weapon."

He added that Mr Blair's announcement was not setting the right example to other countries.

The minister said: "There may have been an argument for it five years ago, but I don't think it does apply in the modern world.

"I think we ought to try and get rid of the weapons we have through multi-lateral disarmament rather than encouraging proliferation through new investment in armaments."

'United church'

Mr McConnell said he respected Mr Chisholm's opinion.

He said: "I think he and others will have heard exactly what I said in the chamber in answer to questions about people having a right to have their own opinion."

But at the same time the first minister stated his belief in "the importance in this uncertain world of having strong defences".

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon said Mr Chisholm's comments showed Labour was "split from top to bottom" on the issue.

She added: "Mr Chisholm correctly highlights the hypocrisy of the Labour leadership which preaches disarmament to others but spends billions replacing Trident."

Green MSP Chris Ballance backed Mr Chisholm and congratulated him on "voicing his opinion".

HMS Vanguard
Trident will reach the end of its scheduled life in 2024

Mr Blair had previously said it would be "unwise and dangerous" to give up nuclear weapons.

Between 15bn and 20bn is to be spent on new submarines to carry the Trident missiles.

The submarines are expected to take 17 years to develop and build, and could last until about 2050.

However, criticism of the plans has been widespread.

In July, a group of bishops warned Mr Blair that the possession of Trident weapons was "evil" and "profoundly anti-God".

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, said the system prevented peace rather than protecting it.

The leader of the Anglican Church in Wales, Archbishop Barry Morgan, insisted in September that the money spent on it could instead save 16,000 children from dying from preventable diseases every day.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has also questioned the morality of updating the Trident nuclear deterrent.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Why Malcolm Chisholm opposes Trident's renewal



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