Motion to Take Note
My Lords, the report of the European Union Committee on the European Union's internal security strategy was published on 24 May 2011. I am therefore glad now, after nearly eight months, to have the opportunity to bring it to your Lordships' House for debate as chairman of the Home Affairs Sub-Committee, which conducted the inquiry. However, in doing so, I cannot simply pass over that remarkable—and, in my view—lamentably long delay. If the House wishes to ensure the topicality and relevance of the debates it holds on subjects such as this and reports such as the one we are considering today, it must improve its record on the scheduling of debates.
Internal security is primarily a matter for member states themselves, but the treaty of Lisbon, although reflecting that, for the first time gave the European Union an explicit responsibility by setting up a committee whose prime aim is,
“to ensure that operational cooperation and internal security is promoted and strengthened within the Union”.
The committee is known as COSI—one of those dreadful acronyms—and I shall have more to say about it in a moment.
The new responsibility of the European Union, although limited, led to the five-year Stockholm programme, which invited both the Council and the Commission,
“to define a comprehensive Union internal security strategy”.
Both institutions took up the challenge. I hope that I am not being disobliging when I say that the Council strategy, which was agreed in March 2010, was an anodyne document of no great weight. However, in November 2010, the Commission published in response to the Council document what was intended to be an implementing communication called, The EU Internal Security Strategy in Action. That document formed the basis of our inquiry.
Security is a complex subject, and we were fortunate to have as our special adviser Stephen Hawker, whose experience and knowledge of counterterrorism and security issues is so wide that I am not permitted to divulge to the House more about his background. I can, however, say that the committee was extraordinarily grateful for his help.
In this Parliament, institutions of the European Union tend to come in for blame rather than praise, and that is particularly true of the Commission. I am glad, therefore, to be able to say that the Commission’s document was, in the view of the committee, pragmatic and realistic, focusing on five areas where the EU could and should have some real influence. These are: the disruption of international criminal networks; prevention of terrorism; security in cyberspace; improved border management; and increased resilience to crises and disasters—natural disasters, in particular. The document is a first rational attempt to articulate a comprehensive approach to the EU’s internal security, and I pay tribute to the impressive work of Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, the Home Affairs Commissioner.
Our inquiry was long and so, I fear, is our report. In this speech I shall concentrate on only a few aspects of it—primarily, not surprisingly, those where we regard the Government’s response to be unsatisfactory. However, the Government agreed with many of our recommendations, and I was very grateful, as was the committee, for that. In particular, I was struck by the fact that they firmly endorsed the committee’s view that Britain’s internal security neither begins nor ends at the water’s edge. That kind of conceptual approach is quite important because it rather gives the lie to the suggestion that we can just do this on our own and that will be fine.
The first of the areas where we are a little at odds with the Government in their response relates to cybercrime. No one nowadays doubts the scale of the damage that can be, and is being, done by cybercrime and by attacks on cybersecurity. Of course, much of the work of defending against them is a national responsibility or is being followed up in a military context in NATO. However, the cybercrime element is a bit different. The Commission recommended the setting up of a new cybercrime centre, through which the member states and institutions would be able to build operational and analytical capacity for investigations and for co-operation with international partners. Our witnesses, including the government witnesses, agreed almost without exception that this would be a worthwhile development, as did the committee. We recommended that it should not be a new free-standing institution, which we thought would be wasteful and duplicative, but that it should be located within Europol, which is increasingly becoming a central part of Europe’s efforts against various forms of crime and which possesses some of the infrastructure needed. The Government, I am glad to say, agreed on both those points. The disagreement between us comes over the funding.
Cybercrime is a huge cost to all our economies and it cannot be fought without resources, yet that is roughly what the Government would like to do. They are prepared—quite rightly, in my view—to allocate £650 million in new funds to the UK’s own national cybersecurity programme but they seem to think that Europol can fund a new EU cybercrime centre out of thin air from its existing budget. The EU’s budget framework for the years 2014 to 2020 is something that the Select Committee and its sub-committees are considering again at this moment, and I shall not stray into that wider territory. We are all realistic enough to appreciate that overall now is not the time for an increase in the EU budget. However, a reallocation of resources within the budget is another matter. The home affairs budget is actually less than 1 per cent of the total EU budget and will reach only about 1 per cent of the total EU budget if the Commission’s proposals for 2013 go through, which they may very possibly not do in the form in which they have been put forward.
I and my committee would argue that it is not really credible for the Government to suggest that the relatively modest cost of setting up the cybercrime centre within Europol cannot be found from other heads of the EU budget. The Government’s position is that it has to be found within the justice and home affairs budget, which is not really credible. I hope that the Minister will be able to undertake to look again at that aspect. I am not expecting him to concede the point here and now—I know where the true decisions on these matters are taken—but I hope that it will be looked at again because the suggestion that this can be found within the JHA budget is not very credible.
Mention of Europol brings me to the question of its parliamentary oversight. The treaty of Lisbon introduced the requirement that national parliaments should join with the European Parliament in overseeing the work of Europol. It had been suggested by the Commission, although not in the strategy document that we are debating today, that that should be done by a new and specially constituted body. My committee thought, and repeated in the report, that this could and should be done not by a new specially constituted body but by the joint interparliamentary meetings which already regularly take place between chairs of the home affairs sub-committees or committees of national parliaments and of the European Parliament.
I went to Brussels last October as chairman of the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee for a meeting of those chairmen and it was hosted by the equivalent committee, the LIBE committee, of the European Parliament. At a session which I chaired, it was agreed that that oversight should be carried out by such existing annual joint interparliamentary committee meetings. The government response did not deal with the issue but I would like to hear from the Minister whether the Government agree that that is a satisfactory way in which to proceed and whether they will do all that they can to ensure that this approach, and not the more cumbersome approach which the commission proposed, is agreed at EU level.
