The European Court judgment has clearly created an immediate problem for companies that hold billing and other communications data to which the police have access under warrant when they investigate crimes. Action needs to be taken in the short term simply to allow them to continue to do what they have been doing, in a way that complies with the European Court judgment. The communications data need to be properly used under safeguards, but they are also vital to serious criminal

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investigations and to protecting the public. The police use them to find out with whom a suspect or criminal may have been conspiring to commit serious crimes, or to radicalise a terror suspect. They are used in 95% of all cases of serious and organised crime that reach the prosecution stage. When children go missing, the police can contact their mobile phone companies and find out where they were last. That helped them to find out that Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman were close to Ian Huntley’s house when their phone was switched off, and it helped to convict him of their murder.

The data also help the police to identify people who are sending online vile images of children who are being abused. An investigation by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre resulted in the arrest of 200 suspects, and found 132 children who were at risk of abuse and needed to be safeguarded. However, it was able to reach those suspects and those children only because of communications data. The legislation is certainly needed, and the information is certainly needed. The legislation is a more restricted version of the existing data retention powers. It is because we recognise how crucial the evidence is that we believe that it would be too damaging to lose it over the summer.

We also recognise that there is a problem for some companies that provide communications services here in Britain but whose headquarters are based abroad, and which have asked for clarification of the scope of the legislation, as a result, again, of recent court cases. Companies should not be left in limbo or put off from complying with warrants when national security is at stake, for example, simply because they are concerned about whether it is lawful to do so because of the location of their headquarters.

We will scrutinise the detail of the legislation, and we will debate the safeguards that are necessary, but we agree that the legislation is needed now. However, I am concerned about its late arrival. The European Court judgment was in April, and the legislation has been published just seven days before the end of the parliamentary session. I hope that the Home Secretary will realise that it risks undermining confidence for issues as important as this to be left until the last minute and rushed through on an emergency basis rather than being given more time. We recognise the timetable of the European Court judgment and we recognise, too, the information she has provided to us in the Opposition over the last week about her proposals, but she will also recognise the importance of Select Committees being able to take evidence, and being able to consider these proposals, too.

The short time for Parliament to consider this makes the safeguards we have argued for and agreed even more important, so the Home Secretary is right to make this temporary legislation. It means that Parliament will need to revisit this issue properly next year, with detailed evidence and the chance to secure a sustainable longer-term framework. She is also right to add further restrictions to the way in which the legislation will work, and I ask her for further clarification on this, because she will know we discussed, for example, narrowing the scope of some of the measures, as well as narrowing the number of organisations that will be able to access the data, and I would like to ask her for an update on those discussions, and whether she was able to produce that narrowing in practice.

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We look forward as well to working in Parliament to make the new privacy and civil liberties board work effectively, but one of the most important safeguards is the Government’s agreement to an independent expert review of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, for which the Home Secretary will know I called this year. The legislation was drawn up in 2000. As a result of the communications data revolution, the law and our oversight framework are now out of date. New technology is blurring the distinction between communications and content and between domestic and international communications, and raising new questions about data storage. We need to reconsider, therefore, what safeguards are needed to make sure people’s privacy is protected in an internet age, and we need stronger oversight, too.

Previously the Government have resisted this proposal for a RIPA review, and I am glad that they have now agreed. I have suggested the review should be done by the independent counter-terrorism reviewer, David Anderson. Will the Home Secretary tell me whether that will be possible and also ensure that he will have the resources and capabilities and expertise he needs to be able to produce a thorough report which can recommend the reforms that we need but that can also give confidence to the process?

There are three other areas, which we have raised with the Home Secretary, and where it would be helpful to see whether we can go further: first, in asking the interception commissioner to provide reports every six months on the operation of this legislation while it is in force; secondly, in strengthening the Intelligence and Security Committee so that it has the same powers as Select Committees to call and compel witnesses and by having an Opposition Chair; thirdly, the longer-term reforms to overhaul the commissioners to provide stronger oversight. Again it would be helpful to have the Home Secretary’s response to those proposals.

Most important, however, we need a wider, longer public debate on these issues, which so far the Government have refused. The majority of people in Britain rightly support the work of the intelligence agencies and the work the police need to do online to keep us safe, but there are growing concerns as a result of new technology and the Snowdon leaks about what safeguards are needed and whether the framework is still up to date. The fact that the Communications Data Bill was so widely drawn last year also raised anxiety and undermined trust in the Government’s approach.

The Government must not ignore those concerns or they will grow and grow. It is vital to our democracy—both to protecting our national security and to protecting our basic freedoms—that there is widespread public consent to the balance the Government and the agencies need to strike. President Obama held such a debate last year. We have urged the Government to lead such a debate now. I hope that the agreement to the RIPA review will now allow that widespread cross-party approach to having that open debate about the safeguards for both privacy and our security that we need, because we cannot just keep on doing short-term sticking plaster legislation in a rush, without the proper consideration of the privacy and security balance modern Britain wants to see.

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We will scrutinise the detail of this Bill as it goes through Parliament next week and we will support it, because we know the police and intelligence agencies need this information to fight crime, protect children and counter terrorism, and I hope we can also agree to the wider national debate that we need about how we safeguard our security and our privacy in an internet age.

Mrs May: I thank the right hon. Lady for the support she has shown for the emergency legislation and I am grateful for the recognition across the House that we need to ensure that our security and intelligence agencies, and our police and law enforcement agencies, have available to them the powers they need to be able to do the job we all want them to do in catching criminals, preventing terrorism and catching terrorists. There is also a recognition that, as we have said, and as the sunset clause shows, this is meeting a gap now; it is ensuring that those bodies have the capabilities they have until now been able to rely on and that those are able to continue in the face of the legal challenges that have arisen.

The right hon. Lady made a number of points. First, on the timing, the European Court of Justice judgment did indeed come in April, and, obviously, we have been spending quite a time since then looking at the most appropriate way to respond. But to any Members of the House who think it would have been possible to put these changes into normal legislation—into another Bill that is going through the House or into a separate Bill that was not fast-tracked—I say that that timetable was not available to us; it was always going to be necessary for this to be fast-tracked legislation in order to ensure that those capabilities are retained.

The right hon. Lady mentioned Select Committees wanting to be able to look at this measure. The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and I briefed six Select Committee Chairmen yesterday, and today I am publishing a draft version of the Bill. The Bill will be formally introduced on Monday, but I thought it was appropriate to publish it in draft today, as that gives that little bit of extra time for people to be able to look at it. As I have said, I am aiming to make the maximum amount of background supporting information—the regulatory impact assessments and so forth—available to Members of the House, so that people have as much opportunity as possible within the short timetable to be able to look at the various issues.

The right hon. Lady asked whether there was any narrowing in the scope of the powers. The Bill makes something absolutely clear in relation to the issues of intercept. There have always been three areas of scope—national security, serious crime and economic well-being—and the Bill clarifies that economic well-being is there in the context of national security. Just for the avoidance of doubt, the Bill makes it clear that that is the context in which that has been used; it is related back to national security.

The right hon. Lady raised a point about the ISC and its chairmanship. Of course, the House has relatively recently debated the ISC’s structure and its relationship with Parliament. She has raised a specific point about the chairmanship and where that person should be drawn from, and I recognise the strength of view that

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she and the Opposition have on the matter. Hers is not a policy that we have, but it is open to the House to debate these matters should Members wish to do so.

Finally, let me deal with the review that is to take place. The right hon. Lady made a number of points about that, referring to it as a RIPA review. I should be absolutely clear with the House that it is not just a review that will look at RIPA and ask whether we need to tweak that; as I said, the review will look at the interception and communications data powers we need, as well as the way in which those powers and capabilities are regulated in the context of the threats that we face. That is important because we know that there are new challenges, through new technology, to our capabilities, and the threat context that we face is developing. RIPA came through in 2000 and we would want any legislative changes that the Government make after the next election to stand the test of a reasonable amount of time; we would not want to have to keep coming back to them. That is why this review has to be that wider review about the powers we need against the threat context we have and about the legislative and regulatory framework in which those powers and capabilities are regulated.

The right hon. Lady mentioned the proposal that David Anderson should undertake this review, and I am pleased to say to the House that I have been able to speak to him this morning and that he is willing to undertake it. I think that is very good, given his expertise and his knowledge and understanding of these issues. He and I have been very clear in our conversation. We have not yet been in a position to sit down and discuss terms of reference and the resources he would need, but I am absolutely clear, given the nature of the review that I have just set out, that we need to make sure we get the terms of reference right and that he has the resources and support necessary to be able to do the job that I think everybody across this House wants him to do.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Kensington) (Con): Is it not important for the House to take into account that the European Court made it clear that it recognises that there may indeed be a need for such a European directive but that it is concerned that the current directive is not consistent with Human Rights Act requirements and so forth? In so far as the Government have given a clear pledge that the Bill will be drafted to meet those concerns about safeguards and human rights considerations, the Intelligence and Security Committee warmly welcomes the proposal. So far as the other measures in the Bill are concerned, the Committee will be taking evidence from the intelligence agencies on the interception warrant issues and related matters, and we hope to be in a position to advise the House when it considers the Bill on Second Reading next week.

Mrs May: I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for his comments. He is absolutely right that the Court made it clear in its judgment that retaining those data could be necessary. The question was about the regulatory framework in which the data are retained and whether the methods and various aspects of access to the data were proportionate. I am grateful to him and to all members of the ISC for the work they continue to do on these issues. It is worth noting that the work of the ISC is important for the House and for the wider

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public, albeit that much of that work, by definition, is never seen or heard because of the matters that it addresses. The Committee plays an important role.

My right hon. and learned Friend mentioned the criticisms raised in the ECJ judgment, and there were four key areas of criticism, on scope, duration, access and storage. We are addressing all those criticisms, in so far as it is necessary to do so over and above the regulations that we have in place. As I indicated in my statement, our current framework already addresses some of the issues that the ECJ raised.

Alan Johnson (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle) (Lab): I support the Home Secretary’s statement and the legislation. Does she agree that restoring the status quo is necessary but not sufficient? She has told us that this information has been vital to uncovering every single terrorist plot against this country over the past 14 years, and she has told us that there are gaps in that information. Is it not a paradox that we are rushing through legislation in seven days to restore the status quo when we have wasted five years in which we could have addressed the gaps, thus leaving the security services less able to protect the citizens of this country?

Mrs May: The right hon. Gentleman will have heard me indicate in my statement that legislation of the type proposed by the Government is necessary. Indeed, when he was in government prior to the 2010 election, the Government considered the future capabilities that were necessary. That issue needs to be addressed, and I stand by the draft Communications Data Bill that I published and that was considered by a Joint Committee. Future capabilities will be for the House and the Government to discuss after the election. Today, we are faced with the very real necessity to act now in order to maintain our capabilities; future capabilities will be part of the review and subsequent action.

Sir Richard Ottaway (Croydon South) (Con): In my judgment, this legislation is essential if we are to protect our citizens from criminals and terrorists. The annulled directive required the retention of traffic and location data but not the content of the communications, and it was therefore different from lawful interception, which requires a warrant. Will the Home Secretary confirm that that principle remains unaltered?

