“to strengthen and clarify the obligation for Member States to supply data to Europol in order for it to analyse…the information;”

to establish Europol links with data already in possession of member states to consider how we can process that in an effective way;

“to merge Europol and the European Police College…into a single EU agency, located”

not in the United Kingdom as is currently the case in Bramshill in Hampshire, but in The Hague; and an increase in

“parliamentary scrutiny of Europol by the EU Parliament and national Parliaments.”

The House of Lords Committee said that it wished to retain an opt-in to the proposals for European regulation. To assuage the hon. Members for Cambridge and for Cheltenham, that is the Labour party’s position on this take-note motion. In my view, however, the question under debate focuses on the words “post-adoption”. The Government’s proposal in the take-note motion states that the House

“agrees with the Government that the UK should opt into the Regulation post-adoption,”.

We are saying that the Government should consult ACPO, although I accept that that potentially involves a wider consultation about why and how the post-adoption issue should be approached.

I have in my possession a letter to the Minister from Allan Gibson, Queen’s Police Medal, who is the ACPO lead on extradition and mutual legal assistance. In it, he mentions a number of the reasons why this motion in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) was tabled to tease out from the Minister his position on a number of key issues.

The letter was sent to the Minister last week and states first and foremost:

“ACPO regards the UK’s continuing membership of Europol as highly beneficial to the national interest.”

I agree, the Minister agrees, and Liberal Democrat Members agree with that.

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The letter goes on:

“ACPO supports the sharing of crime related intelligence and information between Member States facilitated through Europol…this facility has been a vital part of the development of more effective law enforcement cooperation across Europe and has made it possible to bring more offenders to justice and prevent crime.”

Again, I agree with that; I am not sure whether the Minister does, but I suspect that the Liberal Democrats do.

The letter continues:

“information exchange must be undertaken with appropriate levels of security and UK law enforcement would be keen to ensure that we had the necessary safeguards in place to protect highly sensitive intelligence and operations.”

I agree with that, which is why the Minister needs to consult in detail with ACPO on these matters to consider how we can do this without—dare I say this to Liberal Democrat Members—necessarily doing it post-adoption. In my view, they are being sold a fudge. They are being told that they can sign up to Europol, but they do so post-adoption.

I shall argue that post-adoption is an area of key concern, and one that we need to flesh out, consider in detail and come to a conclusion on. ACPO continued:

“Our view is that Europol membership is far too important to the UK to put at risk and adopting ‘a wait and see post-adoption opt in if we like it’ policy would not be the right approach.”

That is the view of ACPO, whose role is to look after, defend and develop crime-fighting potential in the UK. It continued:

“Such an approach would forfeit our opportunity to be seated around the table to influence our partners directly for one of signposting the basis on which we would rejoin, i.e. if our conditions are met.”

That is a very severe criticism, and it sets out why we need to maintain Europol membership. These are real concerns being placed on the record: in a letter to the Minister, ACPO said that it does not agree with his approach of a post-adoption opt-in. An explanation is needed, and we have tabled our amendment to explore these important issues of national security and data sharing to the satisfaction of the House, ACPO and others. We do not want to give up our seat at the table, as the proposed take-note motion proposes, in order to achieve our ends.

I welcome the Liberal Democrats’ support for Europol. Their policy briefing document states:

“We must not expose Britain to attack from criminal gangs. Liberal Democrats will keep Britain at the heart of international crime-fighting measures such as…the European Police Office (Europol) that the Conservatives want us to pull out of.”

[Interruption.] Sorry, I missed that comment from the hon. Member for Northampton North (Michael Ellis).

Michael Ellis (Northampton North) (Con) indicated dissent.

Mr Hanson: No, he is withdrawing his heckle.

Michael Ellis: It was about the grammar

Mr Hanson: I am sorry, but I did not go to a public school, so my grammar might not be as good as other people’s.

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The motion states that the UK

“should opt into the Regulation post-adoption”.

My concern is not that we might lose what we have with Europol, which is good, but that the Conservatives are looking for a reason not to develop it in the future. The Liberal Democrats, who are their partners in this great coalition of ours, are closer to my view than the Government’s. We need to hear the views of ACPO so that we can iron out the difficulties the Government have identified before the post-adoption position in the take-note motion becomes the default position.

I could quote many Liberal Democrats whose websites praise Europol and our signing up to the very things about the development of Europol that the Minister is concerned about. We need to consider the matter positively and find a way through it in the next few weeks and months so that ACPO’s concerns, which we might share, about data sharing and other issues can be worked on. We must not keep away from or fail to engage with the discussions about the development of the next stage of Europol.

I mention that with the hon. Member for Stone (Mr Cash) in mind. He is honoured to hold the position of Chairman of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee, although how he ever got given that I will never know—[Hon. Members: “He was elected.”] I appreciate that, but he was not elected by me. In the spirit of common cause, let me say that paragraph 1.13 of his Committee’s helpful report, “Reforming Europol”, which is published today, quotes a letter from the Minister, which says:

“‘In the longer term, it is clear that our continued participation in Europol…will depend on our participation in this new measure.’”

Paragraph 1.14 states:

“If the UK’s request to rejoin the existing Europol Council Decision is successful, can the Minister confirm that, once the draft Regulation has been adopted, it would not be possible for the UK to continue to cooperate with Europol on the current basis and that, if the conditions set by the Government for opting in post-adoption are not met, the UK could expect to be ejected from Europol?”

I do not know the answer to that question, but the key point is this: if the Government decide that data sharing, information sharing and other matters are red lines, I suspect that they will part company with the Liberal Democrats on some of those issues, and they might part company with the Labour party too. The Government might find themselves in a position where they cannot maintain a presence in Europol. Europol will have developed organically over 18 months to two years and we will not have been at the table to deal with that organic development, because of the Government’s decision to take part in negotiations post-adoption. The Minister, in his response to the hon. Member for Stone, said:

“If the UK opted in now, and if we could not gain amendments to the text during negotiations, we would be bound by the elements which cause us concern, and would be subject to infraction if we failed to abide by provisions in the Regulation.”

