Brexit: Proposed UK–EU Security Treaty (European Union Committee Report) - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:07 pm on 16th January 2019.

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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) 8:07 pm, 16th January 2019

Will the noble Lord indulge me, as I am really running out of time? I have not said half of what I wanted to say. If the House will allow me to have a few additional minutes, I will write to noble Lords on any outstanding points.

The Government’s White Paper outlined that our future security relationship should be underpinned by appropriate safeguards, including respect for human rights—which the noble Lords, Lord Anderson and Lord Kennedy, and the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, spoke about—comprehensive data protection arrangements and robust, appropriate governance arrangements. The UK is committed to membership of the European Convention on Human Rights and we believe that an agreement should include a mutual commitment to individuals’ rights. We are clear that we will remain party to the ECHR after leaving the EU. In line with this, the text of the political declaration recognises that appropriate reciprocal safeguards must be put in place to ensure that individual rights are protected and disputes can be effectively resolved. It is also clear that our future relationship must include an appropriate balance of rights and obligations; safeguards must be appropriate to the level of co-operation taking place.

I will now turn to some specific points raised; I will go over time. The noble Lord, Lord Jay, the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, and others talked about there being no reference to SIS II or ECRIS in the political declaration. The noble Lord, Lord Bach, who talked about policing, raised concerns that the UK would be less safe without them. Under the terms of the withdrawal agreement, we will continue to use EU tools and data platforms, including SIS II and ECRIS, for the duration of the transition period. The political declaration text reflects that the UK and the EU have agreed to continue to exchange information on wanted or missing persons and objects and on criminal records, and that our future relationship should include capabilities which allow for that.

A number of noble Lords voiced their concerns about the European arrest warrant, and whether we will still be able to use it. Basically, the UK and the EU have agreed to establish arrangements enabling the UK and member states to surrender suspected and convicted persons efficiently and expeditiously. The political declaration also provides the basis for agreeing surrender arrangements, including streamlined procedures and time limits maximising the effectiveness of such arrangements. Both the UK and the EU recognise the importance of continued, close and effective operational co-operation on extradition. The legal vehicle through which co-operation in this and other areas will be delivered will be for the next phase of negotiations. I hope that answers the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, and the noble Lords, Lord Anderson, Lord Kennedy and Lord Jay.

The noble Lords, Lord Jay and Lord Kennedy, talked about security co-operation in Ireland and Northern Ireland and its historical importance. I totally agree with them on the importance of that. The comprehensive security partnership we are seeking with the EU will include the Republic of Ireland, ensuring that this important co-operation can continue.

The noble Lord, Lord Jay, and the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Newnham, talked about the role of the CJEU after exit. The UK has said that, while it will be outside the direct jurisdiction of the CJEU, it is prepared to make commitments with respect to the CJEU as set out in the White Paper. This is reflected in the political declaration, in which we have made clear that the closer and deeper the partnership, the stronger the accompanying obligations.

The noble Lords, Lord Ricketts, Lord Soley, Lord Browne of Ladyton and Lord Bach, and the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Newnham, talked about contingency planning. We are working intensively with operational partners to ensure we are ready and well placed to make best use of the alternative channels with EU member states. We are not complacent and will continue to work closely with them as we put those plans into action.

I am sorry to go back to the European arrest warrant, but the noble Lord, Lord Jay, asked about live cases. The requests we have made will be a matter for EU member states. The Home Office and our operational partners are engaging with our counterparts in EU member states to find out how they intend to handle live cases at the point we leave. Our overall objective in this area, shared by our counterparts in Europe, is to minimise disruption to operational work. The legislation is quite clear on incoming requests. Under the Extradition Act, if we make an arrest on an EAW the court proceedings have to continue under that part of the Extradition Act. In these cases as well, our overall aim will be to ensure that cases are handled without disruption.

I have run out of time. There are a number of questions that I have yet to address. This has been an excellent debate. I hope the other place has listened to the civilised way we have conducted ourselves. I will write to noble Lords fully on the questions I have not yet answered. I thank noble Lords for taking part in the debate.