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.

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Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill Chair, Justice Committee 6:30 pm, 11th September 2018

I promise to keep my remarks short. Two important matters have been raised, and I take on board the force of the shadow Minister’s arguments in favour of the value of the European arrest warrant. My right hon. Friend the Security Minister will know that, in the last Parliament, the Justice Committee produced a report on the legal implications of Brexit, which included a strong case for retaining access to the European arrest warrant and its arrangements.

It is important that we stress the value of the European arrest warrant to our crime-fighting arrangements. It is particularly significant, of course, that the National Crime Agency, giving evidence to our Select Committee at the time of the report, stressed the value of the European arrest warrant. All the legal practitioners stressed its importance, and the Minister recognises that the European arrest warrant arrangements are infinitely superior to those that were available under the Extradition Act 1989.

It has sometimes erroneously been said by one or two Members of this House that the European arrest warrant can be used disproportionately, and my right hon. Friend the Minister will know that, since the reforms to the operation of the European arrest warrant back in 2013, that disproportionality has been removed and the UK is actually an overwhelming beneficiary of the proper use of the European arrest warrant.

The Prime Minister made it clear at the beginning of this negotiation process that it is her objective to achieve this, and I am sure my right hon. Friend the Minister will be able to say that whatever the mechanism, whether in the Bill or not, the Government are committed to maintaining access to the EAW and to the rest of the supporting mechanism of criminal justice arrangements, such as data sharing, information sharing and intelligence sharing, the European criminal records information system and other schemes. All those will necessarily be a crucial part of the Government’s negotiating strategy. Whether or not it is mentioned in the Bill is not the point—the Government are reaffirming their commitment.

Legal professional privilege is an important issue to be considered. Unless I am wrong, there are sometimes arrangements for counsel, such as in relation to some of the specialist tribunals dealing with these matters, to be specially cleared and vetted. Perhaps my right hon. Friend the Minister will take that away and consider whether further application of that scheme might offer a sensible and proportionate way forward.