Previous Section Index Home Page

Nia Griffith (Llanelli) (Lab): I welcome the motion and I understand why member states have little enthusiasm for the proposed use of article 42 passarelle in this instance. It is much more important to have continued and improved practical co-operation between EU member states. Rather than wrangling over qualified majority voting on the immensely complex and sensitive subject of justice and home
30 Nov 2006 : Column 1273
affairs, which is integral to national sovereignty, it would be better to secure the fullest possible co-operation on the ground.

Although the UK is not in the Schengen area, it is clearly in our interests to collaborate closely with those member states that are, and I am pleased to note that the Government support the plan to register entries to and exits from the Schengen area. We must also heed the concerns of front-line states, especially those on the Mediterranean, which report enormous pressure from hopeful migrants from outside the EU. That is an issue on which we need full co-operation from all member states to ensure that we tackle illegal immigration from outside the EU and have workable systems for managing legal migration. In particular, as we talk about commemorating the abolition of slavery, we must work together to tackle the present-day problem of human trafficking.

We need to improve co-operation in one specific area. Following a dreadful incident close to my constituency, in which a Polish migrant worker, who had already served a sentence for rape in Poland, raped again, I discovered from the local police that there is no systematic EU-wide system for registering sex offenders. When I raised the issue with ministerial colleagues in the Home Office, they were very sympathetic and told me that it is being considered by EU member states. May I therefore ask my hon. Friend the Minister what progress has been made in developing an effective, EU-wide sex offender register? It is practical co-operation like that that is needed. It is only by having effective systems to keep appropriate tabs on the very few individuals who pose a threat to public safety that we can build up positive attitudes—

David T.C. Davies (Monmouth) (Con): Rather than having an EU-wide registration system, it would be far simpler to keep such people in prison and not release them early, which is what happens all too often and allows them to commit further horrific acts.

Nia Griffith: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but I cannot comment on the Polish judicial system and the length of sentence imposed on that occasion. The important point is that in order to ensure that we maintain a positive attitude to the overwhelming majority of hard-working migrants who are law-abiding citizens, we need proper measures in place for the small element who are of a criminal nature.

Mr. Davidson: Does my hon. Friend agree that, as well as a system of identifying such people, we also need to be able to refuse them entry? Moreover, if we find that they are here, should we not be able to expel them? Should not this country retain such powers?

Nia Griffith: My hon. Friend makes an interesting point, but we would have to be very careful when it came to defining those powers and the particular crimes involved. Names can appear on various lists for different reasons.

People can now move freely within the EU, and settle and work in any member state. Many British people
30 Nov 2006 : Column 1274
take advantage of that exciting opportunity, so it is crucial that there is the fullest possible collaboration between member states to deal with the small but significant criminal element that seeks to profit from that freedom. That is why I welcome the motion’s emphasis on practical co-operation to deal with transnational challenges such as terrorism and crime.

2.56 pm

Mr. Wayne David (Caerphilly) (Lab): On the whole, I welcome the Hague programme. It offers a practical approach to many problems facing Britain and Europe today. I also welcome the action plan adopted by the Council of Europe in June 2005.

The European Scrutiny Committee has studied four communications from the European Commission, one of which was the annual report on the Hague programme. It said that progress had been satisfactory, except with regard to the measures proposed under article 6 of the EU treaty. The main reason for that was the alleged lack of unanimity among Council members, which the European Commission believes makes the case for change to qualified majority voting and the adoption of the passerelle clause under article 42.

As we have heard, the Government believe that the debate about the passerelle clause has come to an end, but my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty) was right to point out that the Commission does not agree. Only the other day, Commissioner Frattini declared in a debate in Helsinki that the Commission believes that the debate is very much still going on. The Commission has not modified its position one iota: it still believes very firmly that the Council should adopt the passerelle clause.

We must be clear about where Parliament stands on this matter. Although I believe that we should adopt the positive elements of the Hague programme, it is important that we reaffirm our opposition to the adoption of the passerelle clause. I have four concerns about this matter that I should like to set out for the House.