Mrs May: I absolutely can. In the Bill we are addressing the two issues of communications data and lawful intercept, and I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for recognising and drawing a distinction between them. It is important that people understand that distinction. Access to lawful intercept will continue in the way that it always has—under warrant. One of the roles of the Home Secretary and, in some areas, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is to sign warrants and to consider their necessity and proportionality. A great strength of our system is that those ultimate decisions are made by people who are democratically accountable.

Hazel Blears (Salford and Eccles) (Lab): I welcome the Home Secretary’s proposals on data retention, which are absolutely essential to enable our security agencies to carry out their duty to protect our citizens, but I am concerned about the proposals to assert the extraterritoriality of our intercept powers, which, as

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she will know, is a matter of contention for some communications service providers. If some of them choose not to comply, what actions can she take to ensure uniformity of compliance with the legislation? That is a real challenge for her. I am also concerned about the mutual legal assistance treaty. It can provide a framework to enable us to get data from other jurisdictions, but it is so slow and cumbersome that it can take months. When we are in a fast-moving terrorist situation, we need to be able to get those data quickly. I think that reform of that treaty is a high priority.

Mrs May: I am grateful to the right hon. Lady. She raises two issues. First, she is absolutely right that there have been questions about the extraterritoriality of the current provisions in RIPA. We have asserted, as I believe the previous Government did, that the extraterritorial jurisdiction was there, but we have chosen to make it absolutely clear in the Bill that it is possible to exercise a warrant extraterritorially. That is part of the purpose of that part of the legislation. Secondly, we have already had discussions with the United States on the mutual legal assistance arrangements, and it is precisely that sort of issue that I think the senior former diplomat will be able to address in discussions with other Governments, particularly the American Government, because the right hon. Lady is absolutely right that currently the processes are very slow and do not address the issue as we need them to.

Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD): Since it is not surprising that this is a difficult issue on which to achieve coalition consensus, I welcome the fact that the Home Secretary has agreed with my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister on a whole series of safeguards that are absent from previous legislation. I suggest that as part of the fundamental review that now needs to take place of this essential but temporary legislation we should consider whether some authority beyond that of Ministers, perhaps of a judicial kind, might be needed, certainly for the highest level of intrusion into privacy.

Mrs May: I note my right hon. Friend’s point. Of course, the question of whether some form of legal or judicial authority—a magistrates court, perhaps—should look at access to communications data was considered by the Joint Scrutiny Committee. It looked at the processes that are in place today and accepted that they were absolutely appropriate and suited the requirements.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): I apologise to the Home Secretary for missing the start of her statement. I welcome the briefing that she and the Prime Minister gave to me and other Select Committee Chairs yesterday. I support these proposals. Keith Bristow has said that it is vital that we retain this information in order to protect the public. On scrutiny, she is due to appear before the Home Affairs Committee next week. I hope that that will be part of the scrutiny process for the Bill. Will she reassure the House that David Anderson will be given the resources he needs, because at the moment he is doing a very important job, but he needs the resources to do it even more effectively?

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Mrs May: I look forward to my appearance before the Home Affairs Committee, as I always do. I can give the right hon. Gentleman an absolute assurance on that. As I indicated earlier, this review will set the scene for legislation that will operate for some years to come, so it is essential that we get it right. We must see it in the context of the threats we face, look at the powers we need and then consider the right regulatory framework for those powers. I am clear that David Anderson will be given the resources he needs.

Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con): The Home Secretary has justified rushing this Bill through the House on the basis of an emergency. However, the case was put to the ECJ some time ago, and it took some time to reach its conclusion on 8 April, so if there is an emergency, it was a predicable one on 8 April. There has since been plenty of time to look at the 12 clauses that relate to data retention, so why is there an emergency now and not then?

Mrs May: As I said in an earlier response, there was always going to be a need for fast-track legislation. There was never going to be any possibility of taking the Bill through the House in the normal time scale, because of the potential timetable within which we would be losing access to this data. I also say to my right hon. Friend that of course the case was going through the European Court of Justice, but until it had given its determination, no one was absolutely certain what the result would be and what aspects it would raise. There was always the possibility that even if it did decide to strike down the data retention directive it would stay that decision for a period to give an opportunity for other legislative frameworks to be put in place by member states. In the event, it chose not to do that. It chose to strike down the directive immediately. As I said, we are clear that our data retention regulations stand, but we need to put it absolutely beyond doubt and ensure that we do not lose these important capabilities.

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): The Home Secretary will know that she has the full support of all law-abiding citizens in Northern Ireland for legislation that defends the realm and ensures that terrorists are dealt with appropriately. Indeed, legislation such as this has been used to jail some 300 people for serious terrorist offences, and to protect our citizens. With that in mind, the Secretary of State mentioned the sunset clause. Come 2016, I am sure that this legislation will still be required. Will she assure us that by then we will have something more permanent in place, or have a proper debate about what should be in place to ensure that legislation such as this is operational?

Mrs May: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support of this emergency legislation. He recognises only too well the importance of ensuring that we have the capabilities that we need to deal with both terrorists and serious criminals. On the timetable, the intention is that the review will report before the general election, so that after the election it will be possible for the Government to take it forward and to look at the legislation that is required in sufficient time to get it on the statute book before the sunset clause kicks in at the end of 2016.

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Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs) (Con): I welcome these proposals. Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of her predecessors as Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel, faced strong opposition in this House to the creation of a modern police force on civil liberties grounds? Peel replied that liberty does not consist in having our home raided by an organised gang of thieves. Does not any responsible Government now have to recognise that technology, while enabling the fight against crime, has also presented serious criminals and terrorists with new opportunities to commit crime and we must respond to that?

Mrs May: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. We need to be able to respond to that challenge if we are to continue to fulfil one of the absolutely fundamental roles of Government, which is keeping the public safe and secure. Sometimes people describe the debate between liberty and security as a sort of binary process; we can have only one or the other. I do not see it as that. We can only enjoy our liberty if we have our security.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Although I appreciate that this is a very difficult subject, I remind the House that short questions and answers will mean that everyone has a chance to contribute to this statement.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): I sympathise with the Home Secretary’s quandary, but I rather sympathise, too, with the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), because the only reason that this is an emergency that has to be dealt with in a single day in the House of Commons is that the Government have spent three months making up their mind, and they have decided that we are going on holiday in 10 days’ time. Does it not make far more sense to enable proper consideration so that we do not have unintended consequences from this legislation? If the legislation was considered in this House on two separate days, we could table amendments after Second Reading.

Mrs May: I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point. To ensure that we get this legislation through in the necessary time and that we have a space of time—I recognise that it is a short space of time—I am publishing the draft Bill today. I am not waiting until Monday to publish the formal introduction of the Bill, because I want Members to have some extra time to look at it. It is important for this House to proceed through this matter in a timely way such that we can ensure that we do not lose the capabilities, and that we get the legislation on the statute book before the recess.

Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): Like many Members, I am instinctively uncomfortable about rushed emergency legislation, and also a little uncomfortable if there is too much consensus among those on all the Front Benches on any piece of legislation. However, I welcome what the Home Secretary has said today. She is right—it is a narrow and limited Bill that is only a precursor to other legislation. In my role as a junior member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, may I take this opportunity to assure all Members of the House that we take incredibly seriously our responsibilities to make sure that our security services act only in a legal and a necessary and proportionate manner?

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Mrs May: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. I sometimes think that on some issues we cannot win in terms of the length of time available. The important point is that the Bill is not about extending powers or about new powers; it is confirmation of existing powers and of a legislative framework around them. The debate about extension of powers or any change of powers will come after the review and after the election.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): Given the real intention and agenda, is this not just the snoopers’ charter—the prequel? Although there have been all sorts of arrangements and discussions among those on all the Front Benches and even with Select Committee Chairs, there has been none with the Scottish Government, even though we are responsible for policing arrangements and for justice? I asked the Scottish Government this morning what detailed discussions the Home Secretary has had with them. There was none. Does she think that is good enough?

Mrs May: I am very sorry about the tone that the hon. Gentleman has taken. We are, of course, making the Scottish Government aware of this, and discussions will take place with the Scottish Government. We are facing a situation where we could see the loss of capabilities that lead to dangerous criminals, paedophiles and terrorists being apprehended and brought to justice. I should have thought that every Member of the House, in all parts of the House, wanted to ensure that we maintain those capabilities, and I am very sorry if the hon. Gentleman takes a different view.

Michael Ellis (Northampton North) (Con): As a member of the Joint Scrutiny Committee that for six months considered similar matters, and as a member of the Home Affairs Committee, may I commend the Home Secretary for her statement? Will she confirm that the Bill maintains modern policing effectively to deal with modern criminality? It represents the status quo and it does not focus just on anti-terrorism. It would focus also on child protection and serious criminality of all types, and it is crucial that it is maintained.

Mrs May: My hon. Friend is right and, as he says, he has the experience of membership of the Home Affairs Committee and of sitting on the Joint Scrutiny Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill. We are maintaining a capability, and as I indicated in reference to cases in my statement, and as the shadow Home Secretary indicated in reference to cases in her response, we have seen murders and serious crimes where the access to communications data has been vital in order to solve those and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab): Is the Home Secretary aware that, despite what she has said, there are great misgivings, which I share, about the legislation being rushed through next week? I will not support it, and I think it is quite wrong that such important legislation affecting criminality, terrorism and civil liberties should be rushed through in a single day. Those on the Front Benches agree, but that does not mean that all of us have to agree as well. Does she accept—

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Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. I must move on. We have to get everybody in. I think the Home Secretary has enough to go on.

Mrs May: In the interests of brevity, let me say that I disagree with the hon. Member for Walsall North (Mr Winnick).

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): Surely most members of the public would congratulate the Government and the former Labour Government for being so robust on these matters. In the context of the wider debate, will the Home Secretary resist the advice given to her by the Liberal party that we should have further legal impediments? For the public, if there is a choice between their children being blown up on the tube or those people’s conversations being listened to, it is a no-brainer.

Mrs May: Yes, I believe the public do want to see our police, our law enforcement agencies and our security and intelligence agencies have access to the capabilities they need to keep people safe. The legislation is about ensuring that we maintain those capabilities.

Mr Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) (Lab): I have no doubt that the Home Secretary will get her Bill through next week, but the price will be a perception that it is the result of a last-minute deal between elites with little scrutiny by Parliament or civic society and that the rushed legislation might unravel. We have an honourable tradition in this country of policing by consent in which I know the Home Secretary also believes passionately. Does she agree that we should seek the same standards from our intelligence services? British people are not stupid and they are not ideological when it comes to this kind of thing. Why can they not have time to discuss it with their elected representatives?

Mrs May: As I have made clear, we are ensuring that we confirm and maintain capabilities that have already been put in place—capabilities that were put in place in legislation passed by the previous Labour Government. I recognise that the hon. Gentleman and a number of other hon. Members, including one of my right hon. Friends, have suggested that when those on the Front Benches agree on something that is somehow a conspiracy that needs to be resisted at all costs. The fact that all parties in this House, the coalition Government and Her Majesty’s Opposition are supporting the measure shows the serious nature of the issues we face and the importance of dealing with them.

Sir Menzies Campbell (North East Fife) (LD): I, too, was late into the Chamber, which is why I have waited until now to seek to intervene. I apologise to my right hon. Friend for that. I commend her for her ability to strike a proper balance on incredibly sensitive issues, but may I remind her that there is a precedent established by her distinguished predecessor, Roy Jenkins, who at the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland put significant and important anti-terrorist legislation through the House according to almost the same kind of timetable?

