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Business of the House (Today)

Volume 587: debated on Monday 10 November 2014

I beg to move,

That, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 16 (Proceedings under an Act or on European Union documents), debate on the Motion in the name of Secretary Theresa May relating to Criminal Law may continue until 10.00pm, at which time the Speaker shall put the Question, if it has not already been decided.

Having listened carefully to the strictures in your initial statement, Mr Speaker, I will keep my remarks brief to leave time for the full debate and the latitude that, as you expressed, would be permissible. The points that have been raised on the European arrest warrant will be addressed by the Home Secretary in her speech. I also want to explain to the House why I will not be able to support the Home Secretary in the main debate today. In my capacity as Lord Chancellor I have to speak at the lord mayor’s banquet tonight, and will not be able to take part in that debate—[Interruption.]

Order. The lord mayor’s banquet will have the joyous benefit of hearing the Secretary of State, which is right and proper. For the time being, however, the House should have the joyous benefit of hearing from the right hon. Gentleman. It was in some danger of not having that opportunity because of excessive kerfuffle. Let us hear from the right hon. Gentleman.

The Government have brought forward this debate so that the House can consider legislation to ensure that domestic law is compliant with a package of 35 measures that the Government seek to rejoin. The motion is to facilitate parliamentary scrutiny by extending today’s debate beyond that of a normal statutory instrument. I want to be clear that the debate and vote will be taken as a vote on the whole package of 35 measures as a whole, and I urge the House to support this business motion.

What a shambles! What complete chaos! The Justice Secretary is scuttling away and will not even stay for the debate this evening. My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Mr Winnick) suggested we suspend the sitting to allow the House to come back with a more sensible business motion. We will happily suspend the House. It would allow the Justice Secretary to go for his dinner and come back again, and we could then vote later on a more sensible measure.

The Justice Secretary stood there and I heard him say that this was a vote on the whole package of 35 measures. That is in direct contradiction to your ruling and your advice to this House, Mr Speaker. We were told that the business motion today would give us a proper debate. The Whips are scuttling away to try to do some quick dealing to sort out the mess and chaos that the Home Secretary has left the House in today. This was supposed to be a proper debate on the European arrest warrant—the motion will allow no such thing.

The Home Secretary told me, in a letter I received this weekend, that

“Monday’s vote is a vote on the entire package of 35 measures …and in this case a whole day is being made available for the debate rather than the usual 90 minutes.”

The whole reason for this business motion, and the whole reason we have the suspension of Standing Orders and the extra time for the debate, is because the Home Secretary told us that this would be a debate on 35 measures, including the European arrest warrant. That is what this business motion is supposed to achieve, but it is a joke. Instead, we have a vote on 11 regulations—regulations we support and will vote for—that do not include the European arrest warrant. This is what the motion states:

“That the draft Criminal Justice and Data Protection (Protocol No. 36) Regulations 2014…be approved.”

What do the draft regulations say? Not the 35 measures the Government want to opt back into; just 11 good sensible measures, none of which is the European arrest warrant. We have today a business motion on a false premise. This is what the Committee Chairs have said:

“The motion to be considered by the House of Commons concerns a Statutory Instrument…which is only intended to complete the implementation, in UK law, of 10 of the 35 measures the Government proposes to rejoin. It has no direct relevance to the European Arrest Warrant, the most contentious of the 35 measures, or to UK participation in EU Agencies such as Europol or Eurojust.”

That is what they said at the end of last week. That is why I wrote to the Home Secretary at the end of last week to ask her to clarify the matter for the House. That is why she then wrote to me and said that this included the whole package of 35 measures.

The Prime Minister promised us a vote, and that is what the business motion should achieve. The Leader of the Opposition asked him:

“A vital tool…is the European arrest warrant. Why is the Prime Minister delaying having a vote on it?”

The Prime Minister said:

“I am not delaying having a vote on it. There will be a vote on it.”

The Leader of the Opposition offered our help. He said:

“We will give him the time for a vote on the European arrest warrant, and we will help him to get it through.”

The Prime Minister said again,

“we are going to have a vote, we are going to have it before the Rochester by-election”.——[Official Report, 29 October 2014; Vol. 587, c. 301.]

So where is it? Instead, the Home Secretary forgot to put it in the motion.

