It is the normal practice when a Government Department proposes to make a gift of a value exceeding £300,000 for the Department concerned to present to the House of Commons a minute giving particulars of the gift and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from making the gift until 14 parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the minute, except in cases of special urgency.
The crisis in Syria is having a direct effect on its neighbours, particularly in areas adjacent to Lebanon’s eastern border. The UK remains firmly committed to Lebanon’s stability, and in supporting the Lebanese armed forces (LAF) to minimise contagion from the Syrian conflict, and to combat the spread of Daesh. As part of this commitment, since 2012, the UK has been assisting the LAF, through the rapid land border security assistance project, to establish and mentor the LAF land border regiments (LBRs). The mission of the LBRs is to observe, identify, deter and deny activities by illegal armed actors in the near border areas, in line with agreed international human rights standards. Between 2012 and 2015 around £26 million of conflict pool and conflict security stability funds were allocated to provide observation, protection, mobility and communications equipment to 1, 2, and 3 LBRs, and to establish the lead elements of a 4th LBR, as well as a programme of training and mentoring.
The command element of 4LBR has been established, and 4LBR is preparing its deployment plan to cover the remaining 25% of the borders with Syria from Arsal to Masnaa. Recent actions in the Arsal area, and the threat that Daesh poses to UK interests, make it imperative that the LAF completes the expansion of the LBRs southwards, as part of an overall strategy to bring the entire eastern border with Syria back under the authority of the state.
Subject to assessment under the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria, we intend to gift a package of £967,450.00 of personal protection equipment to start the establishment of the 4th Land Border Regiment of the Lebanese armed forces. The proposed gift will be funded by the Government’s conflict, security and stability fund and will consist of the following UK sourced equipment:
Personal Protective Equipment—£967,450.00.
The proposed gift is being scrutinised to ensure that it is consistent with export controls and complies with our international obligations. The proposed gift has been scrutinised and approved by a senior, cross-Whitehall Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) Approval Board, which has confirmed that it fits with the Government’s strategic and delivery objectives. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials also assessed the project for human rights risks, using the overseas security and justice assistance guidelines established by the Foreign Secretary in 2011.
The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of 14 parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which this minute was laid before the House of Commons, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a parliamentary question or a motion relating to the minute, or by otherwise raising the matter in the House, final approval of the gift will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.