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Leaving the EU: European Arrest Warrant

Volume 635: debated on Thursday 8 February 2018

3. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU on the operation of the European arrest warrant. (903851)

7. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU on the operation of the European arrest warrant. (903856)

The European arrest warrant offers a more effective means than non-EU alternatives of surrendering individuals wanted by other EU member states and of ensuring that those who have fled the UK are returned to face justice. Agreeing continued extradition arrangements will therefore be an important part of negotiations with our European partners and is of mutual interest to both the UK and EU member states.

Does the Attorney General agree with the Director of Public Prosecutions that the European arrest warrant is vital to ensuring quick and effective cross-border crime and justice measures? Will the Government commit to remaining in the European arrest warrant?

I certainly agree that the European arrest warrant is the most efficient means we have available both to bring people back to the UK and to send foreign criminals home to face justice. It is our objective to be part of those arrangements in the future. Precisely how we do that will depend on negotiations that, as the hon. Gentleman knows, are ongoing.

Will not these arrangements have to function on the basis of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice? Which is more important to the Government, their heavy red line on the ECJ or the ability to work effectively with our European partners to tackle crime? Does the Attorney General agree with the House of Lords report that the safety of the people of the UK should be the Government’s overriding consideration?

I certainly agree with the last part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, but I do not accept that there is necessarily a contradiction between restricting and excluding the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union in this country and being able to have good and productive arrangements for combating crime across the European continent. That is what we seek to do, and we believe it is in the mutual interest not just of the UK but of the rest of the EU, too. That is why we are optimistic that we can negotiate.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the European arrest warrant is just as important to our EU friends and partners as it is to us?

I agree with my hon. Friend, and he might like to know that, as far as the statistics go, since 2010, under the European arrest warrant, 1,079 people have been surrendered back to the United Kingdom but 8,826 people have been surrendered from the UK to the rest of the European Union. This is an advantageous arrangement for both sides.

Since 2010 thousands of criminals have been removed from the United Kingdom to face trial abroad thanks to the European arrest warrant. Does the Attorney General agree that such agreements are an integral part of our justice system here in the United Kingdom?

I agree with my hon. Friend, and it is important that we negotiate a settlement that will enable us to carry on sending people back and, just as importantly, to carry on bringing people back from other European nations to face justice here. As I have said, I am optimistic that we can do that.

The Irish Supreme Court recently refused to extradite a company director accused of fraud to the UK, despite a request through the European arrest warrant, citing Brexit as the reason, so we are having problems enforcing EAW requests even before we leave the European Union. What discussions are the Government having with EU partners to ensure this vital co-operation continues?

The hon. Gentleman will recognise that that case has not yet concluded, so I will say nothing about it specifically. His point is that we need to ensure that there is continuity of these arrangements beyond our departure from the European Union, which is exactly what we seek to negotiate. As I have said, this is not a pie-in-the-sky hope but something that will benefit both us and the rest of Europe. This is two-way traffic, and it is important to everyone that we negotiate continuing arrangements.