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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Unaccountable Ministers should learn from the US

Jusrt six months after the House of Commons voted by a 355 majority to spend nearly £25 billion renewing Trident it transpires that it may not work, or at least not work as expected. That is one very expensive trading standards case.

Ministers were adamant yesterday that they could not discuss the details for national security reasons. MPs were livid that they had been asked to pass the motion without all the facts. This is not how a parliamentary democracy should work.

Given that the facts were out in the open Ministers should have been open to proper scrutiny. More importantly, no government can treat MPs like mushrooms on such an important decision as national defence, especially when such large sums of money are involved.

Theresa May's government should be further embarrassed by the open way that the matter was treated in the USA. As the Independent reports things are done much differently over there:

Asked if the Prime Minister was told the missile had veered off course, her official spokeswoman replied: “I don't accept the premise of the question.”

That stance was then echoed by Mr Fallon, who insisted details of tests were never revealed – despite videos of previous successes being posted on YouTube.

But, even as he was speaking, CNN was reporting an explanation given by a “US defence official with direct knowledge of the incident”.

According to the Sunday Times, the missile was meant to be fired 5,600 miles from the coast of Florida to a sea target off the west coast of Africa - but veered towards the US.

However, the US official said the missile was diverted into the sea to self-destruct - an “automatic procedure when missile electronics detect an anomaly”.

Carol Jordan, a senior CNN news editor, tweeted: “A #Trident test did go wrong off the coast of #Florida but the missile self-destructed, a #US defense official has told #CNN”.

In the Commons, Sir Michael continued to state that the test had been “successful” and that decisions on publicity were made "on a case by case basis".

Consistency and trasparency should be hallmarks of good government. It is a shame that Theresa May and her Ministers do not agree,
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