I mentioned earlier the committee called COSI, which can broadly be rendered into normal English as the committee of senior interior ministry officials. Potentially, that is a high-powered body which could, and should, help to co-ordinate and, where appropriate, direct all the European Union's work on internal security. Currently, that work is distributed among a very large number of committees, working groups and working parties. We actually managed to unearth 14 of them which we listed in our report. I do not doubt that there are some lurking in the undergrowth that we may have missed. Much of their work overlaps. Setting up COSI was an opportunity for some, at least, of these bodies to be merged or abolished, but that opportunity was not taken. Most of them continue. The Government, who supposedly favour the abolition of otiose bodies, seem lukewarm about our recommendation, telling us only that they would be prepared to consider a case for COSI replacing or overseeing such bodies once it has established itself. That was six months ago. I hope that the Minister can now tell the House that he is prepared to press for COSI to have a more significant co-ordinating function and for some of this plethora of committees to be abolished.
The chairmanship of Council working parties usually rotates with the presidency on a biannual basis. Sometimes that does no harm but the committee felt that, in this sector, with a group of experts like COSI, there was a strong case for a more durable, longer-lasting chairmanship. The Government agreed that members of COSI should be senior, operationally focused officials with authority to commit their national operational resources but they could see the benefit of one of the best qualified of these officials chairing the group for, say, two or three years. That is by no means unknown in European Union practice; it was for many years the way in which the European Union’s monetary committee was run, in some years extremely effectively and professionally, by a member of Her Majesty's Treasury. That would be an improvement over the six-month rotation in the chairmanship of that committee. The Government conceded that six-monthly rotation,
“might have a detrimental impact on the Committee”,
but thought this might be mitigated by the adoption of the three-presidency approach, by which three successive presidencies work together. Frankly, mitigation is not quite enough. If a six-monthly rotating chairmanship is detrimental, the Government should seek the agreement of other member states to do away with it and have a more professional approach.
Data protection will shortly be in the news again, when the Commission brings forward its long-awaited proposal for a new directive. This is very relevant to internal security, so much of which depends on the painstaking collection and analysis of personal data. A balance has to be found between the interests of security and those of personal privacy, and this is never easy. It is particularly difficult in the case of the passenger name record data, or PNR: the data on passengers on flights entering or leaving the European Union. Flights from the EU to Australia are already the subject of an agreement which has, in our view, satisfactory data protection provisions. Flights from the EU to the US are the subject of an agreement—the fourth—which has been initialled but is not yet in force. All I can say about that one is that its data protection provisions are marginally better than those in the existing EU-US agreement, which is not saying an awful lot.
Data on flights into the EU are now to be the subject of a directive, not just flights from Australia or from the US. The Government, encouraged by a report which was endorsed by this House, have already opted into the proposal for this directive and I hope that the Minister will confirm that during the course of the negotiations, he will be paying due regard to the importance of the protection of passengers’ data—all the more so if, as the Government hope and the Committee hopes, too, that directive is extended to cover intra-EU flights, not only flights into the EU from outside.
I cannot conclude without mentioning yet again a question which the House has raised time and again in taking evidence from Ministers and officials in this House, and many times in correspondence with Ministers. I refer to the Government’s failure to sign or ratify the Council of Europe convention on money laundering, known as the Warsaw convention. The disruption of international criminal networks is, as I have said, one of the objects of the strategy we were examining and there is no doubt that the tracing and confiscation of the proceeds of crime is one of the most powerful weapons in the armoury of states.
The previous Government undertook to ratify the Warsaw convention early in 2010. For this Government the noble Lord, Lord Henley, who will be replying to this debate, assured the committee only last month that he was pretty sure that the United Kingdom was compliant with the convention, but that the Home Office did not currently have the resources to review this and therefore was not prepared to set a date for signature and ratification. I asked him when the Government would sign the convention, to which he replied,
“I would hope we would do so within the next year or so but I am not going to be any more precise than that”.
I hate to say so but he could not have been any less precise, even if he had tried.
A failure to sign one of the major international instruments for combating serious, organised crime does not give the impression of a Government who take the fight against such crime seriously. If we do not sign and ratify such a convention, how can we expect others to do likewise and how can we hope to play a leadership role in the Council of Europe, over whose intergovernmental activities we currently preside? I know that the Minister has already taken one broadside on this subject in the course of Questions in this House today. I am offering him here a somewhat less difficult matter, which does not raise the issue of extraterritoriality which he referred to earlier. It is frankly a little difficult to believe that the amount of resources needed to be quite sure that we are in conformity with a convention, as he is confident that we are, is such an enormous burden that it cannot be undertaken. It is a shame, frankly, that we are not signed up to and ratifying that convention.
This inquiry was one of great interest to the Committee and our report raised a number of serious questions for the Minister to answer. I look forward to hearing his replies. I beg to move.
My Lords, I am a member of Sub-Committee F. I begin by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, for his excellent chairmanship of proceedings and for managing to dock our little boat so successfully. I also thank our clerk, Michael Collon, for his indefatigable work in making sure that we stayed on the straight and narrow, and our special adviser, Stephen Hawker. This is a complex and difficult area and without his advice and help we would have floundered.
I am firmly of the view that national security must be the responsibility of each member state, on two grounds. The first is that in a liberal, plural democracy, the ability and readiness of a country to defend its citizens is the fundamental part of the social contract by which we all coexist. Secondly, and no less importantly, the way that policing takes place is a reflection of history: the historical traditions of a country and the way that its society has developed. Traditions will be quite different from country to country. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Nevertheless, in that ghastly and hackneyed phrase, we live increasingly in a global community. The Commission's communication on the EU's internal security strategy, with its focus on the five areas that the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, read out, and which I will not repeat, makes it clear that there is a world dimension to these issues, quite apart from the EU dimension, which we have to take into account. I will repeat his quotation from paragraph 17 of our report, which states:
“The security of the United Kingdom does not begin or end at the water's edge, and cannot be defended independently of the security of other States”.