It is my view that Europol does a good thing. There are issues that Europol needs to examine with member states, and ACPO, among others, has identified issues that need to be addressed. However, the Government’s approach of not ratifying until joining post-adoption is wrong. I want to see more discussion. We will not oppose the main motion as it is just a take note motion, but we will press the Opposition amendment, which

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indicates that we want further discussions with ACPO. When a chief police officer writes, in a letter to the Minister that was copied to the Home Secretary, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister, that

“Our view is that Europol membership is far too important to the UK to be put at risk and awaiting ‘a wait and see post-adoption opt in if we like it’ policy would not be the right approach”

it is a very serious criticism of the Government’s position and the Minister has a duty to explain further why he has rejected ACPO’s advice. Before we reach a final decision, we should discuss further with those who have put their concerns on the record in a way that is self-evident and open to all.

9.28 pm

Neil Carmichael (Stroud) (Con): One thing is clear: most of us think that we should be in Europol. My hon. Friends in the Liberal Democrats, the Opposition Front Benchers and the Minister are all clear on that. It is good that we have all come to that conclusion. It is fundamentally right that serious crime can be dealt with internationally across Europe, and Europol is the right tool to do that. I expect Britain to remain in Europol. However, the questions about data management, national security and so on that the Minister drew to our attention need further reflection and debate.

As for the Association of Chief Police Officers, the central point is not so much what it would like as an outcome regarding our membership of Europol, but how we get there. The important point is this: can the British Government be absolutely sure that they can have sufficient influence during the negotiation period?That is the central question, and it is one to which we will return in relation to a number of other issues, as we consider our future relationship with the European Union as a whole and various aspects of it. However, I would put down the marker that it is important for us to engage—as I think we will, based on what the Minister said—because we have to protect our interests in the ways that he described and that get us the right outcome.

Let me conclude this relatively short speech with this observation. During the forthcoming period of negotiation, it is critical that we negotiate through appropriate mechanisms. I fully recognise the point the Minister made about qualified majority voting, but it is important that we ensure that natural allies to our causes are also embraced and included in the process.

9.30 pm

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Stroud (Neil Carmichael). He should not apologise for making a brief speech: they are most welcome in the House after seven hours debating the European Union. It is not the length but the quality of what he has to say that matters.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that everyone who has spoken so far supports Europol—one wonders what we are debating—and is full of praise for Rob Wainwright, who is one of the very few British people to head a European organisation. Everyone who has spoken has been full of praise for an organisation that can look back at a history of co-operation between all European countries. I had the privilege of visiting Europol five weeks ago, and meeting Rob Wainwright and looking at the various methods by which countries co-operate. It was fascinating, and I would urge every Member of

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the House to go. The Select Committee on Home Affairs will probably go later this year, during our inquiry into international crime and terrorism.

Europol basically has an office for every European country, with its police officers present in those offices. If people wish to try to track down criminals who have left this country and gone to other countries, our office can be contacted. Those officers then cross the corridor—literally—and hand the information to a police officer in another country. Almost immediately the information is transmitted to that other country, so while the serious and organised criminals are out there trying to commit crimes, here we have an organisation that is working to cut through the red tape of the European Union and producing some superb results. As the Minister said, not only did Operation Golf—the operation that brought together our police force and the Romanian police—result in many strands of human trafficking being disrupted, but we caught real criminals. That was a great benefit to both countries.

I heard what the shadow Minister said about the Association of Chief Police Officers, and he is absolutely right: we should take into consideration what ACPO is saying. He is right to draw the House’s attention to the fact that ACPO has written to the Prime Minister and others about its concerns. However, at the end of the day, such decisions are matters for this House and those who sit in it. Although ACPO can be helpful in providing advice to this House and to Ministers, ultimately it is we who need to make the decision.

The debate comes down to this point. We need to opt in because Europol is a successful organisation—one that actually catches international criminals and disrupts criminal networks. In the area of Europol dedicated to monitoring the internet, I saw how, almost hourly, ACPO officials can view sites that are dedicated to supporting and encouraging terrorism. If we did not have organisations like Europol, our job in this country and the job of our police service would be much more difficult.

However, I think the Government are making a mistake in this motion. I supported the Government in the last vote because the Government accepted the amendment of the Chairs of the Select Committees and allowed us the opportunity to scrutinise the opt-out arrangements—and, we hope, the opt-in arrangements—when we have finished our scrutiny. The mistake that has been made is this: if we are not at the table influencing the way in which Europol 2, if we can call it that, will develop, I feel that we will not do justice to the police services in this country and we will not do justice to what we want to see happen in the fight against international crime.

We need that seat at the table if we are to influence the new architecture of the fight against international crime. That view has been put forward not just by ACPO but by others who seek to try to influence how this develops. Frankly, if we are not there and are not able to participate in those discussions, we will not be able to influence what the new architecture will look like.

James Brokenshire: I hope I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we will be there and will remain fully engaged in the negotiations so that we are able to influence them. For the reasons he highlights, although we might not be opting in at the outset, I can assure him that the influence and the focus will be there and time

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will be spent to exert influence in a positive way. I recognise the right hon. Gentleman’s point; we are very cognisant of it.

Keith Vaz: I am not saying that Ministers, officials and UKRep will not be working very hard, but there is a big difference between opting in and being right at the top of and part of the process, and being able to engage in influence: they are two quite different things. The view of the officials I met at Europol was that they really needed to be there, and they could not understand why we were not going to be there, taking part in these deliberations and discussions.

Another one of the Minister’s arguments is “If we are there, it has to go to qualified majority voting”. He could ask the Minister for Europe about this, but I think he will find if he looks at the figures that we are almost always on the winning side when it comes to QMV. I do not know whether he has the figures, whether his officials could give him them or whether he could tell us about them if he makes a winding-up speech, but unless things have changed in the last 10 years, when a British Minister sits at a table where European issues are being discussed and it goes to a vote, we are almost always on the winning side.

