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European Arrest Warrant

Volume 630: debated on Tuesday 31 October 2017

1. What discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on continued participation in the European Arrest Warrant after the UK leaves the EU. (901512)

Ministers in the MOJ and the Home Office have regular discussions on key aspects of criminal justice co-operation in relation to our EU partners, including on the European arrest warrant.

I thank the Minister for that reply. The police have repeatedly underlined the importance of the European arrest warrant in fighting crime. If the price of maintaining our citizens’ security and the effective operation of other European crime-fighting mechanisms is the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, will the Minister put crime fighting first or let his arbitrary red line jeopardise our citizens’ security?

I am not sure that making sure the UK Supreme Court has the last word on the law of the land is some arbitrary red line. However, the Government’s position in relation to our future partnership with the EU was set out in the position paper that was published in September. It was very clear that we have an ambitious plan for co-operation on security, law enforcement and criminal justice. The right hon. Gentleman will see if he looks at it carefully—I am sure he has—that maintaining strong extradition relations will be an important part of that agenda.

Will the Minister take on board the clear recommendation from the Justice Committee’s report in the last Parliament that underpinning any practical means of criminal justice co-operation, including the European arrest warrant, should be a continuing relationship on maintaining data equivalency? Unless the data regulations are equivalent, it will not be possible for European agencies to share with us or vice versa.

I thank the Chair of the Select Committee. That is, of course, why we have taken through the Data Protection Bill. We have extradition relations—very vigorous ones—with countries all around the world, and we see no reason why we would not continue to do so with our EU friends and allies.

Given that it took countries such as Iceland and Norway 13 years to negotiate extradition arrangements with the EU, does the Minister accept that not maintaining the European arrest warrant puts people in this country at risk of seeing criminals go free and that those criminals may well include terrorist suspects?

No, because we are not in the position of Iceland. We start from the position of the European arrest warrant, with strong, intensive co-operation on extradition, and we will make sure we continue that operationally for many years to come.

Does the Minister agree that one reason people voted to leave the European Union was to make the Supreme Court the supreme court?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Let us also not forget the advice of the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, who made it clear in his evidence to the independent review of extradition that there were problems with the European arrest warrant. We have legislated for extra safeguards. We are ending the jurisdiction of the European Court, but there has been no suggestion that we are dispensing altogether with vital EU extradition—except, perhaps, as a figment of some of the furtive Liberal Democrats’ imaginations.

Surely the Minister can make it clear that the Government’s priority must be continued participation in the European arrest warrant and that that must come ahead of his obsession with ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s intervention, but I gently suggest that he read the position paper on the future partnership, which was published in September, because it deals directly with the question he has just asked and makes it clear that we do want to continue vital extradition relations with our EU partners.