The complexities of trying, for example, to prevent terrorism or disrupt international crime networks are compounded when they are addressed through a multinational organisation such as the EU. Success in the five selected fields will require leadership of the highest quality, providing focus for dedicated and expert resources, deployed consistently over time. This is painstaking work; these are hard yards to gain. My concern is that our report showed that to some extent the EU has so far failed to address the challenges and yardsticks that the approach requires.
I turn first to leadership. As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, pointed out, we now have the standing committee COSI whose chairmanship rotates every six months, in line with the EU presidency. I urge my noble friend to readdress this point. This is a committee of critical importance, whose chairman has barely got his feet under the table before he is moved on. On that basis we cannot get the consistent and focused leadership of the very expert resources that we need. We need to find a way—I am no expert in the diplomatic niceties of this—to ensure that somebody takes responsibility for a longer period of time. If we heard that one of our largest private companies was rotating its chairmanship every six months, we would think that it had taken leave of its senses.
The membership of COSI seems to be complex and frequently changing. I understand that so far it has not included representatives of FRONTEX or Europol. Given that two of the five objectives of COSI are improved border management and the disruption of international crime networks, not having FRONTEX and Europol representatives on the committee seems at the very least to be counterintuitive. Further down the chain of command, the situation is even more unsatisfactory. As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, referred to, box 10 on page 51 of our report lists the 14 bodies involved: seven working parties, three working groups, one group, one task force, one committee and one strategic committee. To be candid, this does not give me confidence that we will have a joined-up approach because, to be effective in this area, very close attention to tiny details is essential and good communication is no less so. From my point of view, there is a good deal of work to be done on the strategic shape of the architecture of the EU’s approach to this very important area, which we have highlighted in our report.
This is all at EU level and, as I have already noted, internal security is a matter for each member state, so, as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said, there is also a balance to be struck between, on the one hand, the freedom, privacy and prevention of unnecessary intrusion that the citizen is entitled to enjoy and, on the other, the need for the protection of the citizen. As the work on the EU’s internal security strategy develops and gets traction, I hope there will be an important scrutiny role to ensure that this balance is maintained by the European Parliament, national Parliaments and intergovernmental activities and organisations. I hope very much that we will keep our eye firmly on this one, because the creep of intrusion into our individual personal lives on the grounds that national security demands it is very insidious.
The rest of my remarks focus on cyberspace and cybersecurity. On 15 September last year, an article in the Times quoted a Cabinet Office source that last year intellectual property theft cost UK companies £9.2 billion, industrial espionage cost UK plc £7.6 billion, online theft cost business £1.3 billion, blackmail cost business £2.2 billion and identity theft cost consumers £1.7 billion. This is clearly an area that does not respect national boundaries.
However, the way we tackle cybersecurity is made more challenging by three features. First, we all increasingly wish to be in open communication. We wish to do more and more online. We are being encouraged to do more and more online. We believe our prosperity and future growth depend on online communication, so the channels by which the criminal can approach us are widening and broadening all the time.
The second issue is the fear of fraud being published. It is perfectly clear that many firms do not wish the news of a cyberattack to be published. They fear that it may lead to imitative attacks. The knowledge that a firm has had an attack may lead others to try the same approach and, of course, very importantly, it saps public confidence in a firm’s reputation, and nowhere is that more important than in financial services. So the second challenge is: how do we make sure that people, firms and financial institutions bring forward the information without fear of disadvantaging themselves?
Thirdly, and finally, what sort of organisation do we need to tackle these types of crimes? We had some powerful evidence about how conventional structures in government and policing are hierarchical. They are age based, and very often they are arts graduate-training based. In the cyber area, the ideal structure is very different. It is not hierarchical at all. It is completely flat. It consists of very much younger people, and it has a physics and engineering-based orientation. That is going to present a real challenge to COSI and other organisations about how you integrate those two very different approaches.
As far as the EU is concerned there is a further challenge: namely, the variable understanding of the threat and its seriousness. At paragraph 19, we refer to the evidence that we took from William Shapcott, the former director of SitCen. He said:
“You can roughly divide the member states into three groups: those who are threatened and who really understand it. The UK is clearly in that group, and the Germans and the French are as well. Then there is a group that possibly is threatened but maybe doesn’t properly register it, and then maybe some that aren’t terribly threatened”.
He went on to explain that as the threats changed so would the groups, which could learn from one another.
That takes me to the really important point about the establishment of the cybercrime centre as being a means whereby experience, knowledge and information can be shared. I am delighted that the Government have decided that it should not be placed at Heraklion in Crete as part of ENISA. We have kicked poor old ENISA often enough and hard enough. I am delighted that there will not be a new body and I hope very much that it will find its way into Europol because it is, after all, crime that we are talking about.
As part of that, I hope that the Government will give some attention to a sub-theme. In our sub-committee, we have had quite a lot of evidence that in a number of cases bilateral arrangements between individual countries have led to the bypassing of EU institutions. We have heard about it as regards Europol in particular. Therefore, instead of information and intelligence being routed through an EU body, it is done on the basis of relationships between the police forces of individual countries. I do not mind people having bilateral relationships but there should be a discouragement of not making sure that Europol goes into the link. If we have a patchwork quilt of relationships depending on who knows who, who gets on with who and who trusts who, critical issues will get lost and overlooked and their significance will not be understood.
