Leaving the Eu: Security, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:38 pm on 18th January 2017.

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Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill Chair, Justice Committee, Chair, Justice Committee 2:38 pm, 18th January 2017

It is certainly clear from the available evidence that the Government will need to take that necessity on board. We will have adhere to European standards of data protection for other member states to be able to share the information with us, according to their law. We may also want to share information with other third-party countries, so both we and they will have to be prepared to adhere to international standards. As my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Grieve rightly said, that might involve some form of international adjudicative process to deal with disputes between member states. I am not going to tie anyone down on how best to solve that, but there are serious issues that we will have to bear in mind from day one of our negotiations.

Equally, when we talk about involvement with some of the other agencies—we referred to ECRIS, the European Criminal Records Information System, to Prüm and to a number of other valuable tools—we need to recognise that there is a financial cost to the development of the databases. I would certainly encourage the Government not to be afraid to continue to make a financial contribution to the development and maintenance of them. That would be a small price to pay in view of the advantage of protection for the British public. I think there is common ground on the objective of the European arrest warrant. I just wanted to raise some of the practical issues that we will have to grasp if we are to succeed in achieving our continued full access to it as a non-EU member state.

I want to refer to other matters of concern—co-operation between the courts, which involves our continued membership or association with Eurojust. There is a precedent for non-member states continuing to co-operate with Eurojust. Norway has a co-operation agreement and has liaison prosecutors based at Eurojust. If we leave the EU as it stands, we would have to move from being national college members, but we could have a Norwegian-style status. Perhaps we should be bold and try to argue that we should remain as national college members on some sort of basis if the constitution permits it. That would be preferable.