HL Deb 12 May 1983 vol 442 cc550-1

3.11 p.m.

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, on reading Hansard this morning I now realise that I unwittingly confused the House yesterday in reply to the Question by my noble friend Lord Inglewood about the British contingent with the multinational force in the Lebanon. There is indeed a United Nations force in the Lebanon, but this was not the one referred to in supplementary questions. The multinational force on which I was questioned is not a United Nations force. It was set up last year by agreement between the participating countries—the United States, France and Italy—and the Lebanese Government. A British contingent, a later addition to the force, is similarly in Lebanon under the terms of an exchange of letters with the Lebanese Government.

There is no overall commander of the multinational force. Each contingent operates under national command. Political and military control of the British contingent is retained by Her Majesty's Government. Day-to-day tasks of the multinational force are decided by co-ordination between the force commanders, the ambassadors of the countries concerned and the Lebanese authorities. My Lords, I should like to take this opportunity to apologise to the House.