Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 16:18 UK

Faslane 'vital' to UK's defence

John Hutton at Faslane, PA
Mr Hutton said Faslane was "vital" to the country's defence

Defence Secretary John Hutton said he was committed to keeping nuclear weapons in Scotland during his first visit to Faslane in his new post.

Mr Hutton said the naval base on the Clyde, which is home to the Trident nuclear submarine fleet, was a "vital part of our country's defence."

First Minister Alex Salmond wants to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons.

But defence is reserved to Westminster and Mr Hutton said scrapping the weapons would be an "incredible folly."

Mr Hutton, who became defence secretary in the recent cabinet reshuffle, joined servicemen on board a nuclear submarine at Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde.

He said: "The nuclear deterrent is crucial to the defence of our country, it has been for may generations and will be for many more.

"Terrorism is still a major threat to us, and the nuclear deterrent plays a major part in dealing with that threat, as do the brilliant people here at Faslane and I am very proud of the service they provide.

"The nuclear deterrent is huge for Scotland, and the UK and for our allies. When we returned to Government we would retain the nuclear deterrent and we are committed to safeguarding future generations."

'Out of touch'

A spokeswoman for Bruce Crawford, minister for parliamentary business, said: "John Hutton is completely out of touch with the people of Scotland on the issue, and the SNP Government will do all is can to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons."

During his visit to Faslane Mr Hutton was also shown the base's new accommodation block, which is one of the most expensive in Europe.




SEE ALSO
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Salmond wants nuclear treaty role
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Campaigners make Trident protest
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