I think we will be on the winning side on this particular issue because it is to do with policing and we are hugely respected for the work we do in the fight against international crime. I think the Minister’s argument is weak when he effectively says “We are afraid of the results at the European Council and we cannot take a risk because we might lose”. Of course we might lose, but I think we can make these arguments, especially because we have a British head of Europol, who has recently been confirmed for another term—four years, I think—in office.

I urge the Minister to think again. He says we are going to have some influence and be engaged, but it is really not the same if we are going to be on the sidelines and exert influence only after all the negotiations are over. I think people will accept the words of a British Minister who would be widely respected on the justice and home affairs agenda. He would be able to put his views forward in his articulate and intelligent way while sitting at a meeting. He will obviously draw on the efforts of ACPO, but I agree with the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) that ACPO is not the be-all and end-all of policing.

You will remember, Mr Speaker, although I do not want to draw you into the debate, when the 42 days issue was being discussed we were all told, “ACPO and the police service all want the House to vote for 42 days. It is everything that everyone has always wanted so we all have to vote for it”—until, of course, it changed its mind and we did not follow that approach. We hugely respect ACPO and all the people in it, but at the end of the day we need to make this decision. I very much hope that the Minister will think again and allow us the opportunity to be there at the top table, influencing these discussions.

9.39 pm

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): There seems to be a wonderful outbreak of agreement about the value of Europol. I am not sure that all the Members who

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contributed to the last debate would subscribe entirely to that agreement, but certainly those of us who are here now do so, and that pleases me very much. However, wonderful as it is, Europol could be updated and reformed. I am glad that the Commission is proceeding with that task, and that we will see a new, improved Europol in 2015. I fear that the United Kingdom will be sidelined if we do not opt into the Europol regulation.

As I said earlier, almost half the 600 investigations that Europol is currently pursuing have links to the UK, and that is a huge factor for British policing. I will not list all Europol’s other wonderful merits, but I will make a connection with the last debate. I think it will have been an enormous waste of time, money and other resources if we decide to opt out of everything, then opt back into Europol in the negotiations leading up to 2014, and then get kicked out again in 2015. That strikes me as a very bizarre way of doing things.

Two key issues, which the Minister outlined very clearly, are data sharing and the proposal that would enable Europol to force the UK to initiate investigations. I do not think that those issues are as huge as some have made them out to be, but they have prompted concern, and it is right for us to deal with that. Data sharing is extremely important, but the changes that are being made are alarming. I think that many of the other member states would agree with us, and I suspect that neither of those proposals will be in the final version. Other countries will not want to share data when doing so could be too damaging. A certain amount of operational independence is necessary, and Britain should not break that principle.

It is always a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz). Like him—and, I believe, the other Liberal Democrats—I should prefer simply to remain at the table in order to be in on the negotiations at the outset. I think that if we had a full voting seat and could shape the future of Europol, we would win on the two points that I have mentioned and, I suspect, many others. However, that is not an option, so I am very pleased that the motion commits the Government to opting into the regulation post-adoption as long as the provisions relating to data sharing and the initiation of investigations remain. That strikes me as a reasonable approach which will ensure that we have the benefits of Europol and can continue to play a leading role in it, and I hope that our membership continues under the existing framework in the meantime.

I suspect that the amendment was intended to probe, and to that extent I understand what the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) was trying to achieve, but if he decides to press it to a vote, I shall strongly disagree with his decision. I hope that this is merely a probing amendment, for a number of reasons. First, the amendment deletes the part of the motion that

“agrees with the Government that the UK should opt into the Regulation post-adoption”.

I suspect that whoever drafted it—I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not have made such an error himself—meant to remove the words after “post-adoption”. As it is, however, I should much prefer the House to agree that we will opt in as long as the conditions are met.

Mr Hanson: The hon. Gentleman will note that our amendment uses the words

“in deciding when to adopt the measure.”

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That is because we want to engage in further discussion, but, as I explained in my speech, we do want to adopt the measure.

Dr Huppert: It still worries me that the amendment removes that clear commitment.

I am also concerned about the role of the Association of Chief Police Officers. ACPO covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but specifically does not cover Scotland, which has a separate body, ACPO Scotland or ACPOS. The ACPO logo lists the three nations that it covers, but ACPOS is a different body. There are many other police-related bodies, including the College of Policing and Policing Matters.

I understand the right hon. Gentleman’s intentions, and I suspect that we agree about what we are trying to achieve. His amendment serves very well as a probing amendment, but, as I have said, if he presses it to a vote I will not support it.

Europol deals with about 13,000 investigations a year, and it is a huge help to us. I am very pleased that we will seek to remain in the new, improved version.

9.43 pm

Michael Ellis (Northampton North) (Con): I am delighted to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert). I, too, support Europol, although I do not think that I would go quite as far as some Members in saying how wonderful it is in every particular, as though it were an instrument of perfection. I do not think it is that; it is, in fact, a rather bureaucratic organisation. Nevertheless, I appreciate its work, which it does extremely well. Its law enforcement achievements are there for all to see on its website, and it can be very proud of those achievements, which are signal in many respects. Generally speaking, I support Europol. I also appreciate the good work Rob Wainwright does in heading that organisation, and I am glad his term of office has been extended. There are too few British officials in charge of European organisations, and I would like to see more of them doing that.

I agree with the Minister that it is not appropriate at this point to be talking about opting in, because we are not to do in this House what others would not do in their respective legislatures in Europe, which is see our sovereignty or security put at risk inappropriately—or at all. Where there is insecurity, as far as we are concerned, about the sovereign powers of this country, I do not accept we should opt into the regulations as they currently are or as they are envisaged. We should be very cautious about where we go in respect of Europol and opting in.