I hope that the Government will make some efforts to encourage, as far as we in this country and other countries are concerned, the use of the valuable resources that will be built up in these EU agencies. It puts a responsibility on the EU agency itself. We had a comment from a Dutchman who said that Europol was like a black box into which you put a comment and nothing came back. There is a responsibility on the agency to respond. It was a fascinating report on a fascinating area.
In my final minute, perhaps I may refer my noble friend to the UK cybersecurity strategy document published in November 2011. It is very interesting and a very good read, and lots of interesting recommendations are listed at the back. It covers nearly all the departments from BIS to DCMS to the Foreign Office to MoD. It has a huge range of responses required from individual government departments. However, there is very little about our relationships with Europe and COSI. There is something but not a lot. I very much hope that the Government will give some weight to developing our European response to these intransigent, intractable and difficult issues. Unless national Governments put some weight behind COSI and bodies like that, there is no hope that we shall be able to attack these extraordinarily challenging crimes and crime networks satisfactorily.
My Lords, I warmly follow the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbots, in thanking our chairman for his excellent leadership of the committee, for the diligence that he brings to that work and, as I have said before, for the firmness of his guidance. It is very good to have an effective chairman, and one with so much outstanding relevant expertise and experience to bring to bear on the issue with which we are dealing. However, if that word of appreciation is due, so also is one due to our staff, to the clerk and the others who work with the clerk, for helping us to produce useful reports for this House. A word of thanks is also due to the full European Union Select Committee for the support and collaboration that it gives. I know that there is a very good working relationship between the chair of that committee, the noble Lord, Lord Roper, and the chairman of our own Select Committee. That is good, because it helps to take things forward in a constructive way.
The noble Lord referred in his remarks to the interdependent world in which we live. I am absolutely convinced that, from the moment any of us are born, one reality is indisputable: we are born into a totally interdependent world community. This is true of economic and resources realities, and pressingly true of environmental matters, but nowhere is it more true than in the realm of security. There is no way in which we can ensure the security of our people by acting alone. Effective, proven co-operation at the international level is indispensible.
Of course, the European Union provides a very good starting point for that, although—as we say in our report—this co-operation cannot be limited to the European Union. It has to go beyond the European Union into the wider world. It obviously has to be with organisations such as the United Nations, but it also has to be with specific countries such as China, India, Russia and Brazil—all sorts of influential countries on the world scene. However, it is not only with the more influential countries that there must be co-operation. So much of the danger to security comes through, and may originate from, some of the smaller, less significant players in the world, as power politics has come to be seen.
In that context, I am interested and glad that we emphasised early in our report—the chairman of the committee drew attention to this—the importance of there being a good balance between the security measures that are introduced and necessary and an absolute, resolute commitment to preserving those characteristics of our society that make it worth defending. Here I am thinking, of course, of freedom, liberty and the rest. There is a tension here. It is no good pretending that there is not; there is. How we get that right is terribly important.
It is therefore important to see that, if we are going to build a secure world, we have to get as many people as possible feeling directly that they have a vested interest in the stability and security of the society, and the wholesome nature of the society, in which they are living. That is why mistakes, when they occur in member countries of the European Union—absolutely indefensible, sometimes abhorrent mistakes that are a contradiction of everything for which we stand—are unforgivable, because of course they play directly into the hands of the extremists and those who would like to undermine our society by giving them rich ammunition for agitation and the rest. That is why we should expect higher standards all the time from those throughout Europe and the world, and certainly in our own country, who are working in the sphere of security.
Of course it is also the interrelationship in security policy between the more formal direct means of security, as we understand that word, and the importance of effective economic and social policies that gives people a stake in the society in which they are living. All those things come together and it is obvious that if we are to tackle them effectively, we have to build increasingly good co-operation and collaboration with fellow members of the European Union and beyond. Our report is really about that.
There is of course one specific area, and the chairman was exceedingly sensible to emphasise this in his words to us today, that brings that home. It is the issue of cyberspace. I do not believe that among the population as a whole there even begins to be an understanding of the significance and potential for what could happen in this context to liberty, freedom and all that goes with it. From that standpoint, the balance between liberty and security is a particularly pressing issue in the realm of cyberspace, as indeed we are beginning to see through the popular press in more limited spheres.
In commending the report to the House, we ought also to bear in mind the indispensable value of the evidence submitted, both written and oral. I hold up as an example the Minister who will reply to this debate. We had an extremely good session with him and we deeply appreciated the evidence that he provided and the spirit in which he entered into the session. A real word of appreciation is important there, because if he is not following things through with his colleagues we are whistling in the dark. That collaboration is essential.
There is one other specific issue to which we drew attention in the report—the strange absence of any reference to the armed services in the report from Europe with which we were dealing. If we are going to get this right, the relationship between all aspects of security and the armed services is tremendously important. We need to look at that and see how that point can be brought to bear. The armed services are increasingly drawn into co-operation with other dimensions to public service in the way in which they help to uphold our society. I hope that the Government will look at this and see how that could be addressed within the context of deliberations in Europe.
Above all, apart from saying what a pleasure it was to work in this committee under the leadership of our chairman, I want to say that we cannot overemphasise the importance of realising that we are simply not a self-contained, isolated island that can look after itself. When we talk to our public servants, I sometimes detect a reluctant culture that somehow or other these international bodies exist and they are working in the realm in which we are working, so we have to work with them. There is a reluctance about being drawn in further than absolutely necessary because we really like to do things on our own. That is a hopeless attitude and completely outdated. I have no doubt that the Government as a whole, particularly in the sphere of security, shall be judged in history by our success in helping international institutions, starting with Europe, to be effective.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, for having finally secured this important debate. I congratulate him on an excellent report. Looking around the Chamber today I see that I am the only person speaking in this debate, apart from the Minister, who is not a member of this committee and therefore did not participate in the report. I therefore feel that I can more sincerely congratulate committee members as I am not in any way back-slapping myself. It is another thoroughly thoughtful contribution to this very important issue—of where the international meets the national and where a state’s responsibility to its citizens’ security is juxtaposed alongside their fundamental freedoms. It is intrinsic to where we are in today’s world.
