This is all about giving in to the European Union, through the European Communities Act 1972. Watching both Front-Bench teams is rather like watching an attempt to get out of a paper bag—except for the fact that this paper bag is a steel mesh. The steel mesh is the European Court of Justice and sections 2 and 3 of the European Communities Act. I respect what the Home Secretary is trying to do because she is stuck and trapped in arrangements that are being dictated by the very people—Mr Juncker, for example, who came forward

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with these proposals from the European Commission, and Viviane Reding, another European Commissioner of the first order—who are committed to driving forward these arrangements in the belief that if they manage to secure a EU-wide criminal justice system, they will make further progress towards the European political union that they want. That is really what it is all about. It is simply naïve and disingenuous to put it any other way.

Mr Redwood: Does my hon. Friend remember that when we had Conservative Governments, we always understood that, and it was a fundamental principle that home affairs and foreign affairs had to be kept outside the treaties and outside the purview of the European Court of Justice through the three pillar structure?

Sir William Cash: That is absolutely right. I have followed these matters with what could be described as a mild degree of interest since the Maastricht treaty, in which we were promised all these pillars, but they have all now collapsed as though Samson had stretched out and pulled them down, bringing the whole of the criminal justice arrangements we had previously enjoyed crashing down with him.

Despite all the promises that were made, during the Lisbon treaty debates my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench and I, who were then in opposition, voted against every single measure. We were completely united as a party, not just as Eurosceptics but as sensible people—rational people, if I may say so to the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson). The bottom line is that we have now completely reversed our position and are in the process of accepting 35 measures that we would not have contemplated when the Lisbon treaty was going through.

Many of the issues that have already been raised and will be raised later during the debate are of deep concern not only to many Conservative Members but, I would say, to many people throughout the country, as the votes in the European elections indicated. I think that this is just another example of our giving in to European measures when there is no real, rational reason for doing so, given that there are criminals—murderers, traffickers and so forth—throughout the rest of the world.

From 1 December 2014—the right hon. Member for Delyn mentioned this, but I want to reaffirm it from this side of the House—the Court of Justice will exercise full jurisdiction over all EU police and criminal justice measures. As a result, the Commission will be able to infract member states—bring them before the Court, because we have allowed it to do so—and request a fine if they fail to implement the measures correctly. National courts will be able to seek preliminary rulings from the Court on their interpretation or validity. That is a matter of grave concern to the United Kingdom. The European Scrutiny, Home Affairs and Justice Committees —the Chairmen of all three are present—were concerned about the 2014 block opt-out decision, and every one of us, including all the members of my Committee, was critical of the Government’s reluctance to engage fully with Parliament. All the Committees’ reports are tagged to this debate.

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The history of the issue has not been by any means a happy one. In their response to the reports, the Government stated:

“ For the avoidance of doubt, we reaffirm our commitment to hold a second vote in both Houses of Parliament before making a formal application to rejoin any measures. We continue to believe that in order for this vote to be as informed as possible, it should be held after we have reached an ‘in principle’ agreement on those measures we will seek to rejoin.”

The problem is that this debate—a general debate—is not meeting what we understood would be the case. I remain somewhat surprised that we are engaging in this debate when the timing of and procedure for the real debate have not yet been spelt out. I hope that, when he winds up today’s debate, the Justice Secretary will give us a clear, factual indication of when that vote and that debate will take place, because that is what the Government have committed themselves to doing.

Jacob Rees-Mogg: My hon. Friend makes a crucial point. We understood from the Home Secretary that there would be a vote, but we have been given no assurance that there will be a debate prior to that vote. Will my hon. Friend be seeking clarification on that?

Sir William Cash: That is exactly what I have said, and that is exactly what we need to have an answer to. What we do not want is a short debate followed by a vote. We want a comprehensive debate on the Floor of the House of Commons—no ifs and no buts. I am sure that the Justice Secretary will be able to give us that assurance.

A letter written to me by the Home and Justice Secretaries dated 3 July confirmed that an agreement “in principle” had been reached with the Commission on the non-Schengen measures, but not on the overall package. According to the Home Secretary, a number of “technical reservations” remained in regard to the Schengen measures, and the General Affairs Council maintained that position the other day. We must have a further, full debate on the Floor of the House, and a vote, once full agreement has been reached.

I want to put a number of questions to the Government. I should be grateful—as, I think, would the rest of the House—if the Justice Secretary responded to them when he winds up the debate.

We need the Government to explain the reasons for the changes to the 35 measures, and to identify which changes demanded by the Commission and the other member states they were able to resist. We want them to clarify whether these are the measures that the Government themselves wish to seek to rejoin, or whether they are measures that they are compelled to rejoin in order to secure a coherent package that is acceptable to the Commission and the other member states. In a nutshell, was this a deal made behind closed doors and conducted to a great extent, if not entirely, by officials, and to what extent does it reflect coalition politics?

We note that the 35 measures present only part of the picture. We ask the Government to complete the picture by making available to Parliament a list of all the pre-Lisbon measures that were subject to the United Kingdom’s block opt-out as of 1 December 2009, but no longer are because the UK has opted into amending or “repeal and replace” measures.

We should like the Government to explain why the

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“solution concerning the Prüm Decisions and the Probation Framework Decision”

which was alluded to in the Council press release issued after the General Affairs Council on 24 June, is not mentioned or explained in Command Paper 8897, in the Minister for Europe’s written ministerial statement of 30 June informing Parliament of the outcome of the Council, or in the letter of 3 July from the Home and Justice Secretaries to me, as Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee. We note that details of the “solution” have emerged through press releases and reports and not through the provision of information to Parliament, and we want to know whether the Government regard that as an appropriate way for them to engage with Parliament.

We seek further information on the content of the deal that has been made, including any processes for consulting Parliament. We want to know how much the UK has invested so far in its preparations for implementing the Prüm decisions, and we ask the Minister and the Secretary of State to set out the Government’s current assessment of the utility of the Prüm and probation framework decisions.

We want to know about the reliability of some of the assumptions underlying the Government’s impact assessments, especially in regard to measures such as the prisoner transfer framework decision, when the capacity to operate the measures may be in doubt in some member states, or when the risk of legal challenge on human rights grounds—based, for example, on article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights if prison conditions are regarded as inhuman or degrading, or on article 8 if there is interference with the right to respect for family life—could be regarded as significant.

We note that the possibility of adverse rulings by the Court of Justice does not feature among the “key assumptions/sensitivities/risks” in the impact assessments, although concerns about the extension of the Court’s jurisdiction to EU police and criminal justice measures are at the heart of the block opt-out.

We note that the Government claim to have taken into account the views expressed in our report, as well as those of other Committees. We want to know whether they accept the assessment of our Committee that the selection of measures to rejoin

“does not signify any lessening of UK involvement in the key measures governing law enforcement cooperation in the EU” ,

our assessment that many of the measures, because of their inherent significance and impact on individuals, are likely to be more susceptible to adverse judgments of the Court of Justice than the numerically larger number of measures that the Government do not propose to rejoin, and our assessment that there is

“little evidence of a genuine and significant repatriation of powers”.

So we are asking a significant number of questions, and I am putting them on the record now, because we are going to have another debate at a later time. We want to know the significance of the answers to these questions and weigh them up in the light of the general principles I put forward at the beginning, and we need to know about the timing of this debate. We want to know not only when it will take place, but what measures it will cover, as well as receive assurances about the motions that will be tabled. I ask the two Secretaries of State to listen to this very carefully—they are having

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quite an interesting conversation with one of the Whips at the moment. Would they be good enough to listen carefully? We want to know that the motions will be tabled with sufficient notice to enable Members to prepare amendments, and we reiterate the position on the form of the vote set out in our Committee report: there should be separate motions for each of the measures the Government propose to rejoin.

That is an important practical question about that debate, and I believe it is incumbent on the Government to answers the questions this afternoon so we have a clear picture of the way forward and so we know that this debate will not be just a waste of time, given that we have got another debate and another vote to come when all these measures are going to be finally decided. They are critical measures of great importance not only in terms of criminal justice matters, but also in respect of the whole question of the sovereignty of the United Kingdom and its rule of law.

2.1 pm

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), and as I have not done so previously, may I congratulate him on the knighthood that has been bestowed on him, which was very well deserved, and may I also say how pleased I am to see the right hon. Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry) here today, because I understand it is his birthday? What a glorious way to celebrate a birthday, talking about the European arrest warrant and the prisoner transfer agreements!

I welcome this debate. As the House has heard from the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), the Chairs of the three Select Committees wrote to the Justice Secretary and the Home Secretary asking for an early opportunity to debate these issues, and our letter was received very courteously and we now have a debate as a result of our representations. In the view of the Home Affairs Committee it would have been much better if this debate had taken place before the negotiations began. That was one of the recommendations we made after we took evidence from the Home Secretary and others about these important measures, because we felt strongly that if Parliament had made its views clear before the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary started their negotiations, that mandate would have bolstered them in their negotiations with their European partners. Unfortunately, such a debate did not take place before the negotiations began.

I agree with the Chairman of the ESC that there ought to be a vote on this issue. I am glad the Government have said they will have a vote. I would be surprised if there was not a debate before the vote. Even though we are probably only going to have the usual suspects here, I think it should be a long debate, rather than an hour-and-a-half debate, because these are very important measures. What we have asked for—I will come on to this later when we look at the European arrest warrant—is a separate vote specifically on the European arrest warrant. The Committee produced a unanimous report, and those who serve on the Home Affairs Committee have different views on the European Union, so getting a unanimous decision on something of this kind is quite

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difficult. The Committee unanimously decided, however, that we should be asking for this because of the representations we had received from so many people, including hon. and right hon. Members, about the way in which the European arrest warrant operated.

We have heard what the Home Secretary has done, and I welcome all the steps she has taken, and also the views of the Opposition Front Bench in Committee when it looked at the way in which the arrest warrant was operating. We heard specific evidence in the Committee from, among others, the hon. Members for Enfield North (Nick de Bois) and for South Dorset (Richard Drax) about individual constituency cases where the European arrest warrant had gone wrong. I and the Committee accept the principle of the European arrest warrant. We believe this was an important measure to enable countries that are members of the European Union—and, indeed, beyond, through bilateral agreements —to bring back into the country and offer up those who are wanted in respect of criminal matters. So the principle is fine. However, our concern was the practice, and the examples we received caused us enormous concern.

There was the Andrew Symeou case, which was told to us by the hon. Member for Enfield North, and the case of Michael Turner—a gentleman who was extradited to Hungary and incarcerated there and who never faced any charges and who is a constituent of South Dorset—and other examples that caused Members to say that the European arrest warrant was good in principle but not necessarily good in practice and had caused their constituents a great deal of concern.

As we have heard, the number of requests to our country far exceeds the number of requests that we make. The total cost of executing an incoming European arrest warrant in the United Kingdom is approximately £20,000. The 999 received by the United Kingdom in 2011 are estimated to have cost around £20 million. So this is not justice on the cheap. It costs a great deal of money to execute these warrants.

Our concern was the way in which they were being requested by certain European countries, and I have mentioned Poland but there were other examples. Indeed, if we look at the requests made of Germany and other countries where people are wanted, we see the figures are just as high. The Home Secretary has great negotiating skills, charm and powers of persuasion, which I saw for myself at the Police Federation conference earlier this year, so she is no pushover, and I am sure she went in there and negotiated strongly on behalf of our country, as Ministers have to do, especially knowing the views of Parliament. The fact is, however, she does not have control, and neither does the Justice Secretary with all his great skills and ability, of the Polish judiciary. They do not have control of the Latvian system of justice. They do not have control of the way in which these warrants are issued in the first place. They do have control over the execution, but not over the issuing.

Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry) (Con): There are some other issues around the European arrest warrant and trying to reform it. While we might want to have reforms that make it function better, is it not the case that the European Commission, in co-decision with the European Parliament, has to have the final say on these matters? So we might want to have this reform, but it

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might never come forward, and that is a fundamental problem about the opt-in, because we give these powers away completely once and for all.