Why does the Home Secretary want to play into the hands of those who might challenge the European arrest warrant in the courts by not having a straightforward vote? Why not just put the three words “European arrest warrant” on the Order Paper and allow us a vote? Yes, some Back Benchers would vote against it, but Labour would vote for it and support the Home Secretary because we think it is the right thing to do. Why not let Parliament have the vote it was promised?

We have just had three quarters of an hour of the Chancellor trying his smoke and mirrors trick, but the Home Secretary has gone one step further with a disappearing magic trick! One minute the European arrest warrant is there, the next minute it is gone. One minute you see it, the next it disappears. It’s her Paul Daniels act! Unfortunately, she has sent the Justice Secretary to be her glamorous assistant Debbie McGee and to come and present it to the House! She thinks they’ll like it—not a lot, but she thinks they’ll like it! [Laughter.] The business motion is a complete joke. She should withdraw it and come back with more sensible proposals.

We will vote for the regulations, but we will vote against this business motion, because it is a joke, a complete nonsense. It does not provide Parliament with the vote we need on the European arrest warrant, but is simply because the Government are scared of a rebellion. They want to say one thing to one group of people and another thing to another group. They are not being straight with the House. The Home Secretary knows she is playing fast and loose with very serious measures on tackling crime and national security. It is irresponsible, and it is playing fast and loose with Parliament as well. I urge her and the Justice Secretary to rethink, ditch this business motion, come back with something more sensible and let us vote on the measures this country needs.

This is a disgraceful way of going about a very important matter. It is tainted with chicanery. It is not the way that Parliament should be treated. Right from the very beginning of this issue, the European Scrutiny Committee, the Home Affairs Committee and the Justice Committee have complained about the lack of transparency and consultation and the manner in which the Home Secretary has been treating the House. It is completely unbelievable that she should come to the House and, presumably, try to argue—as we shall discover in due course—that this is about the EAW when it clearly is not.

If the motion were a Bill, it would be dealt with in separate clauses and parts, all of which could be amended, but this motion is unamendable. That has not yet been properly considered. This is being done to avoid a real decision being taken today, as was promised to us by the Prime Minister only a few weeks ago, and by the Home Secretary in the article in The Sunday Telegraph and in the letter that the shadow Home Secretary referred to. This is a travesty of our parliamentary proceedings, and that is a reason in itself to vote against the business motion, as I shall be doing. I could give many other reasons for doing so, but it is fundamentally about a lack of transparency and honesty in going about issues we need to deal with.

I am sorry that the Home Secretary is shaking her head, because she knows perfectly well that this is a trick and an attempt to get round the reality of what is facing us: this is not just about law and order, but about the European Court of Justice and the opportunities being created to bypass this House and our own courts. It is a disgrace.

It is a pleasure to follow the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee. I co-signed a letter with him and the Chair of the Justice Select Committee over the weekend to express our concern about how this legislation is being put through the House.

Mr Speaker, you were clear that this was not a vote on the EAW, but the Lord Chancellor, when he moved the business motion, told the House that we were voting on the full package of 35 measures, so that voting for the motion would allow the Government to inform the European Commission that we had opted back into the 35 measures. Mr Speaker, I prefer to accept your ruling that this is about the 10 regulations, not the EAW. The Select Committee was clear that the House should have the opportunity to vote on the EAW separately, because we felt that it was controversial and had huge implications for the British people. The position of the European Scrutiny Committee is that we should vote on each of the 35 measures. I am not against that idea; I just do not think we can do that tonight. We will need additional time to do so.

I share all the concerns of the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash). This is a shambolic attempt to get a vote on an issue of fundamental importance to the British people. I hope the motion will be withdrawn to give us an opportunity to vote on these measures.

From time to time during my career here, the procedures of the House have stood in the way of its intention. Often on these occasions, the matters have been resolved on the basis of, I suppose, allowing a more mature consideration, and with the Treasury Bench seeking the opportunity to take with it all the disparate opinions within the House, making it clear that nothing is being done that thwarts the will of the House to discuss a matter of such significance as the one under consideration today. Would it not therefore be appropriate for the Treasury Bench to take the opportunity of having more mature consideration and to withdraw this motion, proposing instead one that would meet the aspirations of those who either support or oppose—

Order. I am trying to listen intently to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I hope I have not misunderstood him, but he certainly is able to give way if he wishes to do so, although he is not obliged to do so.

