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RICHARD BENYON MP BACKS TRIDENT AND AWE

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, has supported the Government in the renewal of the delivery system for the Trident nuclear missiles. 
 
He gave his backing during the debate on the UK’s nuclear deterrent in the House of Commons on Monday 18th July. 
In his speech, Mr Benyon made particular reference to the work of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston.  He said: “The nuclear deterrent is my constituency’s largest employer, and it brings many advantages, not least to the supply chain of 275 local companies and 1,500 supply chain organisations nationally.” 
 
He went on to praise the work of AWE’s civil nuclear work and its role in advising the Government on counter-terrorism, the effect it has on nuclear threat reduction, on forensics—not least in the recent Litvinenko inquiry—and on non-proliferation, together with its second-to-none apprenticeship scheme and its academic collaboration with the Orion laser.
 
But he said, “None of that would matter one jot if the decision we were taking today was wrong. The decision we are taking today is right.” MPs voted by 472 to 117 votes in favour of renewal.
 
Following the debate, Mr Benyon also highlighted the ongoing concerns relating to proposed changes to the AWE pension scheme. In a statement he said: 
 
“Whilst employees of AWE are not necessarily paid as well as their counterparts in wider industry, what makes AWE such an attractive employer is the quality of its pension scheme. It ensures that very talented individuals are retained by the organisation and will continue to make a valuable contribution to both the civil and military work done there. I would urge the Minister to take note of the very genuine concerns that the proposed changes to the pension scheme will damage morale and will see talent leaking away.”
 

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RICHARD’S SPEECH IN THE TRIDENT DEBATE 18 JULY 2016

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Watch Richard's speech here

 
Richard Benyon (Newbury) (Con)
 
That was one of the most courageous speeches I have heard during my time in the House.
 
I am very sad that the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) is not here. When we last debated the matter in 2007, he was in his place and I was sitting on the Opposition Benches. He swept his arm to his right and said that we in the home counties could not understand what it was like to have such a powerful weapon on our doorsteps. I pointed out to him that if he came into my bedroom and looked across the Kennet valley, he would see the rooftops of the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston; if he looked slightly to his left, he would see the rooftops of the Royal Ordnance Factory at Burghfield; and if he climbed on to my roof, he could probably see the missile silos at Greenham common. In my part of Berkshire, we need no lessons from anyone about the impact or the effect of living close to the nuclear deterrent. He replied as consummately as clever politicians do, that that was the first and last time he would ever be asked into a Tory MP’s bedroom.
 
The point is that the nuclear deterrent is my constituency’s largest employer, and it brings many advantages, not least to the supply chain of 275 local companies and 1,500 supply chain organisations nationally. Add to that its role in advising the Government on counter-terrorism; the effect it has on nuclear threat reduction, on forensics—not least in the recent Litvinenko inquiry—and on non-proliferation; its second-to-none apprenticeship scheme; and its academic collaboration with the Orion laser. None of that would matter one jot if the decision we were taking today was wrong. The decision we are taking today is right.
 
Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)
 
I have listened with great interest to what the hon. Gentleman has said about the situation of nuclear materials and weapons in his constituency. Does he agree that there is one big difference between his constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll and Bute (Brendan O’Hara)? The hon. Gentleman’s constituents—witness his election—want nuclear weapons. The constituents of my hon. Friend, and those of all my hon. Friends, do not want nuclear weapons.
 
Richard Benyon
 
There are many polls that conflict with the information that the hon. and learned Lady provides. I was elected on a resounding majority, but who knows how much of that decision was about nuclear weapons being based locally? I think it was about a wide variety of issues.
 
The truth is that the nuclear deterrent has saved lives—this is a point that has not been made enough tonight—over the past few decades, because aggressors have been deterred. We have to ask ourselves how predictable future conflicts are. The leader of the SNP said that we are talking about deterrence today. We are not; we are talking about deterrence for 20 years, 30 years or 40 years. The SNP may have a crystal ball, and SNP Members may be able to say that there will be no threats to us in that time. I do not have a crystal ball, however, and I want to ensure the protection of future generations in this country.
 
Stephen Gethins (North East Fife) (SNP)
 
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what role these nuclear weapons played in the catastrophes in Libya and Syria? What contribution did they make?
 
Richard Benyon
 
That was a totally ridiculous intervention, which is not worthy of a reply. The hon. Gentleman might like to consider what kind of aggressor we might face in the future. We are not just talking about a resurgent Russia. What about groups of nations or individual nations? We know that nuclear weapons have proliferated in recent years. As we have reduced our arsenal, others have increased theirs. He needs to think not just about today, and not just about himself and his 
constituents, but about the future generations whom we are talking about protecting.
 
Ian Blackford
 
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
 
Richard Benyon
 
No, I will not take any more interventions.
 
We have to think through the recent conflicts in our lifetime: not conflicts in which nuclear retaliation would ever have been appropriate, but the Yom Kippur war, the Falklands—mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis)—the invasion of Kuwait, 9/11 and even last week’s coup in Turkey. We did not know that they were going to happen. Who can say that we would be any the wiser in the event of a coup de main operation that might not have happened if the potential enemy had been deterred by our possession of weapons that made them sit up and think? We need potential enemies to hold in their mind the fact that there is no advantage to them in aggression.
 