Keith Vaz: I defer to the knowledge of the hon. Gentleman with all his vast experience of European affairs. Having served as an MEP for so long in the east midlands, he sought asylum here in the House of Commons and he has rightly raised one of the big issues. We can negotiate, but at the end of the day it is an issue that we need to confront. How are we going to persuade the European Commission on these very important matters?

We have heard about the wheelbarrow case—the man accused of stealing a wheelbarrow who was the subject of a European arrest warrant—and those absconding from prisons on day release or those accused of minor drugs offences. There was a man who gave false details on a £200 bank loan that had already been paid off. A warrant was issued, it had to be executed and that cost £20,000. So the Home Secretary is right to give us the headline examples—as the shadow Immigration Minister also did—of people who commit terrible crimes in other parts of Europe and whom we feel obliged to give back as quickly as possible, but many, many examples go the other way and that shows there are still problems with the warrant. The Home Secretary has made big efforts to make these matters more effective by introducing the forum bar and giving more powers to the judges to look at such cases, but that is not enough when European partners are not prepared to reform their judicial systems, where so many warrants are being issued.

The Home Secretary is often reluctant to tell me about her travel plans after she has been to some of these countries but I am sure that, like me, she has been to Poland. I went there with members of the Committee and we talked to prosecutors there. The first question they asked was, “Are you coming to talk about the European arrest warrant?” We said, “Yes we are, because we are really concerned. Why are the Polish judges issuing so many warrants when, in our view, they are not merited?” These warrants undermine the principle of the EAW when they are issued for such trivial reasons as the theft of a wheelbarrow. Obviously, it is extremely important for the person who has lost the wheelbarrow, but in the whole history of the world, to coin a phrase of the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg), it is not that important—it is certainly not worth £20,000. So more work needs to be done.

Even when that work is done, the Committee is very clear that we must have a separate vote on the EAW. We are happy to have the package as a whole put before the House. I am not sure how many of these 35 measures can go through the House within a parliamentary day, but we draw a line in the sand about the EAW: Parliament is concerned about it and we therefore need a vote.

Jacob Rees-Mogg: We could debate all 35, with a full day’s debate for each one—we are not exactly overwhelmed with business.

Keith Vaz: That is a good point, but luckily I do not have control of the parliamentary day. These are representations we need to make, and we will see what the will of Parliament is. Let us recall some earlier ministerial words:

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“I hope that today I have conveyed to the House not only the Government’s full commitment to holding a vote on the 2014 decision in this House and the other place, but the importance that we will accord to Parliament in the process leading up to that vote.”—[Official Report, 15 October 2012; Vol. 551, c. 35.]

It could be that Members want a vote on each of the 35 measures, but the Committee definitely wants a vote on the EAW, because we think it stands out in the business that the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary are currently discussing in the EU.

I welcome what is being proposed on Europol, and the Committee is a great fan of Rob Wainwright, the British head of Europol, who is doing a terrific job. Anyone who has visited Europol will have seen the work being done there, which is impressive and effective, and helps in the fight against organised crime. Europol works well with Interpol, although I know comments were made about Interpol. I and others have visited Interpol, which provides a huge benefit to cross-border action against serious and organised crime, illegal migration, people trafficking and all the other issues about which the House is very concerned. At the moment, there are 3,600 internationally active organised crime gangs operating across Europe. We cannot deal with those on our own, especially as far as cyber-crime is concerned; we have to deal with them through Europol. The Home Secretary is right to opt back in to those proceedings. I am not sure about one or two of the other Europol decisions, but if we are going to have further discussions, we will raise those at that stage.

Sir William Cash: In this context, does the right hon. Gentleman regard Albania’s candidacy for the European Union with equanimity? [Interruption.]

Keith Vaz: I apologise, but I could not hear the hon. Gentleman because the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Sir Richard Shepherd) was muttering so I was looking at him. I wonder whether the hon. Member for Stone would repeat that.

Sir William Cash: I just wanted to know whether, in the context of the issues of justice and home affairs and all the matters we are discussing today, the right hon. Gentleman regards with equanimity the proposed candidacy for EU membership of Albania, given its very serious crime, trafficking and all the rest of it.

Keith Vaz: Anyone can apply to join the club; we do not mind people wanting to apply to join. The problem is that there are serious issues for all applicant countries to address, and Albania has to recognise that there is a big problem with organised gangs operating from there. A huge amount of work still needs to be done before Albania becomes a full member of the EU, and the hon. Gentleman is right to focus on that. Let me touch on what we must do with applicant countries—here is a mea culpa, if I am allowed to make one on behalf of the previous Government. Those of us who were enthusiastic about enlargement of the EU—I still am—should have realised that once a country has joined we tend to allow it just to continue on its own, without providing the support—not financial support, but all the other support—needed to make it a full member of the EU. That is why we need to work with countries throughout this period. We always invite countries to join, but when they are in

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we leave them on their own, and that is a mistake. There is a lot of work to do on Albania, and I am sure the Albanians understand that and are going to have a lot of help along the way.

I am glad that we are opting in to the European criminal records information system, because it allows the courts to make the right decision on those who appear before them. We need to know when dangerous criminals are coming into our country, which is why it is good that we are opting in to that measure. I am sure the Justice Secretary welcomes the prisoner transfer agreement, because he has worked hard to get it going. Two of the top three countries in respect of the 10,695 foreign prisoners we have in our prisons, who are costing us £300 million, are EU countries—Poland and Ireland. Anything that helps us work with European colleagues to make sure that people go back to their country to serve their sentences is to be welcomed.

I welcome the progress that is being made. We must have another debate in Parliament. The process of scrutiny must continue, but at the end of the day there has to be a vote on these measures, as the Government have promised, and specifically on the EAW. That is the strong feeling of every member of the Home Affairs Committee, and I hope I have conveyed that to the House today.

2.17 pm

Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD): First, Madam Deputy Speaker, may I apologise for missing the start of the Home Secretary’s speech because of a meeting with a Minister which had been arranged before today’s timings were affected by the earlier statement? I am very glad to follow my colleague the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz). We have worked together, along with the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, to try to improve the way Parliament is able to address these matters. It has been a struggle, and the outcome in terms of the process is still far from satisfactory, but we have reached this point and we are having this debate. There will be a debate and a vote or votes at a later stage—we are still unclear as to what that procedure will be. This has at times been like getting blood out of a stone, and I do not think that is particularly in the Government’s interests. I appreciate some of the problems that they face, but in order to obtain parliamentary support they need to give Parliament the opportunities to feel confident that it has been able to examine things properly. I am therefore glad that we now have the Command Paper, which includes all the impact assessments. It would have been very helpful to have had those much earlier, and of course we still do not have the impact assessments on those measures the Government do not propose to enter—perhaps those would have helped to illuminate the Government’s reasons for the decisions they made.

There are no changes in the opt-ins in the Ministry of Justice field; the changes are in the much larger number of measures that come within the Home Office’s sphere. The Justice Committee has therefore already examined and reached conclusions on the measures, and it is unlikely to do a great deal more on the issue between

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now and the later stages of consideration. We published a report, and the Government are still pursuing a view with which we broadly agree, and I will explain why.

The measures include six mutual recognition measures, including one on financial penalties that originated with the United Kingdom and Sweden. There are measures on previous convictions, prisoner transfers, judgments in absentia and European supervision orders. The Government propose to rejoin all those measures with one exception, which is the probation measures framework decision, to which I will return. The Committee agrees that the Government were right, in the national interest and in the interest of effective cross-border co-operation, to seek to rejoin five of the measures.

The Committee of course strongly supports the UK’s participation in the prisoner transfer framework decision because it is a priority to reduce the number of foreign nationals held in UK prisons. That decision is also an important part of the overall package for reforming the European arrest warrant. The Committee is particularly conscious of the problems presented by the large number of foreign nationals in UK prisons. Those are nationals from many countries in UK prisons, and the Government must continue their efforts in relation to those countries. With European countries, however, there is a much better prospect of achieving a prisoner’s return to their native country because we are not dealing with countries in which human rights considerations, on the face of it, would appear to prevent a return.

One of the five measures, the European supervision order, enables a defendant or suspect on non-custodial pre-trial bail or other supervision to return to their home member state to await trial there under supervision, and we support and welcome that measure. The probation measures framework decision provides the basis for mutual recognition and supervision of suspended sentences, post-custodial licences and community sentences, and the Committee noted the Government’s concerns about the measure’s operation:

“In view of the potential value of the Framework Decision we consider that the Government should pursue the matter in their negotiations on the opt-in list to see whether these concerns can be dealt with. We would not wish to rule out participation in the measure if concerns about its drafting can be overcome”.

We discovered from another source that a solution to that problem is alleged to have been found. The source was a press release issued by the General Affairs Council on 24 June, from which it appears that the Government have undertaken to consider opting back in to two Prüm decisions and the probation measures framework decision at a later stage.

In evidence to our Committee on 9 July, the Lord Chancellor admitted that he had been pressed by the Commission to rejoin the probation measures framework decision, arguing that it was closely linked to the prisoner transfer agreement. He repeated the objections that he had previously expressed to the Committee, particularly that we do not have much experience of the measure’s operation in other countries and the legal problems that it might cause. He said that the solution reached in the negotiations was that the UK would look at the matter again in the next Parliament to see whether rejoining would be in the national interest. It would have been preferable if the Government had volunteered information on that, either in correspondence or in a Command

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Paper, instead of leaving it to Committees to glean information from Council press releases and media reports.

More generally, the Justice Committee supports the Government’s choice of measures to rejoin in the national interest and in the interest of fighting crime. We reached some agreement with the Government on minimum standards measures that set standards already met by the United Kingdom. We said that

“the arguments for opting into the…minimum standards measures are primarily symbolic, and our view is that those arguments do not outweigh the disadvantages of bringing wide areas of criminal justice in the UK unnecessarily into the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union.”

Many traditions in our judicial systems in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are different from those that prevail in continental practice, and it therefore makes sense not to become involved in matters in the European Court of Justice when doing so does not serve the national interest. There is value in signing up to minimum standards measures if it has a persuasive effect in other countries, but the Committee’s view is that that is outweighed by the disadvantages of creating case law in the European Court of Justice on matters that do not need to be treated in that way.

The changes to the list of 35 measures do not appear to affect the overall balance of the package. Some of the changes are the consequence of measures ceasing to be subject to the block opt-out, and others, such as the additional measures on Europol and the Schengen information system, are ancillary to the Government’s decision to participate in Europol and the Schengen information system and may be regarded as necessary on the grounds of coherence and practical operability. It is interesting that the Government have achieved the conjuring trick of changing the list of measures while retaining the same total number. I suspect that has something to do with internal party management within the Conservative party, but the outcome for the balance of the measures will continue to be supported by the Committee. The measures that the Government have agreed to opt into will materially assist in the fight against serious crime and in the safeguarding of the freedom of our citizens. The Government have my support.

2.26 pm

Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab): As could be imagined, tailgating the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) on these issues in the European Scrutiny Committee on behalf of the Labour party is a tortuous but enlightening process. It is interesting to note that the original Command Paper 8671, which was published in July 2013 and which we discussed on the Floor of the House, has been slightly amended. Most people probably do not realise that what we are discussing now is a similar, but not identical, list of 35 measures set out in Command Paper 8897 on 3 July 2014, so there have been some small amendments along the way.

I recommend that interested people outside the House not only listen to the debates, which are enlightening but repetitive, but read the relevant documents from the European Scrutiny Committee, the Justice Committee and the Home Affairs Committee. Those documents give a flavour of the minutiae about which the European Scrutiny Committee in general differs from the Government.

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Although I have my concerns about the European Union, and particularly about the behaviour of the Commission, I am not a conspiracy theorist. I do not support the hon. Gentleman’s often-repeated analysis that it has been set out in a dark room somewhere in the European Commission that this will all eventually lead to a united states of Europe controlled by a bureaucracy in Brussels that is helped by the European Court of Justice and many other manipulative organs of the European Union.

The fact is that the European Commission, at its heart, tends to have a competence creep mentality. In many areas the Commission is making everyone do things according to its will when those things do not require such direction. I am a great supporter of devolution in Scotland and other parts of the UK, and I am a great supporter of subsidiarity, but not the subsidiarity set out in the Lisbon treaty. It is a falsehood to say that the Lisbon treaty has given more power to Parliaments.

