Select Committee on European Union Twelfth Report

Letter from Lord Tordoff to Kate Hoey MP

  Thank you for your letter of 17 May. Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions) considered your reply and three new documents, JUSTPEN 24, 25 and 33, at its meeting on 26 May.

  JUSTPEN 24 and 25 concern new draft Articles on interception. The Committee notes that amended versions of these Articles appear in JUSTPEN 33, the revised and consolidated text of the draft Mutual Assistance Convention. I have raised a number of questions regarding interception in my letter of 6 May and look forward to receiving your reply. In the meantime, I would be grateful if you could clarify whether the effect of the proposed definition of a criminal investigation in Article 2a of JUSTPEN 33 is such as to exclude from the scope of the Convention the activities of the security and intelligence services.

  The Introductory Note to JUSTPEN 33 raises the possibility of a declaration committing the Council to consider the need for specific data protection provisions in the context of its future work on a Protocol. You state, in your Explanatory Memorandum, that the proposed declaration is acceptable but that there may not be a Protocol. Could you please clarify whether the Government accepts the need for data protection provisions and, if so, whether these are to be agreed before the ratification and entry into force of the Convention?

  As JUSTPEN 33 incorporates most of the texts deposited for scrutiny this year, the Committee has decided to clear all the documents preceding JUSTPEN 33 with the exception of JUSTPEN 21 on the lifting of reservations to the 1959 Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Assistance. We note that you are seeking to clarify the Presidency's intentions as regards JUSTPEN 21. JUSTPEN 33 remains under scrutiny. It may be helpful to indicate those Articles of particular concern:

    —  Article 9(9) on hearings of an accused person by video link. The Committee understands that the Government has not yet decided whether to opt out of this provision.

    —  Article 10a on joint investigation teams. You have indicated that it may be necessary to re-draft this Article.

    —  Articles 11a-14a on interception. The Committee awaits your response to my letter of 6 May and clarification of the scope of application of the interception provisions with regard to the security and intelligence services.

  I am copying this letter to the Chairman and Clerk of the European Scrutiny Committee in the House of Commons.

27 May 1999

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