Skip to main content

Police and Security Co-operation

Volume 617: debated on Thursday 1 December 2016

7. What discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on maintaining police and security co-operation with EU partners after the UK leaves the EU. (907596)

The Secretary of State and I speak regularly to our Home Office colleagues about a range of issues relating to the UK’s exit from the EU. We are both committed to maintaining very close police and security co-operation between the UK and EU member states after we leave the EU. The safety of the British public is, of course, a top priority.

Can my right hon. Friend assure me that after Brexit we will continue this close co-operation with the EU on law enforcement and counter-terrorism in particular, to ensure that we continue to protect not only the UK, but Europe?

I can assure my hon. Friend that the UK will continue to play a full role in this area at a time of increasing risk of terrorism, Russian belligerence, instability in the middle east and a host of other threats. There is undoubtedly a huge benefit for both the UK and the EU from continued close co-operation in this field.

Does the Minister agree that the deplorable comments being made about exiting the EU having a destabilising impact on the peace process, or leading to an increase in violence or the return of terrorism, are deeply damaging and wrong? Does he agree that co-operation between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Garda Siochana has never been better and will continue like that after we exit the EU?

Yes, I agree entirely and, more importantly, so do the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland and, indeed, the Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland. Such comments are deeply deplorable.

The UK has been a lead player in Europol. What is likely to be our access level post-Brexit? Will it be similar to that of non-EU members such as the United States?

My hon. Friend is entirely right: Europol is of importance. As part of the exit negotiations, the Government will discuss with the EU and member states how best to continue co-operation on a range of tools and measures, including membership of Europol.

In his discussions with the Home Office, has the Minister talked about the letter written to it by the National Farmers Union warning that British fruit and veg will go unpicked this winter because of the current labour crisis in the horticultural and agricultural industries, and what is he doing about that?

The right hon. Gentleman is entirely right: the agricultural industry has traditionally relied on seasonal agricultural labour. These are matters that we are giving close attention to. Indeed, I discussed them only yesterday with representatives of farming unions.