I hope that this practice will continue, that the debate on this report will become a major occasion in your Lordships’ House for debating European Union matters and that Ministers will want to contribute. Indeed, I hope that the usual channels might find another time, when the minds of Members are on other things, rather than the fact that this is the last day—and almost the last hours—of the Session before the Summer Recess.

I do not wish to repeat what has already been said, so perhaps noble Lords will forgive me if I make some personal observations on this report and pose some questions. I particularly want to underline the importance of our participation in the inter-parliamentary meetings, and of building relationships with members of the European Parliament and the Commission. This gives us an opportunity to make our views known and find

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out what other people are thinking: not just members of the European Parliament from the United Kingdom, but those within the Parliament who occupy important positions in the particular committees. It gives us an opportunity to do that and it is particularly important in the codecision process.

I am also grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Corston, for her review of the work of Sub-Committee C and her kind comments to me. I wish the noble Baroness, my successor as chairman of the sub-committee, well for the coming Session and thank those members who served with me in the past, as well as the staff for their considerable assistance. The noble Baroness referred to the three reports that were carried out in the past Session. I will make one or two brief comments on each. On the follow-up report on the workload of the Court of Justice, I am delighted that the Government have now been persuaded of our view that additional judges are needed in the general court.

We know that it has stalled because agreement cannot be reached on how to determine which countries have more than one judge; but I hope that the Minister will assure us that the Government are keeping this very much at the top of the agenda. Equally, I hope that if cash—money, lest I be misunderstood—seeks to intrude on this matter, a Written Statement made to the House on 2 July by my noble friend Lady Warsi will be borne in mind. While the amount that the UK contributes to the budget of the Court of Justice of the European Union is not clear, on the basis that we meet some 11.5% of the cost of the European Union, our share of the court’s budget would be £32 million. According to that statement, we put £25 million into a variety of other international justice organisations, including the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and made voluntary contributions to a lot of other international tribunals. Given the importance of the Court of Justice, I feel that this puts its relative cost into perspective.

The other inquiry dealt with preventing fraud against EU finances. As the noble Baroness, Lady Corston, said, we were particularly disappointed with the apparent lack of engagement by both the Government and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. I particularly regret the rejection of the suggestion that one department, or one office within Government, should be responsible for our efforts against fraud on European finances. More contentiously and on a personal note, I regret the outright rejection of a European prosecutor’s office even before any proposal had been made. That seemed to me somewhat ill judged. It now looks as though this may form part of the revised Eurojust proposal; and although separate from the proposal for a European prosecutor’s office, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Corston, referred, there are likely to be close links. I ask the Minister: will this lead to the Government not opting in to the new Eurojust proposal? Eurojust has been identified by the Government as being very important, as shown by their desire to reapply to rejoin in the present format. How workable will rejoining in the present format be if we do not join in the revised Eurojust?

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The other important inquiry that was carried out has already been mentioned. I refer to the joint inquiry carried out by the home affairs sub-committee under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. I do not propose to rerun last week’s debate. Suffice it to say that it was the failure of the Government, I am sorry to say, to consult on timing and the form of the Motion as promised which led to the difficulties—which, I am glad to say, were solved by my noble friends Lord McNally and Lord Taylor of Holbeach and their revised Motion. However, the status of that Motion and what difference a Motion in your Lordships’ House and one passed in the other place makes to the mandate and the decision-making process is far from clear.

The Explanatory Memorandum which formed the Command Paper is also far from clear. It must be an outstanding candidate for an award for being the least helpful and most confusing Explanatory Memorandum ever produced. However, having said that, the Motion that came before the House did not solve the problem for those of us who wished to express a deeply held belief that it is a mistake to opt-out but wanted to make it quite clear that, if we did, we should rejoin at least the 35 measures that were listed. It was a dilemma I could resolve only by not voting.

With this in mind, the European Union Select Committee was quite correct in not becoming directly involved with the Government’s competence exercise. Let the committee comment when the deeds have been done by government or in the course of an inquiry when relevant. The interests of government and Parliament are not always the same even if the same words are frequently used. For Governments, parliamentary co-operation tends to be the support of the Executive by Parliament on a whipped vote. That is not the tradition of the evidence-based, considered reports on which we in this House act.

I also note, from an exchange at Questions yesterday, that my noble friend Lady Warsi, in her Answer to a Question by the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, said that,

“the Prime Minister regularly discusses a range of EU issues with his counterparts, including changes needed to make the EU more competitive, flexible and democratically accountable. These discussions include the substance of reforms and the means to achieve them, which range from legislation to treaty changes”.—[

Official Report

, 29/1/13; col. 1533.]

This must inevitably raise the question of how these discussions are taking place before we have seen the publication and the results of the competence review. On what basis are these discussions taking place? I do not expect the Minister to tell us but it is a question that inevitably forms in our minds.

I appeal to the Minister to confirm that, as it is the stated desire of my noble friend the Prime Minister for us to remain a member of the European Union, there will be a major drive on the part of Ministers to emphasise the benefits and desirability of remaining a member, and that this message will be made just as clear as the message that the public are to be given a chance to decide whether or not to stay in the European Union.

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1.54 pm

Lord Davies of Stamford: My Lords, I declare my membership of Sub-Committee A, which handles economic and financial issues in the European Union. I have been on that sub-committee for only two months and can take no credit whatever for the fine reports that my noble friend Lord Harrison has outlined. I pay tribute to him as a very effective chairman of that committee. The reports have received a good response—not just here but on the continent—and have been acknowledged by the Government as having contained early warnings, which unfortunately in many cases they decided not to take. Like others, I pay tribute to the leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Boswell. In the two months that I have been a part of the system, as it were, I have seen that he provides extremely vigorous and effective leadership to this very important structure.

It is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Bowness. In the debate we had last week on justice and home affairs, I paid tribute to the distinguished report that he, jointly with the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, produced on the subject and which was the background to that debate. That is where I want to start because we had the most extraordinary debate last week from which it was absolutely clear that the Government had been faced with 135, or thereabouts, potential home affairs and justice measures. They looked at them all very carefully and found that not one of them was against the national interest. Some were otiose and some were obsolete, but none of them was harmful. The Government selected the 35 measures which were clearly the most valuable to us, some of which were absolutely vital to the conduct of justice in this country. They decided that we could not avoid being a part of these measures without serious damage to the country and so they decided to opt back into them.

However, they opted out of the remainder when it was not logical to do so. There was no harm in the remainder, which added up to a positive element for the national interest on the Government’s own assessment. During the debate last week I read out several quotations from the Government’s own documents on the subject. There is no doubt that the whole of the 135 measures contains greater value than simply the 35, and yet the Government decided not to opt back into about 100 of them. There was no logical reason behind that decision. What is more, it has set at risk our getting back into the 35 measures because there are always doubts about these complicated procedures and the Government are incurring additional, unnecessary administrative and other costs through this complicated procedure—not to mention the costs in terms of good will. We are exasperating our partners by this extraordinary and utterly irrational conduct.

We all know that the reason for it is that the Government had to find a sop to give to their Eurosceptics. The Tory Party is desperately worried about people voting UKIP and wants to draw back into its fold the UKIP voters. We all know what the reasons are—they are pretty squalid party politics—and they have made it impossible for the Government to come to what any rational human being would have seen as the right functional decision to take in this case.

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A situation in this country where the Government cannot take rational decisions on a European subject is a very serious matter. The question arises as to what we do and to whom we look for some kind of dispassionate and thorough cost-benefit analysis of measures that come forward in an EU context so that we can be reasonably confident that we are doing the right job for the British public in the decisions that we take. There is no better or other obvious mechanism than the committee structure we have in this place. We all know that the House of Commons does not engage in a systematic way in these deep and thorough reports on European legislative proposals. We have this extremely valuable instrument, which is made even more valuable and vital by the circumstances I have just described.

There are other irrationalities. The noble Lord, Lord Bowness, has just referred to the decision to opt out of the European prosecutor’s office proposal even before it was made. That is clearly a party political decision. Was it in the interests of the country? I have no idea. I have not looked at the matter in detail or read the report of the sub-committee but, nevertheless, it is quite clear that the Government did not make a rational decision on this matter. Someone ought to tell the British public about the pluses and minuses for the country as a whole of doing that.

There are other important issues pending. My noble friend Lord Harrison referred to the issue of the European banking union. The Government decided that we should not be part of the European banking union. Is that the right decision? I do not know. I was not on the committee when it reported on that subject. It is clearly a moving feast. It was only a week or two ago that the Commission produced its second directive on the resolution and recovery aspect. It has already produced a directive on the European supervisory mechanism and we hope that it will produce the third element before too long, which is a directive on retail deposit insurance in the European banking union.

This is not a proposal which is entirely clear or concrete, but we shall have to take a decision on it. It is important that we take the right decision. I have no confidence in the ability of the Government to take a dispassionate decision on this matter, any more than on any of the other issues that I have just talked about. It is important that we look at that.

We have already had some evidence that there will be increasing costs to our not being part of the banking union. It will be increasingly difficult to protect our interests. We have had witnesses in my time on the committee over the past two months who have said, in the context of other things, that over the medium or long term it is probably inconsistent with our being the largest financial centre in the European Union for us not to be a part of the banking union. All these things have to be taken very seriously.

Another big issue that it is quite impossible to expect the Government to take a rational view on is the issue of Schengen. At first sight, there must be great advantages to this country joining Schengen—the convenience and amenity for us all in being able to travel without a passport through more than 28 countries, as some non EU members have joined Schengen. The benefit would be particularly great for two very different

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categories of our citizens: the very poor and some probably rather rich. With regard to the very poor, there are a lot of people in this country who have never travelled abroad. Some get to retirement age and they have still never travelled abroad and have never had a passport. They hope to visit Paris, Italy or see the Alps before the end of their lives and they are going to have only a few hundred pounds at most to finance that trip. Therefore, the cost of a passport is quite a significant factor and deterrent, and we should think about people like that.

At the other end of the income spectrum, there are the international businessmen. These people are incredibly important when it comes to taking business decisions on location—where do you place your corporate headquarters in the EU? There are international businessmen who travel quite a lot and travel outside the EU to places where they need visas. Their passports often have to be with embassies or consulates for the issuing of visas. If they suddenly want to make a trip to Brussels or Frankfurt, they cannot do it. We are one of the very few countries that provide second passports for businessmen who ask for them for that sort of reason. Therefore, that is a significant issue, although perhaps not a vital issue, in terms of business decisions on location and it is something that we all feel strongly about.

