Page last updated at 19:12 GMT, Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Somali pirates 'could cause huge catastrophe'

Somali pirates could create a "huge catastrophe" by disrupting the UK's energy supply, former head of the Royal Navy Lord West of Spithead has warned.

At question time on 15 March 2011, the Labour peer, who was First Sea Lord from 2002 to 2006, called for the government to "reinvigorate" efforts to tackle the problem.

"It is becoming a really, really dangerous issue and something will happen, I believe, in the near future that will make us all really pay attention," he told peers.

Lord West suggested that the capture of liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships "would stop energy supplies or affect energy supplies to the UK - there could actually be a huge catastrophe".

Foreign Office Minister Lord Howell of Guildford had warned peers the situation was getting "more serious every week and more and more ships are being attacked by hijackers".

Lord Howell replied to Lord West that the government "recognised" his point and that this global issue must be "tackled on a global level... before it gets worse".

Peers also put questions to government ministers on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, life peers in the House of Lords and impact of police service funding cuts on front-line services.

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