Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP, Home Secretary, Home Office to the Chairman

  Following my letter of 21 December 2005[189] I am writing to you as requested to provide further information on the two overrides of Parliamentary Scrutiny that occurred in the Justice and Home Affairs area during the UK Presidency.

  These were:

    —  Council Decision for a Protocol Agreement Between EC, Iceland and Norway on Responsibility for Examining Asylum Claims (8006/05)—Both Houses. The dossier was released by the Council Secretariat on 24 May and adopted at Council on 2 June and regrettably, in that time, it was not possible to clear Parliamentary scrutiny. Dossier 8006/05 refers to protocols to an agreement for Denmark to operate the Dublin mechanism between the EU, Norway and Iceland. In so doing it extended to Denmark the agreement outlined in dossier 5784/01, which was previously scrutinised by both Committees and, in the Commons, classified as not politically or legally important. From the UK perspective this proposal is a purely technical instrument to provide practical and legal arrangements between Iceland and Norway and Denmark. I understand that my officials telephoned the Clerks to the Committees to alert them to the need to override scrutiny.

    —  Council Decision on the Exchange of Information Concerning Terrorist Offences (15999/05)—House of Lords only. The measure is aimed at facilitating the flow of information between EU institutions and is an important part of EU work to combat the threat of terrorism. The dossier was originally discussed at the extraordinary Council on 13 July, which followed the London bombings. At that time all Member States agreed that the measure should be adopted by the 19 September. Since this fell within the Parliamentary recess it was not possible to subject the document to scrutiny in the normal way and my colleague Baroness Scotland therefore telephoned you in advance of adoption on 19 September.

  I take the commitment to Parliament scrutiny very seriously and regret that the Home Office has had to override our commitments on two occasions. However, I hope that you will appreciate and understand the circumstances set out above.

7 February 2006

189   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, pp 558-560. Back

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