Lib Dems outraged as Labour sells last Government shares in Trident

by Stephen Tall on December 21, 2008

Nick Harvey, Lib Dem shadow defence secretary, and the party’s deputy leader, Vince Cable, have condemned the decision of the Government to sell its last remaining shares in the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire to an American company – without telling Parliament. The BBC reports:

The move means Britain no longer has any stake in the production of its Trident nuclear warheads. … The fee paid by California-based Jacobs Engineering has not been disclosed. The sale of British Nuclear Fuels’ stake means Jacobs has control of one third of Aldermaston’s operating company, AWE Management. The other two thirds were already in private hands. They are split equally between American defence giant Lockheed Martin and the British plc Serco. Aldermaston is responsible for the production of warheads for the Trident nuclear deterrent programme and its planned replacement.

Nick Harvey condemned Labour’s decision:

The whole argument used for Britain having a separate weapons establishment is that this is required by the non-proliferation treaty, as technology sharing is not allowed. We must therefore query the rationale of a US company having a majority shareholding in AWE. How does this all square?”

And Vince appeared on BBC News to denounce the Government for selling assets at “a terrible time” economically, meaning the taxpayer would not get good value for the sale of the shares. You can see Vince interviewed here.