In that sense, I wonder about the Government’s approach to the opt-outs that we are debating. We know there is a block opt-out on all 133 measures, most of which, as has been articulately stated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), have been superseded or are redundant. On a few issues, we might want to argue about the final details of whether we should have opted in to certain justice standards, but at the heart of the debate is a feeling that the Government have not been willing to be open enough about that fact, which was a point raised by the Chair of the Justice Committee, the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith). The reality is that there have been no massively significant changes to the competences that have been drawn back to the UK, because most of the 133 measures have been superseded, are redundant or have never been used. Therefore, the myth being created, which is that this process is about repatriating powers to the UK—one that has been put forward by the Government—is such an obvious falsehood that the public are becoming more and more disillusioned and sceptical about the Government’s position.

I think that the majority of the coalition Government are pro-EU and want to see us solidly at the heart of the EU and influencing it. I think that they are deeply committed, as I think we on the Opposition side are, to reforming the EU, making it more relevant and finding a way to draw back to the member states the powers that they wish to apply in their own right. But that is not what people are seeing in this debate.

For example, the Justice Committee reached the conclusion—on page 6 of its eighth report of the 2013-14 Session—that in the previous debate the House was not being asked at that stage to endorse the list of 35 measures that the Government intended to opt back into, but the Home Secretary used the debate again and again to claim that the Government had the support of the House of Commons for what they were doing. She gave the impression again and again, in writing and in the spoken word, that that is what we did. We started a process and considered a Command Paper, but we did not conclude that it was correct or endorse it; the public were given the impression that somehow we had.

The position taken by the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee is supported by its members—certainly the 13 who were there, including myself. We think that the House should debate and vote on each of the 35 measures—I saw you flinch, Madam Deputy Speaker,

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when that was suggested. They might be all in the same order and, as the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee pointed out, there are key issues, so it might be possible to group them in such a way that Members can express their opinions by voting on groups.

However, I certainly agree that we should have some kind of debate—it is a pity that it is being done in this context—about the European arrest warrant, because I think that it is the right kind of measure. We would not want to replace it with a country-by-country arrangement based on applications to bring people back individually. I will give an example. I hope that my friend—and I do regard him as a friend—the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg) is listening. After the 7 July bombings, the fact that we could return one of the bombers to this country within three weeks was a massive example of why such an arrangement is fundamentally sound. However, it might have to be modified in some ways to stop the nonsense of having applications for cases of wheelbarrow theft or £200 loans with the wrong details and all sorts of trivia.

I want to expand on a case from my constituency. It concerns a family with a custody order over a child. The father, who is Polish, abducted the child and took it to Poland, so the grandfather and a friend went to Poland, took the child and brought it back to Scotland. The father then claimed that he had been assaulted during that process. A European arrest warrant was sought and the case was taken to a Scottish court, but it ruled that the warrant was not valid because the witness was clear that no assault had taken place and that what they had done was to apply the court’s ruling that the mother, who is Scottish, had the right to custody of the child and that the father had abducted the child. That seemed to be the end of the matter, and it sounded sensible to me. However, something went wrong with the process. Only last year the grandfather, who is now not in good health, and his wife decided to take a holiday in the Netherlands. When he stepped off the plane in Amsterdam, he was arrested and sent to Poland. He had a heart attack there and ended up in hospital. When the court in Poland eventually looked at the case, it concluded that there was no case to answer and that the European arrest warrant was not valid, so he was released. Now his health is even worse.

Why is there no process—I have asked the Home Secretary this—whereby all the agencies that sign up to the European arrest warrant can be informed when a court rules against an attempt to use it in the country in which it is attempted to be served? Why is there no transmission of that information? The grandfather could have gone on holiday anyway in the EU and he would probably have been arrested and sent to Poland, and for a European arrest warrant that a court had already ruled was invalid. It makes no sense to me that these things still stand. Apart from the trivia, it is the mechanism of how they are applied that worries me.

The basic fact of this debate is that the European Scrutiny Committee, the Home Affairs Committee and the Justice Committee felt that the Government were not giving enough information and that they were not willing to accept that it is not enough to bring back one blockbuster motion stating, “We’ve had a negotiation and signed up to 35 items. Take it or leave it.” It cannot

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be done like that. If it is done like that, it will undermine the Government’s credibility. The Opposition would then be in a difficult situation, because we would have to either support the motion, if it was all that was available, table a counter-motion of some kind in order to divide up the 35 items, or use some other process in order to respond to what the British public, Parliament and the three Committees want, which is a debate on the fundamental issues in the package so that we can vote on them individually and say, as I hope we will, “Yes, we are behind this move to sign up to the 35 items.”

Some of us might like to see some other things opted into, with a little bit of finessing by the Government so that we keep progressing along the path that I think we are on with justice and home affairs. My worry is not about justice and home affairs and a corpus juris for Europe; my worry is with the economics of the European Union that are destroying the economies of the subservient countries that have come into it and are under the fiscal compact and the eurozone’s stability and growth pact. That, to me, is what is damaging the project for Europe, not justice and home affairs. I am not worried about the fact—this was put to me in a private conversation with another hon. Member—that the Queen has to register and prove that she is a real British citizen so that her bank account can be used across Europe. What worries me is that we are damaging other people in Europe for the power of the economic giants, including us—we are a much-diminished giant, but we are still benefiting from it. I want the debate to take place in such a way that people can say afterwards that there is a united feeling in this House that the European Union is a good thing.

I will also put down a marker for those on my Front Bench. I want to see us sign up to a referendum on the European Union and to go out with like-minded people across the House and win a yes vote to remain in the European Union and build Europe for the benefit of British citizens.

2.37 pm

Sir Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills) (Con): I have been in this House for seven Parliaments. Each has seemed to have a different character, but there has been one consistent thread across all that time: the integration within European processes. That has had support on high days, on holidays and in opposition. I see it as a fundamental task of the House of Commons to challenge perceived wisdoms and reflect the responsibilities and interests of those we are elected to represent.

I have also seen the continuing theme of membership of the European Union over all that time. It has never quite been a settled issue. For all the trumpets and bands, all the songs and the universal praise, there is a deep underlying tug. It is really about a sense of country. Who are we? It has always been about that. That, after all, is the first duty of a sovereign state, I would argue: to protect the interests, freedoms and liberties that we have enjoyed under our form of constitutional arrangements. What we are really seeing is a struggle over the British constitution. Oh, but does it not evolve over time? Yet, looking back, there has been one constant theme, which is that people profoundly believed in many of the central precepts of what constitutes a sovereign state. I am driven in my memory by certain

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observations, too. The German constitutional court made the observation that democracy lies not in the institutions of the community, the European Union, but in the national state, and yet everything that this House seems to do in recent years is to surrender and denigrate that nation state—the very concept by which we have authority in this House.

What is the criticism of the European arrest warrant? It is that it is promoted on the basis of a benefit, but to many people it is actually a degradation of the security of the British people. The fact that they can be taken away from within this jurisdiction by almost a mandate, which will, in time, be governed by the European Court of Justice is a loss of the authority of our own legal and justice system.

The House is well aware that, in recent months, a series of High Court and Supreme Court judges have been writing essays, making a plea about the way in which the discretion and the interpretation of human rights is conducted. The most central purpose of a Government is law and order and the effectiveness with which they protect the citizen, and no one can dispute that our Home Secretary is fierce in her determination to protect the British citizen. But, actually, the greatest protection of a citizen and a coherent society, which is what we call the sovereign state, lies within the commitment of the people to their institutions and their way of self-government, and that is what this measure undermines.

Michael Connarty: I am concerned about the nationalist tone of the hon. Gentleman’s contribution. Under his logic, Scotland should vote yes to independence in September, and I am totally opposed to breaking up the United Kingdom, which I happen to think respects Scottish subsidiarity.

Sir Richard Shepherd: I will not trade remarks on this matter. I was also born in Scotland, and I am deprived of a vote on something that affects my cousins and my relatives. This has been a Union for 300 years, and we have been united by the sentiments of those people. Not so very long ago—70 years—the Scots, the English, the Welsh and those from Northern Ireland stood together against the greatest danger of our time: the monolithic power of Germany. I see this not as nationalistic but as a reflection and a pride in who we are, what we are, what this nation has accomplished and our ability to govern ourselves. The Scots will make their own decision; I am not involved in that because I do not have a residence in Scotland. Anyone passing through who might temporarily have a residence there can have a vote. No, no that is not democratic, and it is not the spirit of the Union. The Union has fought together, worked together and made something together, and that is the Union I am concerned about, not the European Union. When we come to deal with these matters, we will find that we have surrendered our very sense of “these are our people.”

As a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, we looked at these extradition orders. The Home Affairs Committee and the Justice Committee have looked at these matters, too. No one has made any mention of this, but one of the best things in the process were the groups that have spoken and given testimony to those Committees. The Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee talked about those who are genuinely concerned about the way in which all of this has happened.

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I half expected to hear mention of the Staffordshire case in Genoa in which a man, under these extradition endeavours, was found guilty of murder, although he had never been there or even near there. No, the integrity of a nation is founded on its institutions and also the law. In this country, I maintain that we have a pretty high degree of acceptance of the process of law and judgment and the way in which it is made. What we are now confronted with is the triviality of a central bureaucracy that sets out to be a great state, which I know the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty) for honourable reasons passionately believes in, but who in the end will protect us? That can only be the people of our own country and our own institutions.

I find no comfort in this succession of cases, which have been listed by the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, and which the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk also knows well enough about. We have all had constituents who have expressed a concern that the British Government—Parliament—seem to have no effectiveness in the world. I do not blame anyone for that. It is a crisis in our nation that we have to question who really governs us. I maintain that it is us who should govern us, and by that I mean our own Union.

I was deeply distressed when I heard the words of the Home Secretary, who fiercely defends us, in impossible cases, against treaty after treaty into which British Governments have entered. I even consider the United States treaty on extradition to be grotesquely misjudged. Of course the wonderful thing is that there will always be a judge who will find good merit in whatever the British Government are proposing. I will take issue, because my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who is undoubtedly a doughty, valiant and fierce fighter, has achieved very little in the face of these international organisations that we have so joyously, easily and with great hallelujahs joined, and yet those organisations all sting us, because in the end they have taken away from the very sovereignty of our people. When we talk about the sovereignty of Parliament, we mean the people, and ultimately all of our fates are decided by them. In our grotesque shifting away from the authority of the people, we lose them, and that is why there is such a great disconnect.

I am glad to see that my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab) is in his place. He has catalogued many of these cases and understands their interconnectivity with what has happened. This is a bound Parliament now. It is bound not by the people but by our own passing views of the great affairs of the world. I fear that we have lost our nerve in some way. I watched a celebration of the end of war in Europe 70 years ago, and I saw elderly people, who had lost friends and colleagues, showing such pride that even alone Britain could stand for something; and we do stand for something. It does not need the buying of votes or the passing over of great sums of money. I listened with alarm that Albania will be “brought up”. This is a union that has been founded on the transfer of payments. Now, I believe, and my dad taught me, that we earn our own living. That is the truth that this country seems to be waving away. We pass over money in vast sums. I wonder why we are giving £9 billion net a year to fund European integration. We watched Ireland—I feel tremendously for Ireland—which had a near transfer of 5% of GDP to support the move to the future. It did

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that on its own, and the way it has come through the crisis has been an amazing feat of self-discipline and obedience to European precepts.

So we come to the substance of the debate. We are giving over to others the ultimate rule on the protection of our own citizens. This will come under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, which most people would agree is an integrationist court, governed by the central proposition of ever-closer union. I think of the glory of Europe historically—the nation states of Europe, the cultures, the universities, the interconnectivity, but not the throttling blanket that the European Union now represents to many of us.

Many people knock us and say, “But wasn’t there something we could have done?” We had a constitution that never doubted who was in charge—the people. We have transferred that role to international friction-making devices such as the European Union. We should be seen by our people as defending the interests of the people. I have always been cautious about a declaration from the Front Bench—any Front Bench—that says, “We act in the national interest.” The national interest is what this House decides, and ultimately what the people decide.