There are other arguments about Schengen. One argument for joining would be that it would involve a lot of savings and would relieve the pressure on the border agency. We know the pressures it has been under and the real problems it has been having. The Government say they are interested in making administrative savings. There would certainly be administrative savings there.

The big argument on Schengen is that we are losing hundreds of thousands at least but probably millions of tourists a year. For people from the Far East, China and elsewhere who come to Europe, mostly on organised trips, it is simply not worth the money or the time for the travel agency to apply for a second visa. They apply for a Schengen visa and they offer people a European tour which takes them to Paris, Amsterdam, down the Rhine, and then to Florence, Rome, Madrid and Seville, and they do not come to the United Kingdom at all. They do not come because they have to get an extra visa at extra cost. It is quite clear that we are now talking in terms of hundreds of thousands, but it might be millions, of lost visitors to this country every year as a result of that.

Why do we not join Schengen? On the other side of the argument, some people would say “Good God, you couldn’t possibly do such a thing. You’d have millions of people pouring across the Thracian border into Greece who a day or two later would appear in London, Birmingham and Bradford as illegal immigrants here”. We have to think about that. Is it true that the French, Germans and the Dutch have a much worse problem controlling illegal immigration than we do? Is it true that sophisticated countries such as Switzerland and Norway, which are not members of the EU, have actually chosen to join Schengen when it is so hopeless at actually filtering people through the common external frontier? We need at least to ask that sort of question.

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Some people will say “It’s a principle that you must always control your frontiers. You have only your own citizens controlling the frontier”. That cannot be an absolute principle because we have officials in the Republic of Ireland taking decisions about who should come into the United Kingdom. It is certainly not an absolute principle. Some will say that it is all to do with sovereignty. People get very excited about sovereignty. Before 1914 you could go to Victoria station and buy yourself a ticket to Paris, Berlin, Rome or Madrid and go without a passport. It was not until you got to the Russian frontier, the frontier of the Russian empire, that you had to produce a passport. Whatever the nations of Europe were suffering from before 1914, I do not think that it was an insufficiency of sovereignty.

All of these arguments need to be probed. Who is going to look at them? Not the Government. If you suggested joining Schengen the Eurosceptics would go berserk. They would go barmy and get hysterical. The Eurosceptic press—the Murdoch press and the Rothermere press—would get completely hysterical as well. There is no chance of a cool, calm, measured and calculated cost-benefit analysis being done by the Government on a subject like that. It is all the more important that we have instruments of the kind we do in the form of committees in this House which are able to give the country some of that element of analysis of these issues.

2.05 pm

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, I join others in warmly congratulating my noble friend Lord Boswell, and indeed his fellow chairs of the committees and all the committee members on their work. I pay tribute to it because it is immensely detailed and clear. I am not myself a member of the EU Committee system, so I hope that that is acceptable. A decade ago I was chairman of Sub-Committee C so I hope that makes me accepted as part of the old alumni of the EU Committee system.

I will concentrate on a section of the committee’s report on its forward look, on the way in which it is affected by and looks at future policy and scrutiny work—matters already referred to by my noble friend Lord Bowness. I do so against a background of widespread debate and shifting perceptions throughout the European Union itself concerning its procedures and aims. That, of course, is over and above the equally significant changes in the whole pattern and character of international relations, generally in a world that is now almost totally connected, with governmental and non-governmental networks increasingly melding together in a completely novel way. It is important, is it not, that your Lordships should remain well ahead of the game, as indeed we are in so many other fields? One has to realistically say that, whatever else is going to happen in the coming year, the forward-look things will not be as usual; things will be very different all the time.

I draw evidence for this view of change from the clear and increasing resistance to integration and ever-closer union as guiding EU principles which we have seen from the Netherlands Government, from Italy, and from the obvious German resistance; from the all

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round and outright resistance to more centralisation of power in attempts to repair the euro; and from a clear call for a return to what has been called deliberative intergovernmentalism. I also refer to a remarkable paper issued by the organisation Policy Network, which is a body of impeccable pro-EU credentials chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, who is sitting there on the Opposition Front Bench. This paper,

Coordination in place of integration? Economic governance in a non-federal EU

, is by Professor Renaud Thillaye, a senior researcher of Policy Network. Its message is simple: we have reached the end of member-state tolerance for one-size-fits-all measures and demands for more central power. Instead, the professor advocates the kind of sensible dialogue which leads much more to practical open-method co-ordination, and therefore to a substantial alteration in the size and nature of the flow of Commission-inspired EU proposals, directives and all the rest with which the committee has to struggle so nobly. However, it is undoubtedly, in its own words, “somewhat burdensome”.

Professor Thillaye points to the deep deficiencies in the present EU model and its outcomes, such as stagnation in research spending, the waste of skills, increased poverty in southern European countries and the appalling levels of unemployment. He refers to,

“the sense of a ‘diminished democracy’”,

and cites the EU scholars who claim that,

“the EU Single Market and the EMU restrict greatly ‘the capacity of member states to realise self-defined socio-political goals’”.

Instead, he wants to see an “enriched dialogue” between member states—and, of course, Parliaments—and concludes that:

“The EU should avoid imposing specific measures from above”.

My own conclusion from all this for the work of our own committee is that, in addition to being concerned with two specific principles, as the report we are debating today outlines, it should add a third principle, governing both its scrutiny work and its policy work in the future.

The two principles mentioned in the report, which are familiar to us, of course, are subsidiarity—whether something is to be done at the right level; and proportionality—whether it can be done less onerously. I would like to see a third principle added to the committee’s future work; namely, flexibility—whether something is better done through co-ordination than through centrally conceived law-making regulations and proposals.

Is it not perfectly clear that in this digital age of instant hyperconnectivity on every issue, the advantages of well focused co-ordination on specific issues, rather than centrally imposed instruments handled by cumbersome hierarchies, are greatly increased and can speed up decision-making instead of delaying it? It is obvious that the committee’s valiantly performed task in holding the Government to account is not at all helped by the endless, enormous stream of Commission proposals, all requiring Explanatory Memoranda from the Government, the quality of which—as we have heard in this debate and as the report confirms—is getting weaker and not stronger, I am afraid.

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Of course, if we are looking at ways of halting or checking some of the less desirable elements of instruments and proposals, there is the yellow-card procedure. However, I think that most people—on all sides, without bias—have agreed that this is an utterly feeble instrument. The requirement of nine member states to make it work is ridiculously high. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs is right to urge that we move to a tougher reformed red card procedure, although that would have to be on the basis of far fewer national Parliaments objecting to make it realistic. Of course, that is precisely what some of us argued for in this very House at the time of the Lisbon treaty but it was rejected outright by the Labour Party and indeed—dare I say it?—by the Liberal Democrats.

Generally, if more ad hoc and e-enabled co-ordination is now to replace EU imposition and integrationist zealotry, a much better dialogue about competences, how things should be done, by whom and in what way is also required between member-state Parliaments and the Commission itself. Sadly, there, too, the Select Committee report speaks of “short and unspecific” responses from the Commission, often coming months late. This just will not do. This is not a state of affairs that those concerned with the welfare of this country or of Europe should accept. The whole balance is wrong and it is leading to increasingly bad results for the peoples of Europe.

I hope that in this House we will be able to debate in the autumn, as soon as we come back, some reports from the Cabinet Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the balance of competences, to which my noble friend Lord Bowness has referred. I am not sure how much we will learn from them about the burning need for change—although the need is there. Frankly, to judge by the first batch, which has already appeared, we are not going to learn much. They seem disappointingly shallow.

It is clear that the people drafting these documents—at least, the foreign policy paper that I have read carefully—have not understood that in the age of global connectivity, tasks and powers have changed, patterns and methods of trade and exchange have changed and the ways in which states relate to each other and negotiate have changed. Except for one brief mention, to which I direct your Lordships’ attention, on page 92 of the foreign policy review, there is no sign of awareness that digital networks change everything and that new alliances and networks must urgently be built if we are to prosper and protect our interests in this country, both as good members of the European Union and in relation to our growing interests in the outside world.

Above all, in the EU context, the old categories of so-called competences have now all been called into question and need unbundling and re-sorting. They were put together in another age. When it comes to actually getting things done, co-ordination between member states looks increasingly preferable to packaged- up EU competences and the capricious judgments of the politicised European Court of Justice. The balance of competences review sees an increasing blur between

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domestic and foreign policy but does not recognise an equally increasing blur between governmental and non-governmental agencies.

For example, if I may take an excellent report that came from EU Sub-Committee C of this House, there is the structure and role of the European External Action Service. I say excellent; I am not sure that I quite agree with the report’s conclusions on this venture because diplomacy through collective structures was never a great success and the issue now in the digital age is whether it is even necessary. Collective European aims in overseas theatres can now increasingly be achieved by swift co-ordination and alliance for specific tasks rather than by permanent and expensive new bureaucratic structures. The authors of this balance of competences review miss the point about the genius of the digital age: that instant and ad hoc co-ordination can be far more flexible, quicker, more efficient and better tailored to the particular mission in hand than heavy and complicated new treaty-empowered hierarchies of the kind set out in numbing and labyrinthine detail—if anyone wants to follow them—on pages 19 and 23 of the foreign policy review.

The age of vast, cumbersome, all-embracing and permanent treaties cascading measures from the central bureaucracies, with which our noble committees have had to struggle, is well and truly over—rather like the age of the vast, vulnerable battleships of the past. The age of more agile and practical co-ordination between states, focused on well defined common purposes, far more democratically accountable and closer to the people, is now upon us. Nowadays, Governments can come together and co-ordinate actions at the click of a button and then return to the pursuit of their national and local priorities and needs. This is the true path to democracy in Europe and to bringing Europe closer to its peoples. Communities no longer need to be built on massive central power. That was the doctrine of the previous century.

I hope that our committee, with all its excellent work and so well led by my noble friend Lord Boswell, will be able to recognise these changes and follow some of these guidelines in its future work. As I said, your Lordships must be ahead of the game in a totally transformed set of international conditions. If we are not, who will be?

2.18 pm

Lord Maclennan of Rogart: My Lords, I have had the privilege of serving on four sub-committees of the European Union Select Committee. I have listened with great interest to the current chairmen of six of the EU committees describing the work of the current Session, which is of course what this debate is primarily about, but it would be a mistake to follow their lead in going over the detailed business that these committees have engaged in.

