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Westminster Matters

A Week in Westminster by Albert Owen MP

July 2016

Brexit and the fallout continues to prevail and dominate Westminster, and last week we saw a new Prime Minister and Government. Theresa May made major changes to her front line, not least the sacking of George Osborne as Chancellor. Frankly, he should have gone years ago. He has failed to meet any of his major fiscal targets. We still have a deficit, debt and prolonged austerity that is hurting the most vulnerable in our society. Osborne was political in all of his decisions, he and Cameron put politics and their party before the interests of the country. They failed to convince people of the merits of remaining in the EU and used scaremongering slogans that have now led us into political turmoil. Moreover, they did not have a contingency plan for Brexit. I hope that Mrs May can steady the ship in these uncharted and choppy waters.

Sadly, the Labour leader has also not provided the leadership required during or after the EU referendum and has failed to surge ahead in public opinion. At this time we need both a credible government and opposition. In the leadership election I have nominated Owen Smith who has the combined skills and vision to take us forward, not just as a party, but as a strong United Kingdom. Labour needs to convince the People that it can be the radical, reforming government that gave us the NHS in the 1940s, social legislation and the minimum wage between the 1960s and late 90s, and not an inward looking party as in the 1980s. That is the challenge and, post-Brexit, we need a fresh start.

In the constituency I have attended many events, met with local businesses, been engaged in a number of campaigns and held advice surgeries. Over the coming weeks of recess I will continue this work.

The Trident nuclear submarine HMS Victorious is pictured near Faslane in Scotland.

HMS Victorious was the second of the four ballistic missile submarines to emerge from the Devonshire Dock Hall in Barrow, where she was officially 'launched' on 29 September 1993. Based at Clyde Naval Base, HMS Victorious' is continuing the Royal Navy's proud record of over 40 years of uninterrupted nuclear deterrence, as at least one of the four 'bombers' is on patrol at any time.

Trident Replacement and Nuclear Disarmament / Adnewyddu Trident a Diarfogi Niwclear

I am writing to all constituents who have contacted me on the decision to replace Trident and wider nuclear disarmament.

I have a consistent view on the nuclear deterrent and believe in multilateral, not unilateral nuclear disarmament.

The UK has reduced its nuclear forces by over half since the peak of the Cold war. It has done this via multilateral negotiations under the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The UK has also dismantled its maritime technical capability and RAF free-fall bombs. Indeed, in recent years warheads have been reduced from 160 to 120, with a reduction in on-board patrols down from 48 to 40. The UK retains its minimum and credible deterrent known as Trident.

I respect those who oppose nuclear weapons in principle and understand the issue of costs. The cost of replacing four new successor submarines is £31billion to build over thirty-five years, plus a contingency of £10billion. This is on average 0.2% of Government spending. The in-service costs are around 6% of the Defence Budget.

I believe that in a growing economy we can have a deterrent as well as improved services.

The Labour Party introduced the nuclear deterrent post World War Two and built the National Health Service at the same time. It is not ‘either/or’. It is not about the threat of terrorism. It is about a deterrent that has worked since the introduction of nuclear weapons.

The replacement of Trident is in line with the NPT and the UK will continue to reduce its capability through multilateral means and retain its independent deterrent and play a role in NATO providing security in an ever changing and dangerous world.

I know that this will not please many who have written to me; however, I voted to retain our minimum deterrent for the reasons I offer above in line with my position and in an honest manner.

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‘Rwyf yn ysgrifennu at yr holl etholwyr cysylltodd â fi ynglŷn â’r penderfyniad i amnewid Trident ac ar y mater o Diarfogi Niwclear .

Mae fy safiad ar destun diarfogi niwclear wedi bod yn gyson a rwy’n credu mewn diarfogi aml-ochrog yn hytrach ‘na diarfogi unochrog.

Mae’r nifer o arfau niwclear Prydain wedi cael eu lleihau gan fwy na haner ers uchafbwynt y Rhyfel Oer. Cyflawnwyd hyn trwy gyfrwng trafodaethau amlochrog dan Cytuniad ar Atal Twf Arfau Niwclear.  Yn  ychwanegol, mae Prydain wedi datgymalu ei gallu technegol morol and bomiau rhydd-ddisgyn yr RAF. I fod yn wrthrychol, mae Prydain wedi lleihau y nifer o arfbennau o 160 lawr i 120 yn y blynyddoedd diwethaf, gyda gostyngiad pellach o 48 i 40 o arfbennau ar fwrdd.  System Prydain yw Trident sydd gyda’r isafswm o arfau tra’n parhau yn ataliad credadwy.