I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He can have his way: all he needs to do is to encourage his fellow Liberal Members to vote against the business motion. If it is defeated, the Government will have to go away, think again and present something sensible so that we can all debate what we want to debate. He should get the Liberals to vote against the business motion.

If the right hon. and learned Gentleman will forgive me, I will take the point of order from the Secretary of State for Justice.

It might help the House to know that, as I explained in my remarks, tonight’s motion extends the normal 90-minute debate to one that lasts all evening. Should it be defeated, there would simply be a 90-minute debate.

That, Mr Speaker, is also my understanding. It is equally my understanding that there is considerable unrest in the House about this matter. Surely in those circumstances, the best thing for the Government to do is to go away and think about how best to allow us to express our view on these matters. Otherwise, we will have a bad-tempered, fractious and inconclusive debate. How can that possibly be in the interests either of the House or indeed of the public?

The right hon. and learned Member for North East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) spoke very wisely. He is absolutely right to say that the way we do our business in this House is just as important as the business we transact. That is why we have rules that govern our proceedings. For centuries we have believed in this country that we govern by consent, not by arbitrary decisions made solely by the Government. We govern by consent, not by proxy motions that are reinterpreted by the Government. That is why it is important that the way we do our business, especially on a matter that affects the imprisonment and extradition of British nationals and nationals of other countries coming back to this country—a matter of essential importance to people’s personal liberty—should be debated properly, openly and transparently on a proper motion that, as the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) said, should be amendable. The motion should not be advanced to the House by proxy or by some subsidiary means; it must be open and clear.

The Home Secretary and the Prime Minister stated quite categorically in this Chamber, and elsewhere in letters, that they would ensure that there was a proper vote on the matter of the European arrest warrant. Mr Speaker, you have said today that this will not be a vote on the European arrest warrant, yet the Justice Secretary, who should know better, has told us that he will reinterpret the message as meaning that this is a vote on the European arrest warrant. I simply say to the Government that for the sake of legal certainty—so that lawyers will not be paid vast quantities of money to debate in extradition courts whether the law has changed and whether it applies—it is essential that they withdraw the motion, and that they should have tabled a proper motion in the first place.

It is no good the Government coming here and saying, “The House may pass one thing, but we will interpret it to mean exactly the opposite.” The House agreed unanimously that the rules should be changed in relation to Magnitsky, and that anyone who had been involved in his murder or in the corruption that he had unveiled would not be allowed in this country. The Government agreed to that at the time, and have done nothing subsequently. The Government let the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill go through, and have done nothing since. We cannot have a Government who conclude, arbitrarily, “The House has decided one thing, but we choose to believe that it means exactly the opposite.”

Many of us thought that we would have an opportunity today to debate the very weighty question of whether this country should opt back into 35 important measures relating to criminal justice, and put it under European Court of Justice and European Union control. We looked forward to a debate and a vote on that high principle, which includes the important and contentious European arrest warrant, but also a number of other measures that constitute the building blocks for a system in which our criminal justice would be conducted primarily under the central control of the European Union rather than that of the United Kingdom.

We welcome the Government’s wish to engage and to allow us a reasonable length of time in which to debate those matters, followed by a concluding vote at 10 pm, but you, Mr Speaker, have told us, very wisely and helpfully, that that is not what the business motion says, and, through you, I urge Ministers to consider amending it. As I understand the position, you would probably be sympathetic if they wished to do so. We could debate their regulations for 90 minutes, and during the remaining time, until 10 pm, we could debate the much wider issues of substance. We could discuss whether we wish to opt into all those measures and what we think of the European arrest warrant. Some believe it to be the biggest of all the measures, which is in itself debatable. I think that justice would then be seen to be done by the wider public.

I hope, Mr Speaker, that I am not taking liberties by suggesting to Ministers, through you, that a simple amendment to the business motion might provide a way out of this dilemma, and enable the House properly to consider the wider constitutional issues.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said. Let me simply say, for the convenience and awareness of the House, that the Home Secretary will wind up the debate on the business motion in order to clarify the Government’s position. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman regards that as helpful. In the spirit of fairness and propriety, the Opposition Front Bench will also have a wind-up speaker, who I believe will be the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson).