However, I would like to say at the beginning how very much I have appreciated the leadership of the chairman of the Select Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Boswell of Aynho, and pay tribute to his fresh thinking about how these committees should work. I also feel it is appropriate to express strong gratitude to the staff who have serviced these committees. They are

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not large in number and they have to work extraordinarily hard to produce the advice and drafts on which we focus.

The European Union Select Committee is one of the most important functions of the House of Lords. It currently engages, I believe, 74 Members of this House. The noble Lord, Lord Boswell, indicated that Sir John Cunliffe stated how much influence we have brought to bear on Brussels and Governments. I disagree very strongly with the previous speaker, my noble friend Lord Howell, in his summation of the way in which the Union ought to operate by way of co-ordination, rather than the open legislative process and the open parliamentary process that we have. I cannot see how what he has recommended is in the least conformable with democratic thinking in a modern conglomeration of 28 nations. How could the detail be co-ordinated effectively so that the disagreements are properly vented and properly answered and consensus is arrived at? It is not a matter of modern technology; it is a matter of openness that we have to embrace if this Union of ours is to enjoy the support that it deserves having kept this continent at peace for an unprecedented length of time.

I did not mean to divert down that route, but I wanted to indicate my belief that the work of these committees is invaluable in ventilating issues that need to be raised with the Government, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council. There is not much doubt that the work of these committees has made a significant impact. It is unusual for a clash of mighty opposites to occur, such as we had over the opt-out from justice and home affairs. None the less, it ventilated the arguments and enabled many members of the public, who were certainly not as well informed as they might have been, to grasp some of the issues and it got significant coverage in the national press.

I would like to open a thought that is not entirely about the influence that we can have on government, but rather the influence that we might have with the public. It seems to me that because we are doing studies of great depth and importance, and we are engaging with witnesses who are knowledgeable, engaged and interested, we produce significantly sophisticated reports. However, despite getting our message out to many newspapers and some broadcasts—the report talks about 35 million opportunities for people to understand what is being said in dialogue—I none the less think that we might, within our terms of reference, contemplate how we could gain more public understanding of the work that we do and get the public almost to help to promote some of our studies.

We are, of course, engaged largely in scrutiny of decision-making in the process of its being decided, but the third term of reference set out in Appendix 1 to the annual report is:

“To represent the House as appropriate in interparliamentary co-operation within the European Union”.

That is a very broad mandate and we have certainly used it to engage through COSAC and other bilateral meetings with Governments and parliaments of other countries. But it seems to me that that is not enough. We have only two full meetings of COSAC in the

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course of the year. We do not have as many meetings as we might have with other parliamentary bodies or with our own European parliamentarians—we have three meetings a year in the House of Commons. However, that does not seem to me sufficiently to embrace the public. I should like to speculate and suggest that we might communicate with the public to find out which issues give rise to the greatest concern. A body such as YouGov, chaired by Peter Kellner, the spouse of the noble Baroness, Lady Ashton, might be able to identify and prioritise the public’s real concerns and consequently we could engage in a debate. We could have a special meeting open to stakeholders who are particularly exercised by what they understand to be the problem with Europe or the way the Union is moving. We could then include these thoughts in our scrutiny and researches, however unfocused they may be, and we could answer them directly and possibly engage in a continuing dialogue.

The way in which we put out our invitations is very reasonable, but it is nearly always sparked off by a proposal from government or from the European Union. My view is that, if we are to exemplify the effectiveness of our work comprehensibly, we must endeavour to engage more directly with the public.

2.29 pm

Lord Tugendhat: My Lords, I speak as another new member of the Select Committee and as the new chairman of Sub-Committee C on External Affairs. I cannot believe my good fortune. I find both roles absolutely fascinating and it gives me great pleasure to join other noble Lords in paying tribute to the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, and to my predecessor as chairman of the sub-committee, the noble Lord, Lord Teverson. I share, too, the good opinion expressed by a number of noble Lords of the clerks who served the committee. They are few in number and do an outstanding job.

I shall not go into the subjects dealt with by my two noble friends Lord Maclennan and Lord Howell but shall stick much more, as others have done, to reporting on the work of the sub-committee, most of which was done during the period when the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, was chairman. I am not sure that my voice will hold out to the end, so I shall be brief.

The committee followed up on its earlier inquiry into Operation Atalanta, the CSDP anti-piracy mission in May and June of 2012. The committee has noted the successes of the mission and welcomed the EU’s comprehensive approach to the region. The committee recommended that the EU’s anti-piracy mission should be accompanied by an equal focus on the political process and on supporting security sector reform in Somalia. As part of its interest in Atalanta, the committee visited the operational headquarters in Northwood and noted that the new system for tracking ships in the sea was now in place. The report was debated in Grand Committee in 2013. Since then, the committee has kept a watching brief on the issue.

The noble Lord, Lord Boswell, has already referred to the report on the European External Action Service, so I need say little about that. It was designed to feed

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into the two-year review undertaken by the high representative and has received a comprehensive response from the Government.

The main conclusions of the report were that the post of the high representative is overloaded, and the committee laid out some of the recommendations that we heard from witnesses to ease this situation. We believe that the EEAS delegations can play a more important and engaged role in forming and delivering EU foreign policy. The committee noted that many smaller member states wanted the delegations to take on consular activities and it recommended that this be an area that the review should consider. However, the Government have put forward some quite substantial objections to that proposition.

The committee noted, too, that while the EU special representatives play an important role in EU foreign policy, their remuneration rate looks at first glance—and maybe there is more to come—rather high. The report was debated in Grand Committee in June 2013.

Since I have been chairman, we have had a short inquiry into the EU’s development assistance for drinking-water supply and basic sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa, which goes under the acronym of WASH. This work is based on a critical report from the European Court of Auditors on which the sub-committee had corresponded with the Government and which it wished to pursue further. Our report has been published in the form of a letter to the Commission with a covering note to the Government. It was based on extensive evidence taken from a number of NGOs over a short period. We also spoke to the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and I must say that what we learnt was extremely disappointing. The whole WASH programme casts doubt on the much larger aid programmes, and I hope that the Commission will provide a satisfactory response to the report that we have sent it. We are also sending the report to the relevant committees in the European Parliament, because it is important that it, too, should be seized of this issue.

Our next big inquiry will be into the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The call for evidence on that has gone out and the formal evidence sessions will begin in the autumn. I hope, too, that we will have a seminar and take the views of a wide range of interested parties.

Our scrutiny work has also continued at a high level in relation to the Middle East and in particular to Syria, where we have expressed concerns about the security of arms and been worried by the recent decision taken at the Foreign Affairs Council. The sub-committee has received an informal briefing on the extension of the mandates of the EU’s regional and thematic special representatives, which came under scrutiny on 27 June. We have expressed our concern that the process of renewing the budgets and mandates of the EUSRs is too rushed to allow proper parliamentary scrutiny. On the role itself, the committee has expressed concern that the mandates of the EUSRs are not always clearly defined and that EUSRs can sometimes duplicate the work of other international actors on the ground. In particular, we put the mandate of the EUSR for Sudan and South Sudan under scrutiny, as it was not

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clear to us that the political situation and the conditions on the ground justified ending an enhanced EU role to the region.

We have raised an exhaustive list of scrutiny issues with the Government, covering such subjects as child labour; the EU Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps; the EU Border Assistance Mission for the Rafah Crossing Point; the EU integrated rule of law mission for Iraq; women in the Afghan national police force; the role of the EU at the Food and Agriculture Organization; EU sanctions in Syria, Somalia and Myanmar and EU’s defence instruments; and a protocol amending the agreement on government procurement.

The committee has also undertaken enhanced scrutiny on EULEX Kosovo, the EU’s rule of law mission in Kosovo and there, too, on the basis of a critical European Court of Auditors report. The committee heard evidence from the Minister for Europe, David Lidington, as well as from the Court of Auditors. In addition to all this, there have been a great number of informal briefings from ambassadors in the countries to which they were accredited, and the committee will continue with that aspect of its work in September.

It has therefore been a very busy programme. I cannot claim credit for very much of it. I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, and to the previous members of the committee. I very much look forward to carrying the committee’s work forward during the next 12 months.

2.38 pm

Lord Judd: My Lords, it is good to follow the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat. He brings to his chairmanship of Sub-Committee C a lifetime in politics and of experience in international affairs, and from across the Floor I have always found him particularly well informed and enlightened. He also brings his considerable experience as a Commissioner of the European Union. He referred to his good fortune; I think that the committee is certainly fortunate to have him in the chair. While I mention the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, I want to join others in paying tribute to the chairmanship of all our committees, and of course to the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, for his supreme chairmanship, to which he brings not only an ability that is desperately needed but a commitment which is very challenging. I think that we all deeply appreciate that. I want in personal terms to put on record my appreciation as a member of Sub-Committee F of the outstanding leadership and chairmanship that we consistently have in the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. I have known him for many years. He, too, brings vast experience of the world and international affairs, which again illustrates just how well served Parliament is by their leadership in committees and by the experience that that leadership brings.

In thanking the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, I would like to say how much I have appreciated the joint work between Sub-Committees F and E the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Bowness. He provides again to the House a real example of integrity and political courage. He speaks for what he believes, and does so not only with passion and emotion, but always on the basis of sound analysis and detailed knowledge. I think that the House should be grateful. I wish my

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long-standing friend the noble Baroness, Lady Corston, well in her chairmanship. She will have a tough challenge following the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, but I know that she will more than live up to it. I have had the good fortune of serving under her on the Joint Committee on Human Rights and know what a very effective chairman she too can be. I am sure that we all wish her well.

There is another group of people whom we ought to bear in mind and thank in our deliberations. These are the witnesses who provide so much valuable evidence to the committees as the basis for their work. We would not be able to produce our reports unless many people had a put great deal of time into preparing submissions and appearing before the committees, and sharing their insights, experiences and thoughts.

This brings me to something about which the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, was talking. There is one gigantic challenge with the European Union and our approach to it. To the majority of people in the country, certainly a wide cross-section, the European Union is a remote and closed world. It speaks with great deliberation and experience to itself. It is very well informed about the work with which it deals, but to some extent it has lost contact with those who are dependent upon it and have to respond to its initiatives. That underlies a lot of the public anxiety about it and needs to be challenged. It is something to which in our work we could all make an important contribution.