Mrs May: I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for his remarks of support for this legislation and for the useful historical precedent that he has brought to my attention, which I might quote in future.

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Nia Griffith (Llanelli) (Lab): The Home Secretary has quite rightly mentioned close co-operation with Europe and has mentioned countries such as Denmark and Ireland where no action is needed. Will she elaborate on what action she will be taking to ensure that when action is needed by countries, it is taken so that no EU state is left as a safe haven for communications by criminals, which, in this day and age, could easily be used by anyone?

Mrs May: I do, of course, talk about these issues with my opposite numbers in the EU member states. I have been talking with them about how they will address the issue, and I will continue to do so. We want to ensure that we have the maximum ability to deal with terrorists and criminals and that we do not leave any safe haven available for them.

Dr Thérèse Coffey (Suffolk Coastal) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend spell out the implications for the safety of people in this country if we do not proceed with the legislation as she proposes, with the commendable support of the Opposition?

Mrs May: The risk is very clear. The risk is that we will lose access to communications data and to our ability to access intercept material. As I have said, those capabilities have been used in every major terrorist investigation by the Security Service. In 95% of the serious criminal cases dealt with by the Crown Prosecution Service, communications data were used and were necessary. In many of those cases, such data were an important and vital part of getting a prosecution—not just in investigating but in prosecuting criminals. Failure to have access to that data will mean the criminals will go unimpeded and will not be brought to justice. I think that, sadly, as a result of that, innocent lives will be lost.

Stephen Pound (Ealing North) (Lab): I am not entirely sure that the passage of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974 provides an example of best practice. May I ask the Home Secretary whether she believes that any aspect of this proposed legislation should have a specific individual significance for Northern Ireland, and if so will a separate statement be made?

Mrs May: Our proposals have broad application and there will be no separate statement in relation to Northern Ireland. I think that the statement I have made today stands.

Mr Robert Buckland (South Swindon) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend reassure the House that the principles of proportionality set out in the ECJ judgment will be adhered to in the draft legislation, and will the new privacy and civil liberties board be able, among other things, to consider the need for a properly codified law of privacy and data protection in this country?

Mrs May: On the second point, we are still looking at the exact form that that board will take and its terms of reference. It would be premature for me to suggest that it went down a particular route on an issue that it was looking at.

On the question of proportionality raised in the ECJ judgment, we have addressed that in two regards. One of its arguments was that the scope of the data retention

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directive was too broad, so we are explicitly limiting data retention to a strict list of data types—those that were specified in our data retention regulations of 2009. It also raised the issue of an absolute period of time for which data needed were retained and the possibility that no consideration was being given to whether all data needed to be retained for the same length of time. The new Bill therefore makes the data retention period not 12 months but a maximum of 12 months to provide for some flexibility if appropriate.

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): When I look back to the start of this Parliament, I cannot help thinking that the Home Secretary is changing from the protection of freedoms queen into Mrs Snoop. Is not the real reason we have an emergency that it has taken three months for the coalition partners to agree a deal on this security measure?

Mrs May: No. Proper government is about looking at these judgments properly and giving them full consideration to ensure that we give the right and appropriate response. This coalition Government have been very clear, from day one, that we are looking at the balance between security and civil liberties. That is why when we came into office we took decisions to make certain changes such as changing the pre-charge detention period from 28 days to 14 days. We are doing what is right and appropriate to ensure that people’s privacy and liberties are protected while, at the same time, our agencies have the capabilities they need to keep people safe.

Julian Smith (Skipton and Ripon) (Con): I thank the Home Secretary for her statement and for the Government’s laser-like focus on keeping British families safe while ensuring that the legal framework is robust. Does she agree that our intelligence services have been subject to much unfair criticism of late—unfair because they operate within the law, because they are unable to speak fully for themselves, and because they are among the best intelligence services in the world?

Mrs May: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We are very fortunate in the quality of people we have in our security and intelligence agencies. They do a job that they have to do day by day, relentlessly, in the pursuit of terrorists and those who would seek to do this country harm in a variety of ways, and they do that job very well. This House should never shrink from commending them for the work that they do and thanking them, on behalf of the public, for that work.

Gavin Shuker (Luton South) (Lab/Co-op): Prior to 8 April, did the Home Secretary receive legal advice that asserted that existing legislation was deficient and that remedial action through a legislative route would be necessary?

Mrs May: First, Ministers do not refer at the Dispatch Box to legal advice that they have received. As I said earlier, the European Court of Justice case was going through the European Court of Justice, and a number of outcomes could have resulted. Until it made its determination, nobody knew the precise nature of it and the issues that would need to be addressed.

Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con): I welcome the measures that the Home Secretary has set out and the measured way in which she put them before the House. On protecting

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individuals’ rights to privacy, will she consider, in the long term, establishing a British internet Bill of rights to codify the things that she set out and give the public a framework whereby they know that their rights will be protected?

Mrs May: My hon. Friend makes an interesting suggestion that slightly echoes that made by my hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon (Mr Buckland) about privacy and the rights and responsibilities that people have on the internet. I would expect the whole question of privacy around the internet to be part of what the review looks at in terms of the powers and capabilities that we need and how we regulate those in an appropriate way that makes sure that we have the right balance.

Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op): I welcome this measured, responsible statement and the response by the shadow Home Secretary. The Home Secretary referred to the position with regard to Denmark and Ireland, which use implementations from primary legislation. Will she give us more information about other European countries? Is it possible that other countries with coalition Governments will have already made the necessary changes and that others might take a lot longer than this, leaving a hole in European security?

Mrs May: Other countries are having to address this in terms of their own legislative frameworks. For some, the timetable will be different from the timetable we are adopting, purely because of their situation and what they need to do. We would expect that, in due course, the European Commission will look at the issue of the EU data retention directive that has been struck down and whether it and member states will wish to come together to put in place a further directive. However, that will not be for some time, hence the need to take action in the interim.

Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (Con): I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement. Is not this a replacement of pre-existing powers to ensure that criminals do not slip through the net and escape justice?

Mrs May: My hon. Friend is absolutely right and puts it extremely well.

Derek Twigg (Halton) (Lab): The Home Secretary said that “the Government will also introduce a package of measures to reassure the public that their rights to security and privacy are equally protected.” What will the key parts of that package be?

Mrs May: Yes, I did refer to that. We are going to ensure that we have more transparency from Government through the information that we will publish in an annual transparency report, within parameters. We will also reduce the number of bodies that are able to have access to the communications data, establish a privacy and civil liberties board based on the US model, have a review of the capabilities and powers that are necessary against the threats we face and the ways in which those are regulated, and lead discussions with other Governments on how we deal with these matters of sharing data across borders.

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Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): While thanking the Home Secretary for her statement and praising her role in wishing to protect the civil liberties of those of us who do not want to be blown up, is not the truth of the matter that the reason for the three-month delay between the European Court judgment and today’s announcement of legislation is that the Lib Dem part of the coalition has been umming and aahing over this issue for far too long? I see that no Lib Dems are on the Front Bench to support her while she speaks.

Mrs May: I have to point out to my hon. Friend that the Minister for Crime Prevention was present when I made my statement and for the early part of these questions. As I am sure my hon. Friend will recognise, other Ministers were present on the Front Bench for the statement and the shadow Home Secretary’s response but have had to go to undertake other business. In fact, over this period we have been making sure that we are responding to the judgment from the European Court in a way that is appropriate and maintains the capabilities that we need in the UK.

Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend expand on the legal protections to prevent improper use of the data collected so that the only people who will have something to fear from this legislation are criminals, and the ordinary public will be protected?

Mrs May: A wide range of protections regarding access to communications data already exists within the legislation in relation to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, access to interception, and the communications data retention regulations. As I said earlier, the whole question of access to communications data was scrutinised by a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament, which, having looked at these processes, concluded that they were entirely appropriate. However, we will ensure that access to retained

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communications data will be limited to access that is considered to be necessary and proportionate through the RIPA process, court orders, or any further mechanisms specifically approved by Parliament.

Gavin Williamson (South Staffordshire) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend assure my constituents that this legislation will be an important and vital tool in the police’s battle against child abusers and those who seek to perpetrate paedophile acts?

Mrs May: I can absolutely give my hon. Friend that assurance. Communications data in particular are an absolutely vital tool in investigations and in bringing criminals to justice. They have been a particularly important tool in recent cases of child abuse, and they are also important with regard to the serious crimes I mentioned earlier, including murder. It is vital that we have access to this tool, in order to be able to keep people safe and bring perpetrators of those crimes to justice.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Last but certainly not least, the hon. and gallant Gentleman Bob Stewart.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I believe we have a duty to pass this fast-track legislation quickly. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, unless we do so, the police and the security services will not have the powers that may stop innocent citizens of this country dying?

Mrs May: My hon. Friend is right. I have been clear in my responses that I fear that, if we do not ensure that we maintain these capabilities, not only will we see criminals going about their business without the police being able to deal with them appropriately and bring them to justice, but we could see innocent lives being lost.

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Industrial Action Update

12.21 pm

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Mr Francis Maude): With permission, Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to update the House on today’s industrial action called by some public sector unions.

I start by thanking the large majority of public servants who have turned up for work today as normal. This reflects their dedication to their public service calling.

This is the fourth one-day public sector strike in the past few years. The proportion of public sector workers going on strike has fallen on each occasion. So far as the civil service is concerned, it has fallen from 32% in November 2011 to 23% in May 2012 and 21% in March 2013, and today it has fallen below 20%. Every jobcentre opened this morning. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has seen a surge in the use of digital services, which helps the drive towards greater efficiency and more convenience for taxpayers. I am told there have been no major issues at the borders. The majority of schools have remained open.

The Government have put in place contingency measures to minimise the impact of strike action, but where there is disruption the responsibility lies unequivocally with union leaders.

When unions go on strike, it is hard-working people who suffer the consequences most, including vulnerable people who depend on public services and parents who are forced to take a day off work or arrange child care because their local school is closed. These strikes risk damaging those who are working hard to get this country moving again.

There can be no escape from the realities of our economic situation. We are still dealing with the damage left by the great recession. As part of their long-term economic plan, the Government have taken tough decisions to reduce the budget deficit—which I remind the House was the biggest in the developed world. This includes pay restraint while protecting those earning under £21,000. By reforming public sector pensions in the way we have done, we have ensured that they remain among the very best available, while making them affordable and sustainable into the future.

We cannot afford to go backwards. It is only by taking difficult decisions in the long-term interests of the country that we can deliver the economic growth that we need if we want to carry on investing in our public services, our schools and hospitals and the dedicated staff who work in them.

Trade unions can, of course, play a constructive role in the modern workplace. That is why the Government will continue to talk with the unions and listen to their concerns.

The right to strike is an important freedom under the law, but it must be exercised responsibly. Only one in five of eligible members of Unite and Unison took part in these recent ballots, meaning the strikes were approved by only a fraction of the unions’ eligible members.

The National Union of Teachers—the only teaching union calling a strike today— has not even balloted its members. Instead, it relies on a ballot from back in

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2012—nearly two years ago. This cannot be right. The more often unions call strikes based on outdated mandates and ballots with pitifully low levels of support, the stronger the case becomes for reform of the law.

