QUESTIONS over whether Britain should send a future fleet of Royal Navy ships to the South China Sea have been raised in the House of Lords.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire said committing a fleet to the region would put a strain on the navy’s ability to protect the seas around the UK.
The Lib Dem peer said: ‘We require virtually half of the British navy to commit to keeping three ships in the South China Sea. If we follow the Foreign Secretary’s promise – as we always do – and send an aircraft carrier with a full complement of support ships east of the Malacca Straits, with aircraft on board the carrier, that would be half of the British navy already.
‘Probably most of the British navy would be committed to the South China Sea. Is that really a strategic priority over the defence of our waters and the seas around Europe?’
However, Admiral Lord Alan West – former head of the navy – hit back and said it was vital Britain patrolled the region as trillions of pounds of trade passes through it.