Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


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

  With the start of the UK Presidency of the EU, the work of my Department on European issues, which I view as already essential to delivery of the Home Office's priorities, becomes even more important. So too does the relationship between the Department and your Committee, in order that all proposed EU legislation is properly scrutinised by the UK Parliament. With the recent extension of the co-decision process to more Home Office work, the links that my Department and your committee have with the European Parliament also become more important.

  With this in mind, I hope that you might find it useful to have an opportunity for you and some of the members of your Committee to meet representatives from the European Parliament LIBE Committee when they visit the UK on 7 July. I will be hosting an informal drinks reception at the Home Office, between 18.30 and 20.30 and I would be very pleased if you could attend.

  I would also like to take this opportunity to consult you on a proposed change to the way in which my Ministerial colleagues and I work with you to ensure that Parliamentary scrutiny of EU work is as effective as possible—a change which I believe will further improve the service that you receive from the Home Office.

  Following the recent changes in my Ministerial team, I have decided to establish three teams to deal together with the three main pillars of the Home Office's responsibilities:

    —  Hazel Blears, Minister of State for Policing, Security and Community Safety will be supported by Paul Goggins;

    —  Baroness Scotland, Minister of State for Criminal Justice and Offender Management, will be supported by Fiona Mactaggart; and

    —  Tony McNulty, Minister of State for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality, will be supported by Andy Burnham.

  In recognition of this growth in importance of EU and international work, I have taken overall lead on international business and have asked each of my Ministers to ensure that they play their part in developing and delivering the international elements of the Department's agenda in their areas. As part of this move to mainstream EU work into all areas of the Department, I have asked my Ministers to take responsibility for scrutiny in their respective areas.

  It will mean that Ministers requested by your Committee to appear for either evidence sessions or debates on the floor of the House will be responsible for the policy under consideration and so will be able to give a more detailed and considered response to your questions. It should also mean that there will be less pressure on a single Minister's diary allowing a quicker response to your requests for Ministerial attendance.

  As part of this change, I have asked my Ministers of State supported by their Parliamentary Under Secretaries to make a renewed effort to achieving a further step change in the quality of Explanatory Memoranda and Ministerial correspondence that you receive. I hope that this and the proposed changes will make full and effective scrutiny of EU business both easier and more efficient for both your Committee and the Home Office. I would very much welcome your comments on this suggested approach.


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