Growth is returning to the British economy, but we have a responsibility to ensure that the economy that emerges from the great recession is strong and sustainable. We must never again allow Britain’s public finances to fall so catastrophically into deficit.

I commend this statement to the House.

12.25 pm

Michael Dugher (Barnsley East) (Lab): May I begin by thanking the Minister for advance sight of his statement in the nick of time?

Let us be clear: we on these Benches have said repeatedly that no one wants to see strikes, not least because of the impact they have on children, parents and all of us who rely on our vital local public services.

The Minister is right to say that it is hard-working people who suffer the consequences most, but should not the Government bear much of the blame for the situation today? Instead of ramping up the rhetoric, the Government should have been getting people around the table. Strikes represent a failure on all sides, and all sides have a responsibility to prevent strikes from taking place.

Will the Minister outline exactly what specific talks he has he had with the unions to prevent today’s strike action? What has he done specifically to encourage both sides to get around the table and prevent this industrial action? When was the last time he discussed the issue with the trade unions in his own Department and those more widely engaged in the public sector? What are the Government going to do to change their approach to prevent future strikes from happening in the future?

Instead of a negotiated settlement being sought, have we not had yet another depressing demonstration of a Cabinet full of millionaires demonising the lowest paid workers in society? In local government, nearly 500,000 workers are paid less than the living wage.

When the Minister mentioned outdated mandates and ballots with pitifully low support, I thought he was referring to the police and crime commissioner elections introduced by the Government. I remind him that the trade union legislation we have today was introduced by Margaret Thatcher, who was not known for her warmth towards the trade unions. We await any details of the Minister’s proposals—there was none in the statement.

It is important to recognise that, if we look at the total number of all those eligible to vote in the Minister’s own Horsham constituency, where he enjoys a comfortable majority, we will see that he secured only 38% of support at the last general election. No one would question his legitimacy—or, indeed, that of any Member—to be a Member of this House. Members of this House are in no position to lecture the unions about legitimacy. At the last general election—an election the Conservatives failed to win, by the way—the Conservative party secured only 36% of the popular vote, but here it is, four years later, still in office, so it is a bit rich for Ministers to be lecturing anyone else about legitimacy.

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This week we have seen the ongoing, unedifying spectacle of the Minister rowing in public once again with his own civil service. He is like a man trying to fight everyone in the pub at the same time. When the country needs to see a negotiated settlement, what have we got? We have ministerial belligerence revelling in confrontation, where strike action by the unions is almost a public policy success for a Government desperate for a fight. It is sabre rattling, it is union bashing and it is playing politics. It is a deliberate distraction and, frankly, it is pathetic.

We are all desperate to see the Government getting all sides around the table to reach a negotiated settlement so that teachers can get back to teaching and vital local government workers can get back to work. The truth is that Ministers are making that task harder, not easier.

Mr Maude: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the succession of compliments he paid me. Perhaps I can deal with some of the issues he raised. He first raised the issue of the legitimacy of the Government. I point out that the parties that form the coalition Government secured the support of nearly 60% of the voters at the last election, which compares with the 29% that his party secured, so I am grateful to him for drawing attention to that.

The hon. Gentleman asked about discussions with the unions, which is a very important question. When we dealt with the long overdue issue of public sector pension reform, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and I conducted long discussions and negotiations with the TUC over a long period. They were incredibly valuable, and as a result we were able to make some changes to the configuration of the proposals. That enabled us both to secure public sector pensions that still remain among the very best available, on a basis that was sustainable and affordable for the future and to meet the particular concerns of particular unions. The process was valuable, and if the hon. Gentleman talked to any of the trade union leaders who took part in it he would find that they say that that enterprise was taken forward in a spirit of proper partnership and deliberation.

The hon. Gentleman asked about recent discussions with the trade unions. I can tell him that talks were planned with the civil service unions a couple of weeks ago, but they had to be aborted because the Public and Commercial Services Union was picketing the building in which the discussions were to take place. None of the union leaders felt able to cross the picket line so, sadly, the discussions had to be postponed.

Michael Dugher: Would you have crossed the picket line?

Mr Maude: Yes, I would, but it takes two to take part in discussions, so that was all a bit unfortunate.

Let me point out that

“public sector pay restraint will have to continue through this parliament. There is no way we should be arguing for higher pay when the choice is between higher pay and bringing unemployment down… That’s something we cannot do, should not do and will not do”,


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“the priority now has to be to preserve jobs. I think that’s a recognition that everybody would see all round the country. We have got to do everything we can to preserve employment”.

Those are not my words, but those of the shadow Chancellor and the Leader of the Opposition.

It is just worth pointing out that all the right hon. Gentlemen’s brave words supporting public sector pay restraint fall away when we understand how much money the Labour party gets from the unions that have called the strikes today. What is it? Some £23.6 million has been given to the Labour party since the current Leader of the Opposition became its leader. Unite has donated £12.5 million, Unison £5.7 million and the GMB £5.2 million. That is why it is no surprise, as the Prime Minister pointed out yesterday, that the Labour party’s guidance on the strikes is: “Do we support strikes? No. Will we condemn strikes? No.” Weak, weak, weak.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that pay restraint has helped to keep jobs and to reduce the deficit we face in this country?

Mr Maude: My hon. Friend is completely right. About £12 billion will have been saved as a result of pay restraint in the current spending round period, which is equivalent to the cost of employing 65,000 teachers or 71,000 nurses over that time. The 5% pay claim made by PCS for the civil service would cost £500 million every year, which is equivalent to further civil servant work force reductions of 18,000. Every increase in pay means fewer jobs.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): The Electoral Commission report on the police and crime commissioner elections in November 2012 stated that the turnout of 15.1% was

“the lowest recorded level of participation at a peacetime non-local government election in the UK.”

Does that mean that the Government’s flagship policy of police and crime commissioners and those who have been elected lack any legitimacy?

Mr Maude: I point out to the hon. Lady that what the police do locally affects every single resident in the area, and every single resident over the age of 18 has the right to vote in those elections. When unions call strikes that affect local residents, parents and vulnerable people who depend on public services, such people are not consulted. It is not asking very much to require a union, when it calls its members out on strike in ways that damage the public, to have to rely on a vote of substantive quantity, with a majority behind it.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): I call birthday boy Sir Tony Baldry.

Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): Was it not Lord Hutton, a former Labour Cabinet Minister, who made it clear that as we are all living longer, everyone will have to pay more into their pensions and to work longer? Has my right hon. Friend had any shadow of a scintilla of a suggestion from the shadow Chancellor that if Labour were elected, it would treat either public sector pensions or public sector pay in any way differently from the present Government?

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Mr Maude: My right hon. Friend asks a very pertinent question. The answer is that we do not know. There has been no suggestion of any increase, but we note that when Mr Len McCluskey recently promised to fund the Labour party campaign from Unite’s political fund, he said that he expected a union representative to sit at the Cabinet table. I think we know what the answer to that one will be.

Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab): Is the Minister aware that, despite all the Tory smears and slurs today, those taking industrial action are fighting for justice and fairness, and that they have absolutely nothing to be ashamed about? As for trade union money coming to Labour, what about the vast sums that the richest people in the country have been giving to the Tories in recent weeks, and rightly so, because the Tory Government are out, as they always have been, to defend the interests of the richest people in this country?

Mr Maude: I would have thought that the hon. Gentleman, after all his time in Parliament, might have come up with something a little better and more original.

Mr Winnick: It is the truth.

Mr Maude: The truth is that the coalition Government inherited the biggest budget deficit in the world—bigger than in Greece, Spain, Portugal or Ireland—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Barnsley East (Michael Dugher) says, cheerfully, that we should have cleared it by now. Yes, if we had inherited a country in a better state than that in which he left it, the deficit might have been cleared by now. The truth is that we now have the strongest growing economy in the developed world, and part of that is undoubtedly due to the difficult decisions made in the long-term interests of the country, with precious little support from Opposition Front Benchers.

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): Will the Minister join me in thanking all the teachers in Shropshire and in Telford and Wrekin who have turned up for work today? Does he agree that this minority strike is causing huge disruption to families and parents throughout the county of Shropshire, and that teachers must get back to work as soon as possible?

Mr Maude: I join my hon. Friend in thanking, as I did at the start of statement, all those public sector workers—the vast majority—who have gone to work today, despite the blandishments and calls to go on strike. They recognise that their public service ethos means that they want to be at work to support the people they are there to provide services for. I hope that the strikes, which are based on very old mandates and very little support among union members, will come to an end.

Stephen Pound (Ealing North) (Lab): The Minister referred to the suffering of hard-working people. May I try to persuade him that many of the people striking or supporting the strike today are also suffering and are also hard-working, and that strike action is a course of last resort? This action has not been taken lightly, but with a heavy heart.

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Mr Maude: The hon. Gentleman, for whom I have some respect, says that strikes are not entered into lightly, but as far as the union leaders are concerned, they have been entered into very lightly. The NUT leaders did not call a ballot; they relied on a ballot that is two years old, and did not consult their members. The leaderships of the other unions—Unite, Unison and the GMB—have called this strike despite having recent ballots with extraordinarily low levels of support for strike action. I absolutely know that no one goes on strike lightly, but I think that when the hon. Gentleman looks at this, in his heart of hearts, he will conclude that trade unions leaders have called the strikes lightly and that they are causing damage to vulnerable people.

Mr Rob Wilson (Reading East) (Con): Many of my constituents will be inconvenienced today because of the politically motivated actions of union leaders. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the private sector has absorbed cuts to pay and pensions due to the circumstances in which the country found itself, and that unfortunately, other sectors including the public sector will have to do the same?

Mr Maude: My hon. Friend draws out a really important point, which is that since the recession pay in the public sector has risen by more than it has in the private sector. The comparators show that average pay in the public sector is higher than in the private sector. I know that there are people on low pay in the public sector, as there are in the private sector, but the fact is that, given the appalling legacy that the outgoing Labour Government left the coalition Government, there have been tough decisions to be made and many people have had to make sacrifices along the way.

Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) (Lab): More than 1,000 jobs have gone from Stockton borough alone since this Government came to power, and the value of public sector pay, including for some of the lowest-paid part-time workers in our communities, has gone down by about 20% since 2010. Just 1% of £6,000, which is what many of those people are paid, would buy a loaf of bread each week for a year. If the Government can afford to give millionaires a tax cut worth many times more than public sector workers get paid in a year, why can they not find a way better to reward the people who clean the streets, empty the bins and look after our most vulnerable people?

Mr Maude: I hear what the hon. Gentleman says. In his own area, many jobs have been created in the private sector, and the local growth initiatives that my right hon. and hon. Friends launched earlier this week will bring even more jobs there.

Alex Cunningham: In the north-east, unemployment is going up.

Mr Maude: I have to tell the hon. Gentleman that, for every increase in public sector pay, there is a price to be paid in lost jobs.

Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend acknowledge that there are millions of trade unionists who have not gone on strike today, a third of whom vote Conservative? I ask him to tread very carefully

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in regard to getting rid of the majority principle. I accept that it is important to have annual or regular ballots, as he has described, but if a law were brought in to remove the majority principle, it could have implications for other organisations and institutions.