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am very grateful to you for the suggestion that you have just made. Would it not be even more convenient to the House if the Home Secretary did that now? We could then curtail this debate, and get on with it.

That is very cheeky indeed. Other Members might wish to speak in the debate. It is not only Front Benchers who have a right to speak. Other Members might wish to express themselves as well. I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman was, as always, trying to be helpful, but let us hear from a couple of other Members.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am one of those who were waiting to speak, but I would happily forgo my place in the queue if the Home Secretary could be allowed to tell the House in a little more detail whether we are voting on the European arrest warrant or not.

That is very generous of the hon. Gentleman, and I think that it will be taken by the House in that spirit, but Members must have their head. If they wish to demonstrate generosity similar to that of the hon. Gentleman, they can, and if they do not, they will not.

There are many differences over the European arrest warrant, as there are bound to be. They are legitimate differences, and it is important for us to debate the subject and vote accordingly. I believe that there is a unanimous view that there should be a debate on the actual issue of the European arrest warrant. When I received the Whip, like other Members, I was utterly surprised by Monday’s business, in which there was not one mention of a debate on the European arrest warrant. Ministers clearly consider that they were clever, and that they would contain and minimise a vote against what is being proposed. I can understand that, and it is not unique to this Government, but what is unfortunate, and what is a form of deception, is to bring a motion before the House for debate which is basically about the European arrest warrant but to avoid those three words.

I put it to you, Mr Speaker, that if we are confused and if we do not like it, what about people outside? There are people who pay close attention to what we are doing, who are interested in the work of Parliament, and who believed that today we were going to debate the European arrest warrant; and they will see the exchanges that have occurred, and which have lasted over an hour, about whether or not the actual issue was to be debated today in the House of Commons. I therefore put it to you, Mr Speaker, that the way to resolve this issue is for the Treasury Bench to make it clear that there should be a debate today on an appropriate manuscript motion on the issue of the European arrest warrant.

Let us decide one way or the other whether we are in favour of it, instead of all this muddying the water—this desire to deceive, this desire to give the opposite impression —so that at the end of the day when the vote occurs the Government can say that there has been hardly any opposition from their own side. That is not the way to proceed. It is a way that only brings the reputation of this House into disrepute, which is all the more reason why we should proceed in a different way from that which the Government have suggested.

If I remember correctly, Maine’s “Ancient law” makes the observation that justice lies in the interstices of procedure. That rubric has survived through our history since it was set and there is a truth in it. Today we are confronted with a motion that is incomprehensible, and with an understanding that seems sly and that is actually a means of trying to incline the public to believe other than what is so.

At the heart of this is a misconception about what this House represents. We must be straight with ourselves if we continue to allow the Executive to control—so completely and absolutely now—the Standing Orders of this House. This can be no joy for Labour, because Labour also started a Modernisation Committee that was determined to take over the Standing Orders. My overlong time in this House of Commons has led me to understand that the growth of Executive arrogance is unsupportable. We say that we are disconnected from the public outside and the issues outside, and that is because we are meaningless when we are confronted in the House with no motion and no real ability to discuss the very issue that moves many people in this country. What is the purpose of this House if the Administration —and a Conservative Administration at that, whose members had to suffer all the years of a huge new Labour majority—have not learned something, namely that there has to be tolerance in this House and there has to be an ability to debate in this House?

This is what so angers one. This is what brings this Chamber into disrepute. We are not able to discuss the substance of what we stand for here, and that is wrong. I therefore think we should be talking out this motion until the end of time, until the Government come back with a proper motion before this House.

In my 31 years in this Chamber I have never seen the nonsense we have got this afternoon ever happen under any Government. If it is without precedent, Mr Speaker, could we perhaps retire for half an hour or so, so the Government can put down a motion that is intelligible and that they could understand as well, so we can make a decision in a meaningful and proper way?

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is quite clear that the Government Whips and those on the Treasury Bench have concocted some sort of conclusion to this utter shambles. May we not hear, right now, from the Home Secretary, the Justice Secretary or the Chief Whip? Let us get this over and done with. For goodness’ sake, there are people watching this who will be appalled at what is going on in the House. Put an end to it now!

I understand what people are saying, but procedure does allow other colleagues to speak and I do not want to deprive them of that opportunity if they still wish to contribute.