Generally speaking, I am extremely supportive of the Government’s position. We are opting out of some 98 measures, and this is the first time powers have come back from Europe to the United Kingdom. I welcome that and I would like to see further powers coming back to the UK. I congratulate the Government.

I also accept that it is totally appropriate for us to opt into some very important powers, and Europol is one of the bodies I would like us eventually to be able to work ever closer with, as we do not want another costa del crime; we do not want another situation developing where people can escape the law and justice, as has been the case hitherto. All Members across the House accept this principle as it is in the wider public interest, but we should not allow the sovereignty and security of this

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country to be jeopardised. Where Ministers of the Crown feel it is unacceptable to have the arrangements currently envisaged under the regulations, I agree that they should withhold their consent.

Europol’s functions are addressed, and can be supported, through the European arrest warrant, which we discussed in our earlier debate. I have been a strong critic of the EAW in its previous form, but I can again support the Government in this provision for the simple reason that the envisaged changes to the EAW before we could opt back into it are such that they effectively mean it will be completely different from before. If we deal with the three main problems, it will, in my submission, be a different entity—a different thing—even though the name may be the same. The first problem is to do with proportionality—the fact that far too minor and petty offences were subject to extradition. That made it an object of ridicule, as well as injustice, in many cases. There is also the issue of charging. People were being extradited to European countries without those countries having made a charging decision as to whether, and how, to proceed. We must also address the issue of bail, so that individuals who are suspected of offences can be bailed pending their proceedings. Addressing those problems would have the effect of completely changing the EAW; it would be unrecognisable from the current instrument. That should reassure those who are concerned about opting back into it.

Europol does a lot of very good work, and I hope Ministers can work with our partners in Europe to resolve any differences, and we can continue the good work that organisation does in respect of the UK.

9.48 pm

Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): This has been a short but confusing debate. The right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) made what sounded like a pro-European speech, but, despite his protestations, he proposed an amendment that would remove the Government’s commitment to Europol. The contributions from the Conservative Back Benches have lacked the usual recitations from places like Stone and North East Somerset, and we instead had a constructive and positive contribution from my constituency neighbour, the hon. Member for Stroud (Neil Carmichael), and a merely mildly Eurosceptic contribution from the hon. Member for Northampton North (Michael Ellis). The Minister made what was supposed to sound like a Eurosceptic speech but he was none the less moving a motion that undoubtedly commits us to opt into the regulation post-adoption, subject only to red lines which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) said, are perfectly reasonable conditions to set on the negotiations. Perhaps unlike the Minister, and like the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), I would have rather had us at the table throughout those negotiations. I slightly regret that we are trying to influence the negotiations but not be part of them; we might be accused of wanting to have our gateau and eat it at the same time. Nevertheless, the Minister is proposing a bit of reasonable, coalition pragmatic compromise, which I think delivers the goods. It will commit us, in the end, to opt into Europol and that is absolutely the right thing to do.

Hon. Members have made many mentions of the positive aspects of Europol’s work, including Operation Golf, which led to the arrest of 126 individuals, seven in

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the UK, for trafficking children and the release of 181 children across Europe. It also probably saved the UK £400,000 by stopping related benefit fraud. Mention has also been made of Operation VETO, which has been led by Europol across 13 European countries and has uncovered an extensive criminal match-fixing network. A total of 425 match officials, club officials, players and serious criminals from more than 15 countries are suspected of being involved in attempts to fix more than 380 professional football matches.

However, one of the best examples of Europol’s work is outlined in the document we were debating earlier today—the Government’s decision document on the mass opt-out. It provides a description of Operation APAR, which tackled drugs, firearms and money laundering. It said that Europol co-ordinated an operation that included

“a series of coordinated arrests and searches…carried out resulting in the apprehension of 32 people and seizures including drugs, firearms, property, vehicles and electronic equipment.”

It continued by saying that Europol

“provided analytical support, facilitated information exchange between investigating law enforcement agencies and arranged operational meetings.”

The Europol mobile office was deployed in the UK, Ireland and Spain.

The Government document is clear about the importance of Europol as opposed to bilateral arrangements in this operation. It states that if Europol had not been involved

“we judge that the results of operation APAR would have been more limited and the operation would have been significantly more expensive….The UK would have had considerable difficulty securely exchanging real-time intelligence and developing operational action plans with those countries”

if it had simply been doing it bilaterally. The description goes on to state:

“Additionally Europol’s secure IT systems enabled timely and effective communication between all four Member States on the day of the operation.”

It is possible to construct such collaborations bilaterally, but in practice if we simply say, “This is what we would like to do” but we rely on everybody else to collaborate by constructing an operation such as Europol, we are acting irresponsibly.

Europol is a very important organisation and I am extremely pleased that, out of the negotiations on the mass opt-out, we are securely committing, subject to just a few red lines, to opt back into Europol. The fact that Rob Wainwright, a Brit, is leading this organisation shows us a new model of the way in which we should approach European issues across the board, with Britain in a leadership role, making a real difference, delivering not just for the people in Britain, but for all the people of Europe.

9.53 pm

James Brokenshire: With the leave of the House, Mr Speaker, may I thank right hon. and hon. Members for their contributions in this short debate? Let me be clear that our recommendation in the motion is about participation in a future measure governing Europol; it has no impact on our current participation in Europol, which does benefit our law enforcement agencies. That point was made by everyone who has contributed to this debate: the Chair of the Select Committee, the right

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hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz); and my hon. Friends the Members for Stroud (Neil Carmichael), for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), for Northampton North (Michael Ellis) and for Cheltenham (Martin Horwood). That highlights the issues at hand in respect of the benefits that accrue from our current relationship.