I have spoken tonight about our constituents and about future generations, but let us also talk about the concept of using nuclear weapons. There is a good, honest and decent concept, which goes back many generations and which I can respect, of disarmament and pacifism in this country. I happen to think that in this context it is wrong, but we can respect it. When people talk about using nuclear weapons, they need to understand the doctrine that governs them. Our nuclear deterrent has been used every single day of every single year for which it has been deployed. It does what it says on the tin; it deters.
 
I am sorry to say it, but no one believes that an independent Scotland would suddenly start to invest in Type 26 destroyers, fast jets and all the other paraphernalia ​of a nation that somehow wants to engage in the world in the way that Britain does. SNP Members’ sudden attraction to the idea of massive defence spending is complete nonsense.
 
Ian Blackford
 
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
 
Brendan O’Hara (Argyll and Bute) (SNP)
 
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
 
Richard Benyon
 
No, I will not give way.
 
The nature of regimes in a more dangerous world is what we need to consider today. Although we have reduced our arsenal of nuclear weapons by 50% in recent years—the Leader of the Opposition completely ignored the fact that we have reduced our arsenal so considerably—the number of states with nuclear weapons has increased and the number of tactical nuclear weapons in the world is now over 17,000.
 
On the question of cost, I would just state that all this—the £31 billion over 35 years, plus the contingency—translates to about 0.2% of total Government spending. That will be reduced if we take account of the advantage for the supply chain of developing this suite of replacement submarines.
 
I will finish by saying that we need to listen to our allies on this issue. We have an agreement with the French—the Lancaster House agreement—and we have a long-standing agreement with the United States. Our nuclear defence is networked into our other allies as well. We need to think about their response to what we are debating as much as about the future generations that we will protect through our decision tonight

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NEWBURY MP WELCOMES LATEST ONE-YEAR CANCER SURVIVAL STATISTICS

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By 2020, almost half of the UK population will receive a cancer diagnosis during their lifetime1. Cancer survival rates in the UK are among the worst in Europe – not least because many people are diagnosed too late when their cancer is advanced. Richard Benyon MP is supporting the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer’s call for this to change.
 
The latest published figures show that the percentage of people in England surviving at least one year from their initial cancer diagnosis has risen from 69.3% to 70.2%. However, this is still well behind comparable international rates – in Sweden, for example, one-year cancer survival is around 82%. The figure for the local NHS Newbury and District CCG is 69%2, up from 68.4%3.
 
Commenting on the figures, Richard Benyon said, “The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of surviving at least one year and surviving cancer generally. The publication of these local one-year survival rates should therefore encourage the local NHS, with the support of the wider cancer community, to promote earlier diagnosis.
 
“In the Newbury CCG area, 69% of people are living for a year or more after a cancer diagnosis. Yet in Sweden, the figure is 82%. More work is needed through earlier diagnosis to increase this number, as the UK has among the lowest survival rates in Europe. I have written to our CCG asking for feedback on initiatives they may be exploring such as better screening uptake, diagnostics within Primary Care, public awareness and GP training.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP SUPPORTS THE BRITISH LEGION’S ‘COUNT THEM IN’ CAMPAIGN

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Richard Benyon is supporting the Royal British Legion’s campaign to press for the inclusion of questions about the Armed Forces community in the next national census in 2021.
 
Commenting on the ‘Count Them In’ initiative, Richard said, ‘Apparently, after the 2011 census we knew more about the Jedi population of the UK than about those who have served in our Armed Forces. Despite an estimated 1 in 10 of the UK population being members of the Armed Forces community, there's very limited information about where they are or what their needs might be.’
 
‘We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change this. By adding new questions to the 2021 census we can improve our understanding of this community and ensure that politicians, charities and service providers fully meet the needs of our serving personnel, veterans and their families.’
 
The British Legion is working with its sister charity, Poppyscotland, in publicly calling for the UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly to commit to this addition to the 2021 census.

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RICHARD BENYON MP BACKS ‘SEND MY FRIEND TO SCHOOL’ CAMPAIGN

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On a visit to St Gabriel’s School this week, Richard Benyon heard Year 7 and 8 students speak about the right to education for children everywhere in the world and was presented with over 90 messages pressing for change. 
 
The students were taking part in the ‘Send my friend to school’ campaign, sponsored by the Global Campaign for Education. St Gabriel’s is one of over 4,000 UK schools supporting this campaign to highlight the fact that 37 million children are missing out on education in crisis-affected countries across the world.
 
Richard Benyon said, ‘I was very impressed by how passionately the pupils viewed education. They saw it as a universal human right which should be accessed equally across the globe. Many of them admitted that at times they had taken their education for granted and recognised the inequalities of education in less developed countries.
 
‘I was able to tell them about my recent visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where in some provinces 42% of children never attend school and, for those who do attend, it is common for students to walk over ten miles to get there.
 
‘I will be forwarding these messages to the Minister of State at the Department for International Development to urge him to continue to support this campaign. The UK is already at the forefront, having pledged £30 million to the Education Cannot Wait fund set up by world leaders with the aim of helping children whose education has been disrupted because of conflict, natural disaster or health emergency.’
 
Richard Benyon being presented with ‘Send my friend to school’ messages by Year 7 and 8 students at St Gabriel’s School

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Richard Benyon was re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Newbury on 7 May 2015, with an increased majority of 26,368. Richard won 61 per cent of the vote share.

 

 

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