I welcome the early assertion in the report that recognises that security cannot stop at the water’s edge. In the UK’s case, we know from our prolonged experience in Northern Ireland, and more recently from among our own diaspora communities, that much support for terrorism can come from overseas. Both bilateral and multilateral co-operation are therefore fundamental to maintaining security.
The report, as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said, is wide-ranging and extremely detailed. I just want to pick out a few of the themes. First, in the section on counterterrorism, the report was most interesting on the continuing role of the counterterrorism co-ordinator. I have great personal admiration for the current incumbent, but given the developments that have taken place since 2001, such as 9/11, the Madrid bombings—after which he was appointed—and particularly the adoption of the European Union counterterrorism strategy after 2005, I, too, share the views of committee members that it is extremely difficult to see how we might justify the role. I note the Government’s response, and particularly their emphasis on the co-ordinator being the interface between the EU’s internal and external policies on terrorism. I noted, too, with some dismay, the report’s bleak assessment of the relationship between the European Union and NATO, and certainly agree that that particular relationship needs strengthening. This was particularly brought out by Professor Paul Cornish of Chatham House. Third-country relations are also significant areas for attention and I would urge Her Majesty’s Government to encourage the co-ordinator’s efforts in this area. These will become ever more important as we come towards the drawdown of the NATO commitment in Afghanistan and, of course, with the increasing rise of extremism in Pakistan.
On radicalisation and the EU strategy, I would go further than the report in suggesting that this area is best left to member states to deal with. The report makes particular reference to the Prime Minister’s Munich speech of February 2011 on muscular liberalism. I should say that I am broadly in the PM’s camp on this one. When I served on Prime Minister Blair’s taskforce on Muslim extremism in 2005, it was increasingly clear to us that the drivers and subsequent triggers for extremism had quite a lot to do with the radicalised individual’s conception of their own identity, as well as the triggers in the external environment to which they responded through their actions. These factors differ across different diaspora communities and are affected by the environment within the country from which those individuals come at the time. One size certainly does not fit all. For example, those of Pakistani origin in the United Kingdom can have a very different take on things, and on their place within society in this country, than those of Pakistani origin in the United States. Likewise, the Baader-Meinhof gang was a rather different entity from the IRA in the 1970s.
I would firmly plump for subsidiarity in this area and suggest that member states are best placed to design their own deradicalisation programmes. However, voluntary networks should be encouraged, as they already exist very well across academia. An EU institutional-level handbook of actions and experiences would not only have little relevance to national-centric radicalisation but would also duplicate existing work.
I turn to the related area of research and its funding. Noble Lords may well remember the establishment—I think in 2006—of a significant ESRC funding stream for research projects at universities. The programme was called, I think, New Security Challenges. It was run by Professor Stuart Croft at Warwick University and had a wide enough remit to allow for a range of different approaches to research programmes and academic collaboration. In my mind, that programme is a model of how the EU should proceed to set up a network. Yes, I agree that it should be wider than this particular model, but it should be sufficiently focused so as to derive practical know-how for practitioners. I note that several submissions to the committee commented on this and also note that the committee welcomes the creation of an internal security fund. What was not clear from the report, probably due to the timing of it, was whether the next framework programme for research and development will cover the issues to do with co-ordination that Sir Richard Mottram raised in his submission at paragraph 196. I was therefore disappointed that the Government's response, while welcoming the creation of the ISF as an important development, ruled out any additional resources to be dedicated to this area. Has the committee since been updated by the Home Office, as it promised to do in its response to conclusions 252 and 253, as to where the resources for this work may be found?
I turn now to the issue of cybersecurity. The report was written before the London conference of last November, as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, pointed out, and things have moved on a bit, but the analysis of the importance of the issue and of the need for an appropriate architecture to support work in this area still stand. In particular, given that the technology used for cyberwar and terrorism is often in the hands of state actors, the establishment of an EU cybercrime centre is most welcome and I note that its situation within Europol is both the committee's and the Government’s preference. But there is a further important way that the UK can help EU partners; that is where some countries have not build up the requisite capacity with national computer emergency response teams. Can the Minister tell the House whether the UK has offered its expertise through its dedicated public sector capability, to assist those states whose public sector has experienced cyberattacks and are not competent to resist them?
Noble Lords will also be aware of how cybercrime plays out in foreign policy through non-state actors. We have a situation where increasing numbers of private sector firms in the UK are targeted as they are in other countries. The noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, raised the issue of how expensive that is. I am one to agree with those experts who advocate a mandatory licensing system for the private sector to ensure that they have adequate levels of protection. Outside the EU, we now have a cyberwar going on in the Middle East, with pro-Palestine groups claiming to be behind the attack on El Al, the Israeli airline's systems and the Tel Aviv stock exchange, while pro-Israeli groups have attacked the Saudi Arabian and Abu Dhabi stock exchanges. As these escalate they pose an economic and security threat not only to the infrastructure of the counties involved but also to wider business and security interests. While acknowledging the seriousness of this kind of threat, it is important to note that both groups are politically motivated, although the actor on the Israeli side clearly takes its name from the Israeli Defence Force, as it calls itself the Israeli Defence Force Team, and it is therefore unclear what the role of the state may be in this case. What is not helpful is that the lsraeli deputy Foreign Minister in describing the attack as “comparable to terrorism” and threatening to respond forcefully, did not take the opportunity to disassociate the IDF from this so-called Team IDF. Israel’s neighbours will no doubt draw their own conclusions from that.
