MP says UK economy relies on Navy
ROYAL Navy ships have a vital role in ensuring motorists can fill up at the petrol pumps and there is food in the shops, a Plymouth MP told Parliament.
Warning of the consequences of failing to protect maritime trade routes, Oliver Colvile, Tory MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said Britain must not become "sea blind".
Ministers were also called on to consider – with United Nations agreement – sending Royal Marine Commandos ashore in Somalia to "take out" pirate and terrorist camps.
Mr Colvile was speaking during a Commons debate on the conflict-riven country, which has been without an effective central government since 1991.
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The UK government is holding a conference in London on February 23 to try to find a political solution to Somalia's problems, and tackle piracy and extremism.
These threaten UK trade interests in the region according Foreign Secretary William Hague, who said the international community must do more to promote stability in the country.
It comes as the Royal Navy is being hit by defence cuts.
Mr Colvile told MPs: "Some 23,000 ships go through the Gulf of Aden each year, and that is a good example of how important it is that we, as a nation, do not become sea blind.
"Can members imagine what it would be like in this country if we no longer had any petrol or any groceries in our food stores?
"That is why the Royal Navy has a significant part to play, and why I want to make sure that Somalia is seen as an international issue, and one that we are looking after."
Last summer he met the crew on a Type 23 frigate returning from tackling piracy of the coast of Somalia.
Mr Colvile said: "The crew were concerned that their Royal Marines could not go on land to take out terrorist and piracy camps."