I underline the fact that nothing that the Government have proposed reduces our commitment to tackle cross-border crime. However, we cannot risk the operational independence of our law enforcement agencies, and we need to ensure appropriate safeguards within the text so that that does not happen. I say very clearly to right hon. and hon. Members that we will play an active role in negotiations to ensure that we achieve our negotiating aims, which will allow us to opt in post-adoption. In response to the challenge from the right hon. Member for Leicester East, we consider that it is possible to achieve key negotiating objectives, even when we have not opted into a proposal before the negotiations. We have already done that on a number of measures, and we are clear about the influence that can be applied, and that is precisely what we will do. As I said, we consulted a number of our operational colleagues across the UK when considering the proposal. They all agree about the value of Europol as it currently operates, but not at any cost.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP) rose

James Brokenshire: The hon. Gentleman was not here at the beginning of the debate, so he may not have heard what I said.

Jim Shannon: In Northern Ireland, we face a particular threat from dissident republicans. What assurance can the Minister give me as the MP for Strangford that we will not lose the ability, through Europol, to address the threat of terrorism at home and globally, because dissident republicans have contacts in other countries?

James Brokenshire: If the hon. Gentleman had been here to hear my opening speech, he would know that we have discussed our approach with the Police Service of Northern Ireland as well as other operational partners across the UK. While we are not seeking to opt in at this stage, we wish to negotiate and seek to influence so that we are in a position to opt in post-adoption, with the red lines.

The hon. Gentleman should accept that the information- sharing provisions in the EU document could put our national security at risk by virtue of the fact that we would not be able to control the information provided to Europol, which is precisely why we have sought to take this approach, with national security in mind. The law enforcement community shares our concerns about the risks that would be posed if we were directly tasked by Europol to undertake operations or to provide increased amounts of information to it without the necessary safeguards.

It is not the case that as a result of the approach that we have taken we have given up our seat at the table. We shall continue to play a full part in negotiations, attending the discussions and working with member states that share our concerns to seek to deliver a text that we can rejoin. Ultimately, this is a political decision for the Government, with appropriate scrutiny from Parliament. That is why we will consult and listen to the views of

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our law enforcement partners across the UK, but ultimately this a decision for Government and Parliament, which is why the motion is framed in this way.

Opting in at this stage poses too great a risk to our security and the autonomy of our law enforcement agencies, but once the text has been negotiated we intend to opt in if we secure the changes set out in the motion, and we will consult Parliament before doing so. Our position on the proposal is sensible and pragmatic, reflecting the need for effective co-operation and the importance of protecting our sovereignty and security. I urge the House to support the Government motion.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 232, Noes 336.

Division No. 61]


9.59 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Banks, Gordon

Bayley, Hugh

Begg, Dame Anne

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Danczuk, Simon

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobbin, Jim

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Jowell, rh Dame Tessa

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Ian

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miller, Andrew

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme


Morris, Grahame M.


Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Osborne, Sandra

Owen, Albert

Pearce, Teresa

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watts, Mr Dave

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Nic Dakin


Tom Blenkinsop


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Sir Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Barwell, Gavin

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cable, rh Vince

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davey, rh Mr Edward

Davies, David T. C.


Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Hague, rh Mr William

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lucas, Caroline

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, rh Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Teather, Sarah

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Weir, Mr Mike

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wishart, Pete

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Nicky Morgan


Jenny Willott

Question accordingly negatived.

15 July 2013 : Column 880

15 July 2013 : Column 881

15 July 2013 : Column 882

15 July 2013 : Column 883

10.12 pm

TheSpeaker put the Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Order, 11 July).

Main question put and agreed to.


That this House takes note of European Union Document No. 8229/13 and Addenda 1 to 6, a draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation and Training (Europol) and repealing Decisions 2009/371/JHA and 2005/681/JHA; and agrees with the Government that the UK should opt into the Regulation post-adoption, provided that Europol is not given the power to direct national law enforcement agencies to initiate investigations or share data that conflicts with national security.

Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),


That the draft Apprenticeships (Alternative English Completion Conditions) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, which were laid before this House on 3 June, be approved.—(Mr Syms.)

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Terms and Conditions of Employment

That the draft National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2013, which were laid before this House on 6 June, be approved.— (Mr Syms.)

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

15 July 2013 : Column 884


That the draft Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (Code of Practice for Surveillance Camera Systems and Specification of Relevant Authorities) Order 2013, which was laid before this House on 10 June, be approved.—(Mr Syms.)

The Speaker’s opinion as to the decision of the Question being challenged, the Division was deferred until Wednesday 17 July (Standing Order No. 41A).

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Environmental Protection

That the draft Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, which were laid before this House on 13 June, be approved.—(Mr Syms.)

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Representation of the People, Northern Ireland

That the draft Representation of the People (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, which were laid before this House on 8 May, be approved.—(Mr Syms.)

Question agreed to.

European Scrutiny


That Penny Mordaunt be discharged from the European Scrutiny Committee and Andrew Bingham be added.—(Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, on behalf of the Committee of Selection.)


Control of Conversion Therapy

10.13 pm

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): The petition is from Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT group, which has collected over 2,000 signatures against conversion therapy, a therapy that claims to be able to convert people who are homosexual to becoming heterosexual. I commend, in particular, Colin Livett, Danny Norton and Tom Stephens for all their hard work in producing the petition and obtaining so much support.

The petition states:

The Petition of Citizens of the UK,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that being lesbian, gay or bi-sexual is not a disease, disorder or illness and cannot therefore be “cured” or changed; and consequent upon this belief and the declarations of the professional bodies of the appropriate medical organizations, further declares that “conversion” or “reparative” therapy does not work and can do serious harm to patients.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the government to control “conversion” or “reparative” therapy by banning it completely for those under the age of 18 and making it available to those over the age of 18 only after informed written consent and only when carried out by a licensed medical practitioner.

And your Petitioners remain, etc.