Mr Maude: I hear what my hon. Friend says. He has rightly been a passionate supporter of people’s right to join a trade union. He has made the point that trade unions are an embodiment of much of what we believe in as the big society and civil society, and I agree with him on that. He will also know from the things I have been saying during the four years that I have had the privilege to hold this office that I have resisted the repeated blandishments to go down the path of further legislation. I have consistently said that the more often the unions call strike action irresponsibly on the basis of outdated mandates and ballots with very low levels of support, the stronger the case for reform of the law becomes. The action that has been called for today has made that case significantly stronger.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): Public sector workers have taken disproportionate real-terms cuts in their pay, conditions and living standards over the past five years, and no one has been harder hit than those in lower-paid public sector jobs. The Scottish Government are committed to paying at least the living wage of £7.65 an hour to all their public sector workers and have guaranteed no compulsory redundancies. Why cannot the United Kingdom Government make similar commitments?

Mr Maude: What the hon. Lady says is simply not the case. Over the past five years, public sector pay has increased by an average of 13%, which is more than four times the average increase of 3% in the private sector. As far as the lowest-paid people are concerned, we have been at pains throughout this process to exempt people earning below £21,000 from any pay freezes, so what she says is simply not correct.

Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty) (Con): As hundreds of schoolchildren across Selby are being denied access to their education by the National Union of Teachers today, what message does the Minister have for the hundreds of families affected, including the parents who have been forced to pay for child care, and for the businesses that have been forced to give people time off work because of this illegitimate action by the NUT?

Mr Maude: I would invite them to reflect that the responsibility for the damage that is undoubtedly being caused, despite all the effective contingency measures that we have put in place, lies squarely on the shoulders of the union leaders who have called this strike action on the basis of inadequate or outdated mandates. I would also invite them to ask the Labour party where it was when the strikes were called and whether it condemned them, and to look at the correlation between the amount of money paid to the Labour party by those unions and the Labour party’s action.

Mrs Mary Glindon (North Tyneside) (Lab): I support the public sector workers withdrawing their labour today, and I am pleased to say that I am an associate member

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of the Public and Commercial Services Union, which is not affiliated to our party. The Minister has said that we cannot afford to go back, but he seems happy to take public servants back with a 20% cut to their living standards as a result of Government policy.

Mr Maude: It simply is not the case that public sector workers have suffered more than private sector workers. I shall repeat this at dictation speed: public sector pay has risen in the past five years—the period since the great recession—by more than pay in the private sector has risen.

Robert Jenrick (Newark) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend join me in thanking the teachers and staff in my constituency, many of whom are union members, who have ensured that all but two schools there have remained open today? One of the two that have closed is a special school, and the parents have found it incredibly difficult to make alternative child care arrangements. How can it possibly be right for those parents to suffer what they have suffered today on the basis of a ballot taken two years ago that provided such a small mandate?

Mr Maude: My hon. Friend makes a really powerful point. I join him in supporting and thanking all those people, including governors and other volunteers, who have rallied round to ensure that, wherever possible, schools could be kept open. That is very much to their credit. The strikes have been called on the basis of increasingly thin mandates, and people’s determination to keep public services open and available has increased. It is particularly wrong that a special school of the type that my hon. Friend describes should have been closed in that way.

Gavin Shuker (Luton South) (Lab/Co-op): Ordinary hard-working people, such as those I represent in Luton, should have the right to withdraw their labour in a responsible way and to stand up against people, many of whom are on much higher salaries, such as us here in Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman talks of mandates and legitimacy. Some police and crime commissioners were recently elected on the strength of securing just 5% of first-preference votes. Does he accept that that shows the lunacy of what he is saying?

Mr Maude: I repeat the point that I made earlier, which is that all local residents are affected by policing decisions and that all local residents who are voters have the right to vote in those elections. The constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Robert Jenrick) whose children have been denied access to the special school they depend on were never consulted about this. They had no say in it; they just have to take what happens as a result of a strike called by union leaders on flimsy, outdated mandates, and I think that that is wrong.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): Parents in Kettering whose children have been affected by today’s industrial action have telephoned me this morning to make the reasonable point that parents are now subject to fines if they take their children out of school during term time but that such legislation does not apply to teachers who deny loads of children their education for

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a day. Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that very reasonable point when drawing up future legislation to prevent such industrial action in schools?

Mr Maude: I hear what my hon. Friend says; he makes an interesting suggestion. Children being able to attend school on a predictable and regular basis is incredibly important in relation not only to their education but to the interests of their hard-working parents who want to go to work in order to support their families week in, week out. When arbitrary action is called in this way, based on flimsy and outdated mandates, damage is done to children and to their parents.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): As somebody who has taken part in negotiations and been involved in strikes, I assure the Minister that people are very reluctant to strike. He has to understand that the trade unions are reflecting the concern over the cost of living because the purchasing power of wages has dropped by about 6% over the past three or four years. I urge everybody in the House to stop having a slanging match, because at some point, as the Minister and I know, he will have to sit down with the very same trade unions and negotiate a settlement. I urge him to do so as soon as possible.

Mr Maude: I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but I remind him that negotiations and discussions with the civil service trade unions were due to take place in the Cabinet Office only two or three weeks ago. Sadly, that meeting had to be aborted because the PCS was picketing the premises where the meeting was to take place and none of the union leaders was willing to cross the picket line.

Mr Marcus Jones (Nuneaton) (Con): Is my right hon. Friend as concerned as I am that many of my constituents will be forced to take a day off work today—and that

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many of them will lose a day’s pay—to look after their children because of a strike that was balloted on more than two years ago?

Mr Maude: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Those people will be very resentful that their attempts to go to work and earn a living to support their families have been frustrated in that way.

Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con): My constituents in Bury, Ramsbottom and Tottington will be astonished to learn that the NUT strike is being justified on the basis of a ballot that was held almost two years ago. Does my right hon. Friend agree that there should be a much shorter period between a ballot and any action, and that it should be measured in weeks rather than years?

Mr Maude: That is exactly the issue that has been raised by the circumstances in which these strikes have been called. The ballots are very outdated. The NUT ballot took place nearly two years ago. Why did the leadership of the NUT have so little confidence in balloting their members on strike action again? Is it because they saw what happened to the other unions, such as Unite and Unison, that did hold ballots, which saw less than 20% of eligible members voting and very small numbers of eligible voters voting in favour of strike action? Possibly. The fact is that these strikes are being held on the basis of flimsy and outdated mandates. The case for reform of the law gets stronger every time that happens.

Mr Robert Buckland (South Swindon) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that those who say that they do not support the strikes, yet in the same breath fail to condemn them, take the art of casuistry to new heights?

Mr Maude: I could not put it better myself.

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The UK’s Justice and Home Affairs Opt-outs

[Relevant documents: Twenty-first Report from the European Scrutiny Committee of Session 2013-14, The UK’s block opt-out of pre-Lisbon criminal law and policing measures, HC 683, and the Government response, HC 978; Ninth Report from the Home Affairs Committee of Session 2013-14, Pre-Lisbon Treaty EU police and criminal justice measures: the UK’s opt-in decision, HC 615, and the Government response, HC 954; Eighth Report from the Justice Committee of Session 2013-14, Ministry of Justice measures in the JHA block opt-out, HC 605, and the Government response, HC 972; First Joint Report from the European Scrutiny, Home Affairs and Justice Committees of Session 2013-14, The Government’s response to the Committees’ Report on the 2014 block opt-out decision, HC 1177, and the Government response in the letter of 6 April 2014 from the Home Secretary and the Justice Secretary to the Chairs of the three Committees; Fifth Report from the European Scrutiny Committee, HC 219-v, Chapter 8; Decision pursuant to Article 10 of Protocol 36 to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Cm 8671, July 2013; and Decision pursuant to Article 10(5) of Protocol 36 to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Cm 8897, July 2014.]

12.53 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): I beg to move,

That this House has considered the UK’s Justice and Home Affairs opt-outs.

I have just noticed the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) sitting in solitary splendour on the Opposition Front Bench.

On 24 March this year, Francis Paul Cullen was sentenced to 15 years in prison for a series of sexual assaults on children. He committed those offences over a period of more than three decades while serving as a priest in Nottingham and Derbyshire. His victims were both boys and girls, and were aged between six and 16. The judge said that their

“whole lives have been blighted”

by this

“cunning, devious, arrogant”

man. Indeed, one of them tried to take their own life.

When his crimes came to light in 1991, Cullen fled to Tenerife to evade justice. Last year, after 22 years on the run and two decades of further suffering for his victims, he was extradited from Spain on a European arrest warrant. This spring, he pleaded guilty to 15 counts of indecent assault, five counts of indecency with a child and one count of attempted buggery. After a lifetime of waiting, his victims who were watching in that courtroom in Derby finally saw justice done.

That harrowing case and too many others like it form the backdrop to today’s debate. Francis Cullen is just one of the despicable and cowardly criminals who have fled our shores to try to escape British justice. In an earlier age, he might have succeeded. Under the system of extradition that existed before the European arrest warrant—the 1957 European convention on extradition—his 22 years on the run would have rendered him immune from prosecution by the Spanish authorities, helping to

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bar his extradition back to the UK. It is thanks to the European arrest warrant that Cullen is behind bars at last.

I know that many right hon. and hon. Members have concerns about the way in which that measure has operated since the Labour party signed us up to it, and I have shared many of those concerns. That is why I have legislated to reform the operation of the arrest warrant and increase the protections that we can offer to those who are wanted for extradition, particularly if they are British subjects.

First, Members were concerned that British citizens were being extradited for disproportionately minor offences. We changed the law to allow an arrest warrant to be refused in respect of minor offences. A British judge will now consider whether the alleged offence and likely sentence are sufficient to make the person’s extradition proportionate. Secondly, Members were concerned that people could be extradited for actions that are not against the law of this land. We have clarified the rules on dual criminality to ensure that an arrest warrant must be refused if all or part of the conduct for which the person is wanted took place in the United Kingdom and it is not a criminal offence in the UK.

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): These are serious matters. Nobody wants to protect criminals. However, there is a lot of concern about these matters in the House of Commons, not least because it is difficult to argue to our people that we want to take powers back from the European Union if we are giving it powers. Will my right hon. Friend give the House an assurance that although this is effectively an Adjournment debate on a one-line Whip, there will be a substantive vote after a proper debate so that the House of Commons is able to vote on these matters?

Mrs May: My hon. Friend causes me to progress to another part of my speech. I want to make the situation absolutely clear. As he knows, we have had a number of debates on this matter in the House, and the Justice Secretary and I have made a number of appearances before various Select Committees, including the European Scrutiny Committee. We had hoped and intended that by this stage we would have reached agreement on the full package that we are negotiating with the European Commission and other member states. That has not happened. The package was discussed at the General Affairs Council towards the end of June, but some reservations have still been placed on it, so we do not yet have the final agreement. However, we believed that we had sufficient knowledge to make it right and proper to have this debate in the House today.

Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mrs May: Sorry, I am still responding to my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh). I am trying to answer his question as carefully and clearly as possible.

The House will have the opportunity to vote on this matter in due course, but having said that we would bring the matter back to the House before the summer recess, I thought it right and proper to give the House the opportunity to have this debate.

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Sir Tony Baldry: I am very grateful to the Home Secretary. I apologise if I interrupted her.

