Lancaster politicians urge government to abolish nuclear weapons

Several councillors have proposed a motion to encourage the UK government to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

By Nick Lakin
Friday, 22nd January 2021, 10:15 am
Updated Friday, 22nd January 2021, 10:18 am

The motion - proposed by Green Party Coun Mandy Bannon, who represents Marsh Ward - supports the ICAN Cities Appeal - which is for local governments in nations that have not yet ratified the United Nation’s Treaty.

The motion has been seconded by Labour Coun Jason Wood, who represents Scotforth East, Labour Coun Jean Parr - Skerton West, Green Party Coun Tim Dant - Scotforth West, and Eco-Socialist Independent Coun Kevin Frea - Halton with Aughton.

What is the ICAN Cities Appeal?

Several councillors have proposed a motion to encourage the UK government to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

In 2017, the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, following successful campaigning which resulted in an overwhelming majority of the world’s nations adopting the text of a global agreement to ban nuclear weapons – the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Fifty-one countries have now fully ratified the UN Treaty which enables it to come into force today, January 22 2021.

Successive UK Governments have refused to attend discussions on the Treaty.

In this context, ICAN and its 570 partner organisations throughout the world have appealed to all local authorities worldwide to show support for the Treaty and to call on their governments to join it.

Coun Mandy Bannon

A report to Lancaster City Council states that many local authorities have already done so.

In the UK this includes Manchester, Oxford, Norwich, Shaw and Crompton, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hebden Royd, Edinburgh, Renfrewshire and East Ayrshire.

Further afield, local authorities in Paris, Berlin, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Toronto, Sydney, Hiroshima and Nagasaki have supported this appeal.

In November 2020, Church of England leaders added their weight to this campaign, when Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, and Stephen Cottrell, the archbishop of York along with 29 other bishops signed a letter urging the UK government to sign the Treaty.

Coun Tim Dant.

On 7 July 2017, 122 nations voted to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

All national governments are now invited to sign and ratify the global agreement, which prohibits the use, production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons and lays the foundations for their total elimination.

Local authorities can help build support for the treaty by endorsing the ICAN Cities Appeal.

The motion to full council, which will be voted upon at a full council meeting on January 27, states:

Coun Kevin Frea.

"Lancaster City Council is deeply concerned about the grave threat that nuclear weapons pose to communities throughout the world.

"We firmly believe that our residents have the right to live in a world free from this threat. Any use of nuclear weapons, whether deliberate or accidental, would have catastrophic, far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for people and the environment.

"Lancaster City Council therefore resolves to:

 Warmly welcome the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by the United Nations in 2017

 Call on our national government to ratify the treaty Action That the Chief Executive:

 Writes to the UK government – Secretaries of State for 1) Defence and 2) Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy - to inform them that Lancaster City Council has endorsed the ICAN Cities Appeal to call for our Government to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Coun Jason Wood.

 Informs our residents and media about our support of the ICAN Cities Appeal, and informs ICAN by emailing them at [email protected]

 Takes steps to ensure that funds administered by Lancaster City Council are not invested in companies that produce nuclear weapons.

An officer briefing note states:

The motion proposes 3 actions.

Actions 1 and 2 are entirely for Council to debate and, if agreed, officers will carry out those actions on Council’s behalf.

Regarding action 3, officers would need to undertake further work to research and establish exactly what is meant by ‘funds administered’ and ‘companies that produce nuclear weapons’.

Is this intended to include the whole supply chain? What is covered by investment? Without this information officers are not in a position to advise on the implications of this action to Council. There is a capacity issue.

At this point in the year, the capacity of officers who would be undertaking this work is fully taken up with the work needed to administer grants to our businesses, report to Government on use of funds, prepare the 2021/22 budget and support the financial management of front line services.

Coun Jean Parr.