15 July 2013 : Column 885

Cambridge to Fenland Train Service

10.15 pm

Stephen Barclay (North East Cambridgeshire) (Con): I present a petition on behalf of my constituents. The petition states:

The Petition of residents of North East Cambridgeshire,

Declares that at present the population of March has no access via public transport to evening entertainment and activities in Cambridge; further that the population growth rate, faster than for the East of England region and England overall, experienced by Fenland demonstrates the need for better public transport; further declares that another Petition on this subject has been signed by more than 700 residents of North East Cambridgeshire.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to require a late train service from Cambridge to March in the next Greater Anglia franchise.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


Sir Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will recall that, following Home Office questions this afternoon, I drew your attention to the fact that a statement to be made tomorrow had been the subject of considerable media coverage over the weekend.

I regret to inform you that within the past hour or so, Sky Television has been holding up and quoting at length from the relevant report. Hon. Members will not be allowed to look at the report until 8 o’clock tomorrow morning. We will not be able to take a copy away, but will have to hand it back at the Department of Health. Can we have a ruling on what is going on at the Department? Clearly, the situation is a shambles.

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I have not seen or heard the broadcast to which he refers and it is always as well to be personally familiar with the evidence. However, this is the second time—I make no complaint about it—that the hon. Gentleman has raised his concerns today. He may seek to do so again tomorrow in the presence of a Minister from the Department concerned. The Minister will then have the opportunity to respond if he or she so chooses.

Suffice it to say that material for presentation to the House should be seen and heard first by the House; it should not be bandied about elsewhere. By what route the report got there I know not, but with all due respect to the estimable organ concerned, it seems a pretty poor second best. The House of Commons should be the premier audience.

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New Media and Personal Data

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Mr Syms.)

10.18 pm

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): I am pleased to have secured this debate. I am, of course, delighted to see the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport at the Dispatch Box, although I am a little surprised that a Ministry of Justice Minister is not here instead. The hon. Gentleman will understand why as I develop my argument.

There are many problems relating to the use of personal data by new media companies. We could be discussing the BBC report this morning: after a journalist went on to just four websites, 40 companies put cookies on to his computer to track what he was doing. We could be discussing the fact that Google has just three months to change its privacy policy or pay a £500,000 fine or the fact that Prism, used by the United States National Security Agency, has been collecting data from Microsoft and many other large companies.

However, the specific issue that I want to talk about is the use of personal data by mobile phone companies and the special sensitivity that arises because of the fact that the mobile phone companies know the location of the user. On 12 May, The Sunday Times reported that EE had sold to Ipsos MORI the personal data of 27 million mobile phone users, including their gender, age and postcode, the websites they visited, the time of day texts were sent, and, linked to that, their location when the texts were sent. Customers were clearly not aware that their data were being handed on and used in this way. Ipsos MORI then had a meeting with the Metropolitan police to discuss selling the data on for a second time. These data go beyond anything the police can get without an application under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. The scale of this is demonstrated by the fact that in 2011 only 2,911 such orders were given. Furthermore, a proposal to allow the police to hold such data was dropped by the Home Secretary last year.

The day after reading that article, I wrote to the Minister and requested various assurances from him. I have not had an answer so far, but perhaps this evening he will respond to the points I made. I asked him whether he had discussed the matter with industry, what steps the Government had taken to ensure that such data do not fall into undesirable hands, whether he had had a report from the Metropolitan police, whether the Government believe that it is right that a larger range of data are being used and sold than is allowed under RIPA, and what action the Government are taking to protect our citizens.

Because I did not receive an answer, I wrote to the mobile phone companies and the Information Commissioner’s Office, most of which provided full responses. I also had meetings with EE, the Open Rights Group and Big Brother Watch. Three companies told me that they do not sell on personal data at all, Ipsos MORI explained that the data were aggregated into groups of at least 50 people, and Telefonica pointed out, reasonably enough, that the location data are needed for “find my nearest” services. When I asked EE if the public might judge themselves whether they were satisfied

15 July 2013 : Column 887

with the arrangements it had made with Ipsos MORI and suggested that the way to achieve that would be for it to publish its contract with Ipsos MORI regarding the sale, it said that it could not do so because it was “confidential”.

All the companies said they believed that their practices fell within the Data Protection Act 1998 and that the data had been anonymised as defined in that Act. The ICO said that having datasets with names or addresses stripped out and aggregated into groups of 50

“does not enable particular individuals to be identified”.

Unfortunately that is not the case. By combining these data with other datasets—for example, those of the Land Registry—individual people can be identified. In March this year, Nature published a science report by academics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, Louvain and Valparaiso universities which concluded that

“in a dataset where the location of an individual is specified hourly…four spatio-temporal points are enough to uniquely identify 95% of the individuals…These findings represent fundamental constraints to an individual's privacy and have important implications for the design of frameworks and institutions dedicated to protect the privacy of individuals.”

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I thank the hon. Lady for bringing this vital issue to the House. A week does not pass in my constituency without the police warning people to be aware of a scam. Data seem to become available to many organisations, especially the mobile phone groups. Does the hon. Lady agree—I hope the Minister will also respond to this—that, rather than addressing the issue regionally, it would be best to do so with a strategy across the whole United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

Helen Goodman: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Indeed, the European Union will make proposals, which will obviously cover the United Kingdom. That is essential, because we are dealing with international companies, so we need international agreements to tackle the problems.

The current law is inadequate to protect people’s privacy, partly because there has been significant technological change since 1998. The advent of cloud computing and the increasing sharing of personal information on online social networks mean that fewer and fewer data are needed to identify people. Furthermore, the current consent rules are completely inadequate. For consent to be meaningful, it needs to be explicit, informed and freely given. Usually, that is not the case —the consent is buried somewhere in paragraph 157 of the terms and conditions—and people have no option to refuse if they want the service at all.

Data are not used for the purposes requested or desired by their owner. In other words, the legal definition of legitimate use is too weak. The data that mobile phone companies hold are extremely sensitive and neither those that they sell nor their changed use have been agreed with the customers. The sanctions are weak, as is evident from the fact that the ICO will fine Google only £500,000 if it does not change its policies.

