Piracy (Somalia)

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 2nd March 2010.

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Photo of John Howell John Howell Conservative, Henley 2:30 pm, 2nd March 2010

What recent discussions he has had with his international counterparts on piracy around the coast of Somalia.

Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary regularly discusses piracy off the coast of Somalia in both bilateral and multilateral meetings. Recent discussions took place during the Yemen conference in January and the EU Foreign Ministers meeting in November 2009.

Photo of John Howell John Howell Conservative, Henley

Does the Minister agree that the root cause of that piracy is instability in Somalia and the surrounding countries, so what progress has been made to stabilise them?

Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that this is a broader question of stability. We have decided, quite rightly, as part of the international community, to support the transitional Government. This issue requires an approach that is about security as well as more inclusive and effective government, and getting the economy and social provision moving in Somalia. Through the Department for International Development, we are applying an integrated approach, bringing together security, improved governance and development, and the international community needs to adopt that approach if we are to bring stability to Somalia.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Chair, Parliamentary Labour Party

John Howell is absolutely right. Although I appreciate my hon. Friend's comments, the reality is that the world has been very slow to recognise both the seriousness of the vacuum of power in Somalia and the serious threat that that represents to individuals through piracy and to the wider community in east Africa and globally. Is it not time that we said to Washington and to others who are involved that we need to apply proper pressure to build an effective infrastructure in Somalia?

Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is okay to discuss a joined-up UK approach on security, governance and development, but we need members of the international community to come together in a co-ordinated way. We are working closely with our EU partners and the United Nations, including the special representative of the Secretary-General. This is an issue that is increasingly discussed in the context of our bilateral relationship with the United States.