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Bilateral Training Programmes (Libya)

Volume 588: debated on Monday 24 November 2014

Given the deteriorating security situation in Libya, I have not had the chance to discuss training with my Libyan counterpart, but I continue to discuss the situation in Libya with our regional partners. General purpose force training was designed in 2013 at the request of the Libyan Government. The majority of trainees met the required standards but some did not. That was unacceptable and work is already under way on the report that the Prime Minister has commissioned.

I am most grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer. As he has touched on, the Government’s much-heralded UK training programme collapsed after serious allegations about the behaviour of some of the individuals, but of course that does not mean we should abandon the moderate elements in Libya. Will the Secretary of State outline the practical steps he is taking to deal with what has happened, and when can we expect to see the details of the new programme, wherever that is carried out?

This training programme was organised by the United Kingdom at the request of the Libyan Government and a number of locations were considered for it. The most cost-effective turned out to be here in the UK, but I think it likely that we shall learn from this and that this kind of training is probably better provided and organised in the country itself, or very close to it. That is difficult at the moment given the security situation in Libya, but the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that we need to work with all parties in Libya, particularly the moderates in all three factions in Libya, to secure a political settlement.

Three hundred and twenty-eight Libyan service personnel began their training in the UK in June 2014. Can the Secretary of State say how many remain in the country and how many have claimed asylum?

Three hundred and twenty-eight signed up originally. Some 100 left during the course of their training by agreement with the Libyan authorities. The remainder have all now been returned properly to Libya, apart from five who remain in custody and a very small handful who have claimed asylum.