The whole course of the European project has been to avoid any engagement with the people over what is a non-democratic and largely unsuccessful Union, other than for the transfer of vast sums of money. We have to do something about that, and these opt-ins, opt-outs, see-all-round-abouts amount, in the end, to what the Government disguise and pretend is not really happening, as if it were a grand scheme. I have lost all confidence in understanding what central Government or the Foreign Office do these days, other than remaining quiet.

2.52 pm

Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): It is always a pleasure to follow a brother knight. I take this opportunity to echo the comments of the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) on becoming a brother knight. The whole House should congratulate you, Madam Deputy Speaker, on having become a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, an order of chivalry considerably more senior than that of us mere Knights Bachelor. I can think of no better way of spending my birthday than in group therapy with brother knights, my hon. Friends the Members for Stone, for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), for Aldridge-Brownhills (Sir Richard Shepherd), for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth) and for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith), so it has been a good debate.

The issue before us is what is in the national interest, what is in the interests of our constituents, and what will make us safe. In that regard I thought it might be helpful to ask Thames Valley police what they thought about the European arrest warrant. I have rather a high respect for Thames Valley police. I have lived in the Thames valley pretty much all my life, and those of us who are Members of Parliament for constituencies in the Thames valley are rather proud of Thames Valley police. They directed me to evidence on the European arrest warrant that was submitted to the House of

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Lords in 2012 on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers. ACPO consulted chief constables and police authorities around the country. It was seeking to give advice to the House of Lords on which parts of the opt-out should be opted back into, and it recommended above all else that the European arrest warrant be opted back into under the same arrangements as were then in place.

Mr Jenkin: When did this House decide to abdicate to ACPO on matters of civil liberty or constitutional importance?

Sir Tony Baldry: I should have thought that, on a matter of law and order, even my hon. Friend would think it might just be sensible to take the advice of police forces up and down the country. Whatever we do in the House ought to be evidence-based, and I should have thought the evidence from police authorities and police forces around the country might be rather cogent and sensible evidence in these circumstances.

The ACPO assessment confirmed that the European arrest warrant is the most important of all the measures in the area of justice and home affairs. Most of the police forces and chief officers—I am sure that if my hon. Friend, for example, were to ask the chief constable of Essex and the Essex police force, they would make this point to him as well—believe that opting out of the European arrest warrant and relying on alternative arrangements would result in fewer extraditions, longer delays, higher costs, more offenders evading justice, and increased risks to public safety. They went on to say that the European arrest warrant

“has been in operation for eight years and has now become a mainstream tool. . . 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.”

ACPO observed:

“These trends in extradition reflect the increasing international patterns of crime and offending. Open borders across Europe, free movement of EU citizens, low cost air travel, cheap telecommunications, the internet and the expansion of criminal networks across national boundaries are all contributory factors to the growth in extradition requests. These are irreversible changes which need to be matched by increasing flexibility on the part of European law enforcement and criminal justice agencies.”

ACPO went on to say:

“Further evidence of these changes is to be found in data concerning arrests. Recent data gathered by the MPS”—

the Metropolitan police service—

“in the first quarter of 2012 showed that of 61,939 people arrested in London, 8,089 were nationals from EU countries (13%) and 9,358 were foreign nationals from outside the EU (15%). The presence of fugitives from justice fleeing to the UK is a significant public safety issue. In 2011/12 the MPS received 50 EAWs for homicide, 20 for rape, and 90 for robbery. Each of these cases represents a person who is wanted for a serious crime who fled to the UK. There is strong evidence to show that foreign criminals who come to UK continue to offend when in the UK. There is a real risk that opting out of the EAW and relying on less effective extradition arrangements could have the effect of turning the UK into a ‘safe haven’ for Europe’s criminals.”

Mr Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton) (Con): I am listening intently to what my right hon. Friend is saying. We should listen to ACPO, but I do not think that in its

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evidence to the House of Lords Committee ACPO made the argument that he is making in his speech. In respect of fugitives coming to the UK, there is no reason, in or out of the European arrest warrant, why we cannot just deport them. Deportation powers would provide a much quicker route even than extradition under the European arrest warrant. The wider question is whether we could get people back. That is an important point, but ACPO’s evidence focused on the latter, not the former.

Sir Tony Baldry: I am quoting verbatim from ACPO’s evidence given to the House of Lords. I will share it with my hon. Friend afterwards, but it is verbatim, so I am afraid that he has misdirected himself or misremembered the evidence that ACPO submitted. I am pretty old and gnarled but I can remember from when I practised at the Bar as a prosecutor that it was a nightmare to return foreign offenders overseas using bilateral agreements—it could sometimes take years with multiple applications. I recall application after application at Horseferry road magistrates court as we ploughed through various procedural points to get people deported.

I go on to quote verbatim, so there is no possibility of misunderstanding for my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab), from ACPO’s evidence to the House of Lords. It says that the European arrest warrant is

“an efficient system, built upon mutual recognition of criminal justice systems between member states and an obligation to comply with a properly constructed warrant. Barriers which previously existed have been removed. The nationality of the person sought can no longer be a barrier to affecting an extradition request. Under the previous arrangements many European states, such as Germany, France and Poland, did not allow their nationals to be extradited to stand trial and required them to be tried in their home state…Prior to the introduction of the EAW, extradition between European states where it did occur could, and often would, take many months in uncontested cases and many years in contested cases.”

I can testify to that, having been involved in some of those cases. The evidence continues:

“EAW data from the Commission to the European Parliament show that across the EU it takes an average of 17 days to surrender a wanted person”.

Thames Valley police gave me just two very recent examples in which the European arrest warrant had made my constituents safer. Under a recent European arrest warrant, they arrested a Polish individual wanted for armed robbery and burglary in Poland, clearly safeguarding the local community as the Thames Valley police had no intelligence that there were individuals residing in our area who had been assessed as high risk. The warrant was received, processed and executed within 24 hours, removing a potential offender and providing reassurance to the community. Another individual wanted for taking part in the murder of two youths in Milton Keynes was also arrested in Holland under a European arrest warrant. The European crime unit extradited him to the UK, where he now awaits trial, and two other suspects were sentenced in an earlier trial to more than 30 years’ imprisonment.

It is said by some, including my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton, that we should rely on deportation and other extradition proceedings, but we need only contrast the speed of those cases with what happened with Abu Hamza. Fourteen years after his

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arrest on behalf of the USA under legal conditions largely identical to the 1957 treaty, he was finally extradited to the USA to face terrorism charges there. Do we really want to see repeated Abu Hamza-type situations in our extradition processes? These are not isolated examples of where the European arrest warrant has been of benefit. Numerous other examples could be cited.

The European arrest warrant is cost-efficient. If we relied on a 1957-type mechanism we would commit ourselves to footing the legal bill for extradition processes that went on for years and cost the public purse hundreds of thousands of pounds. The public and the judiciary are frustrated that the extradition of terrorists is often delayed for years. The return to the 1957 process could make this long, drawn-out process the norm. That might not have been such a problem 20 or 30 years ago when criminals rarely crossed borders, but nowadays that is routine.

ACPO concluded in its evidence to the House of Lords and Parliament:

“The view therefore of ACPO is simple. The EAW works very effectively and increases the safety of the UK public. It is for this reason that ACPO strongly supports the EAW.”

I hope that before we next debate and vote on this issue in the House, chief constables and police authorities will write to every right hon. and hon. Member making clear the position of local police forces and drawing Members’ attention to the benefits that the European arrest warrant has had in their own areas.

I fully appreciate that Members of this House oppose anything that has the word “Europe” in it. I genuinely love my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills, but I have heard that speech now about 50 times during the 30 years for which I have been a Member of this House. The fact that one is opposed to the European Union is not sufficient to jeopardise the safety of our constituents or our national interest. The Home Secretary, by opting back into a number of these measures, particularly the European arrest warrant, is, in my view and judgment, doing something sensible, proportionate, in the national interest and, most importantly of all, in the interests of my constituents.

3.5 pm

Mr Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con): I am grateful to have the opportunity to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry). The burden of his case appears to be that the efficacy of any extradition arrangements should override any other balanced argument about what might be affected by them. He demonstrates how easy it is to be seduced by expediency, convenience, efficiency and pressure from the police, who have only one objective, and that is not to create more of the stronger human rights or protections for citizens that they feel obstruct their task of maintaining law and order. That is why this House does not abdicate decisions on matters of constitutional importance or human rights to ACPO.

The Abu Hamza case took so long because we had lost control of our law and because we no longer control the human rights jurisprudence in our courts. The lesson of that case is precisely the opposite of what my right hon. Friend suggests. We should take control of our own laws by enacting laws from this place rather than abdicating authority to other places, least of all to foreign powers.

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I was struck in this debate by how my right hon. Friend wanted to caricature the objections to the provisions, saying that anybody who is obsessed with the issue of Europe will stand up and object to anything. I am a trustee of the Parliament choir and last night we sang alongside our German counterparts, the Bundestag choir, in Westminster Hall. I stood shoulder to shoulder with a fellow bass from Germany and that is the kind of unity, brotherhood and friendship with our European partners that we want to demonstrate. It should be possible to discuss the practical arrangements we have with each other without being impugned as some kind of right-wing xenophobe, but I am afraid that my right hon. Friend fell into that trap.

Another striking point about this debate is that although the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), the former Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty), and the Chairman of the Justice Committee, the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith), each expressed support in principle, they were a great deal more chary about the consequences and effects of signing up to these arrangements than either of the Front-Bench speakers.

I take on board what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said about the additional protections that she thinks she has obtained for the exercise of the European arrest warrant, whereby we now have domestic legislation in place to deal with matters of disproportionality and dual criminality. That goes to the heart of the wider context of this debate as to whether we really control the terms of engagement that we are entering into with this instrument and whether this House has any control over the terms of engagement that our law has with our membership of the European Community.

This debate exposes the dislocation between the words of our political leaders and their actions. What we are discussing today feeds the discontent and disillusion that people feel about our politics and politicians and about the UK’s relationship with our EU partners. We have seen across the House the same old cosy consensus between those on both Front Benches that encouraged UKIP to such new heights in the recent European elections.

The very title of the debate, which says that it is a general debate on the UK’s justice and home affairs opt-outs, is misleading. The UK has already exercised our opt-outs from the justice and home affairs provisions under the Lisbon treaty. This debate is about whether the Government should opt back in to 35 of these measures. Unlike what was agreed—it pains me to say this—about these provisions at Lisbon by the previous Government, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is proposing a major and permanent transfer of power from the UK to the EU: a transfer of more sovereignty which, nevertheless, escapes a referendum under the European Union Act. This is yet another example of politicians seeking to provide reassurance to voters without actually meaning it. The transfer includes a permanent commitment to the notorious European arrest warrant, which is intended to remove the recourse of a citizen of the UK to the courts in the event of such

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a warrant, whatever UK legislation is place, with the new provisions themselves vulnerable to being overridden by the European Court of Justice.

The idea that any extradition arrangement we enter into with other EU states would necessarily be subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice is, in itself, an admission of how overreaching the European treaties have become. There are still parts of our law that are immune from the reach of the European Court of Justice. It should be possible to reach an agreement with the European Union that the European Court of Justice will not arbitrate in disputes between the United Kingdom courts and the European courts in such matters. The fact that there is an assumption that the European Court of Justice will preside over any dispute between the United Kingdom and the EU on any matter demonstrates how overarching the reach of the Court under these treaties already is. That goes to the heart of what we are tangentially discussing, which is the future of the UK’s relationship with our European partners.

Sir William Cash: I agree with everything my hon. Friend is saying. In the United Kingdom, as compared with all the other 27 member states, we are in a unique position. Our European Communities Act is a voluntary Act. We do not have a written constitution. We are able to make the changes that are necessary to regain our sovereignty. When the Prime Minister says that our national Parliaments are the root of our democracy, he knows, and so do the Government, that we still retain the right to be able to make the changes in order to extract ourselves from situations that we regard as not being in our national interest.

Mr Jenkin: I agree with the Prime Minister and with my hon. Friend on that point.