When we are assembling lists of witnesses it is important not to fall into the trap of taking evidence just from those who are already informed about the European Community. We must develop the ability to seek out people who are coping with the consequences of European Union policy, or who have a great deal to say about the challenges to which the European Union should be responding, and to hear their views as well. These are people in the front line of the work with which we deal. When we were doing our report on migration in Sub-Committee F, I was struck by some of the witnesses from this front line, dealing with the issues of migration in our society. As we develop our work we should take this very seriously.

As I understand it, one of the issues with which the Government are concerned in our future relationships with the European Union is that it should be opened up and become more flexible and closer to people. It should be more accountable to the nation and people as a whole. That is a laudable objective. If it is to be fulfilled it is incumbent on the Government to live by example and not just theory. Even after a week, what happened last week was nothing short of a parliamentary disgrace. Here were two committees that had done tremendously detailed work on the implications of opting out and taken evidence from a wide cross-section of witnesses, who had put a great deal of effort and time into what they had to say to the committees. These two committees had listened to those in the front line of work in the context of justice, security and the rest. But what happened? Just hours before the debate on the same day, the Government’s response appeared. How is that opening up the matters of the European Union to the public as a whole? How is that enabling Parliament to do its job as it should? We

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should all have had time to consider in depth the Government’s response and prepare ourselves for a sensible debate in that context.

We should not hesitate in calling for the Government to do far better on this in the future. At the moment they are not serving the cause of enlightening our country at all by behaving in this way. It is not a totally isolated indication. We must understand what lies behind it and one of the difficulties is that we all know that there is a huge debate going on within the ranks of the coalition. It is not simply between the two formal parties that form the coalition, but even within the ranks of the Conservative Party. I have friends in the Conservative Party with whom it would be very difficult to get a thin sheet of paper regarding their views and mine on Europe. But there are others in the Conservative Party who are very different, committed to a xenophobic, insular and narrow view of where Britain’s future lies, and that is certainly not within the sphere of the European Union, nor even on too many occasions, I fear to say, of international co-operation as a whole.

That will always be a complication when the Government are getting their case together, but it in no way excuses what happened last week. I have been disturbed at the way in which we are repeatedly entertained to what, if it was not so grimly serious, is a charade of on the one hand senior government voices whipping up the sceptics and the critics of the concept of the European Union, and on the other those who are trying to keep the whole show on the rails. I suspect that that includes the Prime Minister.

One of the contentious issues in which emotion has obscured reality is the repatriation of criminals who have completed their sentences and are not British subjects. There is too much evidence that some in the senior ranks of government, who should know better, have been whipping up a view that this is somehow the fault of the European Union or of the European court. If that were case, it would be a very serious matter. Let us establish how great the problem is. In that context, I put down a Question on 3 June, asking on how many occasions in 2012 the Government were prevented from deporting criminals, who were not United Kingdom citizens, following the completion of their sentences by rulings of the United Kingdom courts citing Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

I drew the House’s attention to this last week. I have had approaches from Ministers, who have protested how sorry they are that I have not had a reply and that I must of course have one. I hope he will forgive me, as he is not in the House, but because this is so serious I must say that last night I sent an e-mail to the noble Lord, Lord McNally. I pointed out that today was the last day before the recess. A week had gone by and I had still had no reply.

I was very touched that the noble Lord sits so assiduously by his iPad, because within minutes, I had a reply in which he said that he was shocked that I had not had a reply. I would like to think that that is just innocent incompetence, the machine just not getting a reply together, but I cannot help being concerned

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lest that reveals something much deeper: that the Home Office is in no hurry to answer the question because the facts might not conveniently fit with the rhetoric and the playing to the gallery, to put it bluntly, which has gone on.

As we consider the future of the European Union, these matters are very grave indeed. We must have a Government displaying to us openly, fairly and straightforwardly the matters central to the issue. That, of course, starts with the Select Committees. I come back to the issue of how totally unsatisfactory—that is putting it in mild language—how totally wrong and insulting it was to produce a report only hours before the debate took place.

I want to say what a great privilege I find it to serve on Select Committees and how much I appreciate all those who make that work possible and so effective. A real tribute must go to the clerks and their support staff, who do a fantastic job for us all. I hope that they will get a decent break this summer, although I fear that in the case of Sub-Committees E and F, that will not be as simple as it sounds because we are going to meet during the recess. That shows the commitment to those issues by a large number of people. Again, I give real thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, for his terrific leadership in this operation.

2.52 pm

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard: My Lords, I started to take the reports of the Select Committee seriously 22 years ago. I discovered that I had to. I then lived in Brussels, and it was the habit of the then President of the Commission, Jacques Delors, to read House of Lords reports on Sunday afternoons. When he discovered something that he did not understand or did not like, it was his habit to telephone the permanent representative. I discovered that these conversations went slightly better if I had read the reports beforehand.

I was therefore delighted when I came here to have a spell on the Select Committee and on three sub-committees, and I now sit on Sub-Committee A under the polymathic chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, whose habit it is to greet witnesses from far and wide in their native tongue, to the consternation of his colleagues and, sometimes, the witnesses. He is an admirable chairman, as he has again displayed today in his speech.

The standard of the big reports from the Select Committee, which attracted a lot of admiration in Brussels 20 years ago, is undiminished. It is still very high. I think particularly of Bowness-Hannay on the Protocol 36 opt-out. Sub-Committee A’s MiFID II report was good, and I think that its report on the financial transaction tax hit on a point which, at that time, the Government had failed to or did not wish to recognise: that the obnoxious tax would cost us because we would have to collect it even if we did not ourselves go along with it.

The big reports are very good indeed. However, compared to 20 years ago, I think that the standard of everyday scrutiny of the legislative workload has diminished. It is not as good as it used to be. I think that the principal reason for that—the Minister may disagree with me but he will have heard the feeling of

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the House from the noble Lords, Lord Boswell, Lord Hannay, Lord Bowness, and Lord Judd—is that the Government do not take the process as seriously as they used to. That is my impression too.

The noble Lord, Lord Boswell, spoke of the perpetual lateness and inadequacy of Explanatory Memoranda. Aficionados will have followed with interest the increasingly irate correspondence in the previous Session between him and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury over the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Budgets, various measures of financial services and banking legislation and the infamous financial transaction tax. The common theme to all those letters was delays, missed deadlines, superficial analysis and unanswered questions. I know that the Treasury suffers from staff cuts and a high turnover—I read the figure of 20% a year turnover in the press the other day. I cannot believe that, but perhaps the Minister will enlighten us. If it is true, it is extremely alarming. The Permanent Secretary to the Treasury came to answer a friendly call from Sub-Committee A and assured us that performance will improve. I hope it will; we wait to see.

There is a particular reason why delayed Explanatory Memoranda are not just discourteous and in breach of the rules but actually dangerous. I attach some importance to the subsidiarity mechanism. There is a deadline of eight weeks for the use of the yellow card. This morning, in Sub-Committee A, we looked at a proposal which, to my amateur eye, seemed to raise a question of subsidiarity. Whether or not I was right is completely academic, because the proposal was dated very early in June, but it came to the committee this morning, so there is no way in which, if I were right and the committee and the chairman agreed with me, we could use the yellow card, purely because of delays that occurred in London. The Government need to take seriously the rules which are clearly set out in Cabinet Office guidance to the whole of Whitehall, and which used to be enforced quite fiercely by Permanent Secretaries—I can give a personal assurance that that used to be the case.

Of course, there are also objective reasons why the scrutiny process has got more difficult, why we have to run harder to stay still. We have to catch up with co-decision. The Council is now only the co-equal legislator with the European Parliament. I am not convinced that we in this Parliament or the Government are yet doing enough to try to influence the European Parliament in the European Union interest and the UK interest. The problem is exacerbated by the Conservative Party having left the EPP. It is quite difficult even for distinguished senior Conservative Members of the European Parliament to have as much influence as their predecessors. I pay tribute to Malcolm Harbour, who is a sterling exception to what I just said: he proves that what I am saying is not true in all cases. I pay tribute to Sharon Bowles, but I think that the West Lothian question—let us call it the Westphalian question—will impose itself on the next European Parliament in relation to the chairmanship of committees. Sharon Bowles has put in a sterling performance as chairman of one of the key committees of the European Parliament. She has done extraordinarily well but she has hung on to her job by the skin of her

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teeth because, for a large number of members of her own grouping in Strasbourg, it is difficult to see why, when the United Kingdom has stood aside from fiscal union, banking union and bailouts—from the core business of the Parliament on economic matters—a UK MEP can be the chairman of its key economic committee. I hope that she survives, as she does a great deal of good in the European interest and the UK interest, but I am not sure that she can.

The European Parliament has also drifted away from national Parliaments a bit. On the multiannual financial framework, I did not see much recognition in the European Parliament, with its insistence that the totals were too low, of the need for painful belt-tightening being felt in member state Parliaments. On the financial transactions tax, I was shocked by some of the arguments advanced in the European Parliament, where the greatest enthusiasm came from those who thought that the financial sector needed to be punished for its crimes in the financial crisis and that throwing grit in the wheels of the capital markets was a good idea, per se. I did not see many arguing that having a great international financial centre inside the EU is a huge EU asset and that the City of London needs to be listened to, and that the FTT therefore needs to be rejected. Those who want to make such arguments in the Parliament could be assisted in making them by people like us, so I have three very modest proposals.

First, is there perhaps a case for inviting key United Kingdom Members of the European Parliament to participate in certain subject-specific Select Committee meetings, not as witnesses but as country members sitting on our side of the table and talking with us about how best to affect the EU outcome? Secondly, should our chairmen regularly meet the chairs of the European Parliament committees and, thirdly, could we even consider—a daring suggestion—a joint committee of members of the Select Committee of this House with UK Members of the European Parliament? It could perhaps have fluctuating membership, depending on the issue of the day. I am not saying that these meetings should be the kind which happens for form’s sake, with very long agendas, or on a regular basis. I see them as ad hoc, and called to deal with a particular big issue, such as the seven-year financial framework this spring, or the financial transactions tax. If, as I hear, the Select Committee is to consider the role of national Parliaments, I hope that it might consider looking into these suggestions.

I have one other suggestion, which I also put to the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, with a certain degree of trepidation. We have to acknowledge that the performance of our own committee could be improved. We do very well but I think we could do better. The Commission sends to this House, electronically and instantly, every legislative proposal that it puts forward at the moment when it is sent to the Council. They are here before they are read by Sir Jon Cunliffe in Brussels. What do we do with them? We actually do very little because since we joined the European Union, it has been our practice to wait. In those days, we would have waited for the carrier pigeon to arrive with the paper from Brussels. We wait until the Government send us along a copy, telling us what they think of it. Why do we wait for the Government? We could be self-starters

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and form our own view by considering the most contentious proposals—the ones where, say, subsidiarity confers real importance on deadlines and efficiency.