The need for international action to help counter these kind of politically motivated threats is as urgent as is the need for action at national level to deal with opposing states’ acts, which we are more familiar with. I note that the outcome document for the London conference highlighted:
“The need for governments to act proportionately in cyberspace and in accordance with national and international law”.
I hope that all Governments in the Middle East will bear that obligation in mind as they go forward in the current febrile atmosphere.
The London conference also posed some wider international security challenges, covering such questions as: how can problems between states be prevented and mitigated? What lessons can be learnt from other areas of international security and conflict prevention work? How do we develop and apply appropriate principles of behaviour? What are the most appropriate fora to take this debate forward? What tangible steps are Her Majesty’s Government taking to move this urgent agenda forward? In particular, do they hope to have more concrete outcomes at the Hungary summit later this year?
My concluding remarks shall be about the remit of the Standing Committee on Operational Co-operation on Internal Security, or COSI, as it is more comfortingly known. COSI’s remit is to ensure that operational co-operation is promoted and strengthened and to provide a measure of accountability through the Council to the European Parliament and national parliaments. I share the committee’s views that it would be extremely beneficial to rationalise the alphabet soup of other bodies also charged with responsibilities in this area, in order that COSI can emerge as the lead organisation. I also share its view that there is little justification for the chairmanship to rotate along with the EU presidency for precisely the reasons given by the noble Lords, Lord Hannay of Chiswick and Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts. In order to maintain expertise and consistency, it is fundamental that we have an expert chairmanship and expert membership. I am therefore disappointed in the Government’s response, which seems to say that just because we have done it this way with other EU bodies, we will use the same straitjacket this time, too. I argue that the establishment of a new body is precisely when the architecture can and should be improved.
On transparency, the Government’s response to the committee’s recommendation is, if I might say so, equally mealy-mouthed. While the European Parliament might have received its report after an 18-month period, I am not aware whether the UK Parliament has yet had transmittal of this work. Perhaps the Minister or the chairman of the committee might be able to fill in the blank here when winding up.
The work of the committee and its detailed recommendations have been of the usually high calibre that one expects from their Lordships’ European Union scrutiny processes. I do hope that this report continues to inform our thinking around these matters here in the UK and across other EU capitals.
My Lords, I join other noble Lords on the committee in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, for his excellent chairmanship of the sub-committee. His background and experience made him an ideal chairman to guide the committee through evidence-taking and producing what I believe is a very important report. I am delighted to be speaking as a member of that committee. I also thank the members of the support team, led by Michael Collon, who supported and still support the committee so ably.
Security, unfortunately, is an increasingly important subject touching all our lives, whether at airports, entering government buildings or using public transport. It even touches the parking arrangements in your Lordships’ House. Securing the physical safety of their citizens is surely the most important task of any Government and in this modern age, with the world getting smaller through travel and global communications, as other speakers have said, that cannot be achieved unilaterally. It follows, therefore, whatever your views are of the European Union, that increased co-operation between friendly countries is an essential requisite of reducing security risks from those who would do us harm for political, ideological or extreme and fanatical religious reasons. As a person who has been involved in security issues for most of his life—in the police service, with the FBI and now in the private sector—I welcome the treaty of Lisbon, which allowed the European Council to adopt and implement an internal security strategy. It is that strategy, which was set out in the Commission communication in November 2010, that we are considering in this debate.
Statistically, the risk of any of us being involved in a life-threatening security incident is very small. However, as somebody once said, politicians tend to use statistics rather like a drunk uses a lamp-post—more for support than illumination. I knew a millionaire who was extremely worried about flying because of the increased security threat. He employed a security consultant to research the chances of his getting on aircraft where there was a bomb. The consultant did his work. He looked at all the flights and all the incidents, and he worked out that there was something like a 5 million:1 chance against being on an aircraft on which there was a bomb. However, the millionaire was not happy and wanted further work done. He wanted to know how he could lengthen the odds even further. The advice came back: “What you have to do is carry a bomb on to a plane yourself in insulated hand luggage”. “How will that assist?”, he asked. “Well”, the consultant said, “the chances of two strangers each having a bomb on the same plane are infinitesimal”. That sums up the difficulty with statistics.
The five steps set out in the report are comprehensive, dealing with international crime, the prevention of terrorism, security in cyberspace, improved border management and increased resilience to crises and disasters. Clearly, time will not permit me to cover all five items. I intend to concentrate very briefly on just three: international crime networks, terrorism and cybercrime.
By the nature of the beast, the international criminal knows no boundaries. Anything we can do to disrupt his travel arrangements, his communications or the secreting of his ill gotten gains is a plus. The difficulty at an operational level is that the police and security services have to operate within the law. I have to add that it is proper that they do so. As we have seen in other countries, if state officials are above the law we are all finished. Having said that, for those people who know no rules, we may well have to change our rules.
As my noble friend Lord Judd said, there is a very fine balance to be drawn between the restriction of civil liberties and human rights. After all, one man’s right to do something may well be an infringement of his neighbour’s liberty not to have to tolerate such behaviour. It is a dilemma that policemen have wrestled with throughout the ages. In this regard, we can deal with international crime and terrorism together. We have to co-operate totally with other right-thinking countries, sharing intelligence where possible, and acting together operationally if required so that there are very few hiding places. If the conspirators cannot communicate with or meet each other—or, in the case of terrorists, train and practise their dark arts—we are succeeding. If the price of freedom is to have surveillance cameras in public places, in some cases it is a price we have to pay. We have seen the success that it reaps, with terrorists, rapists and murderers being brought to justice. They never learn; we still see bank robbers on “Crimewatch” smiling at the camera.
