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Preventing nuclear crime

John Mayer

It was an honour to be asked to speak at the CND Conference in Glasgow on Saturday 26 May 2007. I was there to explain the Prevention of Crimes Committed by Weapons of Mass Destruction (Scotland) Bill 2007. At a well-attended afternoon workshop I set out the background to the Bill and a few options for its progress through the Scottish Parliament. Here is a synopsis of that workshop.

The Bill has completed its 3 month statutory ‘Consultation Stage’ and is already the most publicly supported Bill the Parliament has seen in its eight-year history. The Bill sets out a variety of new statutory crimes in Scotland. These are to fire, prepare to fire, order another to prepare or fire, threaten to use, maintain or upgrade and for businesses to financially benefit from a weapon or system of weapons of mass destruction. So basically the Bill would make it impossible for the Westminster government to operate the entire Trident infrastructure.

Prevention of Crime is of course squarely within the remit of the Scottish Parliament and that is all the Bill seeks to do: prevent crime. Which ones? Well actually, the same ones as mentioned in the International Criminal Court Act passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2001. That Act gives Scottish prosecutors the right to charge and try in Scotland, extradite and report those who have already committed a crime against humanity to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Our Bill seeks to prevent these crimes in the first place. Does that make perfect sense? We think so.

The Bill also has the backing of the Trade Unions at Faslane who see the massive benefits from the de-commissioning and transforming work that would be ongoing for many years.

The future of the Bill is more stable now that the SNP are the Executive but the Presiding Officer still has to issue a certificate of competence before the Bill can go to Committees and be debated on the floor of the chamber. His decision is not final. The Privy Council and the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg are the fora for these novel debates.

Scottish CND has my grateful thanks for responding so helpfully to the Consultation Paper. I feel more sure than ever before that we will see Trident sail out of the Clyde for the last time.

John Mayer, Advocate.

Nuclear Free Scotland Magazine - June 2007

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