Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from the Chairman to Joan Ryan MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Home Office

  This Communication was considered by Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions).

  We note that the Government broadly welcome action in this field and would support a sectoral approach to future European legislation. You refer in particular to the Belgian Initiative for a Framework Decision on the recognition and enforcement in the EU of prohibitions arising from convictions for sexual offences against children. This draft Framework Decision was sifted to this Committee in December 2004. We wrote to your predecessor on 16 December 2005[149] and are still awaiting a reply to that letter, which itself seeks a response to matters first raised in our letter of 27 January 2005.[150] Given your support for sector-by-sector legislation on disqualifications, we would be grateful if you would explain your six-month delay in responding to our letter. Are the Government genuinely committed to EU legislation in this field?

  We draw your attention to our letter to Lord Goldsmith dated 22 June 2006[151] in which we referred to problems encountered in the Council in negotiations relating to certain proposals with judicial cooperation in criminal matters. We queried whether Member States remained committed to the Hague Programme. As you know, the Hague Programme called for the agreement of proposals on the exchange of information on convictions relating to sex offenders by the end of 2005. Will this area be revisited in the context of the review of the Hague Programme?

  We have decided to hold this document under scrutiny.

6 July 2006

Letter from Joan Ryan MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter dated 6 July 2006 regarding disqualifications arising from criminal convictions in the EU.

  Firstly, please accept my apologies for the fact that you did not receive responses to your previous letters, dated 27 January and 16 December 2005. I regret the oversight which caused this delay. As referenced in recent letters we are undertaking a review of the scrutiny process to ensure this does not happen again. I hope this letter addresses all of your concerns.

  I can confirm the Government's ongoing commitment to information sharing on convictions relating to sex offenders. Further to Paul Goggins' letter to you, dated 5 October 2005, I am, however, sorry to inform you that we have not made as much progress with the Belgian Initiative as we would have hoped. Whilst the United Kingdom is keen to pursue the Initiative this is proving to be more problematic for other Member States.

  The main reason for lack of progress is that whilst each EU country is obliged to bar certain people from working with children, each Member State has a different system. The Framework Directive does not prescribe the way barring should be implemented. Some Member States rely on administrative schemes or on employers making decisions based on a criminal record. Finding common ground between those states and those that have judicial schemes has proved to be problematic.

  The Working Group on Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters met in November 2005 and April 2006. The United Kingdom played an active role in negotiations but regrettably, little progress was made. In order to break the impasse, it was agreed that a new proposal would be drafted to be considered by the Group, hopefully during the course of the current Presidency. This will represent a fundamental overhaul to the original proposal and we expect that there will be substantial changes to the text of the Initiative. As such, many of the points raised in your letter of December 2005 may no longer be pertinent to the redrafted proposal and so I suggest that I write again, once the new Initiative has been prepared.

  The Hague Programme Review will be assessing the progress of all proposals agreed and reviewing the priorities it set in 2004. This dossier is one of the UK's priorities. We will therefore continue to push strongly for the conclusion of this instrument during and beyond this review period.

7 August 2006

149   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 470-471. Back

150   Correspondence with Ministers, 4th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 16, p 271. Back

151   See Presumption of Innocence (9128/06). Back

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