This really is a sorry day for the Government. The motion to allocate time was tabled on the basis either of error or of falsehood. The Whip went round to Conservative Members of Parliament and said that today’s motion would be on regulations including those on the European arrest warrant. My right hon. Friend the Chief Whip is one of the cleverest men in the House of Commons. He has a brain the size of a planet. He is of the highest quality and the most honourable gentleman one could find. I cannot believe that he would make a basic error of this kind.

We have Whips scuttling around the House saying that a vote will be taken tonight that will be indicative of what the House of Commons thinks about the European arrest warrant. That is a procedural absurdity. It is legislative legerdemain. The Government cannot conceivably decide that one vote is indicative of another. What might they decide next? Perhaps that a vote to cut taxes would indicate that we wanted to increase them, or that a vote in favour of longer prison sentences would indicate that we wanted to cut them? This is the way of tyranny, because it takes away the right of the House of Commons to hold the Executive to account.

We have heard a wide range political views, but I think that everyone here today is unanimous in believing that we came here expecting to vote on a decision to opt in to 35 measures and that that vote would affect that decision one way or the other. Before we all get too worked up and decide that this is the biggest threat to parliamentary democracy since the gunpowder plot, may I suggest that we allow the Home Secretary to explain how the Government are going to give us the debate and the vote that we all want, even though my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg) and I do not always see eye to eye and might not vote in the same way?

My right hon. and learned Friend makes a point that is, as always, worth listening to, but he is in error. This matter needs to be debated thoroughly, because it is my contention that this is not accidental. A letter was sent to the shadow Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), saying that we would have a vote. The Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury said to this House that there would be a vote. The Lord High Chancellor and the Home Secretary sent a letter to the European Scrutiny Committee promising us that there would be a vote on the European arrest warrant and all the other opt-ins and opt-outs. Now that we come to it, however, it is proposed that there will be a vote, after extra debating time, on a number of relatively obscure measures that require statutory instruments, and that that will be intended to determine the view of the House. That is not proper parliamentary procedure; it is an outrageous abuse of parliamentary procedure.

I often disagree with my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke)—and with others, including my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary—on European matters, but this debate today is of a degree worse than our disagreements. Our disagreements are polite and they reflect our fiercely held views, which we discuss in an upright and, I hope, proper fashion. This approach and this motion are fundamentally underhand. That is why there is such anger, not only on the Conservative Benches and among Eurosceptics. The Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), is shocked by this, as are the Scottish nationalists, who think that this is a poor way of behaving.

Is my hon. Friend aware of the irony that as we approach the 800th anniversary celebration of Magna Carta, habeas corpus and the rights we have taken from those previous generations should be at the heart of this debate but they are not going to be debated today?

I agree with my right hon. Friend; we should be having the time to debate the issues that really matter, not obscurities.

I would not want the hon. Gentleman to leave the Liberal Democrats out of his list. Those of us who support the European arrest warrant would really value the opportunity to argue in favour of it and to vote in favour of it; we want to get the hashtag “Toriessoftoncrime” trending on Twitter and we want to have a real debate. We want that opportunity as well. I do not often agree with the hon. Gentleman on matters European, but on this one I do.

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point, because I hope it brings home to those on the Treasury Bench the deep discontent. I was saying earlier how deeply grateful I am to you, Mr Speaker, that you are protecting the rights of the legislature against the Executive by clarifying the terms of this debate. As I look down from here at the Treasury Bench, I want to see something that is solid, but I am worried that it is made of increasingly crooked wood. We want to have it re-solidified and we want this motion withdrawn.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You have said on a couple of occasions, in response to Members of this House, that you will not call the Home Secretary until later on because others wish to speak. Is there anything to prevent her from speaking before the end of the debate?

It would be normal for the Home Secretary to speak either at the beginning or at the end of the debate. A most courteous approach was made to me on her behalf suggesting that it might be helpful to the House if she were to wind up the debate, and I agreed to that request. It is not that I am seeking to delay the Home Secretary for one moment; it is that there is provision for others to speak. When they have finished doing so, the Home Secretary can and will speak, and we will look forward to that. I think it would be a bit odd if I suddenly interrupted the flow of the debate now, when other Members are seeking to contribute, but I will take one further point of order from the right hon. Gentleman.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I quite accept that it is not normal procedure, but at the moment we are debating something we know not what. We do not know whether the Government are going to change the motion or stay with this motion. My stance on this matter is entirely different depending on which of those two outcomes it is. Therefore, it might be useful for the House to know rather earlier than usual.