I am sure that the Home Secretary will make it clear to the House that if we do not have the European arrest warrant, we will need to have a large number of individual treaties with individual countries. My hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) and I are both old enough to have practised at the Bar when that was the situation. I remember that, whether one was prosecuting or defending, it could take ages and ages, going to Horseferry Road magistrates court time after time, with adjournment after adjournment, year after year, before someone was extradited.

Mrs May: My right hon. Friend makes an extremely valid point. It is the point that I had hoped to illustrate with the case that I set out at the beginning of my speech, which is that the European arrest warrant has given us distinct advantages in our ability to have criminals extradited back to the United Kingdom and, indeed, to extradite people elsewhere when they have committed crimes that warrant that extradition.

Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con): Will the Home Secretary give way?

Mrs May: I will, if my hon. Friend will wait a moment.

There have, of course, been a number of concerns that we have addressed in our legislation. That is an important point. I was in the middle of setting those out, but before I go on with the list, I will give way to my hon. Friend.

Jacob Rees-Mogg: The Government, in their July 2013 Command Paper, said that

“it may be possible to negotiate bilateral treaties…with the EU”.

The EU now has legal personality and I believe that there is legal advice, at least in the Ministry of Justice, that says that a bilateral treaty with the EU would be possible. Why is that avenue not being pursued?

Mrs May: There are two issues in relation to that. First, people often say, “That’s what Denmark has; it is able to negotiate directly because it has a complete opt-out on these matters.” However, Denmark does not have any other legal avenue for opting in to those measures. As the Commission has made clear, given that there is another legal avenue for the United Kingdom—as negotiated by the previous Government—that is what should be pursued, rather than a separate extradition treaty with the EU. Secondly, I say to right hon. and hon. Members who think that some form of bilateral treaty would be a way of getting around the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, that Denmark has been required to submit to the jurisdiction of the ECJ as part of the conditions of agreeing a treaty with the European Union.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): The Home Secretary is right that the European arrest warrant is needed and right in principle, but the Home Affairs Committee was concerned about the way it has operated. I know she has worked hard to put forward changes, with forum bars and other such issues, but at the end of the day she does not have control over the judiciary in a country

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such as Poland. Some of those countries are issuing warrants that are executed in our country, and it is extremely difficult to control that.

Mrs May: That is one of the issues we are addressing. One problem that has been raised—particularly in relation to the country that the right hon. Gentleman mentioned—is the number of arrest warrants being issued for offences at the lower end of the scale that would perhaps not be treated in the same way in the United Kingdom. That is why we have considered the issue of proportionality, and introduced the requirement that a British judge will consider whether the alleged offence and likely sentence is sufficient to make someone’s extradition proportionate. We have written the need to address that issue of potential disproportionality into our legislation, and it will come into effect soon.

Keith Vaz: I am grateful for that information. Further to what the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) said, the Committee also decided, because of the concerns of so many Members, that there should be a separate vote specifically on the European arrest warrant when this package comes before the House. Will the Home Secretary agree to give the House a separate vote on that?

Mrs May: I am well aware of the views that the Committee put forward in its report, and as I indicated in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), we have not yet agreed absolutely the final package with other European member states and the European Commission, and some technical reservations have been made. We are working on that and expect to be able to remove those reservations, and the House will have an opportunity to vote in due course.

Sir Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): My right hon. Friend said that we have legislated in a way that protects us from the issuance of trivial European arrest warrants, but surely those will be subject to the European Court of Justice. They could, in future, strike out our own legislation, reinforcing concerns among Conservative Members that this Parliament continues to be sidelined in favour of the European Court of Justice.

Mrs May: My hon. Friend should look to other member states in the European Union that are already subject to the European Court of Justice and already exercise a test of proportionality on such matters. To return to the point I made earlier, although some may think that an arrangement similar to that held by Denmark would get over that problem, it would not because part of the arrangement is precisely being subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

Mr John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mrs May: If I may I would like to get to the end of this list of measures so that right hon. and hon. Members are clear about the provisions we have made in UK legislation. Hon. Members were concerned about arrest warrants being issued for investigatory purposes rather than prosecutions, and that is the third issue we addressed. We have legislated to allow people to visit the issuing

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state temporarily to be questioned ahead of an extradition hearing in the UK, if they consent to do so. Members were also concerned about the prospect of people being charged with offences over and above those specified in their arrest warrant if they chose to consent to extradition, so our fourth measure is to lift the requirement that individuals lose their right to “speciality protection” when they consent to extradition.

Finally, a number of hon. Members—particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield North (Nick de Bois), who has spoken passionately in the Chamber about the case of his constituent, Andrew Symeou—were concerned about people being detained for long periods overseas before being charged or standing trial. Our fifth change, therefore, was to change the law to prevent lengthy pre-trial detention. No longer will people be surrendered and have to wait months or years for a decision to be made to charge or try them.

Mr Redwood: Does the Home Secretary understand that either this House is sovereign in criminal justice or the European Union is, and that if we opt into this measure, the European Union becomes sovereign? She has rightly pointed out lots of defects with the arrest warrant, but once we have given away our sovereignty we have no absolute right to stop or change things in the way that we can if we keep the authority here.

Mrs May: The point I have made to my right hon. Friend, and others in the past, is that of course there is a question about the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and we have already opted into measures post the Lisbon treaty where the Court operates. We have seen decisions by the ECJ that have been unhelpful—perhaps I can put it like that—such as the Metock case, or the case I referred to earlier when making a statement to the House. We believe that the Court should not have the final say over matters such as substantive criminal law or international relations, and that is why we are not rejoining more than 20 minimum standards measures on matters such as racism and xenophobia. That is why we will not be rejoining the EU-US extradition agreement, and we should be able to renegotiate as we see fit. I am clear that we should have the final say over our laws.

By already opting out of certain European measures, we have taken powers back from Europe that had already been signed away. The process we were left with, which was negotiated by the previous Government, was an unappealing choice between the potential impacts of ECJ jurisdiction over those measures that it is in the national interest for us to rejoin, or the prospect and dangers of an operational gap.

Several hon. Members rose

Mrs May: I am being generous and will continue to be generous to my right hon. and hon. Friends, all of whom I know have firm views on this matter. I say to hon. Members, however, that I too have firm views about ensuring that from 1 December this year, our police and law enforcement agencies can continue to do the job we want them to do in catching criminals and keeping people safe.

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Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): As my right hon. Friend knows—she has said this already—there are concerns that our laws are being made elsewhere in this context. She then says that in fact we will keep control over our laws. That is precisely not what is happening because, as she knows from the statement she made earlier today, through section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972, the European Court of Justice overrides not only this Parliament voluntarily, but also our Supreme Court.

Mrs May: As I indicated earlier, the House will introduce its own legislation to ensure that we are able to do what we wish to do in terms of the powers of our law enforcement agencies and our security and intelligence agencies. We must, however, make a choice on some of these measures, and the question is whether we believe that we need such measures to keep the public safe and ensure that people are brought to justice, or not. I believe that with the measures we have negotiated, both I and the Justice Secretary—he has also been working hard on this matter—have recognised those issues and will ensure that our police and law enforcement agencies are able to do the job we want them to do.

Jacob Rees-Mogg: I am extremely grateful to the Home Secretary and sorry to trouble her a second time. This argument that our whole security depends on the European arrest warrant must be false. An answer was given to the European Scrutiny Committee about how many indictable offences there were in the UK in one year, and the figure was 377,000. In a four-year period, however, there were only 507 requests for us to use a European arrest warrant to the continent. That is 125 a year against 377,000 indictments in this country. Our security is not dependent on the European arrest warrant.

Mrs May: I find my hon. Friend’s argument strange. He says that, simply because a small number of serious criminals such as murderers are extradited on the European arrest warrant compared with the number indicted here in the UK, we should not worry. If somebody has committed a murder and we wish to extradite them from another European member state, we should be able to do so. The EAW, as all those who work with it will recognise and confirm—it has been confirmed in evidence to Select Committees—is a better tool to use because it enables extradition to take place more quickly.

As I have indicated, the Council of Europe arrangements, which were in place previously, had a time limit. Had the European arrest warrant not been in place, we would not have been able to extradite the individual I mentioned earlier, Mr Cullen, back to the UK to face justice, and his victims would not have seen justice done. All the provisions—[Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) mentions the DNA database from a sedentary position. He and I have a different opinion on the database because he would like everybody in the UK to be on it.

All the EAW provisions to which I have referred have been made in UK law and will commence later this month. I believe they will make an important difference in the operation of the arrest warrant. The Labour Government could have made all those changes during the eight years they oversaw the EAW, but they failed to do so. That failure has coloured the views of many in the House and beyond it about the EAW, but it should not cloud the fact that the EAW is a vital tool for

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ensuring that justice is done in this country and for keeping the British public safe, as has been so clearly impressed on me and Committees of the House in evidence given by the police and prosecutors who use it. I take that responsibility as Home Secretary very seriously, and it underpins everything I say in the debate and the process that has brought us to this point.

It might be helpful to remind hon. Members of the background. When without the promised referendum the previous Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown), signed the UK up to the Lisbon treaty, he ceded more powers to the European institutions and gave up our veto over police and criminal justice matters. We got very little in return, but one of the few things we got from that flawed negotiation and imperfect treaty was the option to opt out of all the police and criminal justice measures that were agreed before the Lisbon treaty came into force. However, that opt-out had to be exercised en masse before the end of May 2014. Following votes in both Houses of Parliament last year, that is exactly what the Government did. That decision is irreversible and will come into effect on 1 December 2014. From that date, we must either opt back in to the smaller number of measures that we think are vital for the protection of the British people and other victims of crime, or face an operational gap that will hamper the efforts of our police and law enforcement agencies.

When the Justice Secretary and I came to the House last July, we explained that we had listened carefully to the views of our law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, and concluded that a small number of measures that were subject to the opt-out decision add value in the fight against crime and the pursuit of justice, and that it would therefore be in our national interest to rejoin them. We listened to right hon. and hon. Members, and carefully considered the reports of the European Scrutiny Committee, the Home Affairs Committee and the Justice Committee, before opening formal negotiations with the European Commission, the Council and other member states.

Good progress has been made, and I am pleased to be able to report that we have reached an in-principle deal with the Commission on the non-Schengen measures, which fall under its purview, and we have made good progress on the Schengen measures, on which the outline of a possible deal is now clear. I indicated earlier that the matter was discussed at the General Affairs Council on 24 June, but technical reservations remain, and discussions continue with the aim of allowing those reservations to be lifted. Therefore, the negotiations are ongoing, but, as I have said, the Justice Secretary and I have been clear throughout that we will update Parliament as appropriate and give right hon. and hon. Members the opportunity to debate the issue. That is what we are doing today. Last week, we published the Command Paper—Cm 8897—which includes the full list of measures that were discussed at the General Affairs Council, and impact assessments on each of the measures. That fulfils the Government’s commitment to provide those impact assessments and further demonstrates our commitment to parliamentary scrutiny of the matter.

Many were sceptical that a deal could be done, and many believed that the European Commission and other member states would force the UK into measures that we did not want to rejoin, but I am proud to say that we

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have been able to resist many of the changes demanded by others, and have not been pushed into rejoining a larger number of measures. We are clear that the deal is a good deal for the United Kingdom.