First, opting in to the passerelle clause would have constitutional significance. We must be mindful that the clause could mean that it would not be possible for Britain to have bilateral extradition agreements with third countries. In other words, it might not be possible for us to have an agreement with a third country to extradite terrorists. Given that that is one of the main concerns for most British people, we need to be very careful about adopting such a provision.

Secondly, it is important to stress that there is no provision for rescinding an opt-in. If we decide to opt in to the passerelle process, we are in there for good—once in, always in. A linked problem is the extension into new areas of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. In addition, more powers are implied for the European Commission, as it would be up to the Commission to bring infraction proceedings, and there would also be new measures for the European Parliament.

Thirdly, the passerelle would put the UK in a weaker negotiating position, because other member states would not take our position seriously unless we had
30 Nov 2006 : Column 1275
decided to opt in. If we are serious about influencing the European agenda on justice and home affairs, it will be far better for us to oppose the adoption of the passerelle clause.

My fourth and final point is that if the passerelle clause is adopted, it will undoubtedly introduce a high degree of uncertainty in respect of the future of Europe and the treaties. A linked worry is that because the constitutional treaty has not been agreed—indeed, it was emphatically rejected by two electorates in the EU—measures will be brought in through the back door. The issues that the passerelle clause will open up need to be debated, but fully and frankly as part of treaty negotiations; we should not simply slip into adopting measures by the back door. I am worried about that uncertainty and pre-emption.

This debate is timely. The Council of Ministers is meeting on 4 and 5 December and as Commissioner Frattini made clear, the Commission is still arguing four-square for the measure, although it recognises that some member states, especially the UK, have strong reservations. Nevertheless, the Commission has not given up hope of agreement on a matter that it considers crucial. It is, therefore, important that we, as a national Parliament, send a clear message to the Government. There can be no question of equivocation and no suggestion of capitulation or compromise—we must stand four-square in our opposition. That is what we want and I hope that our position will be maintained by the Government.

3.2 pm

Joan Ryan: With leave of the House, I should like to reply to the debate, which has been useful and comes at a helpful time, given that the Justice and Home Affairs Council will meet next week.

We take the Select Committee report seriously and are pleased to work with the Committee on these matters. The process is helpful and we value it. The Government are broadly supportive of the principles of the Hague programme as it stands; it was a good outcome for the UK when it was negotiated, and it remains so. In general, the format is right for the organisation of justice and home affairs work over the next few years. However, commitment to a programme as a whole does not mean that we must agree with the detail of all the proposals.

I understand Members’ concerns about the passerelle. I made it clear to the Committee that the Government’s concerns featured prominently in negotiations on the justice and home affairs aspects of the draft constitutional treaty. I pointed out that

Those concerns remain valid, and given the strength with which Members raised them today, it is right to reiterate them.

I take on board Members’ concerns about whether the position of the Commission has changed. However, there can be no move to the passerelle, and no move of measures from pillar 3 to pillar 1, without a unanimous vote at the Justice and Home Affairs Council. It is not relevant to talk of the back door. It has always been
30 Nov 2006 : Column 1276
possible to move things from one pillar to another through a unanimous vote. It is not illegitimate that that issue should be raised, but that does not mean that that is what is going to happen. The emphasis on practical co-operation is right. That is where we want to be and that is where we want to direct our effort and see results. I urge hon. Members to support the motion.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 275, Noes 130.
Division No. 8]
[3.5 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barrett, John
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brake, Tom
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Caton, Mr. Martin
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Davey, Mr. Edward
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Harvey, Nick
Havard, Mr. Dai
Heath, Mr. David

Hemming, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunter, Mark
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Keen, Alan
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stunell, Andrew
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek

Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Mr. Roger
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Ian Cawsey and
Mr. Dave Watts

Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Brokenshire, James
Burns, Mr. Simon
Butterfill, Sir John
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clark, Greg
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Jones, Mr. David
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rosindell, Andrew
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward

Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Walter, Mr. Robert
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Robert Goodwill and
Mr. Tobias Ellwood
Question accordingly agreed to.
30 Nov 2006 : Column 1277

30 Nov 2006 : Column 1278

30 Nov 2006 : Column 1279


30 Nov 2006 : Column 1280

Members’ Fund (Discretionary Payments)

3.19 pm

Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): I beg to move,

Next Section Index Home Page