There are two relevant laws: the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. Do the Government think there is a proper legal basis for processing customers’

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location data for the benefit of the marketing purposes of third parties? Does the Minister believe that the ICO is taking enough action to require mobile phone companies to keep consumers informed?

If the Government think that the public are not bothered, they are surely mistaken. Last year Demos carried out some public opinion surveys as part of a report on data sharing and protection. The surveys found that losing control of personal information is the public’s most significant concern with regard to using new technology. They also found that people are sharing more, but that they have a “crisis of confidence” in relation to it. On sharing personal data, 52% of the public were non-sharers or sceptics, compared with only 27% who were described as value hunters or enthusiastic sharers.

Against that background, Neelie Kroes, the EU commissioner for the digital agenda, has made proposals to give people effective control over their personal data, which is a fundamental right for all EU citizens. Under her proposals, an individual’s consent would have to be given explicitly and there would also be a new right to be forgotten whereby, if requested, a data holder would have to delete all the data they hold on a particular person. She also proposes that people should have easier access to their personal data; that there should be a right to transfer those data from one data holder to another; that people should receive speedy information of personal data security breaches; and that there should be stronger protection for children.

The Justice Select Committee has described the draft regulation as necessary and agrees that a shared approach across the EU is necessary for dealing with these large multinational companies, yet the Lord Chancellor has described the proposals as “mad”. The Government have complained about the costs and the potential loss of £15 million of income in fees to the ICO.

Of course no one wants to impose unnecessary burdens on business, and especially not on small and medium-sized enterprises, but if the Government got their act together and started taxing those large new media companies properly, they would easily acquire the necessary resources to enable the institutions to provide proper protection for our citizens. That is evident from the fact that Google paid only £3 million in tax on a £2 billion turnover.

Furthermore, the Government seem to be supporting attempts to weaken people’s rights. The Ministry of Justice’s summary of responses document, which it published in June 2012, said that the Government would

“resist the proposal that subject access rights be exercisable free of charge”,

and that they would resist the right to be forgotten. Although they accepted that people should receive notifications of data breaches, they resisted the introduction of a speedy timetable for them. They also felt that the imposition of a fine of 2% of turnover would be “disproportionately high”.

To summarise my argument, 70% of Europeans are concerned that companies use data for purposes other than that for which they were collected, and 94% of the British public worry about their online privacy. British people’s data have been used and sold without their knowledge, and the rapid pace of technological change means that the law is in urgent need of updating. Privacy is a fundamental human right and the EU is

15 July 2013 : Column 889

now bringing forward sensible proposals to tackle this, which the Lord Chancellor has described as “mad”. Is this because the Tory-led Government are so in hock to big business that they refuse to protect citizens’ privacy, or because the Lord Chancellor is so Europhobic that he cannot recognise a good idea when it comes along?

10.31 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr Edward Vaizey): I am grateful for this chance to respond, and I congratulate the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) on securing this important debate on new media and data protection. I thank her for her kind words about seeing me in my place. She expressed surprise at seeing me here, but she wrote to me about this issue on 13 May this year, so she should not be surprised to see me here tonight. She has, however, inadvertently put her finger on an important matter—namely, the responsibility within Whitehall for some of these issues. She will know that, as communications Minister, I am responsible for the mobile phone companies in the round, but that the Information Commissioner’s Office remains under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice. It is therefore right that the Ministry of Justice should address such matters as the data protection regulations. A similar issue arises with nuisance calls. I am driving forward reform in that area, although the Information Commissioner deals with that matter, which remains under the remit of the Ministry of Justice. However, I care passionately about these issues, and I want to see progress and change in this area.

As Minister for communications, I have been involved in trying to strike a balance between the use of personal data and the need to keep people’s privacy secure. As the hon. Lady made clear in her speech, this is a very real issue in the age of the internet. We talk about data, but let us put a bit of colour into this. We share data, as in information about ourselves, every single day on the internet. I was interested to read the recent World Economic Forum report that estimated that we send 47 billion e-mails a day, that we submit 95 million tweets—not always accurate ones—and that we share 30 billion pieces of content on Facebook every day. We are sharing personal data all the time.

A thriving information economy is essential for enhancing our national competitiveness and driving economic growth. That is why the Government have published an information economy strategy that looks at how Government, industry and academia can work together to exploit the many opportunities available in that sphere.

It is important that we distinguish between personal data that we make freely available, and personal data that we give up to mobile phone companies and that may be used in the future. The report to which the hon. Lady refers from 12 May would, on first reading, give anyone cause for concern. I am happy to report to the House, however, that not everything in that report was entirely accurate.

In a parallel world while the hon. Lady was meeting the Information Commissioner’s Office and talking to mobile phone companies, my officials were doing the same having received her letter. In fact, I replied to her letter today, and she should find that reply in her inbox

15 July 2013 : Column 890

this evening or tomorrow morning. Purely coincidentally, while I was going through my correspondence I found her reply to my letter in my inbox.

When the story broke, the Information Commissioner’s Office spoke to EE—the company referred to—as well as to Ipsos MORI, and was reassured that the detail of the story was not entirely accurate. EE confirmed that it works with Ipsos MORI on customer behaviour and network usage analysis, and to prepare reports on how, when and where its network is being used. However, data shared between the parties is anonymised and aggregated in groupings of a minimum of 50 to remove any individual references or identifiers.

In that respect, the article in The Sunday Times was not entirely accurate. Ipsos MORI did not sell the personal data of 27 million customers to the Metropolitan police as the data are not generically made available. Furthermore, the Information Commissioner’s Office has seen examples of the output that Ipsos MORI created using data from EE, and it confirmed to my officials that they were not sufficiently detailed or granular to enable individuals to be identified.