One measure that we have successfully resisted joining is Prüm, a system that allows the police to check DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data. I have been clear in the House previously that we have neither the time nor the money to implement Prüm by 1 December. I have said that it will be senseless for us to rejoin it now and risk being infracted. Despite considerable pressure from the Commission and other member states, that remains the case.

All hon. Members want the most serious crimes such as rapes and murders to be solved and their perpetrators brought to justice. In some cases, that will mean the police comparing DNA or fingerprint data with those held by other European forces. Thirty per cent. of those arrested in London are foreign nationals, so it is clear that that is an operational necessity. Therefore, the comparisons already happen, and must do so if we are to solve cross-border crime. I would be negligent in my duty to protect the British public if I did not consider the issue carefully.

Sir William Cash: Will my right hon. Friend explain to the House why it is so important to have those cross-border co-operation arrangements with the EU and not with the entire world?

Mrs May: Our police forces of course co-operate with other police forces throughout the world in bringing criminals and perpetrators to justice. The European arrest warrant—I will repeat myself—is an extradition arrangement that improves on the extradition arrangements that we had previously. I recognise that there have been concerns about it, but we have legislated on those concerns here in this Parliament.

I was describing the Prüm system, which is about the easy, efficient and effective comparison of data when appropriate. We have been clear that we cannot rejoin that on 1 December and would not seek to do so. However, in order for the House to consider the matter carefully, the Government will produce a business and implementation case and run a small-scale pilot with all the necessary safeguards in place. We will publish that by way of a Command Paper and bring the issue back to Parliament so that it can be debated in an informed way. We are working towards doing so by the end of next year. However, the decision on whether to rejoin Prüm would be one for Parliament. Unlike the Labour Government, who signed us up to that measure in the first place without any idea how much it would cost or how it would be implemented, the Government will ensure that Parliament has the full facts to inform its decision.

On another subject, I know that my right hon. Friend the Justice Secretary will want to address the probation situation in his closing remarks—that is another measure we have successfully resisted rejoining.

The Government propose to rejoin other measures in the national interest. We wish to rejoin the European supervision order, which allows British subjects to be bailed back to the UK rather than spending months abroad awaiting trial. That will stand alongside the reforms we have made to the European arrest warrant,

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and make it easier for people such as Mr Symeou to be bailed back to the UK and prevent such injustices from occurring in future.

We are also seeking to rejoin the prisoner transfer framework decision, a measure that my right hon. Friend the Justice Secretary considers important. The framework helps us to remove foreign criminals from British jails—prisoners such as Ainars Zvirgzds, a Latvian national convicted of controlling prostitution, assault, and firearms and drug offences. In April 2012, he was sentenced to 13 and a half years imprisonment in the UK. Last month, he was transferred out of this country to a prison in Latvia, where he will serve the remainder of his sentence. Had it not been for the prison transfer measure, he would have remained in a British prison, at a cost to the British taxpayer of more than £100,000.

We wish to rejoin the measure providing for joint investigation teams, so that we can continue to participate in cross-border operations such as Operation Birkhill. That collaboration with Hungary, funded by Eurojust and assisted by Europol, led to five criminals being sentenced at Croydon Crown court last month to a total of 36 years’ imprisonment for their involvement in trafficking more than 120 women into the United Kingdom from Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland. One of those convicted, Vishal Chaudhary, lived in a luxury Canary Wharf penthouse and drove a flashy sports car bought from the money he made selling those women for sex. Chaudhary and his gang managed their operation from a semi-detached house on a suburban street in Hendon, and operated more than 40 brothels across London, including in Enfield and Brent. Their victims were threatened with abuse if they tried to contact their families. Some were forced to have sex with up to 20 clients a day. These are the victims of crime that the measures we are debating today help. Joint investigation teams are a vital tool in the fight against modern slavery, a crime this House so passionately demonstrated earlier this week it wants to see tackled. I hope the House will support rejoining the measures that will help us to do that.

Keith Vaz: I support everything the Home Secretary has said in respect of these policing issues. However, why have we not rejoined the European criminal information system, which would have provided us with information on those who come into this country and already have criminal convictions?

Mrs May: We discussed the measure the right hon. Gentleman refers to in front of his Committee and other Committees. There are a number ways in which we deal with these matters in terms of exchanging information. I want to be sure that I am looking at the measures to which he is referring and I think that they are Council framework decisions 2009/315/JHA and 2009/316/JHA. They require member states to inform each other about convictions of EU nationals and are an important tool for sharing data. The reason I am hesitating here is that we were certainly discussing the possibility of rejoining this particular measure. [Interruption.] It is in the 35. Yes, that is why I was hesitating. The right hon. Gentleman said we were not

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in it and I thought it was in the 35 measures we are rejoining, precisely because it gives us the opportunity to share this information.

We also wish to rejoin the Naples II convention, the principal tool for customs co-operation. Operation Stoplamp, which used this measure to exchange vital information with our partners, resulted in the seizure of 1.2 tonnes of cocaine with a street value of about £300 million—again, an outcome I am sure everyone in this House will welcome. We are also seeking to rejoin Europol, which played a key role in helping our law enforcement agencies to fight those criminals who tried to exploit British customers by adulterating our food with horsemeat. It is doing excellent work under the leadership of its British director, Rob Wainwright.

Those are just a handful of examples that illustrate why our participation in these measures is in our national interest. Today’s debate is not about the flawed treaty to which the previous Labour Government signed us up; it is about the decisions we must take now to protect the public and keep the British people safe. The Government’s policy is clear: we have exercised the opt-out and negotiated a deal to rejoin a limited number of measures that we believe it is in the national interest for us to remain part of.

I look forward with interest to the speech from the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), as it would be helpful to know the Opposition’s position on these various measures. Every time we debate them, we see a slightly different position coming forward. I am sorry that the shadow Home Secretary is not here to tell us herself, but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us whether they would have exercised the opt-out that they negotiated. Would they have remained bound by all 130-plus measures, rather than negotiating a limited number in the national interest? Would they have changed the law to protect British citizens, as we have done in relation to the European arrest warrant? Would they have risked infraction proceedings by rejoining Prüm without fully considering the facts?

The evidence suggests that the Opposition do not share the determination of this party and this Government to reduce the control Brussels has on our criminal justice system. Their position has always been to say one thing and do another. There was a manifesto promise for a vote on the Lisbon treaty, but they refused to hold a referendum. They said they would protect British red lines, but they gave up our veto in policing and criminal justice matters. They negotiated an opt-out and then voted against using it. That contrasts with the position taken by this Government. We support, and have exercised, the United Kingdom’s opt-out. We support the return of powers from Brussels to the UK. We support acting in the national interest by rejoining a limited number of measures to protect British citizens and the victims of crime. This is consistent with our approach to the Europe Union as a whole.

Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab): I notice that the title of the debate actually refers to opt-outs. Apart from Prüm, can the Home Secretary name one thing that they are not opting into that will make a significant difference in repatriating competence to the UK—one single issue apart from Prüm?

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Mrs May: It is not that we are opting back into Prüm. We did not join Prüm in the first place, so that is rather different from the measures in the 35. My right hon. Friend the Justice Secretary has spoken in front of Select Committees on a number of occasions on the importance of not opting into those minimum standards measures in relation to the justice system. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman has a look at those.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly taken tough action to stand up for Britain in Europe by cutting the EU budget, saving British taxpayers more than £8 billion, vetoing a new EU fiscal treaty that did not guarantee a level playing field for British businesses and refusing to spend British taxes on bailing out the euro. It is under this Prime Minister that Britain did not budge on the principle that it should be for the elected Heads of national Governments, not the European Parliament, to propose the President of the European Commission. What I have outlined today is another example of this Government standing up for the United Kingdom’s best interests, bringing powers back home while doing all we can to keep the British people safe. That is the sort of leadership in Europe that this country needs.

1.25 pm

Mr David Hanson (Delyn) (Lab): For 30 of the past 35 minutes, the Home Secretary had me on board. It was only in the last five minutes that she lost me. It was almost a first. I appreciate that we have a meeting of minds on several issues. I was probably more in tune with her than she is with some of her own right hon. and hon. Friends—an unusual situation in which to find myself.

I thank the Home Secretary for her contribution, on which there is a large element of agreement with the Opposition. I also thank the three Select Committee Chairs, the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) and the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith) for their contributions to the discussions on these key matters.

We have been here before and I suspect, given what the Home Secretary said, that we will be here again before the end of the year. I can see from the contributions from her own side, in particular from Government Members here today who perhaps have a greater level of euroscepticism than I do, that there was not a universal welcome for her statement. There will not be a universal welcome for her projected policy positions later this year, but I want to be positive if I can and support the Home Secretary’s objectives.

The motion today is that this House has considered, not decided on, the opt-outs. My first point is one the Home Secretary touched on, but we would welcome clarification. It goes back to the point raised by the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr Redwood): when will there be a final package on these measures and when will we be able to not just debate but vote on them? December is looming and I would like at some point to have an indication, from the Home Secretary or the Justice Secretary, of when we can expect to have a vote. At the moment, there is no clarity on when that final vote will be.

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Keith Vaz: Will my Opposition Front Bench colleagues support a separate vote on the European arrest warrant? It caused the Home Affairs Committee a great deal of concern.

Mr Hanson: I am relaxed on that, but I do want the European arrest warrant put in place. We have had some safeguards, but I will outline in due course why I want to see it put in place. It would be helpful to have clarity on when the discussions will be concluded and can be voted on. I appreciate that the Home Secretary has some difficulties, but it would be helpful to the House, for the reasons set out by my right hon. Friend, to have an indication on when we can expect to have a complete package to vote on.

Mr Redwood: How will the right hon. Gentleman feel on 15 June next year, when some of us will commemorate Magna Carta’s 800th birthday and he will have been party to giving away a very big, fundamental principle under that charter of English law and English jurisdiction to a foreign power we cannot control?

Mr Hanson: The right hon. Gentleman will know that, as a Welsh Member of Parliament, I take a great interest in such matters. I will look at this from the perspective that I think the Home Secretary is looking at it from, which is: what is in the interests of reducing organised crime, child trafficking, prostitution, drug running and terrorist activities, and ensuring that we prevent future victims and have the best possible protections in place for the United Kingdom across Europe following negotiations?

Michael Connarty: My right hon. Friend has not dealt with the terrible accusation, which the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr Redwood) has just made, that the EU is a foreign power. We are one of the 30 countries that control the EU. It is part of what we are. Idle talk of it as a “foreign power” shows where the right hon. Gentleman is. He should be in the United Kingdom Independence party, not the Tory party.

Mr Hanson: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing out that nuance in the intervention by the right hon. Member for Wokingham. I regard myself as a European and British citizen and part of—

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): I don’t.

Mr Hanson: I appreciate that others take a different view, but that is my view.

I welcome today’s debate because I believe—again, I think the Home Secretary shares this belief—that crime and criminals do not respect national borders. Technology has moved on in the last 15 to 20 years, which means that a range of issues need to be addressed not just within the boundaries of the United Kingdom, but across Europe as a whole. Free movement and new forms of criminal activity, such as cybercrime, require collective action across Europe.

