Select Committee on European Union Thirty-Seventh Report


Letter from Meg Munn MP, Deputy Minister for Women and Equality, Department for Communities and Local Government to the Chairman of Sub-Committee G

  This is to acknowledge the receipt of the House of Lords supplementary report on the European Institute for Gender Equality.

  In my recent correspondence, I informed you that the regulation establishing the Institute has now been adopted. I am pleased to inform you that majority of the recommendations in this report have been taken into consideration.

  Concerns were raised about the proposed sized of the management board. We were able to re-negotiate during the next phase of discussion for a medium sized management board, for which the committee has shown support.

  The issue of the voting weight has also been resolved. Each member of the management board will now have one vote each and decision will be taken by majority of its members. This will ensure that the Commission does not have overall control over the Institute.

  The option of co-locating the Institute with Fundamental Rights Agency did not arise as Vienna did not bid to host the institute. To ensure close working relationship between the Institute and Fundamental Rights Agency, the institute will invite the director of Fundamental Rights Agency to attend its management board meeting as an observer when deemed necessary, particularly when coordinating the working programmes as regards gender mainstreaming. Lithuania will be the location of the institute.

  The regulation establishing the Institute gives clear itemisation on the funding of the institute. On this basis, we are satisfied that the institute will be adequately funded to carry out its task properly.

  We secured a declaration in the regulation establishing the Institute that the legal based used cannot be construed as a precedent for the establishment of further EU institutions in the equality field. In future there will no longer be a need to enter a minute statement objecting to the legal base as a matter of course, unless the particular circumstances and context of the proposal suggest that the measure would not assist harmonisation.

  The Government will be shortly issuing new detailed guidance to departments in order to ensure that a consistent approach is adopted when considering the facts of a particular case with the purpose of reaching a view on the legal base.

  I hope this information is helpful.

9 February 2007

Letter from the Chairman to Meg Munn MP

  Thank you for your letter to Baroness Thomas of 9 February in which you set out the Government's Response to our Report published on 30 November 2006 "Proposed European Institute for Gender Equality: Supplementary Report". This was considered by Sub-Committee G at their meeting on 8 March.

  We welcome the information in your letter that the majority of the recommendations set out in our Report were taken into consideration in deciding the form in which the European Institute for Gender Equality has been set up. The specific points you list in your letter illustrate well the extent to which this was the case.

  However, one of the main reasons for our publication of the Supplementary Report was to put on the record the issues surrounding the override of the scrutiny reserve which took place in connection with this EU document, and to explain the basis on which the House of Lords scrutiny procedure operates. We would therefore find it very welcome if you could write to us with the assurance that you support the recommendation set out in paragraph 67 of the Report. This recommendation relates to the constitutional importance of Parliamentary scrutiny of EU legislation and to the need for the Government to promote a wide awareness of the scrutiny reserve procedures.

  In order to help with the smooth running of future scrutiny cases, Simon Burton—Clerk to the EU Select Committee—and Barry Werner—Clerk to EU Sub-Committee G (Social Policy and Consumer Affairs)—would be very happy to visit your Department to talk to your officials about the House of Lords EU scrutiny procedures.

8 March 2007

Letter from Meg Munn MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your correspondence in response to my recent letter in which I set out the Government's response to the House of Lords' "Proposed European Institute for Gender Equality: Supplementary Report".

  Whilst you welcome the Government's response, you also requested an assurance that we support the recommendation set out in paragraph 67 of the report "that the Government should take action to remind all Ministers and officials of the constitutional importance of Parliamentary scrutiny of EU legislation".

  I would like to reiterate, as I did during my appearance before the Select Committee, that it is important that Parliament have the opportunity to scrutinise policy proposals and make their views known. The Government recognises this is an important issue. I personally consider the scrutiny process an important part of the legislative process, and overriding scrutiny is not a decision l would take lightly.

  I, therefore, express my support for the recommendation set out in paragraph 67 of the Supplementary report. I would also welcome the opportunity for the House of Lords Clerk to visit my Department and talk to my officials about the House of Lords European Union scrutiny procedures. My officials will be in touch regarding setting up such a visit.

27 March 2007

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