In December a delegation to the Scottish Parliament met Bruce Crawford, minister for Parliamentary Business in the Scottish Government, to hand in an open letter to the first minister. This was a follow-up to the Scottish Government’s response to the report from parliament’s Working Group on Scotland Without Nuclear Weapons.
The letter was compiled by Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre, Faslane Weekly Vigil, Greenpeace, Helensburgh CND, The Institute for Law and Peace, Nukewatch, Trident Ploughshares and the World Court Project, to express the wide concern throughout Scotland to see concrete action on nuclear weapons taken by the Scottish Government following the Summit on Scotland Without Nuclear Weapons and the Working Group’s report.
The meeting was productive. Bruce acknowledged that some steps had been taken already, but had not been communicated to campaigners. This included letters written to the Ministry of Defence about the transport of equipment and weaponry as well as requests for figures on the number of Trident-related workers at Faslane and Coulport. Letters have also been sent to the UK Government about improvements to regulations. Bruce indicated that the responses were disappointing, but assured us that in future he would inform campaigners in greater detail and at an early stage.
Substantial time was spent discussing the failure of the Working Group’s report (and responses to it) to address the issue of legality, in particular that the Lord Advocate’s Reference (LAR) is a binding and final authority.
The delegation’s letter argued that Trident is illegal and that the LAR requires review. We were pleased that Bruce Crawford asked our opinion on what government action could take place if a new review found that Trident was illegal. He also spoke about the government’s obligation to comply with the Scotland Act, while assuring us of his total commitment to nuclear disarmament. Bruce Crawford agreed that we would be informed very shortly on the detail of steps already taken. Also, that our letter would be examined carefully and discussed with the first minister before responding as soon as possible.
Concrete action required
The lobbyists pointed out the wide range of individuals and organisations who have expectations of the Government following election promises, the summit, and working group. Bruce recognised that at this stage a signal in the form of concrete action is required.