The Prime Minister recently told the “Today” programme that he wants to pursue a relationship with our European partners based on “trade and co-operation” and on being “an independent nation state”. I have to say that I cannot find any strand of consistency between the measures in this Command Paper and the aspirations expressed by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

May I remind my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who is not in her place at the moment, of what we said in the House about the European arrest warrant when we were in opposition? My right hon. Friend the Justice Secretary, as shadow Home Secretary, said in 2009 that it “undermined civil liberties”. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, as shadow Justice Secretary, said in 2008 that

“once such things are subject to the European Court of Justice and the Commission…the Government will lose all control over standing up for United Kingdom interests in these areas”.—[Official Report, 29 January 2008; Vol. 471, c. 176.]

He also pointed out that the European arrest warrant

“is very different from…an international treaty obligation that the United Kingdom could decide not to follow if it infringed the human rights of those affected. We will be surrendering the final say about that entirely to a supranational body.”—[Official Report, 29 January 2008; Vol. 471, c. 175.]

The Foreign Secretary, as shadow Foreign Secretary, chided the previous Government for not keeping their promises on the EU when he said:

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“Time and again they have made promises that they would not hand over powers to Europe, particularly on justice and home affairs, and time and again they have done exactly that, not least through the treaty.”—[Official Report, 4 March 2008; Vol. 472, c. 1684.]

My right hon. Friend now has to eat those words.

The Conservative party manifesto of 2010 promised

“three specific guarantees—on the Charter of fundamental rights, on criminal justice, and on social and employment legislation—with our European partners to return powers that we believe should reside with the UK, not the EU.”

Why have we abandoned that? It was based on a speech the Prime Minister made when in opposition, in which he promised to negotiate the three guarantees, one of which was

“limiting the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction over criminal law to its pre-Lisbon level, and ensuring that only British authorities can initiate criminal investigations in Britain.”

Why have we abandoned that?

Much more recently, the Prime Minister wrote in The Sunday Telegraph on 16 March 2014 that one of the key changes he would seek in a renegotiation with the EU was:

“Our police forces and justice systems able to protect British citizens, unencumbered by unnecessary interference from the European institutions”.

Why have we abandoned that already? What did he intend to convey to voters in advance of the European elections? Surely not that he intended to do exactly the opposite a few weeks after the close of poll.

This year’s Conservative European election leaflet stated:

“We stand for a new relationship with the EU, bringing power back to Britain and away from Brussels”,

by, among other things,

“taking back control of justice and home affairs”.

If the UK intends to bring powers back in our renegotiation after the next election, it is a strange way for the Prime Minister to begin setting out his stall by giving up the very powers he said he would not give up.

That raises the question about the pressure on Ministers to continue supporting the process of EU integration because of coalition politics. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary’s blank denial that there could be any alternative to the European arrest warrant underlines that she may well have fallen prey to such pressures. Notwithstanding the fact that the main party in power has a different policy and was elected having opposed Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, Whitehall appears to be continuing to implement those treaties according to a policy of business as usual. More powers are being transferred from the UK to the EU, with EU legislation encroaching ever more on our justice system, as though there had been no change of Government.

I do not doubt that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is acting on advice and with complete integrity, but it may help if I, as Chairman of the Public Administration Committee, remind the House how advice to Ministers works in a coalition. The civil service is enjoined to serve the Government as a whole, not individual party agendas or the different agendas of individual Ministers. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that no serious consideration has been given to any

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alternative policy of negotiating a permanent bilateral agreement on these matters, like the 170 or so sovereign states that are not members of the EU.

If my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary had been minded to ask for credible submissions to support such a policy and then to act on them, it is not only the status quo in her Department, the Foreign Office and elsewhere that she would have had to fight. She would certainly have had the support of the Conservatives in that—if we were a majority Government, I doubt she would have had the support to act in the way she is acting now—but in this coalition, the quad would have vetoed that policy. It is, therefore, hardly surprising, four years since her appointment, that little work has been done on any alternative policy.

Sir Gerald Howarth: I think it is terribly important that we explain to the public what the quad is about, because it is Westminster-speak and I do not think the public understand that no policy is pursued by civil servants unless four individuals—the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury—sign off on them. Unless they do so, civil servants will not deal with those policies. That is what has stuffed us on the Conservative Benches.

Mr Jenkin: I am not suggesting for a moment that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is not sincere in her belief. All I am saying is that the incentives against obtaining alternative advice are massive. If someone goes against the grain of the coalition, they are likely to be stopped at the end of the process anyway, so what is the point? And so we finish up in this position.

That episode highlights how impossible it is to put any political will behind the Prime Minister’s stated aim of a renegotiated relationship with the EU as long as we remain in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, who take a fundamentally opposite view to ours.

Sir Edward Leigh: I normally agree with everything that my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth) says, but I wonder whether this quad thing is a bit of a myth. It is a convenient myth that the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary find useful in explaining why they cannot pursue Conservative policies, but surely the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary can instruct their civil servants. I cannot believe it—I may be wrong; my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) is the Chair of the Public Administration Committee—but it is an extraordinary way to run a country.

Mr Jenkin: It has been made clear throughout the civil service that there can be no policy except Government policy, and Government policy is filtered through the coalition arrangements, over which there is a mutual veto in that unless there is agreement, there is no policy. If the Home Secretary had started out on the premise of an alternative policy—of multilateralism or of a simple bilateral arrangement on such matters—she would have been up against not only the vested interests in the EU, with their determination to block this kind of thing and the residual resistance of the status quo, but the added pressure against attempting to do such a thing that exists in the way the civil service operates under the

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coalition. I am afraid that that is just a fact. On some occasions, Ministers have asked for papers or legislation to be prepared on their behalf, and there has been a blanket refusal because it is not Government policy if it has not been approved by the coalition; that is a fact.

The episode demonstrates that another year of coalition is another year of paralysis and inertia on EU policy, because the machinery of government is hostage to the coalition. That is another reason why we should either end the coalition in the run-up to the election or, indeed, call an earlier general election. I believe that we will rue the day that we voted—I did not, but the House did—for fixed-term Parliaments.

The present paralysis also makes nonsense of the Government’s current policy on the EU. I admire the stand made by the Prime Minister over Mr Juncker, but it just shows that although the Prime Minister may get permission within the coalition to make what amount to grand gestures, he cannot get permission for any policy of substance that purports to advance the objectives he has so ably set out.

The decision on the justice and home affairs opt-ins should be seen in that very serious context, because there are very serious implications. The way in which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s challenge to Mr Juncker was dismissed at the Ypres summit indicates that the EU will resist any fundamental reform. That could not be clearer from the events at the summit. We saw not only how the ambiguity in the treaties will continue to be exploited by those who want to carry on the process of centralisation, but how the UK’s attempt to boost the role of national Parliaments—the fourth principle from the Bloomberg speech—was all but eliminated from the final conclusions, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash).

There should be no need in this House to reiterate the importance of our national Parliament to our democracy, or to point out that under the UK’s constitution Parliament is, and must remain, supreme. However, the Ypres summit and its decisions underline how EU treaties and institutions deny such an essential element of the UK’s constitutional autonomy under the present terms of membership. Since Maastricht, we have seen that opt-outs, subsidiarity and talk of different degrees or speeds of EU integration make no difference to the direction of the EU. Consequently, the legal protections concerning disproportionality and dual criminality are potentially meaningless.

Incidentally, the removal of the words “ever closer union” from the preamble of the EU treaties would make no change at all to how the European Commission, Court and Parliament behave. It would not remove a single treaty base of a single EU legal instrument or court ruling, and I emphasise that it would not prevent the European Court of Justice from setting aside any domestic protection that we may enact in respect of the European arrest warrant. That is because the EU treaties are not consistent with the UK’s constitutional position, or with the Prime Minister’s stated desire for the UK to be an independent nation state.

The practical importance of addressing the issues set out by the Prime Minister—they include immigration, freedom of movement, the single market and energy prices—is self-evident. However, any concessions that

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we obtain will be nugatory in their effect unless we also obtain recognition of the main principle at stake—namely, that of the supremacy of the United Kingdom Parliament.

In the UK, all EU laws and treaties rest upon the UK Parliament, which voluntarily agreed to the 1972 Act. This took place in the context of the unambiguous assurance that national sovereignty would be maintained after we joined. That was set out in the 1971 White Paper. Many subsequent treaties, and measures such as these, have been adopted by Act of Parliament, but the fundamental and ultimate role of the UK Parliament has never been vitiated. Had the UK adopted the EU constitution, that might have changed, but for now at least, the European Communities Act 1972 remains the foundation Act, and every EU law in the UK is subject to the constitutional principle of voluntary acceptance by the UK Parliament.

Those final conclusions of the European Council, along with so many other statements from other EU leaders and from European institutions such as the Commissioner and the European Parliament, do not accept our view. They speak and act as though the European Parliament is paramount, and attribute only a subsidiary role to national Parliaments, including our own. This reflects the political reality, which we Conservatives spelled out at the time, that the Lisbon treaty is the EU constitution in all but name. This justice and home affairs decision demonstrates that the Government are doing nothing of practical value to challenge that. The lack of any specific constitutional provision in the Lisbon treaty to make it autochthonous—that is, dependent on its own provisions for its authority, like a constitution—does not prevent the majority of EU states or the EU institutions from behaving in that way.

This question of constitutional supremacy has now reached a critical point. The point in the final Ypres conclusions about the need for “strong and credible” EU institutions but no more than

“closer involvement of national parliaments”,

underlines the fact that the EU is set against anything that seeks to reassert the supremacy of the UK Parliament in the European Union. It is beyond any doubt that such a proposal would even be considered, because it would take only one other member state to veto any such proposal.

In these circumstances, it would be impossible for any leader of the Conservative party to campaign to vote to stay in the European Union, either in a referendum or at the next general election, without making it clear that he had a clear bottom line in the renegotiations that our new relationship with the EU must be based on the supremacy of our national Parliament, at least, and that otherwise we would have to leave the treaties and seek that new relationship from outside.

Several hon. Members rose

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): Order. Bearing in mind the speech that we have just heard, I think I need to clarify that, although praying in aid supporting arguments is acceptable, the main purpose of today’s debate is to discuss opting back in. The hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) should perhaps have added at the end of his speech, “For all those reasons, I do not support opting back

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in.” This is not a general debate on the European Union, and I hope that the remaining Members will bear that in mind. Given that the hon. Gentleman looked so closely at the title of the debate, to which he referred at the beginning of his speech, I hope that he will in future pay a little more attention to a debate’s title when preparing the content of his speeches.

3.28 pm

Sir Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): I am delighted to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) and, indeed, my right hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry)—a brother knight who had the responsibility of looking after my old school at Bloxham. I have always had great affection for my right hon. Friend the Member for Banbury, even though he has been somewhat unsound on European matters. No doubt he will be awarded some further grand honour by the Association of Chief Police Officers; I can see him as the guest of honour at a grand function, funded no doubt by G4S as there is no public money for such things.

I agree overwhelmingly with my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex, particularly on the sovereignty of this Parliament. Whereas it is entirely right that we should take into account the evidence of those who are operating at the coal face, such as members of ACPO, it is our duty here in this Parliament to look at the wider issues and the wider consequences.

I suppose that I take as my text the joint report of the European Scrutiny, Home Affairs and Justice Committees of 26 March, which states in paragraph 1:

“Whether EU measures covered by the so-called ‘2014 block opt-out decision’ continue to apply to the United Kingdom and become subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice from 1 December 2014 is a profoundly significant issue.”

That is absolutely right and I pay tribute to the Chairmen and members of those three Committees for their detailed and measured response on this important matter. I also pay tribute to my right hon. Friends the Home Secretary and the Justice Secretary, on whose shoulders rests the responsibility for charting a course that not only satisfies the coalition, but reconciles the need to protect our constituents and secure law and order in this country, and the need to preserve the rights of this sovereign Parliament.

I will be brief, Madam Deputy Speaker, because I have just two key concerns and they are very straightforward. The first is that, by opting into these measures, we will lock ourselves into the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in perpetuity. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr Redwood) said earlier, home affairs and justice was originally a third pillar matter that was decided on by sovereign nations and was not subject to qualified majority voting. My hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex gave a litany of quotations, not least from my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, on the implications of signing up to these measures and subjecting ourselves to the European Court of Justice.

