Marlyn Glen MSP

Speech in the Scottish Parliament

Nuclear Weapons - Free Zones

9 December 2010

I value the sentiments in the motion and I know how committed Bill Kidd and other people are to the cause of peace.

I value Bill Kidd's work on the issue.

There is a wide peace movement throughout civic society in Scotland, which has particular support from Scottish churches, for example.

We should continue to encourage the movement to grow.

It is unfortunate to try to marry anti-nuclear arguments with arguments for statehood. After all, nuclear fall-out takes no notice of borders, be they local, regional or national. However, I applaud the aspiration of having nuclear weapons-free zones.

I was delighted when Dundee City Council declared itself a nuclear-free local authority and joined a network that now comprises more than 70 councils throughout Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland to support the policy work of nuclear-free local authorities.

Nuclear-free local authorities tackle in practical ways and within their powers the problems that civil and military nuclear hazards pose.

They have linked up with the worldwide organisation, Mayors for Peace, which supports the 2020 vision campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020. I know that members share that vision.

The cross-party group on nuclear disarmament has had excellent meetings and has heard from excellent speakers, including Bruce Kent.

Most significant, perhaps, was the memorable event in the Parliament in 2006, when we welcomed the peace walkers who had walked the 85 miles from Faslane to Holyrood.

Of course, we have also welcomed peace walkers since then.

The recent meeting that Bill Kidd mentioned, which was co-hosted with the Edinburgh peace and justice resource centre, was held on international peace day, 21 September.

That was an important date, which provided the inspiration for the debate.

That successful event was attended by about 100 people, including nine MSPs.

I was delighted to introduce the speakers: Bill Kidd; Alyn Ware of parliamentarians for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament; Shetland's Sandy Cluness for Mayors for Peace; Dr Rebecca Johnson, the director of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, who works on nuclear weapons policy development; and, lastly, the wonderfully titled former New Zealand Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Marian Hobbs.

The nuclear-free zone label can be symbolic only, but New Zealand's status as a nuclear-free zone is enshrined in the nation's legislation.

It is the first western-allied nation to legislate for a nuclear-free zone, effectively renouncing the nuclear deterrent.

I raise deep concerns about the proposed UK-French defence agreement.

The planned arrangements for co-operation break the spirit of the non-proliferation treaty and the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.

That implies that there is little chance of major nuclear weapons reductions or eventual abolition until at least 2060.

It is against article 6 of the NPT, which issues a good-faith challenge to all states to pursue negotiations on the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date, and on nuclear disarmament.

It is also, of course, against the Mayors for Peace 2020 vision.

Parliamentarians need to work together with NFLA and Mayors for Peace to urge an essential change in direction towards the abolition of nuclear weapons.

I thank Bill Kidd for his continued work and congratulate him on securing this rather delayed debate.

I finish with the words of "The Scottish Peace Covenant", which declares:

"We desire that Scotland should be known for its international contribution to peace and justice rather than for waging war".


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