Clause 2 — Addition to list of treaties

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 10:00 pm on 29th January 2008.

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Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Minister of State (Europe) 10:00 pm, 29th January 2008

I am delighted to respond to the various points that have been made in Committee and delighted that you, Sir Alan, are overseeing our proceedings.

Before dealing with the wider points that the lead amendment makes, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend Ms Stuart, and not only for her participation in all the debates this evening and previously. I want to put it on record for the first time that, as of today, she is the proud owner of the German Order of Merit. She is not easily embarrassed, but I see that she is now.

With the Committee's indulgence, I intend to allow time for Mr. Francois to respond to my comments. Let me deal with the lead amendment. Justice and home affairs in general and police and judicial co-operation on criminal matters in particular are subjects of great sensitivity. The UK has therefore negotiated a comprehensive opt-out arrangement, under which we have a choice, as the UK Government. First, we can choose whether to opt into new justice and home affairs proposals. Secondly, we can choose whether to accept European Court of Justice jurisdiction over existing third pillar measures at the end of the transitional period.

The UK has always acknowledged the important role that the ECJ plays in the European institutional context. It has always been recognised that there is no point in reaching agreements that do not stick in practice. That is why the ECJ has been so important in developing, for example, the legal infrastructure that governs the internal market.

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