Sir William Cash: In this very interesting exchange between those on the Front Benches, who seem to be largely in agreement, let me ask the same question that I asked the Home Secretary. Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to explain to me and the House why we

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have an arrangement with the European Union on this basis and not one to deal with other murderers, traffickers and the rest of it in the rest of the world? Can he explain what is so special about the European Union in this context?

Mr Hanson: As I think the Home Secretary also indicated in our little tête-à-tête of agreement, there is a wider world outside Europe, but we have strong ties with Europe. We have free movement in Europe on a range of matters. We do not have free movement from outside the European Community, so there are issues that we should ensure we deal with within the European Community.

Philip Davies: We appear to be reaching an extraordinary position, in that the right hon. Gentleman seems to be advocating the free movement of people all around the EU, so that criminals can come and go as they please, but then we need these ridiculous measures to try to deal with that. Why do we not just take a more simplistic approach and scrap the free movement of people? Then perhaps we would not need all these ridiculous measures in the first place.

Mr Hanson: Again, I think the hon. Gentleman perhaps has more in common with other parties than his own on that issue. Some of the changes that have taken place—in technology, free movement, cybercrime, new forms of crime, child prostitution, trafficking and drugs—demand a Europe-wide solution, and I think the Home Secretary has accepted that. They are international crimes that know no borders and they need international solutions. Each crime is creating new victims. I believe it is the duty of this House to ensure that we work with our European partners to reduce that crime, bringing criminals to justice and, yes, co-operating to do so.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): Can the right hon. Gentleman say, therefore, what exactly the organisation called Interpol does, which is supposed to be worldwide?

Mr Hanson: As the former Minister for policing and counter-terrorism in the last Government, I could spend the next 25 minutes giving the hon. Gentleman a whole lecture about what Interpol does. The key issue is that there is a range of measures. I believe that if he went back to south London this evening and asked his constituents whether they wanted effective co-operation to tackle drug abuse, child trafficking, prostitution and international terrorism, the answer would be a resounding yes. It is something the Home Secretary believes is right; it is something we believe is right.

Jacob Rees-Mogg: May I make the same point to the right hon. Gentleman that I made to the Home Secretary? The figure is only on average 125 people a year. He is making it sound as if the whole country will disappear down a crevasse if we do not have the European arrest warrant, but if 125 people are slightly more difficult to bring back, the world will still go round.

Mr Hanson: The hon. Gentleman is talking about a small level of crimes, but they include crimes that could destroy the centre of London and crimes that involve

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the murder or death of individuals, along with child trafficking, prostitution and drug abuse. They might be a small number in the overall gamut of crimes in the United Kingdom, but if they require international co-operation to bring people back to justice, prevent those crimes in the first place and ensure that we collect individuals and bring them back here, that is something worth considering.

Sir Tony Baldry: My hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg) is a great guy, but I do not think he has got his figures right. According to evidence submitted by the Association of Chief Police Officers to the House of Lords European Union Select Committee,

“In 2010/11 the UK received 5,382 EAW requests and made 221 EAW requests to other EU states. The UK surrendered 1,149 individuals (approximately 7% of which were UK nationals, the other 93% being fugitives to the UK).The UK had 93 people surrendered to it.”

Therefore, we actually surrendered a large number of people who were not UK nationals. Someone who is a criminal somewhere else is likely to be a criminal here. Does that not demonstrate that the European arrest warrant actually works perfectly well in getting rid of some very dangerous people from this country?

Mr Hanson: May I just say happy birthday to the right hon. Gentleman? I am an avid reader of The Guardian in the morning and his birthday appeared in that. His contribution supports my argument and that of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, so it is a valid point, well made.

Jacob Rees-Mogg: The figure given to the European Scrutiny Committee was 507 whom the UK asked for between 2009 and 2013. I am interested in when it benefits the United Kingdom, not when it benefits the continent.

Mr Hanson: The hon. Gentleman should reflect on what he has just said. The removal from the United Kingdom of an individual who has committed a heinous crime in this country to their own country for conviction, sentencing and incarceration benefits the United Kingdom. Equally, if an individual commits a crime abroad that requires them to be brought back to justice here—or if they commit a crime here and flee abroad, as the Home Secretary said—and they are then brought back here, that is beneficial to victims and to justice.

Mr Redwood: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Hanson: I am trying to make some progress, but of course I will give way.

Mr Redwood: We entirely agree that it is often in the UK’s interest to do that, and that is exactly why we would rapidly introduce a piece of legislation in this House allowing sensible arrangements to get rid of nasty people.

Mr Hanson: I want to focus on some key issues that, again, the Home Secretary mentioned. Which rational hon. or right hon. Member of this House would not want a prisoner transfer agreement between European

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nations? Which rational person in this House would want to have trials in absentia because of the lack of an agreement? Which rational person would not want the joint operation teams, which the Home Secretary mentioned, to bring criminals to justice? Which right hon. or hon. Member would not want supervision orders across EU borders? Which right hon. or hon. Member would not want the collection of fines across Europe, Eurojust tackling serious organised crime or, indeed, the arrest warrant to bring criminals back to justice?

Mr Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con): It would be better if we conducted this debate on the basis that we are all in favour of those things. It is the means of achieving them that we are discussing. The idea that, because an hon. Member is against the European arrest warrant, he is against all those things is insulting and stupid.

Mr Hanson: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his contribution, but what those effective means are is a fair debate to have. I believe, as I think his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary does, that those things are best done through European co-operation. Indeed, the European arrest warrant has been of interest today, so let me quote from a statement made last year:

“Since 2009 alone, the arrest warrant has been used to extradite from the UK 57 suspects for child sex offences, 86 for rape and 105 for murder…63 suspects for child sex offences, 27 for rape and 44 for murder were extradited back to Britain to face charges. A number of these suspects would probably have not been extradited back to Britain without the arrest warrant. We owe it to their victims, and to their loved ones, to bring these people to justice.”—[Official Report, 9 July 2013; Vol. 566, c. 178.]

That was the Home Secretary, speaking last year. I say to the hon. Gentleman that, irrespective of his views, those individuals were brought back by that arrest warrant. The alternative suggestion, made by the right hon. Member for Wokingham, is one where we negotiate X number of individual arrest warrants—

Mr Redwood: One.

Mr Hanson: I happen to think—it is a matter of debate and it will develop during the afternoon—that this is a far better way of dealing with the problem than we have now.

Today’s debate is one in a series. We have waited and waited; we have had debates and debates; the bus arrives, with not one, but two or three coming at once; yet the Home Secretary has not yet brought the final measures before the House. To be honest, I think that the right hon. Lady would rather be at the dentist having her teeth pulled than be here having the discussion she is having with her right hon. and hon. Friends. She has been brought to this debate by the three Select Committees, which are eventually getting the Home Secretary’s capitulation to common sense and Europe-wide justice and co-operation. It has, I think, hit the right hon. Lady, after looking at the matter in detail, that it is rather useful for our police to have access to criminal records or driving offences for when European lorry drivers tear up the M1 or the M6.

The truth is that the Home Secretary’s opt-out strategy ultimately becomes an opt-in strategy. The measure of the complexity of the negotiations is indicated by the fact that she is now acting in the interests of Britain

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rather than in the interests of Conservative Back Benchers and the Eurosceptic Members here today. She has promised to garner favour with the Tory right, but she is ultimately opting into measures that we support because she now understands that the police want European co-operation and that criminals are not Eurosceptics. She understands that our ability to bring them to book and to get justice for their victims should not be compromised.

The issue of the transfer of powers is interesting. The right hon. Lady has said what she is opting into, but she has not said what she is opting out of. These are not really significant matters. She has looked at opting out of issues such as signing joint proceedings on driving licences that are not in force and are out of date. We are not signing up to a directive on international organised crime that was closed down two years ago. We are not signing up to guidelines on working with other countries on drug trafficking, but we will carry on doing that anyway. We are not going to sign up to measures on cybercrime or mutual legal assistance because they have been superseded by other measures to which we signed up instead. We are not signing up to minimum standards on bribery because we are meeting them under our own Bribery Act 2010. We are not signing up to measures to tackle racism because we meet them under hate crime legislation that is in place. We are not signing up to measures on accession because they never applied to us in the first place, and we are not signing up to receive a directory of specialist counter-terrorism officers because someone will probably send it to us in the post instead.

The measures that the Home Secretary is signing up to are sensible ones, whereas the ones she is not signing up to are either from the past, superseded, not relevant or not appropriate for us. The right hon. Lady has posed as the great Eurosceptic champion of the Conservative Government when what she has done is to sign up to things that I would sign up to, which many of her hon. Friends would not sign up to. The things that she has not signed up to are things that are, as I say, not relevant, not appropriate and not needed now.

Julian Smith (Skipton and Ripon) (Con): Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree with me that the Home Secretary and the Home Office have spent hours, days and months working to ensure that the many concerns people had about the European arrest warrant have now been addressed in UK law?

Mr Hanson: They have indeed spent many hours, days and months, and I have spent many hours, days and months in Committee dealing with those matters, too. We did not oppose what the Home Secretary brought forward; we supported it. There was no difference between us and the Home Secretary on those matters. It could have made a difference—and, dare I say it, it could make a difference now—if the Home Secretary had brought forward several months ago the measures she has just brought forward now. She could have had an in-principle discussion—

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling): We did.

Mr Hanson: The Justice Secretary says that they did, but he needs to reflect more on the record. The Home Secretary has tried to indicate that some of these matters

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might be up for discussion, but ultimately, as she knows, they are in the interests of crime fighting, the interests of victim prevention and the interests of ensuring that we bring criminals to justice.

Michael Connarty: I think that my right hon. Friend is being kind to the Opposition and, probably correctly, to the Home Secretary, who has worked hard on this issue. The Justice Secretary, however, defended the position previously. They will accept minimum standards on organised crime, but they will not accept minimum standards on terrorism. It is totally illogical. The Justice Secretary has forgotten about that. I raised the issue on the Floor of the House previously and the right hon. Gentleman could not reply then and he cannot reply now.

Mr Hanson: My hon. Friend raises important issues, but my chief point to the Home Secretary is that she could have indicated her commitment to opting in to these issues more strongly and earlier, which would have put her in a much better place in the negotiations. [Interruption.] The right hon. Lady says she did, but I do not think she did. We will have to disagree and reflect on the issues again. The Home Secretary has tried to be Eurosceptic and to compromise with her Eurosceptic Back Benchers, but they will never compromise on these issues. She needs to take a firm stance to ensure that the House has a vote and agrees these measures because they are good for crime prevention, good for victims and good for bringing people to justice. She needs to bring the vote forward as quickly as possible so that we can shake off the Eurosceptics and show that we in Britain are committed to working with our European partners to crack down on crime and ensure that both Britain and Europe become safer places.

1.46 pm

Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): This issue is not at all about shaking off Eurosceptics; it is about deciding what is sensible for the United Kingdom in line with our values, our traditions and our own rule of law. As many right hon. and hon. Members have indicated, there is no reason for these provisions that could not have been achieved by other means. Furthermore, I have still not had an answer to the question: what is so special about the European Union and the cross-border arrangements that operate within it, compared with anywhere else in the world, where we will find murderers, traffickers and all the other problems that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary mentioned? The problems are found in the rest of the world and in Europe, yet we have these special arrangements for Europe alone. The answer is simple: it is about sovereignty.