Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 12th November 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development) 7:15 pm, 12th November 2018

My Lords, I thank all three noble Lords for their points on the European arrest warrant and our future law enforcement, internal security and criminal justice relationship with the European Union following our exit from it. The Prime Minister has repeatedly made clear that the UK is unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe’s security now and after our withdrawal from the EU. We are proposing a comprehensive security relationship which preserves that mutually important operational capability that enables UK and EU operational partners to work together to combat fast-evolving security threats, including in respect of terrorism and hostile state activity.

In July, the Government published a White Paper on our future relationship with the EU. It sets out how we are seeking a relationship that provides for mechanisms for rapid and secure data exchange, practical measures to support cross-border operational co-operation, and continued UK co-operation with EU law enforcement and criminal justice agencies. We continue to value our co-operation and information sharing on issues such as extradition, and believe that a pragmatic solution is in the interests of EU member states and the UK. Our primary objective is to keep our citizens safe.

While I welcome this opportunity to reiterate the Government’s commitment to maintaining a strong security partnership with the EU after exit, the nature of the future relationship is a matter for negotiations. As such, it would not be appropriate or necessary to include in primary legislation any measure that pre-emptively binds the Government’s hands by setting our negotiating objectives. That point was accepted when this matter was voted on in the House of Commons in September, and was accepted by both Houses when the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was enacted.

We are clear that we want a security partnership that maintains co-operation in these areas but negotiating objectives are just that, and not a matter for this or any other Bill. Parliament will agree the final form of the withdrawal agreement when legislation to give effect to it is brought forward in due course. Therefore, at this stage, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.