We have no excuse any more. We have seen how the European Court of Justice has sought constantly to arrogate greater and greater powers, and even to overrule our Supreme Court. We would be failing in our duty to

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the people we represent if we did not spell out to them the very real risks that lay before them if we continue to provide the European Court of Justice with further powers. By doing so, we undermine not only our position in this Parliament, but the interests of our constituents; for they will have no one to whom they can turn if the European Court of Justice continues to exercise these responsibilities.

My second concern is about the political message that will be sent out by the Government’s decision to opt back into 35 of the measures. As we approach the next general election, Europe is assuming greater and greater significance. Those of us who have banged on about Europe, to use a popular expression, have done so because European matters pervade our national life at every level. The biggest concern that the public have today is immigration. Why is that? It is because the issue of immigration is overwhelmingly about our ability to control our own borders.

I am sure that I am not alone in finding on the doorstep that our constituents do not believe the Prime Minister when he says that he will hold a referendum if we are returned as a majority Government at the next general election. That is the case, notwithstanding his efforts in vetoing the fiscal treaty, cutting the EU budget, supporting the European Union (Referendum) Bill and, most recently, tackling the issue of the presidency of the European Commission. He has demonstrated his commitment to trying to resolve those matters and addressing the real concerns of the British people, but because he suggested before the last election that we would have a referendum if we assumed power, that has been constantly brought up as though he has failed to deliver on a promise. That referendum was conditional on the Lisbon treaty not having come into force by 2010, but it did come into force and therefore there was no point in holding a referendum.

As we talk about further negotiations with our European partners on reorganising Britain’s relationship with the EU, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex: this sends a completely different message. We have had the battle with Mr Juncker and expressed the Prime Minister’s rejection of ever-closer union and of the whole project, yet we will be portrayed by our opponents and by the public as having signed up to a raft of measures that touch on some of the most sensitive issues around the protection of our people, such as the ability to deport foreign criminals or return those who have fled the country but are charged with offences in the UK. People are bound to say, “We hear what you say about having a referendum, but when you’re faced with a practical decision on whether to opt back into home affairs and justice measures, you opt back in. We know what that means in terms of the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction”.

Sir William Cash: Does my hon. Friend agree that there is a whiff of appeasement here? Basically, we do not want the jurisdiction of European institutions, including the Court, but on the other hand we do not want to resist their intrusion into our becoming more integrated into the European Union. When it comes to the balance between those two positions, the Government increasingly give the impression that they do not want to do that, but they go along with it in practice. That is a very dangerous path.

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Sir Gerald Howarth: My hon. Friend is right, and I set out earlier what I felt the dilemma to be. Undoubtedly, the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary are receiving shed-loads of advice from law enforcement agencies, saying that we must protect the European arrest warrant and all our ties with our European partners because to do otherwise would make our task of enforcing law and order more and more difficult.

I understand where the Home Secretary is coming from, and again I will quote from the excellent European Scrutiny Committee, which is chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone. In its report of 7 November last year, it cited the Home Secretary as having said a year ago:

“We believe the UK should opt out of the measures in question for reasons of principle, policy, and pragmatism. And we should only seek to rejoin those measures that help us co-operate with our European neighbours to combat cross-border crime and keep our country safe.”—[Official Report, 9 July 2013; Vol. 566, c. 177.]

Who could possibly disagree with that? We are all in favour of that and of arrangements that enable the efficacious management of our borders, and the return of criminals and so on, but other issues are at stake. How will the European Court of Justice interpret these matters, and how—as I said a moment earlier—will the public see that? Of course we need to protect the public, but I suggest, as my hon. Friends have done, that we also need to resist the risk of subjecting ourselves to further control by the European Court of Justice.

How do we bridge the gap? I understand that it is entirely possible that transitional arrangements could apply from 1 December. Come 1 December, we opt out en bloc and at the same time opt back in on the 35 measures that are the subject of this debate. By then, it is possible to have transitional arrangements to extend our ability to have those measures in force, pending a final decision here in the UK. The Home Secretary has said that Denmark’s opt-out arrangements remain subject to the European Court of Justice. Why do we not have alternative arrangements that do not subject us to the ECJ? We do not need to follow Denmark’s example and can chart our own course. Surely this is a magnificent opportunity for Mr Juncker and his cohort to demonstrate their commitment to recognising that the UK’s issues need to be addressed and to accommodate the UK’s concerns. We can provide them with an early opportunity. Come 1 December, they can show us that, yes, they understand the nationwide concern in this country on these matters and come to an accommodation with the UK.

These are massively important issues. I understand from Ministers that there will be a proper full-day’s debate later this year, followed by a substantive vote, and not in a deferred Division or anything like that, when the House can have its proper say.

3.41 pm

Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con): It is a great pleasure, as always, to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth), who put the arguments succinctly. I agree with the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin). Both my hon. Friends summed up the flavour of the debate. As we approach the end of the debate, the arguments on both sides have been fairly put, so I will not detain the House for too long.

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As we saw in the recent European elections, there is a strong feeling in this country that we should have less interference from Brussels. The justice and home affairs opt-outs give us a golden opportunity to demonstrate to the British public that we are in tune with how they think about the European Union. They want less interference from Brussels, not more.

There is a strong feeling that people thought they were entering a common market back in 1973, and they voted to remain members of it in 1975. It was referred to back then as the European Economic Community and the Common Market. Effectively, it was a free trade area. However, those behind the grand euro project were not satisfied with just a common market. They saw it as just the first step towards building a single European superstate. The European Economic Community soon became just the European Community—the word “economic” was dropped altogether, reflecting the wider and grander aims of the European project. The European Community swiftly became the European Union, as another step was taken towards creating a single superstate.

Why did I start with that background? I did so because the European Union’s powers over justice and home affairs are an example of its growing power and influence. It has become far more than just a common market. It already has its own Parliament, its own flag, its own national anthem, its own civil service, its own foreign and diplomatic service and its own court. It has all the attributes of a state, so it is no surprise that those behind the European project want to develop a single Europe-wide system of justice and home affairs.

At a time when there is a desire among millions of our fellow citizens for the European Union to have less influence, we should be taking this golden opportunity to take back powers. Let us be clear on what is at stake: above all else, this is a matter of principle. If we exercise an opt-in—voluntarily, because there is no obligation on this country to opt in—it will mean that yet again the powers of the institutions of this country will be reduced and power transferred to the institutions of the European Union. At a time when we are saying to the British public that we want powers back from Brussels, it is not, I would venture to suggest, a very good start to voluntarily give up power over these 35 different measures.

As the Government themselves said when they gave evidence to the House of Lords European Select Committee:

“the practical effect of the ECJ gaining full jurisdiction in this area after the transitional period”—

which, of course, means from 1 December 2014—

“is that the ECJ may interpret these measures expansively and beyond the scope originally intended. This concern is compounded by the fact that the ECJ has previously ruled in the area of Justice and Home Affairs in unexpected and unhelpful ways from a UK perspective”.

So there we have it. The Government know that there is a real risk that once these powers are handed over to the EU there is no turning back and the European Court of Justice can interpret them as they think fit.

In the Government’s response to the European Scrutiny Committee’s November 2013 report on the block opt-out, the Government said the following about the rulings of the ECJ:

“We have also set out our concerns with the impact of these judgements on the domestic law. If we disagree with the ECJ’s interpretation of legislation, it will be impossible for the UK to

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amend the law itself. Indeed, it would be very difficult to alter it at all as this would require the Commission to propose an amendment to the EU legislation itself, or a cohort of Member States to do so under the auspices of a Member State initiative.”

Such a cohort would have to consist of a quarter of all member states. The European Parliament’s agreement would also generally be needed to amend the relevant EU legislation.

We must not forget that the European Court of Justice, in determining cases, would start to apply its human rights jurisprudence, arising from the European Union’s own charter of fundamental rights, to the UK’s policing and criminal justice system. It would, therefore, be all very well for us to try to negotiate or even unilaterally opt out of the European convention on human rights, but the fact remains that if we remain members of the European Union we would be bound by the European Court of Justice and its implementation of the EU’s charter of fundamental rights.

Perhaps the most worrying of the measures that it is proposed to opt back into is the European arrest warrant. We have heard much about it this afternoon, but let us be clear about what the European arrest warrant means. It gives other countries in the European Union the power to demand that a British subject be removed from this country and incarcerated in a foreign jail without any evidence being placed before a British court. Worst of all, the European arrest warrant could be used for some act or omission that is not a criminal offence in this country, where the conduct is wholly within a foreign country. Indeed, that aspect—dual criminality—was one of the principal grounds that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister used to argue against the introduction of the European arrest warrant in the Extradition Act 2003. He voted against it.

There is perhaps a silver lining to every cloud. As someone who thinks that this country would be better off outside the European Union, let me say this in conclusion. If the Government decide, as I am sure they will, to opt back into these measures—despite what those of us who have reservations might think, I am sure that in the fullness of time this House will vote to allow the Government to do so—they will hand over power to the European Union on these issues for ever more. However, in so doing, they will provide yet another reason why, I believe, in the fullness of time millions of our fellow citizens will decide that the only way for this country to regain its own sovereignty will be to vote to leave the European Union.

3.52 pm

Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con): It is a particular pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North (Mr Nuttall), although I am delighted that the Lord Chancellor will reply to the debate, because I believe he is the one person remaining in the Government who still believes what he believed in opposition. It is reassuring that at least some people do not find the trappings of office take them away from their previous beliefs.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) mentioned, we have already looked at the falsehood that is in the title of this debate. We are meant to be debating the opt-outs, but they were decided a year ago. We are debating the opt-ins. That is all of a piece with the spin and the flimflam around this

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issue. We are not trying to stick to the facts. We have had bold promises—promises raised by the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz)—about consultation with Parliament and how we would be kept fully informed: a fine promise and constitutionally proper, but regrettably ignored.

We found out some information about the Prüm declarations not from a statement to this House or from evidence given to a Select Committee, but via a website called Statewatch, which reproduces leaked documents. It reproduced a “Limité” document from the European Union. “Limité” documents from the European Union can be shared with the European Scrutiny Committee and we then hold them confidentially. This one was not, perhaps because what it said was rather embarrassing. It stated:

“The UK government has also indicated that in a number of other cases it will set in motion a process towards the subsequent opting in to certain other instruments of particular importance.”

So it is not 35 opt-ins; it is more than 35, which they are not willing to tell us about through proper processes. We find out through leaked documents. Actually, it is not 35 anyway, because 14 were already subject to the block opt-out. So we are starting at 49, not 35, and the spin around it tries to lessen the impact of what is happening.

The failure to inform Parliament is, I think, even worse. There was a Council meeting on 24 June, after which the European Union put out a press release stating that

“the Council noted the conclusion reached between the Commission and the UK on the list of non-Schengen ex-third pillar measures which the UK will seek to rejoin”—

I emphasise “conclusion”. The written statement from the Minister provided to the House about a week later—we should note the delay before we were informed—said that

“the UK Government and the Commission had reached an understanding”.—[Official Report, 30 June 2014; Vol. 583, c. 48WS.]

There is a significant difference between an understanding and a conclusion: one has a finality about it, which does not leave much room for parliamentary consultation, while the other implies a continuing process. We have thus had a series of failures properly to inform Parliament—a failure to be entirely straight with the British people.

The effects are severe. The change from the third pillar to Lisbon is a major transfer of sovereignty, as established by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North, who quoted the Government’s own words in saying that. It is not, however, only the Government and the European Scrutiny Committee that make this clear, as it can be seen in the Home Affairs Select Committee, too. This is important because that Select Committee is not made up of shaven-headed Eurosceptics; it is chaired by a former Minister for Europe who views himself very much as a pro-European. His Committee’s report said:

“If the Government proceeds with the opt-in as proposed, we note that it will not result in any repatriation. Indeed, the increased jurisdiction of the ECJ may result in a net flow of powers in the opposite direction.”

Yet we have heard statements from Ministers saying precisely the reverse. There must be a thin line between on the one hand the point at which Ministers say things

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that are different from what they say to House of Lords Select Committees and from what reports of respected Committees of this House have said and on the other hand the sin of misleading Parliament. I know we will watch like hawks to ensure that that thin line is never breached.