There would be resource consequences from such a change. It would have costs for this House. But if we cannot get the Government to perform as they used to, it seems to me that we will have no choice but to kick the process off ourselves if we are to retain the standards of scrutiny that we used to have and, I hope, improve them—and we should be improving them.

The Prime Minister was quite right when he said on 23 January:

“It is national parliaments, which are, and will remain, the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU”.

I agree and I think that most Brussels insiders—even some Members of the European Parliament—would agree, although some are clearly a bit puzzled that six months on, he still has not produced any specifics as to what he means and what his improved national parliamentary accountability would look like or how it would work. The Prime Minister talked about it as if it were a matter for treaty change. I really cannot see that at all. We could look again at Articles 10 and 12 of the treaty, which could be expanded, but they are deliberately unspecific—correctly, I think. It would be wrong in principle that an EU treaty should purport to lay down how member state Parliaments should control the business of the European Union. This is entirely a matter for us.

Our system, which used to be almost as good as the Danish system but now is definitely not, being some way behind, is still better than the system in some other countries. However, before we preach too loudly, “Physician, heal thyself”, the answer to the problem which the Prime Minister rightly describes is at least partly in our own hands. If we were to improve it, by catching up with co-decision and technology, we would improve democratic accountability in this country and be better placed to encourage others to follow our example.

3.07 pm

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: My Lords, it is a great privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard. A lifetime at the diplomatic coalface has given him analysis and perspective that I cannot hope to match, and I listened with great interest to his suggestions.

I am just an ordinary member, now of Sub-Committee E and previously of Sub-Committee F. This has given me the opportunity to study in detail four very different chairmen: my noble friends Lord Jopling and Lord Bowness, the noble Baroness, Lady Corston, and, previously, the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. Each has been extremely effective and has been able to corral their potentially recalcitrant flocks with humour and good sense. It has been a pleasure to serve under them all. The other group to whom I add my thanks are the clerks, who do such terrific preparatory work and manage to turn the meanderings of the committees

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into a coherent whole. In my view, the country and the House owe a great debt of gratitude to both these groups.

As a member of Sub-Committee E, I served on the joint Select Committee considering the opt-out decision but I am not proposing to cover that issue now. The House has debated it at length and I agree with the noble Lords, Lord Judd and Lord Hannay, that the delivery of the Government’s response was unacceptably late. However, we have had a good chew of that and candidly, if I am honest, I am suffering a bit from opt-out or opt-in fatigue, at least for the time being. We will no doubt return to that issue in the autumn.

Instead, I will focus first on another of Sub-Committee E’s reports: that on The Fight against Fraud on the EU’s Finances. The evidence that the sub-committee received indicated that the official figure of fraud—which, as we have been told, was £404 million—was a woeful underestimate and that the real figure could be as much as 12 times higher: around £5 billion.

We also received evidence that OLAF, the European agency charged with fighting fraud, did not always receive the full-hearted national co-operation that it deserved. In these circumstances, the Government’s participation in our inquiry, or perhaps I should say their non-participation, is disappointing. Further, the Government’s response to the sub-committee’s report, received only recently, did not seek to rebut the sub-committee’s suggestion that EU fraud could be as high as £5 billion, merely recording, as the noble Baroness, Lady Corston, said, that it was not a figure that they recognised. This smacks of a good deal of complacency. Fraud is theft—theft from the taxpayer, whose interests every Government in the EU ought to be protecting. Moreover, fraud, if not investigated and prosecuted with vigour, has an unhappy habit of spreading. I hope for a more vigorous approach by the Government on this topic in future.

Lord Davies of Stamford: I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. Does he agree that, given the importance of fraud—I think that the whole House will be with him on everything that he said on that—it might have been a good idea if the Government had decided to join in with the initiative of setting up a European prosecutor’s office with a specific remit of pursuing fraud cases in the EU?

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: As always, the noble Lord, Lord Davies, has a seductive tone to his voice, but of course that is a completely different issue. We are trying to ensure that OLAF, which is the European fraud investigative committee, operates effectively. That is what we need to concentrate on first rather than, as my noble friend Lord Howell has said, superimposing yet another body that will be out of touch with the reality on the ground.

I shall focus the rest of my remarks on Chapter 10, the future look. I have written to the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, to give him some advance warning of what I wish to raise and what I would like the EU Committee to look at in future: the implications for this country of the continued free movement of labour within the EU—one of the pillars, as the noble Lord, Lord

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Hannay, firmly pointed out, on which the whole EU structure rests. However, I fear that the UK, uniquely, is already facing some strains from this free movement, strains that I fear will almost certainly become more severe and increase over the next 10 to 20 years.

A couple of figures may help to illustrate the point. England, not the United Kingdom, has now overtaken the Netherlands as Europe’s most densely populated country, with some 400 people per square kilometre. By comparison, France has 125 people per square kilometre, which is one-third or one-quarter as densely populated, and Germany has 260 per square kilometre—about two-thirds as populated. That is today, but over the next 15 years to 2027, if you believe the mid-projection by the Office for National Statistics, the UK’s population—here I am talking about the UK, not England—will increase by 7 million people, from 63 million today to 70 million then. What does this mean in comparable statistics? Last year, the UK’s population grew by just short of 1,100 people per day—a small village every week; a parliamentary constituency every three months or so. By contrast, Italy’s, France’s and Germany’s populations are falling, and on present projections the UK will overtake Germany to become the most populous country in Europe by the early 2030s.

Should we worry about this? Before answering that question, one needs to make it clear that race, colour and creed play no part in the debate. Indeed the social strains, if social strains there be, are likely to be felt most harshly in the minority communities. So should we worry? Physically, we can certainly fit the people in. Bangladesh has 1,400 people per square kilometre compared to England’s 400. However, it will be up to wiser minds than mine as to whether we wish to reproduce Bangladeshi living conditions in the UK.

Concerns revolve around two specific issues. First, there is the impact on our environment—the pressure on the green belt around our cities, the impact on our countryside, especially in the south-east, and so forth. These are important to me but are not the critical issues. For me, the critical issue is the potential crowding out of our native-born population—please note that I say, and I mean, “native-born”; that is not another word for white but, rather, means anyone and everyone who was born here—and the consequences of that crowding-out on our social structure. If the default option for British industry and commerce is to call for more immigration as opposed to upskilling our own population, we run the risk of creating a sullen, disconnected, unemployed and in due course no doubt unemployable underclass—an underclass that, in the minority communities, may well find extremist activities attractive. That is not good for us as a country or as taxpayers.

I shall give the House a practical example. I have a house on the Shropshire/Herefordshire border. As I speak here today, there are about 4,000 people from eastern Europe picking fruit. They are here legally, they behave well, they work hard and at the end of the season all, or at least most, of them will go home. However, there are unemployed locals in Herefordshire and south Shropshire. Talk to the fruit farmers and they will tell you that the locals will not work hard

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enough, are not reliable and turn up once and do not come again. Talk to the locals and they will tell you that they cannot get the farmers to recruit them because they prefer to recruit in bulk from eastern Europe in the hundreds. Where does the truth lie? I have no idea, but there is an issue here that at some point we have to address.

An argument often advanced for increasing immigration is the need to provide additional people to look after, and compensate for, our ageing population. This has extremely superficial attractions but it ignores the inexorable laws of ageing and compound interest. Today’s increased number of young people leads inevitably to tomorrow’s increased number of old people, who will in turn require still further increases of young people to compensate. Indeed, it has been calculated that if we wish to keep the same number of workers to pensioners as at present—it is about 3.5 to 1—we will already need an extra 27 million more workers by 2050: a 40% increase in our population.

To conclude, while free movement of labour within the EU is only part of the challenge, it is an important part and one which an EU committee will be uniquely well placed to address because it can do so in the non-partisan, equable, evidence-based way at which it excels and which this subject, above all, demands. I take a fairly hard-nosed approach to this country’s relationship with the EU but I do not doubt that at root it has been of great benefit to the United Kingdom. The 900,000 or so graves in France and Belgium are mute witnesses to that fact. However, outside the M25 in particular, the apparently inexorable rise in our population is causing concern. We need to reassure any concerned people that Parliament is aware of those concerns and prepared to investigate them fully, no matter how sensitive they may be.

Martin Wolf, the FT economics commentator, wrote:

“Society cannot function without a majority willing to play by the rules, without individuals demonstrating on a minute-by-minute basis their trustworthiness, reliability, courtesy and self-reliance”.

We need to ensure that we do not stretch these qualities to breaking point.

3.18 pm

Lord Liddle: My Lords, I join the chorus of thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, and to the formidable array of committee chairs and retired chairs who have spoken. I thank them for their hard work, and for the rigour and objectivity of that work, which makes a tremendous contribution to the European debate in Britain.

I want to make three points in a brief speech. First, this work is essential and therefore I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and the noble Baroness, Lady Scott, that there should be no further cutbacks to it in this House. Secondly, it can work properly only if all parts of the Government take it seriously. I have a lot of sympathy with the strictures on the Treasury that I have heard from various quarters in this debate. When I worked in 10 Downing Street the Treasury would not even tell No. 10 what was going on. That was not so much because of the personalities at the top but rather because of an institutional arrogance: they believe they are guardians of the state unaccountable to anyone else. This attitude has to change.

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If I may make an aside, I am somewhat alarmed by the fact that at present the two key posts in the management of European business—in the European Secretariat and at UKRep in Brussels—are held by people from the Treasury. I congratulate Sir Jon Cunliffe, who is a very able man, on his appointment as Deputy Governor of the Bank of England but I hope this Treasury grip will not be maintained.

The third point is about the future work of the committee. Here I rather agree with the noble Lord, Lord Howell—and not just because of the very nice compliment that he paid my think tank—that the committee could take a more ambitious view of its role beyond scrutiny. We have to recognise that a big debate has been started about Britain’s future in the European Union and the committee can make a very valuable contribution to it, particularly in two areas where it is extremely well, if not uniquely well, qualified. One is the question of competences and the whole debate about subsidiarity and proportionality. The second is the debate about the need for an enhanced role for national parliaments.