Ipsos MORI or EE remain responsible for ensuring that any outputs are compliant with the relevant legislation, and do not identify particular individuals. EE has confirmed that position, and is adamant that it would never breach the trust that its customers place in it, and that it complies fully with all relevant regulations. Telefónica O2 says that it does not sell customer data, and has provided details about a product that it, local councils and others use called “Smart Steps”. That is a data analytics tool used to measure and understand the number of people visiting a specific area. Telefónica O2 confirmed that data are anonymised and aggregated, in line with UK and EU data protection legislation. Similarly, 3UK confirmed that it does not sell customer data. It shares information with third parties such as service providers, to help them deliver services to their customers, but that is done in full compliance with privacy laws. Vodafone also provided details of the two legacy analytical projects in which it participates, both of which were designed to comply with the Data Protection Act.

The Information Commissioner’s Office “Anonymisation: managing data protection risk code of practice” provides guidance on how anonymisation can be used to manage and minimise data protection risk when releasing information. That code was published last year in November with the aim of helping organisations ensure their use of anonymisation techniques safeguards individual privacy. I am pleased to say that that code is online on the ICO’s website.

Where data have been anonymised and aggregated, they will not fall within the scope of the Data Protection Act as they do not enable particular individuals to be identified or differentiated from one another. The requirements of the DPA apply only to the processing—the use, disclosure, collection and storage of personal data that relate to an identifiable individual.

The Data Protection Act does not prohibit the sale of personal data—it is not clear that there is a legal loophole as such in terms of companies trading in personal data, but it is something about which individuals should be informed. As the hon. Lady points out, it is important to obtain individuals’ consent. That is an important issue that we should be addressing, particularly in an online world where often one is confronted by terms

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and conditions of inordinate length that no reasonable person could be expected to read in great detail. I would certainly like to see much simpler terms and conditions specifically designed for an online age covering the essentials necessary to giving informed consent.

Helen Goodman: The Minister is responding to the points I raised on 13 May, but things have moved on and I have found out more. I was not arguing that these companies were breaking the law. Clearly, they are large companies with big legal departments and would not be so foolish as to do that. My point was that these data, when combined with other data, can enable another person to identify the individuals. That being the case, we need to tighten the law. I hope the Minister will deal, in his further remarks, with that and the Government’s response to the proposed tightening of the law.

Mr Vaizey: I will certainly do that, but I hope the hon. Lady will bear with me briefly, because it is important, given what provoked this debate, that these issues be put on the record.

I was talking about consent and, in my humble opinion, meeting the hon. Lady halfway on some of her concerns, which I think were perfectly legitimate to raise in the House. Personal data required by legislation to be provided and made available to the general public—for example, directors’ information or births, marriages and deaths—can also be sold, but as I said, I would be concerned if any of the mobile operators were to release personal data for sale in contravention of the law. As she made clear, however, that was not her point.

I turn now to the thrust of the hon. Lady’s comments. We have moved on from the report in The Sunday Times to the general issue of how personal data are handled, particularly in an online and digital age. I begin with two points. First, we take this issue very seriously. Quite recently, we strengthened the powers of the Information Commissioner’s Office. All Members will recall the issue with Google street cars, which were sent hither and thither to take pictures of everybody’s houses so as to provide a public service. When data protection was deemed to have been breached, it was discovered that the ICO did not have the powers to fine Google. As she made clear, the ICO is currently considering a privacy case involving Google, and over the heads of Google and of other companies that break privacy laws hangs the possibility of a significant fine from the ICO, thanks to European legislation introduced by the Government. Those fines are already being used to full effect to combat the plague of nuisance calls.

The second privacy issue that required an important balancing act was the transposition of the e-privacy directive, in which I was closely involved. This relates directly to the issue of cookies, to which the hon. Lady referred earlier. A cookie can be many things, but in the online world, it is a small packet of data that allows one’s movements to be tracked across the web. They can provide a useful service to the user of online services by providing, for example, advertisements tailored to the

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interests of the individual internet user based on their browsing history, but, based on an important principle, the e-privacy directive introduces the opportunity for an individual to consent to the use of cookies. That is why anyone who uses the internet will see on most websites a pop-up display, banner or some other notice making it clear that the website uses cookies and asking the user to give their consent. By and large—I do not have any specific evidence to support this assertion—most people consent to the use of cookies, because there are some benefits. However, let us not underestimate the concerns that people have about this kind of tracking. As the hon. Lady pointed out, people want to feel that they have given their consent for tracking behaviour. Those of us who have covered this brief in Government for a while will remember the storm that occurred when BT tried to introduce tracking users through software created by Phorm. That caused an enormous row and BT had to withdraw it, because the people who used its website did not feel that their consent had been given properly. That is the kind of issue covered by the e-privacy directive.

The hon. Lady raised the matter of the proposals currently under discussion in the Commission. I am loth to correct the hon. Lady on any issue, but the proposals are not being put forward by Commissioner Kroes, who is the Commissioner for digital services, but by Commissioner Viviane Reding, who is the Commissioner with responsibility for consumer affairs. The proposals will update the data protection regulations and, as she pointed out, the Ministry of Justice is the lead Department. My right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor has been to Brussels and he has used the straightforward and plain language that has stood him in such good stead in his career over many years to make clear the concerns of the British Government.

Let me again be clear: we do not oppose the data protection regulations. We support updating the regulations, but we have legitimate concerns about some of the detail. The most notorious regulation, which has grabbed the headlines, is of course the one that goes by that vernacular phrase “the right to be forgotten”. Our concern is straightforward: saying to any ordinary person that we are going to give them the right to be forgotten on the internet will raise a huge amount of expectation. We therefore want absolute clarity on what can be achieved by talking directly to the website—for example, Facebook—whose data we want to erase, and by asking how far that can go and how many other people one has to speak to. The clear concern of the British Government relates to scope.

The hon. Lady is right to raise these concerns. All British citizens are rightly concerned about how their data might be used in a digital age. It is right and appropriate that the Government respond in a judicious and sensible fashion.

Question put and agreed to.

10.48 pm

House adjourned.