Of the much-trumpeted opt-outs of nearly 100 items, 43 never applied to the United Kingdom in the first place. I have a list of the remainder. I asked 190 parliamentary questions to establish this list and to find out how many of the items were of any importance. Thirty three have been implemented and will bring no change at all; 12 have been implemented de facto and, again, there will be no change; two have been implemented but never used; and two have not been implemented. That leaves one, the Council Act of 17 June 1998, which has been implemented and will suffer from some change. Excluding Prüm, there is no repatriation of sovereignty at all from any of our opt-outs.

That leads us to the alternatives—those measures that the Government wish to remain within, as is clear from the treaties and from questions of international law. The treaties make it clear that provision is made for transitional arrangements. Hence, there need be no worry about a great chasm opening up on 1 December, when this mass horde of 125 criminals will suddenly appear on our shores, about which we should be terrified. It will not be like that at all because of the transitional arrangements.

Then there is the possibility of bilateral arrangements. The Home Secretary’s response on bilateral arrangements was so feeble: we know she has lost her much-respected special adviser, but I had not realised that the person on work experience was now writing her speeches. Just because the European Union does not like it—the Commission indicated that it would not accept it—are we saying that we should not use our power and influence as one of the great nations of the world and even try to negotiate what we want with an international body? Should we immediately kowtow and give in? What sort of a Home Secretary takes that approach?

Mr Jenkin: It seems from the stance adopted by the Government that we are being invited to believe that the European Union is a deeply unreasonable institution that holds very hard and fast positions on which it is not prepared to compromise even in its own interests, let alone the interests of its member states. Does my hon. Friend not think that we should have tried a bit harder?

Jacob Rees-Mogg: That is exactly the point I was making. It bodes ill for any proposal for renegotiation if that is the starting point. The moment the European Union says “We don’t like that very much, chaps” and we say “Oh, we’re frightfully sorry, m’lord”, we are not even going to try. We shall perform the kowtow, that wonderful act performed in front of Chinese emperors, whereby people would abase themselves three times before approaching the throne. That may be appropriate to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, enthroned in splendour as you are, but it is not, I think, the way in which Her Majesty’s Government should behave when dealing with international bodies.

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Then there is the European arrest warrant, and the so-called guarantees that we have. As has already been established during the debate, European law trumps Acts of Parliament. So we can say that the European arrest warrant must not apply unless there is dual criminality, but unless the European Union accepts it, that is not the case, and dual criminality does not have to be shown in relation to 32 specified crimes where the arrest warrant applies. What the Prime Minister said to my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North during Prime Minister’s Question Time yesterday was, I am sorry to say, not factually accurate.

As for the numbers, I have banged on about them because of the hysteria that we hear from the proponents of the arrest warrant, who claim that our whole nation’s security is dependent on it. On average, 125 people are brought back to this country each year to face trial. In that context, the arrest warrant is to our benefit and in our interest. The people whom we expel we ought to be able to expel under our own law, and would be able to if only we had the gumption to pass our own laws. As was said earlier, we are now willing to sacrifice the fundamental principle of Magna Carta: that no one will be imprisoned, fined or held against their will without the judgment of a court. We are now willing to allow that principle to be abrogated by a Polish magistrate. Surely, wise and good though Polish magistrates may be, it is not worth the theft of a wheelbarrow to undermine something that has been our protector for 799 years.

I want to deal with the politics of this as well, for where does it leave not only the Government but the Conservative party, which had, until a few weeks ago, a really sensible, logical, well-thought-through position on the European Union. It had a strong and sound and firm position, which was to go for renegotiation and repatriate powers. Repatriate powers? When we have just surrendered them? Wave the white flag, and then, two hours later, put up the Union Jack at half mast? Will anyone believe that we have a hope of repatriating powers if we surrender them now? Will anyone think that opting into 35 measures, 49 measures, and a few more secretly, is the beginning of a renegotiation? Will anyone believe the promises made by politicians or the policies on which we stood at the last election—as my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North revealed to us—or the soaring oratory of our Prime Minister, who in 2002, in opposing the European arrest warrant, said:

“If someone came before him who had committed an offence that was not a crime in this country, according to the district judge, the Home Secretary would have to say, ‘I am sorry. You may spend time rotting in a Greek or Spanish jail…But there is nothing I can do about it.’”—[Official Report, 9 December 2002; Vol. 396, c. 109.]

So, in 2002, the Prime Minister was worried that this would lead to people rotting in Spanish or Greek jails. Now he thinks that rotting in Spanish or Greek jails seems to be a good thing. I do not see the logic in that, but I equally do not see how anyone can rely on what politicians say if in opposition they have backbone and in government they are jellyfish. It is an entirely hopeless way of attempting to run the country.

Let me end with a reminder of Sir Robert Peel, a great Prime Minister and a distinguished man, one of the most intellectual figures ever to hold that office —and he was Home Secretary as well. When he did his final papers—they were vivas, not papers—so clever

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was he, so intelligent was he, that the public went to listen to him answering the questions, and he got a first-class degree in classics and mathematics. In 1846, he split the Conservative party. He got through a measure that the Conservatives loathed on the back of Opposition votes—something that may happen with the European arrest warrant—but he stood boldly at the Dispatch Box and said, yes, he had changed his mind, yes, what he now thought was different from what he thought before, but it was essential for the good of the nation.

Do we have that from this Front Bench? Do we have an avowal of the importance of this surrender to Europe, or do we have mealy-mouthed words about the difficulties of negotiation and the problems with coalition? There is not a bold, forthright, intellectual case for change, but merely the convenience of office, and it not only risks damaging the Government and splitting the Tory party, but it surrenders our sovereignty to a body from which we want to get it back. So I say to Her Majesty’s Government,

“Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood . . . then imitate the action of the tiger.”

4.5 pm

Mr Robert Buckland (South Swindon) (Con): It is always a pleasure—nay, an honour—to follow my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg), who speaks with vigour and all the colour that we have come to expect from him. Those of us who have known him since long before 2010 know that he is characteristically forthright on these issues. Whether he is absolutely right on them is another matter, however, and it is to the issue about which he has rightly expressed concern today that I now turn, bearing in mind the time remaining and the need for other speakers to make their contributions.

Yes, the opt-ins do involve some concession of sovereignty. To try to deny that would be wholly wrong. The issue, therefore, is one of competence and the extent to which the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg determines issues that fall to be decided as to the interpretation and operation of the measures, subject to the opt-in. On that, to some degree I share some of the concerns raised by my hon. Friends on the Conservative Benches.

I am an opponent of judicial activism. As a politician who is philosophically of the centre-right, I do not believe that it is for judges to interpret treaties and other documents as living instruments that adapt according to their view of the world at any one time. We see that problem in the Court at Strasbourg and the Court in Luxembourg, but we also see that problem in the courts here in London, here in England, here in Wales, here in Scotland. This is not an issue that is particular to Europe and its institutions. That is a very important point when we remember the nature and scale of the task before us, because, to my mind, this is not a debate between Westminster and Brussels or Luxembourg; this is a debate about whether it is legislators—politicians—who ultimately determine the extent and ambit of our laws, or whether, as increasingly is the case, our laws are interpreted in different ways by judges.

The old certainty of politicians passing and enacting the laws and judges implementing them and making determinations on a case-by-case basis gets more blurred

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with the passage of the years, and that worries me, as a Conservative, and I know it worries all my fellow Conservatives. I know it worries my right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor. We discussed the matter only yesterday in the Justice Committee, and he made some very wise interventions about his concerns about judicial activism.

Therefore, I thoroughly understand and embrace the concerns that are being expressed by my hon. Friends. What I take issue with them on is this: the full extent to which the European Court of Justice will have jurisdiction over the general run of justice and home affairs in this country. I accept that on the opt-out issues it will have jurisdiction, and there are dangers that, as we have seen with other interpretations—for example, of the free movement directive—there could be judicial creep and an extension beyond the original intentions of those who framed the directives we are talking about. But when it comes to the fundamentals of English and Welsh justice, I see no threat to the long-established traditions, customs, laws and practices that we have in our criminal courts. I see no threat to the principle of trial by jury. I see no threat to the inferences that are to be drawn from the exercise by suspects of their right to silence.

We have had debates on these things. I recall going with my right hon. Friend the Chair of the Justice Committee to Brussels to discuss a directive, which is now coming to the fore, about the inferences to be drawn from the exercise by the accused of the right to silence when arrested. We had a lively discussion in the justice directorate-general about the inappropriateness of that directive in its application to the criminal law of England and Wales. That sort of detailed case-by-case, directive-by-directive discussion will be the surest safeguard against the general creep that my hon. Friends and others fear.

Mr Jenkin: I admire my hon. Friend’s intellectual honesty in admitting that in respect of the European arrest warrant the activities of the European Court of Justice may lead to judicial creep, which may lead to a “wheelbarrow situation” and so on. If such were to occur, who would be accountable?

Mr Buckland: My hon. Friend asks the fundamental question we should always ask, about not just European legislation, but domestic legislation and the way in which we in this House have legislated in an unsatisfactory and ambiguous way that has opened the door to more and more judicial review, more and more challenge and more and more interpretation by domestic courts in ways that were perhaps not envisaged by the legislators. So I repeat the point and turn it back to him: I do not think this is a particular problem at a European level.

Mr Jenkin: If a wayward British court makes a judgment that is clearly not intended by Parliament but has arisen because of a perfectly legitimate and understandable interpretation of one of our own statutes, we can hold a Minister accountable, we can ask them to bring forward an amendment to the law and we can change the law. If the same happens in respect of European legislation, how do we hold the law accountable?

Mr Buckland: We have mechanisms within the European structure to do that, via the Council of Ministers, renegotiation, treaty change—

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Mr Jenkin: There is the flaw in your argument.

Mr Buckland: I disagree, and I am more than willing to talk briefly about how we renegotiate these things. Talk about repatriation is unhelpful. If we are going to get actual reform in Europe, we have to look at it across the piece. Addressing the issues of judicial activism and the way in which the ECJ interprets the articles of the European treaties is fundamental to any meaningful renegotiation to deal with the democratic deficit argument that my hon. Friend and others posit.

Mr Jenkin: I am very grateful for my hon. Friend’s generosity in giving way. I have served in this House for more than 20 years and I have seen court judgment after court judgment from the ECJ, or indeed from our own courts—in the Factortame case, famously, even a political agreement reached between the member states about our fisheries was overturned by a decision of the court—where the Minister here says that nothing can be done about it. That has been the case time after time. We are moving these decisions, and their consequences, beyond the democratic accountability of the national Parliament.

Mr Buckland: But remembering that the competence of the ECJ deals with the application of EU law in the UK, we have to be very careful about the words we use, because very often people misunderstand the full ambit of that Court. Another example would be the way in which case law in Strasbourg is wrongly assumed to be the law of this land—it is not the law of this land and never has been, not even under the much-reviled Human Rights Act. There are little misunderstandings that germinate into a general feeling among the public that we have lost control.

Mr Jenkin: We have.

Mr Buckland: I disagree. It is up to us in this House and elsewhere to show leadership and to explain to people that we have not lost the degree of control that has been suggested. As much as I admire my hon. Friend, I sometimes think that his is a counsel of despair when it comes to the future of Britain in Europe. It is time for us to remind ourselves that we are still a country with huge influence and that we still have a massive part to play in the affairs and future of the European Union. We are one of the biggest economies in Europe, and there are very many strategic interests that make our membership of the EU good not only for us but for other member states.

Before I resume my seat, I will return to the issues at hand. The European arrest warrant is not only in this country’s interest because we can repatriate UK citizens from other member states who are alleged to have committed crimes in this country; it also ensures that EU nationals who are fleeing and evading justice in their own country can be sent back. Those practical realities bring us back from the theoretical debate that we sometimes have here. We are talking about real lives and the tragedies that surround every criminal case about which we have heard this afternoon, which we know is a real issue for those involved. Let us not forget the human element.