I can see the force of that proposition. If other Members are prepared to exercise a self-denying ordinance and to hear from the Home Secretary, they can do so. It would be normal to allow the shadow Minister, who, in any case, wants to speak if at all only very briefly, to do so. Does the right hon. Gentleman still wish to contribute? [Interruption.] He appears to be exercising a self-denying ordinance and I have a sense that colleagues would like to hear from the Home Secretary in winding up the debate. [Interruption.] In that case, I call Mr David Hanson.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I just want to focus the Home Secretary’s mind, if I may. I find myself in the strange position of agreeing with the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) when he says that every Member came here tonight expecting to be debating 35 measures; Members in all parts of this House believed that to be the case over the weekend. I also find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg) when he says that this business is being done in an underhand way, because all Members of this House expected to come here this evening to debate this matter and the issue of the European arrest warrant.

Strangely, I also find myself in agreement with the Home Secretary, in that I am led to believe that she wants to debate and vote on the European arrest warrant. Let me let you into a secret, Mr Speaker: so do we. We would like to vote on the European arrest warrant and to give the Home Secretary our support, and I believe the Liberal Democrats would like to support her, too. We happen to take a view that murderers, child pornographers, bank robbers and fraudsters should be brought to justice in this House—[Laughter.] And perhaps elsewhere.

I disagree strongly with the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr Redwood), and the hon. Members for Stone (Sir William Cash), for Aldridge-Brownhills (Sir Richard Shepherd), for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg) and, I suspect, the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis). They do not want to sign up to the European arrest warrant for reasons that we need to debate. I thought that today was about that debate. Over the weekend, I was expecting to have that debate today, as I am sure did all Members of this House. It now appears that that is not going to happen. Let me offer the Home Secretary a way out.

The right hon. Gentleman might wish to correct the record. I can assure him that we, like him, wish nasty people to be locked up after proper prosecution. The argument is over who has the ultimate control over our criminal justice system to do so.

Well, let us have that argument. First, let me offer the Home Secretary a way out. For the purposes of today’s debate, we will vote against the programme motion, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) has said. I invite those Members who are dissatisfied with today’s proceedings and—dare I say it—the Liberal Democrats who do not hold Government positions, to join us in that.

I will give way in a moment.

If we do that and the programme motion is defeated, we will, as the Lord Chancellor has said, be in a position to debate this motion for one and a half hours this evening. That is probably sufficient to debate the 11 measures that are down before the House today. Let us defeat that programme motion, and use the 90 minutes on the 11 measures. Let the Home Secretary go away from this House, listen to what people have said from all parts of the House, bring back a formal motion to debate the other measures, including the European arrest warrant, and let people, such as the right hon. Member for Wokingham who takes a different view from me—[Interruption.]

I see the Chairman of the 1922 Committee nodding his head. Let those Members have that debate. Let them exercise their vote and let this House express its will before 1 December on what we should do. This is a problem of the Home Secretary’s own making. She needs to sort it out, and sort it out now.

I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on the business motion.

The Lisbon treaty, which was negotiated by the previous Labour Government and which included within it the opportunity for the United Kingdom to opt out of around 130 justice and home affairs measures and then to decide whether to opt back in to a number of measures, did not require any vote to be brought before this House of Commons to undertake those decisions. This Government believe that that was wrong, which is why we have brought a number of debates before this House on these matters. There is also no legislative requirement for us to bring before the House this package of 35 justice and home affairs measures.

No, I will not give way. Members have been calling for me to stand up and speak, and that is exactly what I am doing.

There is no legislative requirement for us to bring this package of 35 measures to this House for Members to consider and vote on. There is a legislative requirement for us to transpose certain measures into UK legislation. The normal way of doing that is upstairs in a Standing Committee, on a one-and-a-half hour debate on a negative statutory instrument, after 1 December and after the decision by this Government to opt in to a certain number of measures had been taken.

No, I say to my hon. Friend and to the right hon. Lady that I have been asked to explain the Government’s position, and that is what I intend to do.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. This House agreed that the Home Secretary should speak so that she would right something that we all knew was wrong. This is simply a scoundrel’s defence. This is wrong.

