The new Eurojust measure also proposes to create new mandatory powers for Eurojust national members—powers which would enable them to require coercive measures at a national level. The current Eurojust measure works well and it does not force member states to give their national members such extensive powers. The new proposal unnecessarily removes this discretion. These proposals would cut across the division of responsibilities and separation of powers between police and prosecutors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is quite clear that these proposals would conflict with the role of the Lord Advocate in Scotland, who has been at the apex of the Scottish criminal justice system since at least the time of the first recorded holder of that office, Sir John Ross of Montgreenan, in 1483. Before this debate I had no idea that the office so ably held by my noble and learned friend Lord Wallace of Tankerness had such ancient roots.

The evidence that the Lord Advocate gave to the committee was on the existing Eurojust measure about which there is no dispute among us—it is a valuable measure—not the new proposal. That evidence is therefore not relevant: the new proposal might actually undermine the role of the Lord Advocate. It was following consultation with the Scottish Government that we

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came to our view. On consultation, we have consulted the devolved Administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland. They have told us that they understand our reasoning and they would not seek to demur from our proposed approach. The concern in relation to the Lord Advocate’s role follows consultation with the Scottish Government. Our clear view is that we should not opt in to the new Eurojust proposal at the start of negotiations because the risks it presents are unacceptably high for our criminal justice system arrangements.

I hope that I can also allay some of the concerns expressed in the European Union Committee’s report that we might “miss out” on these negotiations. Indeed, in introducing the debate, the noble Baroness, Lady Corston, made such remarks and they have been reinforced by the speeches of the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan and my noble friends Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, Lord Stoneham of Droxford and Lady Hamwee. All have talked in terms of our missing out or not being involved in the negotiations. I assure noble Lords that where we do not opt in at the start of negotiations we will nevertheless be actively involved. Not only will we be present in the negotiating room at all levels, we will be able to intervene as and when we wish. If we do not opt in to this measure now, we will nevertheless be at the negotiating table energetically representing our interests, and we will be able actively to consider opting in post-adoption based on the final text and the further views of Parliament. I hope that reassures noble Lords that this may be an opt-out or a non-opt-in to the revised proposal but it is not an opting-out of our responsibility to negotiate and make a success of Eurojust, which it has been for all participating countries in the past. I assure noble Lords that we will vigorously represent our views on both the Eurojust and EPPO measures.

Moreover, as your Lordships may be aware, Ireland has also said that it will not opt in to the Eurojust proposal at the start and, of course, Denmark cannot participate in post-Lisbon justice and home affairs measures, so we are not isolated or alone in our position. I reassure the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, regarding the other issues we are concerned about. The coalition agreement is clear that the Government will consider the impact of any of these measures on the UK criminal justice system when considering an opt-in to any measure. We have set out our concerns on that point very clearly and it is an area that we want improved.

I conclude by making clear our commitment to the current Eurojust arrangements—

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord and I am sure that I speak for a lot of noble Lords when I say that I am reassured by the energetic negotiations that will take place around the edge of the formal negotiations, and I hope that they are successful. However, the question we are left with is what happens if the final negotiations are not to our satisfaction. What happens to our membership of Eurojust in its present form? It is hard to believe that our fellow members will allow us to remain a member of Eurojust on the old terms and not accept the new terms which we will have no part—at least, no direct part—in negotiating.

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My noble friend and I have been involved in negotiations and I do not think that we ever went into them contemplating that approach to the issues. We went in there to achieve our objectives and that is exactly what the Government will be doing. We are not alone in taking this stance; we have the support of others. Eurojust has been an asset and we want to make sure that the new proposals complement the work that has already been achieved by it and do not get in its way.

I make no apology for not going into detail about our negotiating position but reinforce the fact that we are not in some sort of annexe. We are not down the corridor to be occasionally brought in to be involved in these negotiations. We are at the table negotiating on behalf of our interests and that is what our colleagues in Europe expect us to do. I do not share the view of my noble friend Lady Hamwee that we are not fully committed to negotiations. We are committed to negotiations. I have always believed that if you go into negotiations you do the best service to your colleagues and the issue under consideration by stating your position clearly and arguing for it. That is exactly what this Government will be doing.

I was in the middle of my peroration when my noble friend interrupted me. Our intention is to negotiate to protect the Eurojust arrangements, but our view currently is that as the new proposal stands it presents too high a risk to our criminal justice system to opt in

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at this stage. I hope, therefore, that noble Lords will understand why the Government cannot support the Motion.

Baroness Corston: My Lords, I thank those noble Lords who have contributed to this debate this evening. It was particularly gratifying to have the support of five members of Sub-Committee E and that of an illustrious past chair of Sub-Committee E, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, who was entirely right when he pointed out how important it is for the Government to be at the table at the outset of these negotiations. This report does not tie the Government’s hands. There would be no difficulty if the Motion was agreed to. The Minister listened to the debate and can take the views expressed and the report into account. The House usually supports the committees that it appoints to perform its scrutiny functions. This issue was very carefully considered by Sub-Committee E and was endorsed by the full EU Select Committee so ably chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, who I am pleased to say is in his place this evening.

However, I am mindful of the old adage that when you are in a hole you should stop digging, and since neither Front Bench supports the Motion and it is not going to be agreed to, I am willing to withdraw it.

Motion withdrawn.

House adjourned at 8.47 pm.