I have gone through the list of measures, and it seems that the principle of mutual recognition of criminal offences, for example, will be very important not because of the way in which we operate the courts in England

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and Wales but because of the way in which other member states recognise UK criminal convictions, which is an important point. If UK citizens go to other member states and commit offences, it is right and in the general interests of combating crime and properly reflecting criminality that their convictions recorded in the UK are properly recognised. Those are practical measures that not only address the need to combat crime but help to increase trade and commerce—all the efficacy arguments that are a natural part of what it is to be a member state of a developing Union that is the biggest market in the world. It is the continent of which we are a part. I think, therefore, that the practical realities reflected in the opt-in measures are a proper reflection of the absolute need for this country to work hand in hand with other member states and to ensure that we can have a criminal justice system that works well for all British citizens, not just here in the UK but in other parts of the EU.

The European arrest warrant has been properly criticised on the grounds of proportionality. My hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab) will shortly wax lyrical on the matter with his customary expertise and I look forward to his contribution with interest, but I would say that the introduction of the amendments on proportionality in recent legislation goes a long way towards addressing the concerns that he and others have repeatedly expressed. I have the same sorts of concerns about the disproportionate use of such a serious measure. The decision to extradite or to remove someone from one jurisdiction to another is a serious step to take.

We have to be practical about this issue, and the Government have done everything they can to ensure that, although we have opted out of the general swath of measures—I think that was the right decision—we are, after looking at the evidence on a case-by-case basis, making the proper decision to opt in to the measures that we are debating today. On that basis, I am happy to support my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench.

4.19 pm

Mr Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton) (Con): It is a great pleasure, as always, to follow my hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon (Mr Buckland). Although we do not see these issues in exactly the same way, he always provides a huge amount of food for thought, delivered with great style and panache. I apologise to Members on both sides of the House for arriving late to the debate. I gave notice to the Speaker. It was because of the two statements and an engagement that I could not get out of.

I want to start the substance of my comments by welcoming the opportunity for Parliament to scrutinise this issue. Whatever one believes about the substance, we are getting far more scrutiny in this whole area than we ever did under the previous Government. I also want to say that I fully support the Prime Minister’s overarching strategy. In his article in The Sunday Telegraph on 16 March, he made clear his intention to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU, including, as he spelt out explicitly, in the area of crime and policing. I think that he is absolutely right.

It is worth noting that polling commissioned by Open Europe has found that this matter, far from being some ivory tower issue with no resonance or relevance to the

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public, was the public’s fourth highest priority for renegotiation. It is therefore right not only in principle, but in terms of resonance and relevance to the great British public. Likewise, the Prime Minister showed tremendous moral clarity in fighting not only for Britain, but for an important democratic principle in relation to the next EU Commission President. I feel that we need to do the same now.

I will avoid rehearsing points I have made in previous debates on the topic, which I know Ministers will have heard until they are blue in the face. I will instead confine my remarks to four key points. First, I believe that we must take a long-term view about the supranational direction of EU justice and home affairs policy, taking into account the evolution of policy and law, the ambitions of the Commission and the tidal direction of travel among EU member states. One does not have to buy into Viviane Reding’s dream of an EU-wide Minister of Justice to see that we are taking incremental steps, slowly but surely, like a slow tide, towards a single EU justice system. We can debate the pace, but I challenge anyone in the House to argue that that is not happening in practice.

One need only look at Europol and Eurojust. Currently, colleges of national police and prosecutors collaborate on important cross-border work, such as combating drugs, human trafficking and terrorism. Originally they co-operated on an essentially intergovernmental basis, but national democratic control is slowly but surely being whittled away before our eyes, like salami-slicing. If we look at the detail of the two new regulations on Europol and Eurojust, we see a strengthened role for the Commission, additional duties of co-operation on national Governments and, most importantly, the eroding of national Governments’ ability to decline requests for co-operation or to hand over data.

Eurojust’s revised mandate will provide substantial co-operation with the new EU Public Prosecutor’s Office, which will grow in time, leading to more and more pressure for it to consume functions currently undertaken by Eurojust. That is inevitable. We can see it happening bit by bit. If we were truly drawing a line in the sand, would we not make it clear now that we will not be opting into those new measures?

At the same time, if we opt into the basket of measures, as the Government propose doing, we will hand from the British Supreme Court to the European Court in Luxemburg the last judicial word on the scope of these swelling supranational powers and our corresponding national democratic duties. I, for one, am reluctant to see that happen because of the European Court of Justice’s record of judicial activism. In answer to my hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon, the difference is that judicial activism in the UK can be overruled by elected and accountable Members in this House. That democratic control is not available in relation to decisions of the ECJ, which are being extended bit by bit.

We saw that in the High Court last year, when Mr Justice Mostyn, hardly a right winger on the judicial benches, made it very clear that, to his great surprise, the ECJ had torn up our opt-out from the EU’s new charter of fundamental rights. We saw it with the ECJ’s attitude towards the extraterritorial application of the EU Tobin tax to Britain—although, those proceedings are still ongoing. And we saw it this year with the ECJ’s frankly ludicrous ruling on internet search engines, conjuring

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from thin air a “right to be forgotten.” That is important, because we can argue about the rights and wrongs of privacy and transparency, but that was patently judicial activism, and there is very little that we in this House can do about it.

Sir William Cash: We are talking about not just one judge but several judges who are making similar remarks. They are genuinely demonstrating a frustration with the overarching jurisdiction of the European Court. In the past few months, we have seen Lord Mance and several others making similar comments. They are conscious of the difficulties that are arising.

Mr Raab: My hon. Friend is absolutely right that this is a growing problem, and I think that that is recognised at senior levels of the judiciary. We should listen with as much vim and vigour to what the judges have to say as we do to what the Association of Chief Police Officers says.

On the internet search engine ruling, it is important to say that there is a cultural and values issue at stake. It is not just some legal constitutional issue. A right to be forgotten may suit French privacy laws that gag the publication of the peccadilloes and crimes of the rich and powerful, but it directly cuts against our tradition of media freedom, transparency and free speech.

Having seen the effect of ECJ judicial activism on this area of crime and policing, do we really want to allow the ECJ to determine the powers and responsibilities of British police forces, the British criminal process and even foreign forces, through joint operations, operating on British soil? That is a huge risk for us, and I fear that we risk the Luxembourg Court doing for British policing what the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has done for UK border controls.

One reason why I refuse uncritically to defer to ACPO on these issues is that it is ill-equipped to gauge the long-term threat to operations and ultimately public safety of these developments. These are constitutional developments, so it is not just a question of consulting on the administrative arrangements that we have in place now. If anyone in favour of opting back into these measures had listened to this debate, they would have thought that ACPO had been wholeheartedly in favour of opting into more measures than we are doing. If we look at the evidence it gave to the House of Lords Constitution Committee, we see that it recommended opting into only 13 measures, which is substantially fewer than the number that we are planning to opt into.

The second issue that I wish to address is the European arrest warrant. Many Members will have their own constituency horror stories, and I am afraid that I am no different. In fact, my constituency seems to attract problematic cases. The one that sticks in my mind and, frankly, in my throat is the case of Colin Dines, a former judge of impeccable character who was falsely accused of involvement in a major mafia-related Italian telecoms fraud. The story would be almost amusing if it were not so tragic. Without any evidence presented or any opportunity for him to explain his innocence to the Italian authorities, which he was confident that he could do, he was the subject of a European arrest warrant, which was nodded through by our courts, as they must be. He faced the prospect of incarceration or, at best, house arrest for months on end until his trial.

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Tragically, the only thing that temporarily saved him from being carted off was that he had a stroke from the stress of it, which meant that he was temporarily deemed not fit to travel. The case remains hanging over him like the sword of Damocles, which is totally unacceptable. It is also unacceptable for me as a law maker in this House to see the fate of citizens across this country.

That case is not an isolated injustice. If Members want to grasp the scale of the justice gap under the EU law and the European arrest warrant, they should listen again to our senior judiciary, such as our top extradition judge who gave evidence to the independent inquiry into extradition carried out by Sir Scott Baker. Lord Justice Thomas said that the European arrest warrant system is “a huge problem”—his words. He did not say that it was a small problem, or that there were isolated incidences, but that it was a huge problem that had become “unworkable”.

I pay tribute to the Home Secretary, who has looked very carefully at what can be done within the EU framework decision. Additional safeguards were introduced by the Government in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and they are positive steps in the right direction, and the Government deserve great credit for looking at the matter so carefully. In my opinion, the safeguards do not go far enough. That is also the opinion of Fair Trials International. In particular, the bar on extraditing suspects when the case is not trial-ready could be made tighter. I fear that the new leave to appeal requirement undercuts all the safeguards introduced. Above all, it is a shame that we were not allowed any time on the Floor of the House to debate those clauses, important and positive as they were, because they were introduced late in Committee.

I understand from Ministers that there is no appetite in Brussels to revise the EU framework decision itself, a point that I make to my hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon. That is a sad reality that we have to accept. The question is what we do next. I believe the preferable option would be to opt out of the European arrest warrant and renegotiate a bilateral extradition treaty with a limited number of extra safeguards—the few modest additions that we need to make it safe for our citizens. We would still have fast-track extradition, but we would stop the justice system in effect selling our citizens out, which is what it does at present.

Sir Alan Beith: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Raab: Very briefly, as I need to allow time for the winding-up speeches.

Sir Alan Beith: Does the hon. Gentleman envisage bilateral extradition treaties with each individual member state?

Mr Raab: I shall address that point squarely in a moment. I need to move on fairly swiftly.

In the meantime, between the renegotiation and the opt-outs, we could temporarily continue the EAW arrangements for, say, a year to allow the conclusion of the negotiation. In the worst-case scenario, if partner states in Brussels refused, we would have to fall back on the Council of Europe conventions that predated the

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European arrest warrant. It has rather breathlessly been suggested that without the EAW, we would risk letting people such as Jeremy Forrest or terrorists such as Osman Hussein go scot-free. That is irresponsible nonsense, and it must be addressed head on. Ideally, we would negotiate a bespoke extradition treaty, as I have suggested. We want something between the old cumbersome conventions and the current automaticity, but even under the Council of Europe treaties the main temporary effect would be to delay extradition proceedings from weeks to months. That would not mean any fugitive or suspect going free or any increased risk to the British public.

I have asked a range of parliamentary questions and written to Ministers on this, and I am grateful for the replies that I have received. The evidence is clear. There certainly are gaps under the Council of Europe conventions. They do not apply to some tax offences, but that is not the same as dangerous criminals threatening public safety. Even then, fewer than 0.4% of prosecutions for tax offences last year were facilitated by a European arrest warrant. The second gap is that Council of Europe conventions would require us to respect the statute of limitations on crimes in other EU jurisdictions. Again, that is hardly the kind of loophole that would stop the hot pursuit of dangerous fugitives. The third gap relates to EU countries that limit extradition of their own nationals, except under an EAW. That would affect extradition requests to Latvia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Germany.

It is a very odd argument that we must accept the injustice of the European arrest warrant for British nationals because a few other countries have stronger safeguards protecting their citizens in their normal extradition arrangements. In any case, it will have become clear to the House that none of these temporary gaps under the Council of Europe conventions would apply to people such as Jeremy Forrest and Osman Hussein. It is irresponsible scaremongering to suggest that they would. Opting out of the European arrest warrant, on the Government’s own evidence to me, might for a relatively short period delay EU extradition proceedings while we conclude a better arrangement, but the risk of dangerous fugitives going free is negligible. Public safety is a perfectly respectable, reasonable and legitimate argument to weigh against the threat to individual liberty. We do it in the House all the time. Administrative convenience is not.

The third issue I wish to address is that the Government are considering opting into Prüm measures on data sharing, which would cover fingerprints, DNA, car registration details and so on. There are serious reservations about the impact of this on British citizens, and serious risks. The UK DNA database is far bigger than any other EU database, and innocent British citizens are far more likely to find their samples caught up in a foreign criminal investigation. EU authorities are more likely to assume that the availability of UK DNA samples is a strong indicator of previous criminal behaviour. We know that the EU standard for matching DNA samples is 40% less accurate than the UK standard, which accentuates the risks. Taken together, the Prüm data sharing, the European investigation order and the European arrest warrant make up a rather dangerous cocktail for an unprecedented number of future miscarriages of justice. The House should have no illusions about that.