Amendment to the Motion

Part of Law Enforcement and Security (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Motion to Approve – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 18th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord Marlesford Lord Marlesford Conservative 4:45 pm, 18th March 2019

My Lords, I too was unable to attend the debate on this instrument in Grand Committee but it seems that this is an opportunity to make some general remarks about its purposes. Frankly, I can think of no area of importance where our impending departure from the European Union needs to be less of an obstruction to our national security than the exchange of intelligence, as regards both policy and administration. These are all matters of mutual interest, not only between the United Kingdom and other members of the European Union but between the United Kingdom and other nations of the world. I therefore believe that what is needed is some sort of White Paper from Britain to take advantage of our departure from the EU to set out fresh targets of practical achievement—better security, better exchange of intelligence and better safeguarding of rights. However, we have seen many recent examples of where the present system simply does not work; the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, gave some but there are others. I suggest in particular something I have been pursuing for many years in this House: the need for the United Kingdom passport agency to be aware of other passports held by British passport holders.

This is self-evident to most people, but the Government, or rather the Home Office, have objected again and again to implementing it. Current regulations require that if you apply for a British passport, you must declare what other passports you hold. Not only is that information not retained—I have been told that by Home Office officials—but it is certainly not available, as it should be, to those charged with administering the security of our borders.

What should happen, of course, is that the electronic screening of the passport of anyone who passes through border control, into or out of the United Kingdom, should reveal what other passports they hold. In most cases, that would mean no further action, but there could be cases where it would be crucial to improving our national security. There has been a lacuna in creative thinking on this whole subject by the British Government, and the opportunity for us now to get a grip on it is provided by our impending departure from the EU.