A good starting point would be the Government’s balance of competences review. My fears about this have been somewhat allayed by the tone of the first reports, as they show an objectivity of approach. There has certainly been a bit of Lib Dem influence there, which is possibly more effective in this area than on many coalition policies. I also think there is a sense in parts of the Conservative Party that it is simply not going to follow the kind of bar-room prejudices of Nigel Farage in setting its future European agenda—at least, I hope so. I detect—I would like to know what the Minister says about this—that the Government are shifting from what started off as a Conservative manifesto commitment to the repatriation of powers to a sensible debate about the need for multilateral reform of the way the European Union exercises its competences. If that is the case, it would be quite an important shift, which on this side of the House we would very strongly support. The committee could help that debate along, particularly if it carried out a detailed examination of how there can be better enforcement of subsidiarity and proportionality and what role national Parliaments can play.

I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, is right to say that the work of the committee could be even better. Certainly, the role of national parliaments in the system could be strengthened without treaty change. We have to look, at a much earlier stage in the policy-making process than at present, at how national parliaments hold Ministers to account. We should seek to beef up the role of COSAC—the body that brings together the parliaments in Brussels—so that the yellow card procedure is used more effectively. Of course, there are all sorts of other ways in which the role of national parliaments could be strengthened through future treaty change, but I suspect that that is some way away.

Therefore, the Select Committee does excellent work, but it could do even more if it made a contribution to this crucial debate about reform of the European Union, and in that way helped us to remain effective members.

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3.25 pm

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I am conscious that I now stand between noble Lords and what the noble Baroness, Lady O’Cathain, called their buckets and spades, although in my case it is my punnet and hoe. I failed to pick rather too many of our raspberries and a large quantity of our blackcurrants last weekend, so I look forward to getting back as soon as possible to provide my wife with them to process.

I declare an interest as a former member of the House of Lords EU Committee and a former chair of one of one of its sub-committees. I had thought that perhaps when I step down from government, it would be very pleasant to sit on the committee again. However, what I have heard today suggests that it is all extremely hard work, which is the last thing my wife would want me to do when I have finished working absurdly hard in government. We appreciate how much extremely valuable work the Lords EU Committee and its sub-committees do. The Government certainly have no intention to reduce the number of sub-committees. I remind Members that the number of sub-committees and the allocation of committee resources in this House is a matter for this House and its authorities, not for the Government.

The committee will have seen the Government’s written response to this report and the Minister for Europe welcomed it.

Lord Davies of Stamford: On the very important point of the allocation of resources to permit the committees to do their work, we have, of course, recently been subject to reductions in our travel budget. That is bizarre, because the work requires us to keep in close touch with our continental partners and in particular with the institutions in Brussels. Do the Government have a view on the matter of the resources that should be allocated or the reduction in resources that is being imposed on the committees here?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I am simply not briefed on that. However, I can assure the noble Lord that as a Minister I travel with Ryanair and easyJet to various places around the outer fringes of the European Union. We also do our best to economise where we can. I remind the noble Lord that this is the leanest Government that Britain has had for many years because we have cut the government car pool very substantially—we have to walk everywhere.

This is a very timely debate. I recall our previous debate on the annual report, which took place rather later than this one, and in the Moses Room, although we are now here in the Chamber. I also recall it because the noble Baroness, Lady O’Cathain, criticised me very sharply on that occasion for not having read every single report that the committee had produced in the previous year. I can assure her that I have read at least the summary of every report that the committee has produced this year.

There are, of course, many examples of the way in which the committee has fed into the Brussels process and the work of other Governments, as well into the debate within Britain. We are concerned at the criticisms

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that the committee has made of the untimely provision of Explanatory Memoranda, and in particular of the role of the Treasury. We very much take on board what the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, said about the importance of timeliness in terms of subsidiarity. I will take all the points back, and we will discuss them in the Cabinet Office, the Foreign Office and various parliamentary branches of the relevant departments, to make sure that they are fully taken on board. I am an enthusiast for the development of the use of the yellow card mechanism. We have to make sure that we are given all the resources we can manage so that we will be able to use that to its best ability.

I have been heavily involved in the balance of competences review for six months, about which various comments have been made. Perhaps I may stress that those reports were not intended to have policy recommendations at the end. They were intended very much to feed into a better informed debate in the United Kingdom. I hope that the first six reports have done so. I look forward—although perhaps not entirely—to three more rounds of very careful assimilation of a large amount of evidence presented into another collection of reports.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, that the balance of competences exercise is very much in parallel to other aspects of what is going on in government. We have welcomed his committee’s report on the justice and home affairs opt-out. The balance of competences exercise is proceeding in parallel with a whole range of other negotiations and the order of reports was drawn up some time ago, with other dimensions in mind.

We are attempting, both within the balance of competences exercise and in the work of this and other committees, to provide space for a reasoned debate within the European Union about our interaction with the European Union. We all recognise that over the next nine to 12 months that debate may be constricted in some ways as we move towards the next European elections. We are also conscious, particularly so over the past week, that the press is not always favourable to a reasoned debate. The Leveson report remarked that in press coverage of the European Union—as with press comment on women, minorities and Muslims—its attitude is that it is quite acceptable to invent stories without any source whatever.

I was very struck to see this story in the Mail the other day:

“Revealed: The shadowy lobbyists waging war to keep Britain in Europe”,

I read it with great interest, only to discover that it was actually talking about British Influence, which is an entirely public body. I think that the Mail had lifted this story from a Eurosceptic blog, which said that British Influence was a deeply dangerous organisation funded by the secretive Bilderberg Group. Oddly enough, the Mail did not include that bit.

I was also quite worried by the article by Peter Oborne in the Telegraph last week, saying that:

“The 1975 referendum was a fair poll in the same sense that the elections due to be held in Zimbabwe next Wednesday will be fair … The sense has lingered that we were hustled, against our will, by an anti-democratic elite, into an organisation whose true aims and nature were hidden from us until too late”.

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The BBC, of course, was playing a role in the deceitful agenda.

On Saturday, the Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent, Bruno Waterfield, told us that,

“the European Union is planning to ‘own and operate’ spy drones, surveillance satellites and aircraft”,

under the control of the noble Baroness, Lady Ashton, in,

“a major move towards creating an independent EU military body with its own equipment and operations”.

I was therefore very pleased to receive this morning an invitation from King’s College London to a debate in October on how to ensure that we have impartial reporting on the European Union, at which Bruno Waterfield will be one of the speakers.

I say this partly to demonstrate that getting reasoned debate based on evidence about Britain’s involvement in the European Union is not easy and that this committee plays an immensely valuable role in helping to widen that debate. I hope that noble Lords have read the balance of competences review papers so far and I hope that they feel that they have drawn in evidence-based policy with which perhaps to counter the emotion-based policy, the prejudice-based policy and the conspiracy-oriented allegations which so often cloud out rational debate in Britain. All parties must contribute to this effort.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Judd, that I very much look forward to hearing a speech from the Labour leadership comparable to the speech made by the Prime Minister in January. The leader of my party, the Deputy Prime Minister, will make a major speech on the European Union in October. I very much hope that we will hear a constructive Labour contribution to an EU reform agenda that keeps Britain in the European Union. This is what the Prime Minister was talking about, and I confirm to the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, that that is what the coalition Government are pursuing, rather than unilateral repatriation intended to lead to an exit, which is what the Telegraph, the Mail and a number of others on the fringes of conventional politics very much want us to pursue.

I turn to various issues that were raised in the debate. The sub-committee on foreign affairs produced a very valuable report on common security and defence policy. I have noted that on scrutiny we have shifted very often from major reports to follow-on reports and continued scrutiny. As we approach the December European Council, which will have European defence very much on its agenda, I trust that the sub-committee will continue to monitor the way in which the British Government and others approach this. As everyone knows, there is a tension between those who are interested in institution building and others who are interested in practical conflict prevention and conflict resolution under that dossier.

Similarly, on banking union, it would be immensely valuable if the sub-committee responsible for that continues to monitor the ongoing debate. Having read its report and various other—mainly German—documents, I think that I understand the various different definitions of banking union that are floating around. However, because there are so many different definitions of banking union—with maximum, minimum

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et cetera—clearly we need to contribute to the debate. As the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, and others rightly said, we need to think also about where in the debate the interests of Britain and of Britain’s financial centres are at stake.

On the workload of the European Court of Justice, I take on board what has been said. We have now moved on the question of—

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard: Advocates-General.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Advocates-General. The question of more judges is now about to come up.

On the question of students and migration, I will write to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. However, I will say now that the government line is that students who stay here for three to four years are not necessarily temporary visitors. That is one reason why the question of what role they play in the statistics is important. As the father of a student who went to the United States seven years ago and who I hope will come back to the United Kingdom one day, I am very conscious of the tensions.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I would like to save the Minister from sending an unnecessary letter in the Recess. This is not about statistics. I have said it an awful lot of times. Others, including the noble Lord, Lord MacGregor, in the debate that he initiated, also said it. It is about government policy and the impact of that policy on immigration and on our higher education sector. That was what the senior member of his party who is a member of the Cabinet referred to. I ask him to send me a letter not about statistics but about how the Government will give effect to the international education strategy that was put out by David Willetts yesterday and which, I am afraid, is not totally consistent with the Government’s immigration policy.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I guarantee that I will look at the strategy of the Minister for higher education and will consult further.

The noble Lord, Lord Bowness, asked about a Eurojust opt-in. The Government are now consulting on the new Eurojust proposal, which was published on 17 July as part of a package, alongside a proposal for a European public prosecutor’s office. We have been clear that the UK will not participate in the establishment of a European public prosecutor’s office, so we are now considering how to respond to that.

One thing that I hope the committee will focus on in the coming year is the area of European data protection. This applies to domestic legislation in Britain—we may have a data-sharing Bill in the next Session—and applies also at European level. When it comes to negotiation with the United States, data protection and data-sharing are becoming—as we all know and see from the German elections—a highly sensitive area in which the expertise and expert contribution of the Lords European Union Committee could be extremely valuable. A number of noble Lords have talked about democratic accountability—

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Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt again, but I have to tell the noble Lord that the Select Committee did, in fact, recommend that the Government opt in to the data protection directive currently under negotiation in Brussels. Mirabile dictum, the Government did opt in.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the final shape of the data protection directive is by no means clear. We are a very long way from a final text. I merely wish to insist that it needs to be kept very well under review.

