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Volume 486: debated on Monday 12 January 2009

25. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to combat piracy on the high seas; and if he will make a statement. (246464)

In most parts of the world, incidents of piracy and maritime armed robbery are decreasing. It is clear however, that the increase in incidents around the Horn of Africa is a growing problem that needs to be tackled by the international community.

The Ministry of Defence is therefore supporting two international efforts to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia—the Coalition Maritime Forces operations, and the EU counter piracy mission, which a UK officer will command and for which we are providing the operational HQ and one Frigate.

We have also stiffened our rules of engagement and instructed Royal Navy vessels to actively seek out pirates. Under these new guidelines, HMS Cumberland successfully deterred an attack and rescued a pirated Yemeni vessel and crew last November.

We are determined to play our part, through the Royal Navy, and in close co-operation with other countries, to tackle piracy and to protect legitimate trade and transport.