Yr wyf yn parchu y rheiny sydd yn gwrthwynebu arfau niwclear o ran egwyddor ac deall yn union unrhyw bryderon am gostau’r adnewyddu. Y ffigyrau ar gyfer yr datblygu ac adeiladu pedwar llong tanfor newydd yw £31biliwn ar draws tri deg a phump o flynyddoedd, yn ogystal a £10biliwn wrth gefn. Ar gyfartaledd mae’r gwariant hyn yn 0.2% o wariant y Llywodraeth; hynny oll tua 6% o’r Gyllideb Amddiffyn pan fydd y system yn gweithredu.

Credaf y gall economi sydd yn tyfu gynnal arf ataliol a gwasnaethau gwell.

Creuwyd yr ataliad niwclear gan y Blaid Lafur yn dilyn yr Ail Ryfel Byd ac adeiladu’r Gwasnaeth Iechyd ar yr un pryd. Nid mater o’r ‘Naill Un neu’r Llall’ yw hi. Nid yw hyn yn ymateb i fygythiadau terfysgol ond system ataliol sydd wedi bod mewn defnydd ers cychwyniad arfau niwclear.

Mae adnewyddu system Trident yn unol â’r Cytuniad â’r Atal Twf Arfau Niwclear a bydd Prydain yn parhau i leihau ei gallu trwy dulliau aml-ochrog ac i gadw ei ataliad annibynol a chwarae ei rhan oddifewn NATO i sicrhau diogelwch mewn byd sydd yn ansicr a pheryglus.

Rwy’n gwybod na fydd hyn yn plesio y nifer sydd wedi ysgrifennu ataf; eto, er hynny yr wyf wedi pleidleisio i gadw ein system ataliol lleiaf am y rhesymau rhestrais uwchben a gan mai hyn yw fy marn onest ar y mater.

Broadband in Wales debate July 2016

Westminster Matters

A week in Westminster by Albert Owen MP.

As the political turmoil from Brexit continues in Westminster, Government business is light with no contingency plans. Business concentrated on constitutional issues including the Wales Bill.

While there is no appetite for more powers, sensible adjustments to the devolution settlement is needed. Labour delivered on the Assembly and now wants the Assembly to deliver for all the people of Wales. Through evolution.

The Chilcot Report echoed my position in 2003. I did not believe the case for war in Iraq had been made at the time and supported the main anti-war amendment. I also believe the UK was following too closely in the wake of the US.  This was a costly unnecessary war, too many of our brave armed forces died as did civilians. I do hope we learn the lessons. My position has been both consistent and any international action has to have both UN support and a plan to rebuild and secure the country and region in Iraq – this did not happen.

I supported both Arthritis and Cancer Research events in parliament and I am working locally and nationally to control arthritic pain and cancer prevention.  I pay tribute to the work of fundraisers, charities and health professionals in these fields.

I met with BT and took part in the debate on Broadband in Wales. While progress is being made, too many rural areas are waiting too long for Superfast Broadband. I continue to lead on this campaign and for universal coverage and I thank the public for its support.

In the constituency, I held surgeries and attended civic and social events across the Island.

Finally, I salute the Welsh football team. To reach the semi-finals of a major championship has raised the pride of the nation and the wider sporting world.  I watched the semi-final in London with Welsh colleagues and the entirety of the  ‘neutrals’ were behind Wales.

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Flying the Ddraig Goch on the Menai Suspension Bridge

 

Albert Owen MP is delighted the Ddraig Goch is, from today, flying proudly from the Menai Suspension Bridge on the eve of Wales’ momentous clash against Portugal in the European Football Championship.

Having raised the matter with the Welsh Government Transport minister Ken Skates AM, Mr Owen said,

“The Welsh football team have made us all immensely proud and with two local heroes Osian Roberts and Wayne Hennessey both playing a major part in the team’s success, it’s only right that the Ddraig Goch should fly proudly from one of Anglesey’s iconic transport structures.”