I move on to democratic accountability. The role of national parliaments and closer co-operation among national parliaments, of the sort that the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, and others talked about, is very much a direction in which we should be moving. The yellow card mechanism is developing. I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that it is not a workable mechanism. Closer co-operation between national parliaments; better use of the Brussels office, which we have and share with others; rapid provision of Explanatory Memorandums; and, as the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, also said, closer co-operation with British Members of the European Parliament should help us demonstrate to our publics that we are actively engaged in scrutinising the necessary involvement of the United Kingdom in a whole range of regulations at the European level, but also to make sure that we are feeding into the Brussels bubble the active concerns about subsidiarity that we and many other publics have.

This has been a very wide debate, and I simply want to end by pointing out that Her Majesty’s Government are committed to staying within a reformed European Union. We are working with others to promote that agenda. I was very pleased yesterday to read from the Foreign Office a number of telegrams about the positive reaction of other member Governments to the first balance of competences papers. We are already talking to a number of other Governments about how we might share an agenda for reform. That, I hope, has the support of all members of party and non-party groups in this House. I very much look forward to the further valuable contributions that the European Union Committee of this House will continue to make. I will do my utmost within government to ensure that members of the Government—even the Treasury—co-operate as fully and as promptly as possible with the continuing of the committee.

3.42 pm

Lord Boswell of Aynho: My Lords, given my position as the concluding speaker in the debate, I very much hope that it will not be a matter of the theme, “Apres moi le deluge”. We are all about to go on our holidays and I do not intend to prolong the agony. However, I would like to say first how much I appreciate the contribution of all those who have participated in the debate and the Minister’s response. I am particularly grateful to those who have expressed very generous—even if unmerited—remarks to me personally. Before the cynics get at it, perhaps I should say, by no prior arrangement, that I would like in turn to express my gratitude to all the sub-committee chairs and former members of our committee—including the Minister,

30 July 2013 : Column 1709

as he reminded us—who have participated in this debate. It has shown the depth of expertise that the House can deploy and, in what I hope will be a golden summer of England cricket, that we can bat all the way down the order with great success.

If I were to select a single word to encapsulate the nature of our discussion, and probably the way in which our committees work, it would be workmanlike—but not, I hope, pedestrian. We do a proper job of work. We do it seriously but we try to have regard to the wider context as we do it. In a way, that has been brought out by the debate, because we have shown a constant tension between concern about procedural issues and substantive issues. Perhaps I may select in particular the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, who felt strongly about both. I think we all understand that there is a European people out there, not all of whom are very happy with the course of events and who feel tensions about how the system is not necessarily expressing their views as it should.

There is also concern as to whether we are having the right dialogue with Her Majesty’s Government and the right degree of compliance with the scrutiny reserves and the other obligations that they have undertaken. I remind the House that it is entirely for the Government to meet their obligations. We will do our best to help and we do not wish to be unreasonable. It really is not sufficiently good enough, on their behalf, to say, “Well, we did our best”, when clearly in certain cases that has not happened. We will not go away from that issue, nor should we do so.

However, I would reflect that there is a danger—we see this even in some of the material that we get, for example, from the European Parliament commenting on our involvement in European affairs—that because we have a documents-heavy and scrutiny-intense activity, there is a feeling that somehow that is all that we do. Of course it is not the case that everything is done formally by the process of scrutiny, holding things under scrutiny or even grumbling about the conduct of Her Majesty’s Government. There is a much more numinous process of policy formulation and discussion.

Perhaps I may come to points of substance. First, there is a certain regret in my heart that no explicitly Eurosceptic contribution has been made today. As I have said on previous occasions, any discussion of European policy matters is not a binary one where everyone immediately agrees or disagrees to the suggestion you have made after your detailed inquiry. It is very much more a process of evolving. One of our important roles, which I think has been touched on, involves our ability to go further back in the decision-making process and to respond as the Commission has a bright idea or wishes to develop themes, and not simply to wait until the last minute when we can say, “We are not happy with this as it’s turned out”, “It raises a subsidiarity issue”, or whatever.

Another point raised—for which we are indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, as we are for others—is that it is now a very complex process. As for his comments on the contribution of the electronic dialogue, although I can e-mail my colleagues in COSAC, for example, which is the sort of thing we should be doing more than we do, that might not be the answer

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to every situation. We do not simply have a central authoritarian system to which we have to respond rather late in the day, we also need to be involved in a much more networked policy formulation and discussion.

In that context, yes, of course we want our dialogue, and yes, we are not complacent about having got it perfectly right—I say in response to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard—just because Jacques Delors, the European Commission or the current Commissioners have our reports on their shelves. We can always do better. I am sensitive also to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, about migration issues. Indeed, I hope that the House will not land everything with even the remotest relevance to Europe on our shores. However, we do have a dialogue. Two of our sub-committees have looked at some of the issues and we have corresponded about them. We are open to doing more in this respect just as we are open to doing more on procedural issues.

I hope that I can assure your Lordships’ House that we do our best to do an objective job. We do not have closed minds about how it should work. We do some things that do not always appear even in the tomes of annual reports. In the context of our national parliamentary inquiry, I have written well over 100 letters to various people, including national parliaments and ambassadors in London and otherwise, to alert them to what we are doing and to invite them actively to participate. We will take any part in the dialogue that they are prepared to have with us.

In conclusion, I should like to express my gratitude for the way in which our report has been received and to emphasise that, whatever we do in the future, we will be guarded by the lodestars of quality and objectivity. We will make no compromises about that.

Motion agreed.

Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (Code of Practice for Surveillance Camera Systems and Specification of Relevant Authorities) Order 2013

Motion to Approve

3.50 pm

Moved By Baroness Stowell of Beeston

That the draft orders laid before the House on 10 June be approved.

Relevant documents: 4thReport from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 6th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, considered in Grand Committee on 17 July.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in the name of my noble friend on the Order Paper. Although this Motion was debated extensively in Grand Committee on 7 July, the noble Baroness, Lady Basildon, has given notice that

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she wishes to debate this order again today, so it may be helpful if I briefly remind the House of the order’s intention.

This is a code which will for the first time place a regulatory framework around the deployment and use of CCTVs. It will also for the first time ensure that the public have a say in the deployment of these cameras. Through the 12 guiding principles encapsulated in the code, what we are putting in place will ensure that the rights of the public are balanced against the need for CCTV cameras.

This is not about increasing or decreasing the number of CCTV cameras in use. It is about ensuring that the police, local authorities and other designated authorities consider deploying CCTV cameras only where they have identified a pressing need; that the public are consulted in those considerations; and that the purpose of the use of CCTVs is set out clearly for the public. The purpose of CCTVs is to assist in the prevention, detection and conviction of crime, and the purpose of the code is also to drive greater consistency and quality of the images taken from those cameras to ensure that their use by the police is more efficient and effective in cutting crime. I beg to move.

3.51 pm

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her explanation. I should point out that I am only “Lady Basildon” on Twitter; it is usually Smith, but I am pleased to have the Minister as a follower on Twitter. There are two orders before us today, but she has rightly addressed the one that I raised concerns about. We raised and discussed the other one, about the national security determinations relating to DNA and biometric information, in Committee.

The Minister is quite right that the order which I am speaking about, the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (Code of Practice for Surveillance Camera Systems and Specification of Relevant Authorities) Order 2013, was debated in Committee. I am sorry—I say this with regret and not as a criticism—that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, is not here today; not because we are not pleased to see the noble Baroness, but because we discussed this in Committee. I said to him on 7 July that if I remained dissatisfied with the answers to our queries and concerns, then we would look to debate it on the Floor of the House. The noble Lord helpfully wrote to me, seeking to address those concerns, but some remain, which is why we are debating this again today,

As pleased as we are to see the noble Baroness, we therefore regret that the noble Lord is not able to be here today. However, no doubt the noble Baroness will have read the debate, will have seen the letter that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, sent me, and will be aware of the concerns that I raised. She sought to air them today, but I regret that in her short comments she was unable to do so. I do not want to repeat the Committee debate—that would be unwelcome at this time on the last day of term—but I will summarise the concerns and explain why we remain concerned.

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I hope that the noble Baroness will be able to give further information and might seek to address some of the points that have been raised and not fully answered.

The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee made the point that the Government needed to justify how the benefits offset additional bureaucracy, and the wider application of the code. Those two issues stand together. There is significant increased bureaucracy and cost for local authorities and the police, as I outlined previously. This is addressed in the impact assessment. In Committee and in his letter to me, the noble Lord addressed this. He said in his letter that the Local Government Association agreed that it was difficult to assess the costs involved. He then added that it was around £1.6 million each and every year, although given the information on the impact assessment, this is a conservative estimate and could be much higher. The impact assessment suggests that is the best estimate and that it could be as high as £3 million each and every year, and that the best estimate for the one-off transition costs is over £14 million and could be as high as £29 million.

In his letter the noble Lord also stated that the best estimate values had been shared between 350 local authorities and 46 police authorities. However, as both the letter of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, and the impact assessment make clear, the impact assessment assumes that,

“many of the local authorities and police forces … are already operating broadly within its”—

that is, the code’s—

“guiding principles where they relate to existing obligations. Thus the additional burdens and bureaucracy are likely to fall where systems and the accountability for decision-making need to be strengthened to protect the public”.

That implies to me that the conservative estimate of £1.6 million annually and the additional £14 million transition costs are not being shared across all local authorities and police forces because when the costs in the impact assessment were estimated it was done on the basis that many—I think it was 25% to 50%—would not incur any additional costs.

A further difficulty which was raised in Committee but has not been addressed is that this order applies only to the public and not the private sector. The Explanatory Memorandum quotes the policy background and refers to the advantages of CCTV. It also refers to the disadvantages, including,

“the extent to which private lives are exposed to ever greater scrutiny by other individuals, organisations or the State, leading in some instances to a potential exposure to criminality, or more generally, to an erosion of personal privacy”.

The order is therefore being promoted as a protection of civil liberties against the power of individuals, organisations and the state. However, it does not apply to individuals, organisations and the state; it applies only to the state and public institutions. So if these guidelines are so essential to protect civil liberties, why does the policy giving effect to the Government’s principles outlined so boldly in the Explanatory Memorandum only apply to the public sector? Can the noble Baroness tell me what percentage of CCTV cameras the order covers? I know that previously the Minister said that this was because they were in a public place, but so are shopping centres; shop and

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office cameras look onto the street. Do the same principles apply to those CCTV cameras as to the ones that police and local authorities use? If I am to believe what I see on “Law and Order UK” and other detective programmes on TV, the police often ask for access to the information on these private CCTV cameras to collate evidence of criminal activities. So, in many cases, the use of those cameras and the people they film are identical.

