1.The Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the French Republic on Cooperation in Matters relating to Maritime and Port Security, and specifically, in relation to Passenger Vessels in the Channel (the UK-France Maritime Security Agreement) was laid on 11 May 2022, and the scrutiny period is scheduled to end on 29 June 2022. It was considered by the Committee on 16 June 2022.
2.The Agreement aims to “enhance and maintain the security of vessels and the safety of their passengers and crew” in the English Channel by promoting co-operation between the Parties, allowing the deployment of protection teams on UK and French-flagged passenger vessels operating cross-Channel routes, and allowing joint interventions on any passenger vessel operating in the Channel. The scope of the Agreement is limited to operations on commercial vessels, and the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) published alongside the Agreement notes that “this Treaty does not apply to other UK Government maritime priorities (e.g. small boats activity)”.
3.The EM explains that it replaces a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which had “allowed for the uninterrupted deployment of armed French gendarmes maritimes onboard French-flagged cross-Channel passenger vessels”. The Agreement formalises this arrangement and builds on it, including by extending the same powers to UK Sea Marshals deployed on UK-flagged cross-Channel passenger vessels.
4.The EM does not identify any significant human rights implications, noting that armed marshals will be trained to each Party’s relevant domestic standards, and private contractors will not be permitted to carry arms.
5.The Agreement will enter into force on the first day of the second month after both Parties have confirmed that they have completed their respective internal procedures. The EM explains that no new legislation is required to bring the Agreement into force.
6.The Agreement establishes a monitoring group with representatives from both Parties and responsibility for implementation. Disputes are to be settled through consultation and negotiation. Temporary suspension of all or part of the Agreement is possible if necessary for national security reasons and the Agreement can be terminated by either Party by giving six months’ notice.
7.Amendments to the Agreement may be made in writing by mutual consent and will be subject to diplomatic notification confirming that each Party has completed their domestic internal procedures. This suggests that amendments would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny in accordance with the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, but the EM does not confirm what the position is.
8.We call on the Government to review its quality assurance processes to ensure that all EMs include information on whether amendments will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny under CRAG, in line with existing Government guidance.
9.The Agreement applies to the UK, and the territorial waters of the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey (the Channel Islands). The EM confirms that they were consulted and updated on the final treaty text. It also explains that the Channel Islands have agreed in principle to the arrangements set out in the agreement, which is subject to the exchange of a note verbale with France, and the UK and the Channel Islands agreeing a Memorandum of Understanding on the underpinning operational practicalities. We would welcome confirmation that these steps have been concluded in due course.
10.Although the Agreement relates to a reserved matter, the EM notes that the UK Government also engaged with the Devolved Administrations, providing updates on the progress of negotiations.
11.We report the UK-France Maritime Security Agreement to the House for information. In particular, we highlight our comments at paragraph 8.
1 Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the French Republic on Cooperation in Matters relating to Maritime and Port Security, and specifically, in relation to Passenger Vessels in the Channel, 26 July 2021: [accessed 20 June 2022]
2 Article 1
3 Article 2 of the Agreement defines “Passenger Vessel” as “a commercial boat or ship that carries more than 12 passengers, with or without accompanying vehicles”.
4 Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Explanatory memorandum: UK/France: Agreement on Cooperation in Matters relating to Maritime and Port Security, and specifically, in relation to Passenger Vessels in the Channel: [accessed 20 June 2022]
5 EM, para 3.2
6 EM, para 8.1
7 Article 8(1)
8 EM, para 5.1
9 Article 17
10 Article 18(3)
11 Article 18(4)
12 Article 18(2)
13 EM, para 4.4
14 EM, para 10.1
15 A type of diplomatic note that is unsigned.
16 EM, para 10.3
17 EM, para 10.1