A PROPOSAL calling for the UK's nuclear deterrent Trident not to be renewed has been defeated in the House of Commons.

Just 35 MPs backed the motion, brought by the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru, but it was defeated by a majority of 329 after it was opposed by 364 MPs.

Backers of the Opposition Day motion were expected to include a number of Labour MPs and at least one Tory despite both main parties instructing their MPs to back replacing the ageing Vanguard-class submarines which carry the missiles.

Angus Robertson, shadow SNP spokesman for defence, argued that the case was "stronger than ever" to embrace the non-replacement of the programme.

During an Opposition Day debate in the Commons, he said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had the "wrong priorities", investing billions on nuclear weapons which it could never use, but not properly managing the conventional armed forces.

The motion was aimed at highlighting the two parties' commitment to scrapping Trident and instead using what they claim would be £100 billion saved to ease austerity measures.

Moray MP Mr Robertson went on: "The time has come to put down a marker about scrapping Trident and not replacing these weapons of mass destruction.

"I've yet to hear a supporter of Trident convincingly explain in what circumstances they are prepared to justify the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children and cause massive environmental damage to the world for generations to come."

But Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the Government was committed to retaining the continuous at-sea deterrent, adding: "What we cannot gamble with is tomorrow's security.

"That is why this Government and all previous governments for the last six decades have retained an operationally independent nuclear deterrent.

"We have to plan for a major direct nuclear threat to this country or to our Nato allies that might emerge over the 50 years that the next generation of our submarines will be in service.

"In a world that is getting more dangerous there are no alternatives that offer the level of protection and security that this country needs."

He also repeatedly said that the Government only planned to replace its submarines in the late 2020s - rather than the warheads themselves - subject to the main gate decision next year.

He dismissed Mr Robertson's claim that the total cost including through-life costs would be near £100 billion, but said he could not yet confirm a figure.

In his contribution, shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker argued it would do "more harm than good" to abandon the nuclear deterrent unilaterally at this stage in the disarmament process.

The Labour frontbencher added: "In the current climate it would make Britain less secure and would send out exactly the wrong signals at a very sensitive moment in international relations."

Labour's Dame Joan Ruddock (Lewisham Deptford) said the real threats to the UK were cyber warfare, terrorism, climate change and pandemics.

She added: "We need all the resources we can muster to confront these threats and we cannot afford to squander billions of pounds on a weapon system that by general consent can never be used."

But Tory Oliver Colvile (Plymouth Sutton & Devonport) said his constituency depended on submarines and backed the deterrent saying it was the cornerstone of the UK's membership of both Nato and the UN Security Council.

Liberal Democrat former defence minister Sir Nick Harvey said: "I do not believe that it makes any sense whatever for us to be sailing the high seas 24/7 waving weapons of mass destruction at the rest of the world because we thought it was necessary in 1980 or because we have made a £30 billion investment, which we think would leave us looking embarrassed if we didn't do it."

SNP MP Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) said the logical upshot of the Government's stance was that everyone should have nuclear weapons and claimed it was the "global equivalent of the USA handgun policy".

His colleague Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) added: "Even if we had a nirvana of world peace we would still have the Tory hawks arguing for nuclear weapons, arguing they are a necessity and why the deterrent would have to be feature of our community and our country."

Responding to a claim made by Mr Fallon, Labour's John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) rejected suggestions that his party would scrap Trident to gain SNP and Plaid Cymru support in a future coalition government.

Defence Select Committee chair Rory Stewart said the decision was far too important to be a question of economics, adding: "This is a question of Armageddon."

The Tory MP also argued that it was unwise to change the nature of Britain's deterrent when the Government is unsure of the threat posed by Russia and president Vladimir Putin's aggressive stance in the world.

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) said it was "simply obscene" to spend £100 billion on Trident when schools and hospitals are "crying out for investment". With it, he said the Government could build 650,000 new affordable homes.

Green MP Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion) agreed the Trident renewal programme was "morally wrong and obscene" at a time when people were forced to use food banks and services were being slashed.

At present, according to the SNP, the UK Trident submarine remains on patrol at all times with each submarine carrying an estimated eight missiles each of which could carry up to five warheads, 40 in total.

Each warhead, Mr Robertson said, had an explosive power of up to 100 kilotons of conventional high explosive - eight times the power of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 which killed an estimated 240,000 people from blast and radiation.