European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Lord Paddick Excerpts
Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee stage & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords
Wednesday 15th January 2020

(4 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 16-III Third marshalled list for Committee - (15 Jan 2020)
Moved by
33: After Clause 37, insert the following new Clause—
“Implementation period negotiating objectives: security partnership
(1) It is an objective of Her Majesty’s Government within the framework of the future relationship of the United Kingdom and the EU to secure agreements that achieve equivalent outcomes to—(a) continued UK participation in the European Arrest Warrant;(b) continued UK membership of Europol and Eurojust; and(c) continued direct access for UK agencies to the following EU data-sharing mechanisms—(i) the Second Generation Schengen Information System (SIS II);(ii) the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS); (iii) the Prüm Decisions;(iv) Passenger Name Record (PNR); and(v) the Europol Information System (EIS).(2) A Minister of the Crown must lay before each House of Parliament a progress report on each of the outcomes listed in subsection (1)(a) to (c) within 4 months of this Act being passed, and subsequently at intervals of no more than 2 months.”Member’s explanatory statement
This new Clause would require the Government to seek a comprehensive security partnership as part of its negotiations for the future relationship with the EU.
Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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My Lords, Amendment 33 is in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Ludford.

At Second Reading, I alluded to the amendment as a means of mandating the Government to deliver on their promise that the UK would be as safe and secure outside the EU as it has been within the EU by specifying what the Government should seek in a comprehensive security partnership with the EU.

Various EU measures and mechanisms that are currently available to us as an EU member state are valuable to UK law enforcement. At a briefing given to the APPG on policing in 2017, the National Crime Agency lead on Brexit outlined what these were, what the alternatives might be and the impact on the UK’s safety and security were they no longer available. They were the Schengen Information System II, sharing information about terrorist suspects, those wanted under the European arrest warrant, stolen vehicles and similar information; the European arrest warrant, allowing rapid extradition without political involvement; Europol, pan-European strategy development to counter serious and organised crime; ECRIS, sharing information about criminal convictions handed down by any court in the EU; Prüm, rapid electronic comparison of DNA, fingerprints and vehicle registrations held on the databases of each EU state; cross-border surveillance, allowing surveillance of UK suspects in the EU and vice versa; and joint investigation teams under Eurojust, prosecuting pan-European crime.

He concluded that there were “workarounds”, but that these would be less efficient and effective than the existing EU mechanisms. For example, if Interpol were used instead of Prüm to try to match DNA found at a UK crime scene with DNA profiles of criminals held on EU member states’ databases, it would take months—and in some cases no response would be received at all—compared with seconds up to 24 hours using Prüm. He anticipated that extradition agreements would need to be negotiated separately with each of the remaining 27 EU states and that these would require political involvement, as opposed to the European arrest warrant where the decision is made by a judge. He concluded that the UK would be less safe and less secure if, rather than relying on existing EU mechanisms, it had to work on the basis of non-EU workarounds.

It was therefore reasonable to conclude that if these EU mechanisms were no longer available to the UK when we left the EU, alternative mechanisms would need to be put in place that delivered the same outcomes as efficiently and effectively as the existing EU mechanisms. Otherwise, the Government would have failed to deliver on their promise that the UK would be as safe and secure outside the EU as it had been inside. The amendment would require a Minister of the Crown to update Parliament on progress in achieving these outcomes within four months, and regularly thereafter.

Why do we consider this so important? First, as Andrew Marr put it on Sunday to the Security Minister, the right honourable Brandon Lewis MP, the European arrest warrant and Europol, for example, rely on the European Court of Justice to resolve disputes between participants, and it is a red line for the Government that the ECJ should play no part in UK affairs after Brexit. The Security Minister replied that Europol has United States of America involvement, and clearly the US is not a member of the EU. What he was actually referring to was an agreement between Europol and the United States to share information within strict limitations—an agreement that can be terminated by either side at three months’ notice—not active involvement as an equal partner in Europol, deciding on the nature and scope of Europol’s activities, and nothing to do with the ECJ. Neither the USA nor any other third-party country has a say in Europol’s operations.

The Security Minister did not comment on the European arrest warrant, which more clearly and obviously requires the ECJ to adjudicate between participating states where a warrant is issued but another state refuses to extradite. The Security Minister did not comment on the EAW, probably because he knows that we are very unlikely to continue to be part of the European arrest warrant after Brexit. For example, Germany changed its constitution to allow the extradition of its own nationals under the European arrest warrant, but limited extradition to other EU member states. As I mentioned at Second Reading, Iceland and Norway applied to participate in a limited variation of the European arrest warrant in 2001, but that has yet to take effect, and they are both within the European Economic Area and the Schengen area.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank noble Lords for their comments. I support them in drawing my and the Government’s attention to the various elements of co-operation that are so crucial in keeping our citizens safe.

It has never been in doubt that it is in everyone’s interest to maintain that strong relationship with the EU in this area. The political declaration provides the framework for the strong relationship, including co-operation on the specific capabilities that the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, has set out in his amendment. However, the precise details that noble Lords seek will be a matter for the next phase of negotiations that will be carried out, I hope with flexibility, in this and other areas. A statutory requirement to negotiate—a matter discussed quite vocally in this Chamber today—is neither necessary nor appropriate.

On the role of Parliament, I refer noble Lords to the strong commitment given by the Prime Minister that Parliament will be kept fully informed of the progress of the negotiations and will have the opportunity to scrutinise any legislation required to enact the future relationship. Therefore, a reporting requirement is not needed.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, made a point about Norway and Iceland and their extradition agreement with the EU. Apparently, it is now in force as of 1 November last year.

I am sorry that I cannot fill in any detail but no detail is yet forthcoming. However, I hope the noble Lord will feel happy to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Warner, for his support and his perspective, from his experience in the Home Office, on how important this issue is. He made an important point about the Government acknowledging the weakness already of the UK criminal justice system without losing these EU mechanisms. I am also grateful for the support of the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe.

It is all very well for the Minister to keep putting matters off by saying, “This is going to be negotiated and I can’t say what the details of the negotiations will be.” Time is running out. That excuse will not be available in less than 12 months’ time and we are concerned that our law enforcement agencies will be handicapped as a consequence of losing some, if not all, of these EU mechanisms, as the National Crime Agency lead for Brexit told us in a briefing a few years ago.

I am grateful for the correction on the modified European arrest warrant arrangements with Norway and Iceland, which apparently came into effect on 1 November last year. That means that they took 18 years to come into effect. If that is the kind of timescale we are looking at to get a similar agreement between us, as a third-party country, and the EU, we are in serious trouble. However, at this stage I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 33 withdrawn.