Modern technology must be used and shared. We all know the value of DNA in bringing terrorists and murderers to justice many years after they thought that they had escaped the long arm of the law. As has been said, we must share these innovations with our law enforcement partners in other jurisdictions. I welcome the report’s endorsement of the work of joint investigation teams. This is particularly true when seizing criminal assets and establishing a functioning asset recovery office in each member state. This should be given a higher priority.
I appreciate that it is more difficult to deal with terrorists who are prepared to commit suicide. That is where vigilance and community intelligence are so important, again working together at local, national and international level. That is why the comments about reducing the incidence of stop and search made last week by the new commissioner at Scotland Yard, Bernard Hogan-Howe, are so important. He would make that process more intelligence-led. This is important because it should reduce the alienation of the police within the community they serve, thereby increasing the chances of important intelligence concerning serious crime and terrorism being brought to their attention. In this country we police by consent and we need the support and real assistance of the community, which can greatly help us in dealing with internal security.
The new kid on the block is cybercrime, as been mentioned in every speech. As our report states, the Government are to be congratulated on the priority given to cybercrime in the UK security strategy. As with many things, the European Union is only as strong as its weakest link. However, it is not just the cybersecurity of the member states that is at risk. The Commission itself must realise that its own institutions, networks and agencies are vulnerable too and take the necessary precautions; and, where they fall short, we must assist them.
Overall, I believe that we are heading in the right direction. The EU communication sets out the road map and I believe that our report helps to identify the vehicle on which we should all be climbing. I commend the report to the House.
My Lords, in response to the comment of the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner of Margravine, while I cannot say that I am the third man, I am the third person down to speak in this debate who is not a member of the committee. I share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, on the lengthy delay in discussing the committee’s report, and that that is not a satisfactory situation. Having said that, I doubt that this is the first occasion there has been such a delay.
As has been said, each member state has responsibility for its own national security but the Lisbon treaty enhanced the European role by providing for the creation of a standing committee within the Council whose principal role is to ensure that operational co-operation on internal security is promoted and strengthened within the Union.
As we know, under the 1999 treaty of Amsterdam, work on justice and home affairs matters has been the subject of five-year programmes agreed by the European Council, with the most recent being the Stockholm Programme agreed in 2009, which indicated that both the Council and the Commission should define a comprehensive Union internal security strategy.
In early 2010, the Council agreed an internal security strategy for the European Union which was subsequently adopted by the European Council. Not to be outdone, the Commission formulated its own communication on the internal security strategy towards the end of 2010 entitled, The EU Internal Security Strategy in Action: Five Steps Towards a More Secure Europe.
As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said, in the report that we are discussing, the committee described the Council strategy as an anodyne document and hardly a strategy at all. In contrast, the committee described the Commission communication as having a practical and pragmatic focus on the five main objectives. They were referred to by the noble Lord and I shall not repeat them.
Accordingly, as the noble Lord said, the European Union sub-committee took this document—namely the Commission communication—as the main focus of its inquiry into the EU internal security strategy. We welcome the committee’s report and I wish to refer briefly to one or two points and issues in it.
The report indicates that the Commission’s communication will be followed by proposals from the Commission for legislation to implement its objectives. One had already been submitted before the committee’s report appeared, and given that we are now some eight months further on, it would be helpful if the Minister could update us as to where we stand in relation to further proposals emanating from the Commission.
The EU Committee comment favourably on the Commission communication as,
“the first pragmatic attempt to articulate a comprehensive approach to the EU’s internal security”,
and say that they,
“do not believe that these proposals intrude upon or threaten Member States’ primary responsibility for national security”.
That is an important point. The committee was critical of the written evidence received from the Home Office, which the committee regarded as stating that the Government would,
“criticise some Commission proposals solely on the ground that they go beyond what was agreed in the Stockholm Programme or the Strategy itself”.
The committee argued that over a five-year programme actions required to safeguard internal security may well move beyond what was originally envisaged, and that therefore each proposal should be assessed on its merits.
In his response, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Crime and Security refers to querying the costs of new proposals and goes on to say that ensuring that those proposals fall within the scope of the Stockholm Programme is key to managing the national and EU justice and home affairs budget. I hope that the Minister can provide assurance that despite that comment the Government will nevertheless assess on their merits any proposals that emerge.
The committee's report also refers to a Commission proposal for a comprehensive data protection framework that was due to be published last year. What is the current position in relation to this Commission proposal?
A further point made by the committee, to which my noble friend Lord Judd referred, was its surprise that there was no reference in the Commission communication to the Armed Forces in relation to civil protection and disaster relief. It is not clear from the written response by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary whether that surprise is shared to any degree by the Government, and perhaps the Minister can provide some clarification on that specific point. It is interesting that one of those giving evidence to the committee expressed the view that this omission was probably due to neurosis within the European Union about military matters.
The committee welcomed the emphasis on cybersecurity in the Commission communication and felt that the EU,
“could play an important part in raising standards and awareness in the Member States”.
In his response, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary welcomes the committee’s view that the EU institutions should take the lead by,
“ensuring the security of their own networks and agencies”,
and said that the UK would,
“support the EU institutions on security matters as appropriate”.
Perhaps the Minister could say whether the Government consider that the EU is doing as much as it should in this field, bearing in mind that what the EU does or does not do could also have implications for our national security as well.
The committee said that the establishment of a cybercrime centre, mentioned by the noble Lords, Lord Hannay of Chiswick and Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbots, would enhance the EU’s ability to contribute in this area and that,
“Europol would be best placed to host such a body”.
