Continued participation in the European Arrest Warrant

Part of Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 11th September 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Labour/Co-operative, Cardiff South and Penarth 6:30 pm, 11th September 2018

I do not want to detain the House for long, but having served as a member of the Bill Committee I wanted to put on the record some of my concerns about the new clauses and amendments in this group.

I wholeheartedly support new clause 1, tabled in the name of my hon. Friend Nick Thomas-Symonds. I cannot see any reason why the Government would want to reject it given that the Chequers agreement and the White Paper—I have read both carefully—point out the 40 different areas of justice and policing co-operation that are so essential to our security and our counter-terror efforts across European borders. The White Paper suggests that some of that co-operation could even be strengthened and deepened, so I cannot see any reason why setting out on the face of the Bill the importance of seeking participation in the European arrest warrant, one of the most crucial of those 40 instruments, would be a problem.

Given the transnational nature of some of the terror plots and serious organised crime that we have seen not only in my constituency, but in some tragic events over the past year at a UK level, I cannot see why we would want to diminish our security co-operation through, for example, Europol and Eurojust. As we approach the Brexit deadline that was set when the Government triggered article 50, we are potentially leaving a great deal of uncertainty around such issues. We do not want criminal or counter-terror investigations that are ongoing at the end of March next year to be jeopardised by the failure to secure participation in the European arrest warrant going forward.

As for my hon. Friend’s amendment 26, the Minister is aware of my concerns because we have discussed them both in person and in Committee. I fully support appropriate strengthening mechanisms to ensure that individuals can be detained at border points and that the police and security services have the appropriate powers to interdict those who might be trying to commit terror acts, serious organised crime or, indeed, espionage or other serious matters. However, it is important that that is balanced against ensuring that such powers are used carefully and effectively. Where problems exist, there should be appropriate appeal and oversight mechanisms to ensure that citizens feel that such matters are being used appropriately and securely and that individuals who are wrongly interdicted have appropriate restitution, which is important for confidence in the system as a whole.

My last point is an important one for the Bill as a whole. This part of the Bill includes many new powers and schedules, and there is cross-party agreement that our security services and the police need them to keep this country and other countries safe and to prevent us from experiencing terror attacks or the consequences of serious organised crime, but they can be applied only with appropriate resourcing.

We have seen what the Metropolitan Police Commissioner has had to say today about the 2% pay rise for police being a “punch on the nose.” We have seen the National Audit Office’s reports on the concerns about cuts in policing, and we on the Home Affairs Committee have been conducting an inquiry into police funding. The frontline policing community policing and specialist counter-terrorism policing that will be required to apply the provisions of the Bill, on which there is cross-party agreement, cannot happen out of thin air or by magic; it only happens if it is properly resourced.

I urge the Minister to make a strong case in the Home Office in the coming months that the police need more resources. We cannot continue cutting in this area, otherwise we put our national security at risk.