The Government's response to the Committees' Reports on the 2014 block opt-out decision - European Scrutiny, Home Affairs and Justice Committees Contents

Joint Report from the European Scrutiny, Home Affairs and Justice Committees


1. Whether EU measures covered by the so-called '2014 block opt-out decision' continue to apply to the United Kingdom and become subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice from 1 December 2014 is a profoundly significant issue. Some—including the European Arrest Warrant—raise questions affecting public safety and security, as well as the protection of individual rights.

2. Following publication of the Government's Responses[1] to the Reports produced by the European Scrutiny, Home Affairs and Justice Committees,[2] the Chairs of the Committees sent a joint letter to the Home and Justice Secretaries raising two issues of common concern: the role of Parliament in scrutinising the Government's approach to the 2014 block opt-out decision, and the need for an early debate and vote on the measures the Government proposes to rejoin.

3. We publish the letter we sent to the Home and Justice Secretaries alongside this Report. It sought confirmation, in particular, that the Government would make time available for a debate and vote on the floor of the House (on a substantive, amendable Motion) as soon as possible. We requested a response by the end of January.

The response from the Home and Justice Secretaries

4. The Home and Justice Secretaries responded on 31 January. Their joint letter, which is also published with this Report, rejects the call for an early debate, stating:

    "We believe that, in order for the [second] vote to be as informed as possible, the correct approach to this process is to hold the second vote once we have reached 'in principle' agreement with the EU institutions and the other Member States."

The Committees' view of the response

5. We are taking the unusual step of agreeing a Joint Report because we are deeply disappointed by the Government's position. Put simply, the House should have an opportunity to have a debate - and vote - on which measures the UK should seek to rejoinbefore negotiations begin. Presentation of a 'done-deal', once the negotiation process has been completed, is a poor substitute.

6. The Government's intransigence leaves us with no option but to take this matter to the floor of the House through other means. But the fact that there could be multiple motions and amendments means that Backbench Business Committee time could not realistically be used for the debate we seek. We will therefore be seeking a debate on this Joint Report in Backbench Business Committee time, to enable all Members of this House to debate the Government's resistance to full parliamentary involvement in this complex and highly significant decision.

1  European Scrutiny Committee, Second Special Report, HC 978; Home Affairs Committee, Fourth Special Report, HC 954; Justice Committee, Third Special Report, HC 972 Back

2  European Scrutiny Committee, Twenty-first Report, The UK's block opt-out of pre-Lisbon criminal law and policing measures, HC 683; Home Affairs Committee, Ninth Report, Pre-Lisbon Treaty EU police and criminal justice measures: the UK's opt-in decision, HC 615; Justice Committee, Eighth Report, Ministry of Justice measures in the JHA block opt-out, HC 605 Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2014
Prepared 26 March 2014