No, no, no. The Home Secretary is entitled to say—and she will say—what she thinks, and the House must hear that.

I have made it clear that there was no requirement under the Lisbon treaty or any legislative requirement to bring the package of 35 measures to this House.

The Home Secretary seems to think that the House should be grateful for what we have got, but she and the Prime Minister promised that there would be a vote on the European arrest warrant. Will she now admit that, with the motion she has put before the House today, she has broken that promise?

If the right hon. Lady will just let me continue, I will explain further to the House. As I have said, there is no requirement to bring any vote to the House. There is a requirement to transpose into UK legislation certain of the 35 measures that we will opt back into. That would normally have been done through the negative statutory instrument procedure in an hour-and-a-half debate upstairs in a Committee, not on the Floor of the House. That would normally have been done after 1 December, so after the date on which the Government had chosen to opt back in, and indeed after we had exercised our opt-in. We did not think that that was right either, which is why we have brought before the House an affirmative measure on a statutory instrument that shows the House the legislative requirements that will need to be made.

However, I have been very clear, the Government have been very clear, and indeed you, Mr Speaker, have been very clear—I am grateful for the clarification in your statement—that the debate we will be having on the motion on the regulations will be wide-ranging and, indeed, will include a debate on the European arrest warrant. I say to Members of the House that it is my intention to speak about the European arrest warrant when that debate takes place. I also say to right hon. and hon. Members that if they vote against this—[Interruption.]

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not sure that the Home Secretary was listening earlier when you said that the European arrest warrant can only be mentioned peripherally in the main debate, because she has just said that she intends to speak about it. It might be helpful if you reiterated your earlier advice, in case she had not been listening.

I think that I referred to the requirement for Members to deploy some ingenuity, and I gave quite a full explanation of the situation as I saw it. I do not recall using the word “peripherally”—I hesitate to argue with the hon. Gentleman, who is always very precise in his use of words—but I think that the substance of what I was getting at was clear. Let us now hear what the Home Secretary has to say.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am clear that it is possible in the debate on the regulations to discuss those measures that are not listed in the regulations, and that is certainly what I and other Members intend to do. The Government are very clear that what we are debating in the next debate is the regulations that transpose into legislation those measures that need to be transposed.


The European arrest warrant is not on that list because it does not need to be transposed into legislation, because that has already been done. However, the Government are clear that the vote that will take place on the regulations will be the vote that determines whether or not we opt into these measures. [Interruption.]

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As we are talking about the liberties of the subject, this is a very important matter. You have absolutely said in terms that the vote tonight is not about the European arrest warrant. The Home Secretary seems to be intimating that we are indeed making an indicative vote tonight on the European arrest warrant. The House of Commons, in a matter concerning the liberty of the individual, needs to know what it is voting on, and we need advice from you and the Home Secretary.

Order. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point or order. What Members think is indicative is a matter for them. Indeed, if a Minister in Her Majesty’s Government chooses to argue that something is indicative, that is a matter for that Minister. As a matter of fact, I was simply trying to be clear with the House, as I think was the Home Secretary in her previous paragraph, to be fair, that tonight’s vote—I have been asked regularly what the vote is about—is on the regulations. The vote is not—I repeat, not—on the European arrest warrant.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. In fact, I was attempting to be as clear as you have been that the vote on the next motion will be a vote on the regulations, which includes those measures in the package of 35 that we wish to opt back into which require to be transposed into UK legislation. But the Government are clear that we will be bound by that vote, and if this House chooses not to transpose those measures and votes against the regulations, it will be voting against the Government opting into all the measures, including the European arrest warrant.

My final point is this: we have the option now of a vote on the business motion. The decision for Members of the House is whether to vote against that business motion and have one and a half hours for debate on all these matters, or to vote in favour of the business motion and have four and a half hours for debate. I trust they will take the latter option.

Mr Speaker, you pointed out how unusual it was for the Government also to reply to debates on a business motion, but is it not normal in a reply to respond to the points that have been made in the debate? In the debate it was clear that the Home Secretary promised a debate on the European arrest warrant and promised a vote on it, and she has not given it. Do you agree that that is not a reply to a business motion debate?

I think I have set out the position clearly and there is nothing at this stage for me to add, but Members will form their own view. That is the fairest thing I can say—Members will form their own view.

I think I am right in saying that the Home Secretary has concluded her speech.