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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 March 2007, 19:38 GMT
Protests as MPs vote on Trident
Scottish Parliament protest
Campaigners unfurled a banner over the entrance to Holyrood
Demonstrators climbed onto the roof of the Scottish Parliament as part of their protest over the crucial Trident vote in the House of Commons.

Five protesters were arrested at Holyrood and another four were detained at the Faslane naval base after they tried to block the entrance.

MPs at Westminster backed government plans to renew the nuclear weapons system, by 409 votes to 161.

Britain's nuclear submarine fleet is based at HMNB Clyde at Faslane.

Protesters from the Faslane Peace Camp were thought to have arrived at the Scottish Parliament about 0815 GMT on Wednesday.

They scaled different parts of the building before unfurling a banner with the slogan "Whatever they vote, Trident is still wrong".

YOUR VIEWS
What you think about the debate on the future of Trident

Police were called to the scene and after removing blankets and banners were able to persuade campaigners to come down.

Stuart Kerr, 29, a Faslane Peace Camp member, said: "They climbed onto the parliament to raise awareness to the Trident vote."

Critics said the missile system was unnecessary, but supporters have insisted they safeguard the UK.

Two Scottish members of the UK Government - deputy Commons leader Nigel Griffiths and ministerial aide Jim Devine - resigned those positions so they could oppose the move.

Protesters at Faslane naval base

Mr Griffiths, the Edinburgh South MP, told the Commons during the Trident debate that Britain must lead the world in eradicating the nuclear threat.

He said that after much reflection he could not bring himself to vote with the government.

MPs have been asked to back plans to upgrade the submarine fleet which carries the Trident weapons system, with ministers claiming the planning process is so long that decisions need to be taken now.

Critics accuse them of rushing into a mistake which could cost 25bn.

Although defence is reserved to Westminster, the vote could well have an impact on the Scottish Parliament campaign over the coming months.

TRIDENT MISSILE SYSTEM
Trident
Missile length: 44ft (13m)
Weight: 130,000lb (58,500kg)
Diameter: 74 inches (1.9m)
Range: More than 4,600 miles (7,400km)
Power plant: Three stage solid propellant rocket
Cost: 16.8m ($29.1m) per missile
Source: Federation of American Scientists

Before the vote, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Alan McDonald, co-signed a letter along with Roman Catholic Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Dr Idris Jones, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, encouraging all MPs to reject the renewal of Trident.

Mr McDonald said: "20bn is an obscene amount to spend on nuclear weapons, but even if a Trident replacement cost nothing, we should still have nothing to do with it.

"Because it's wrong, morally, and theologically wrong."

However, locals near the Faslane base have indicated support for a new generation of Trident deterrent.

Dumbarton Labour MSP Jackie Baillie claims that 7,000 people work directly at the base, with another 4,000 jobs dependent on it locally.

Helensburgh resident Dawn Furniss, whose husband is in the Royal Navy, said: "If the base was to go, this would be a ghost town. There is not a lot else here to support the economy."

The UK Government said that four new submarines would cost between 15bn and 20bn, although CND and Greenpeace said that with running costs, the likely total over 50 years is more than 100bn.


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