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.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Ludford Baroness Ludford Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 4:45 pm, 18th March 2019

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Paddick comprehensively covered a point I raised in Grand Committee. He is quite right to say that I fear the Minister did not answer my question, which was: do the EU 27 countries have to change domestic legislation in the same way as us as we shuffle between Parts 1 and 2 of the Extradition Act to operate Council of Europe Convention 57? Subject to what the DPP said, we know that they have the Council of Europe convention in their domestic legislation to operate with non-EU countries. We need to know whether that will be available to operate with us if we are no longer in the EAW.

Interestingly, I discovered that the noble Lord, Lord Jay of Ewelme, chairman of the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee—on which I do not have the pleasure of sitting; I am on the Justice Sub-Committee—wrote to the right honourable Nick Hurd MP, Minister of State for Policing, last week on 13 March. The committee had held an evidence session on 27 February. One point was in response to an official I remember working with when I was an MEP but is now, I think, in the Home Office. The letter states that,

“we remain concerned by the extent to which the effectiveness of, as Ms Ellis put it, the ‘plumbing’ put in place by the UK to move cooperation to non-EU mechanisms is ‘dependent on the position of other member states’. Whatever the extent of the UK’s preparations, it is not at all clear that our European partners would be ready to cooperate with us on the basis of the alternative mechanisms the Government intends to rely upon in a ‘no deal’ scenario”.

I have not had the opportunity to catch up on all the evidence, but that letter is in the public domain; it is published on the committee’s website.

Our distinguished colleagues on the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee are obviously well apprised of the issue, and the Minister’s colleague, the Policing Minister, will presumably have to reply within 10 days. We are interested in precisely the same point. It would cover issues such as extradition of own nationals and political exemptions as well as the basic plumbing, as it was put.

The letter of the noble Lord, Lord Jay, also said:

“We would also be grateful for further information on the UK’s current operation of the Council of Europe Convention on Extradition—which witnesses indicated would be the ‘fallback’ mechanism for future cooperation on extradition with EU countries—with countries such as Norway”.

To inform our knowledge of how this alternative plumbing mechanism would work, how is it working at the moment with Norway?

That is about extradition, but I would like to ask about human rights law. When I raised the issue of human rights in Grand Committee, the Minister said:

“As the White Paper and the political declaration make clear, the UK is committed to membership of the ECHR, and we will remain party to it after we have left the EU”.—[Official Report, 12/3/19; col. GC 196.]

Given my background in these issues and my 15 years in the European Parliament, I consider this very important. The human rights context in the UK will be very pertinent to the extent of closeness in security co-operation that we will be able to have if we are outside the EU. Unfortunately, the political declaration does not quite back up the Minister’s assertion. To the mystery of some of us—this came up in an EU Justice Sub-Committee evidence session last week in our current inquiry about human rights after Brexit—the draft political declaration says:

“The future relationship should incorporate the United Kingdom’s continued commitment to respect the framework of the European Convention on Human Rights”.

That had changed from the draft summary of a fortnight previously last November. We are all quite mystified as to why that change was made, but it could not have been an accident that it changed from the UK being committed to the European Convention on Human Rights to respecting the framework of the convention, which is a diluted commitment. We have had correspondence with the Government on this and they just say, “It means the same thing as a commitment to stay in the ECHR”—in which case, why was the wording changed? Perhaps the Minister can enlighten us.

I have two other questions. Apparently, we propose to keep data that we have acquired under these EU measures and the Government give assertions about how it will all be protected under the Data Protection Act 2018. Are the EU and our EU partners content that we should retain this data when we leave the EU? Do we have ownership that can continue without challenge? Has there been any consultation over the legality of retaining data that we have been able to access while we have been a member state? Perhaps we could get an assurance on that.

Lastly, no costs are monetised in the impact assessment. Assertions are made, particularly on extradition: every extradition will be more costly than it is now under the European arrest warrant. Everybody knows and accepts that. The Government say, “But we will not monetise it”. I keep hearing the argument that because these SIs do not deal with the policy of no deal in general, the Government will not tell us what the precise impact of each SI would be. So you get these series of SIs, but the goalposts are being moved all the time because the Government keep saying, “No, we don’t have to give you details of the impact of this one because it’s all wrapped up globally”. Where will we find out what the extra costs of extradition are? I am afraid that is a bit of wheeze and we are owed some calculations and estimates of the extra costs for all the justice agencies, including the Ministry of Justice, which will have to get involved. It does not at the moment because it can leave it all to the operational people—the judges, the DPP and so on. Some work must have been done, so we should be privileged with some information.