The Government have made much of leaner, slimmer government and fewer regulations—they want to cut quangos—and yet here we have not only a new commissioner but significant additional regulations for local government and the police. I understood that the Government policy was that for each new regulation that was brought in, two would be jettisoned as the overall burden, as the Government call it, of regulation was reduced. I think that is a poor way to make policy. There are serious issues around regulation; it is not a numbers game. In his comments to the Committee, the Minister said that, in terms of bureaucracy and regulations, the rule of “one in and two out” does not apply to the public sector, only to business. That is a new one on me. I had not realised that the Government’s commitment to reducing bureaucracy, as they call it, was qualified. Given that this involves taxpayers’ and council taxpayers’ money, can the Minister tell me why the Government exclude the public sector in this regard?

A second point I have raised before and on which I am still not clear—perhaps the noble Baroness can help me—is that when I raised the issue of compliance with the principles the Minister’s response was that the legislation to establish the new Surveillance Camera Commissioner limited the commissioner’s role to encouraging compliance and that the legislation provided no enforcement powers even though it was the Government’s legislation. At an annual cost of £250,000, the Government are therefore setting up a commissioner to encourage local authorities and the police to comply with the new regulations, which will not apply to the private sector. However, although there is a statutory duty, there is no way that this commissioner, at a cost of £250,000—a quarter of a million—can enforce the regulations.

When I raised this in Grand Committee, the Minister sought to give me some assurances, but his answers gave me more cause for concern. To my question about enforcement he responded:

“Local authorities and the police will be under a duty to have regard to the code when exercising their functions…When a local authority or police force fails to do so, it will be vulnerable to judicial review for a breach of that statutory duty. The possibility of being subject to such a legal challenge will incentivise local authorities and the police to adhere to that statutory duty”.—[Official Report, 17/7/13; col. GC293.]

There are 12 guiding principles within the code, seven of which are considered not to have any cost. Each one of those places an additional bureaucratic obligation on the police and local authority. Therefore, non-compliance with any of those 12 criteria or principles opens up the possibility of a judicial review, and judicial reviews do not come cheap. This statutory instrument allows for any public sector CCTV installation

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to be subject to a judicial review. I am not sure if the noble Baroness is aware of this, but local authorities are understandably becoming more risk-averse whenever there is a possibility of legal action or judicial review because they fear the costs. Experience tells us that the threat of a judicial review can lead local authorities to avoid decisions that can lead to a JR, even when they are likely to win, just because of the huge costs that are involved.

The Government themselves recognise this problem. They say they want to reduce the number of judicial reviews. The Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, claimed that:

“The system is becoming mired in large numbers of applications, many of which are weak or ill-founded, and they are taking up large amounts of judicial time, costing the court system money and can be hugely frustrating for the bodies involved in them”.

The Government’s policy is to reduce the number of judicial reviews, but the Home Office policy is to give 12 grounds on which any CCTV application can be challenged by judicial review. I am really not comfortable with the threat of a JR being the only effective means of enforcement. I fear that the policy may well have the opposite effect to that which the Government intend by reducing the number of CCTV cameras, as councils seek to avoid risk.

We come back to the basic question that was asked in Committee, and I am still not clear on the answer: is this necessary? The impact assessment states that many of these bodies—local authorities and police—are already employing and using those guiding principles. The point was made by the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, who is in his place today, when he said in Committee that,

“many of the issues that do matter in this are covered by the Data Protection Act, for instance accurate databases and things like that. So they are already covered elsewhere. Will having an extra commissioner really make a difference?”.—[

Official Report

, 17/7/13; col. GC286.]

The noble Lord’s letter to me also refers to the Information Commissioner’s role in CCTV. There is a lack of clarity here. The judicial review only refers to the 12 principles; if there is a role for the Information Commissioner and for judicial review, which could be from either the camera commissioner or a member of the public, could there be a case where there are two actions against the local authority or the police, one via judicial review and one via the Information Commissioner?

I am certainly not against oversight. We support oversight, but I come back to the first point I made, and the point made by ourselves and the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, in Committee, and by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee: do the benefits justify the costs, or are there other ways in which this can be achieved?

I urge the noble Baroness to take this back and please think again. I am sure that we all want to avoid unnecessary burdens and unintended consequences, but I fear that this order could achieve both.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon. My apologies for using her Twitter moniker in the Chamber; I will avoid doing that again.

30 July 2013 : Column 1715

During the passage of the Protection of Freedoms Act, Parliament debated and agreed the function of the commissioner and the scope and nature of the CCTV code of practice in so far as it applies only to the police, local authorities and other designated bodies. As we made clear then, the Government believe that the CCTV code will ensure that CCTV is deployed and used transparently, proportionately, and effectively. We want the police and local authorities to use CCTV to help cut crime. During our consultation, we received widespread support for it: 80% of respondents supported it. The Information Commissioner was also positive in his response, as was ACPO.

It might be worth me reading out a brief quote from ACPO’s response to the consultation on this code. ACPO said that the code,

“will help to bring in a consistent approach to dealing with the use of surveillance cameras. The use of twelve guiding principles sets out the Code in a straightforward way, which can be easily understood and implemented. The focus on transparency, access to and the security of images, as well as operational, technical and competency standards, making systems available to the police and the encouragement of the use of surveillance cameras as a forensic process, are all important facets of the proposed Code”.

The Government believe that it is an important step in ensuring the right balance between the rights of the public and the pressing need to fight crime.

The noble Baroness asked why the code covers only public authorities such as the police and local authorities, and some other enforcement agencies that are listed in the order. The list of relevant authorities is set out in the Protection of Freedoms Act, which was debated and approved by Parliament. Therefore, Parliament agreed that the project should begin on a limited basis, effectively covering local authorities and the police. The fact that it is limited in this way does not arise out of this order or the code of practice, but was in the original Act that was passed by Parliament. The code will be mandatory for only a relatively small proportion of CCTV cameras but we believe that it is right and proportionate for others to be encouraged to adopt the code because it is in their interests rather than to be obliged to at this stage.

The noble Baroness asked what proportion of CCTV cameras will be covered by the code. Although it will be small to start with, because it will be limited to the police and local authorities, the Government believe that all cameras operating in the public space owned by public bodies should be used openly, transparently and effectively, in line with the code. The Surveillance Camera Commissioner will review the implementation of the code, including its take-up by private bodies, and report to the Home Secretary and Parliament in 2015. Indeed, we expect the police and local authorities to be able to demonstrate the benefits of the code and to help raise awareness of it among those who would voluntarily adopt it.

The noble Baroness asked about costs. The Government believe that the costs of implementing the code are minimal. As she said, the costs cited in the impact assessment are estimated at £1.6 million per year across 350 local authorities; in other words, about £20,000 per year per local authority and £23,000 per year per police force. These costs are minimal in

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comparison to the budgets of these bodies. They are also average costs and will vary depending on the size and nature of the locality. The noble Baroness asked about how costs might vary from force to force and authority to authority. I do not have those details at this time but, as the impact assessment makes clear, we have based the costs per authority and per force on an average that has been acknowledged by the LGA.

We think that these modest costs are worth while in terms of the expected benefits that they will bring of better quality images to help investigate crime and bring criminals to justice, and greater public confidence. It might be worth me referring to a recent incident to do with the use of automatic number plate recognition in Royston in order to illustrate the benefits of the code and how the relationship between the Information Commissioner and the new Surveillance Camera Commissioner might work. Earlier this month, the Information Commissioner issued an enforcement notice against Hertfordshire Constabulary and its use of automatic number plate recognition. The ICO has ordered the force to review its use of ANPR cameras around Royston. It says that it has created a ring of steel that means no one can drive their car in or out without a record being kept. Although this predates this code, the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice will provide guidance for the police and others and enable the public to hold them directly to account for the proportionality and effectiveness of ANPR and CCTV. We understand that in this example Hertfordshire Constabulary will be working closely with the ICO to ensure that any future deployment of ANPR in and around Royston is proportionate in meeting a clearly stated and justified purpose.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: The Minister has raised a very interesting point, but I think she clarified herself when she said what is happening in a relationship between the Information Commissioner and the police. That is happening now, before this order comes into force, so is the order necessary?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: Yes, the order is necessary. The reason I used that example to illustrate the point is that the Information Commissioner retains all his enforcement responsibilities regarding the Data Protection Act, both in respect of ANPR and CCTV. The point I was going to make is that the relationship between the Surveillance Camera Commissioner and the Information Commissioner has been set out in a memorandum of understanding. If there were any issue around enforcement in the use of data protection, which was the example that I gave from Royston, then enforcement would remain the responsibility of the ICO.

The purpose of this code is to go further than enforcement. It is about ensuring that CCTV cameras, which make an important contribution to helping to cut crime, are used in the most effective way. It is about ensuring that the public can have confidence in the way in which cameras are deployed and can see that, in times of reduced budgets and competing priorities, each police force uses this very expensive equipment in the most effective way that it can.

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The noble Baroness raised points about enforcement and judicial review. In terms of enforcement, the Information Commissioner retains his responsibility. The code itself is self-regulating. We did not want to bring in this code and introduce additional burdens unnecessarily on local authorities or on police forces. We wanted the code to ensure good practice and that the best use possible was made of CCTV. The Surveillance Camera Commissioner will be required to provide an annual report to the Home Office and that will be laid before Parliament. He will be able, through his transparent way of monitoring performance, to report to the public on how this equipment is being used.

Judicial review will operate in the same way as in any other context. A judicial review can be brought only by an individual who is directly affected by the public authority’s actions or decisions in relation to CCTV or by an interest group representing such individuals. The Protection of Freedoms Act makes no reference to the commissioner initiating legal challenges against public authorities and therefore this will not form part of the commissioner’s function or role.

As I said at the beginning, the purpose of this code is to strike the right balance between protecting the public and upholding civil liberties. We believe that it

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will help to ensure that the purpose of CCTV is clear to the public and that it will help to deliver the results that they have every right to expect.

Motion agreed.

Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (Guidance on the Making or Renewing of National Security Determinations) Order 2013

Motion to Approve

4.14 pm

Moved by Baroness Stowell of Beeston

That the draft order laid before the House on 10 June be approved.

Relevant document: 6th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, considered in Grand Committee on 17 July.

Motion agreed.

House adjourned at 4.15 pm.