The view was also expressed by the committee that,
“finding staff with the necessary expertise may not be easy”,
“Additional staff and funding will be essential if the Cybercrime Centre … is to achieve its key aims”.
The committee went on to say—and the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, referred to this—that:
“The Government’s view that this can be done within existing resources is unrealistic, and inconsistent with their making additional resources available for the United Kingdom’s programme”.
Is it still the Government's stance that any necessary resources are to be found from within the existing budget? If so, why do they think that that is possible? Have there been any further developments in the creation of the cybercrime centre?
The committee's report contains a large number of conclusions or recommendations. The sub-committee involved, under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, has given the issue of the EU internal security strategy the thought that it merits. We should be very grateful for its meticulous and thorough report. Security is an issue of increasing importance and sophistication on the part of those trying to safeguard security and those seeking to breach it. As the committee states, security knows no borders, which is a significant reason why the EU has an important role to play.
However, we should also note the warning in the committee's report, repeated by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, that the Council has an extraordinary number of committees, working groups and other bodies whose tasks overlap and may conflict. As has been said, there is now a new committee with the duty of co-ordinating all the work on internal security. As the sub-committee rightly states, unless it does so, little will be achieved, but that if it does properly fulfil its mandate—or, perhaps, is allowed properly to fulfil its mandate—the EU may play a valuable role in protecting the security of its citizens. One would have thought that the Government would concur with that view. If so, I hope that the Minister can confirm that the Government have that point in mind and are pursuing it within the EU.
We welcome the committee's report. It is an invaluable document. Like the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, I await with interest to hear the Minister's response to the points and questions put to the Government during the debate.
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, put it, a large number of questions have been put to me and I hope to be able to answer as many as possible in the course of my speech.
I am grateful that there is a least one question that I do not have to answer: the question posed at the beginning of his speech by the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, when he talked about the security problems in our car park. That, at least, is not a matter for Her Majesty's Government; we can leave that to the House authorities.
I start by offering my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, on bringing forward the report and for all the work done by his committee. I also offer my apologies—if it is appropriate for me to apologise; I never know whether it is—for the delay between the publication of his report and the day on which it is debated. I think that that is a matter for the usual channels, not me. I see the noble Lord, Lord Roper, nod, but I am sure that he, as chairman of the EU Committee has been pressing as hard as he can to get this, along with a whole host of other valuable reports that his committee has produced, debated in a timely fashion.
The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said that he wanted to concentrate not so much on the Government's response but on where it had been less than adequate. It would be useful if I could start by saying a little about where the Government and the committee were in agreement. There is much that both the Government and the committee found to commend in the internal security strategy. We came to many of the same positive conclusions, not least that the scope of the ISS and the priorities established therein are the right ones. The Government and the committee found points of agreement throughout the strategy, including, but not limited to; support for the establishment of the EU policy cycle; the use of joint investigation teams; the value of the EU passenger name records directive—I note the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, on that subject; and the role of EUROSUR and FRONTEX in enhancing border security.
Again, like the committee, the Government welcome the priority given to cybersecurity in the strategy. We see that the EU has an important role to play in raising standards in, and awareness around, cybersecurity among member states at both the EU level and—stressing points made by a number of noble Lords—the international level. We know that in security matters of this sort there are no boundaries.
In November, as noble Lords will be aware, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary successfully hosted the London conference on cyberspace, and I shall be saying a little more about some of the cybersecurity questions later. Delegates agreed that the immediate next steps must involve taking practical measures to develop a shared understanding of the threats and to agree common approaches and confidence-building measures at an international level.
The Government also find common ground with the committee on a number of cross-cutting issues, such as the safeguarding of fundamental rights. I make it clear that this coalition Government are committed to defending security and defending civil liberties so that the Government infringe less on people’s freedoms, while providing the public with effective protection from terrorism and crime. Given the number of EU data-related dossiers which will impact upon security and the need to tackle threats to security while at the same time protecting civil liberties, we would have liked to have seen those issues addressed more directly in the ISS communication. We believe that the alignment of internal and external security policy is also an area where the Government and the committee take a similar position. The Government support the committee’s call for closer working between the Commissioner for Home Affairs and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
I should like to discuss one or two points that noble Lords raised. I start with the whole question of funding the cybercrime centre, which the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, raised. He asked me to look at this area but I think he accepted, although he was sorry, that it was something that I could not help on directly. He is no doubt right. I am sure we all agree that there are other savings within the EU budget that could be looked at. We could look at the budget of the High Representative herself to see whether more money could come out of that to help with such a centre. However, we understand that the Commission will bring forward a communication later this year regarding setting up the cybercentre, and it remains the Government’s view that this should be managed within existing resources. However, the question of where those existing resources come from will obviously have to be discussed at a later stage.
The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, also suggested that oversight of Europol should be carried out by an interparliamentary committee. The Government’s view is that Europol now has fairly robust scrutiny and accountability structures in place. We believe that the Europol Council decision, which came into force in January 2010, means that the European Parliament can require the Europol director, the chair of the management board and the presidency of the Council to go before it to discuss Europol-related issues. Additional mechanisms are in place that ensure the transparency of Europol as an EU agency. They include the submission of the Europol work programme and annual reports to the European Parliament. That provides a useful job for the European Parliament, and we think that it is something it can probably do effectively. I believe that the committee chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Roper, and its various sub-committees can also scrutinise the activities of Europol with some vigour, as they have done in the past.
My noble friend Lord Hodgson hoped that the Government would make use of the various and valuable resources within the EU agencies themselves. Our position remains that member states can and should do more to share information, not just among EU agencies but among themselves, and to put that at the disposal of Europol. Improving our information-sharing strategy with Europol is very important in terms of influencing the EU intelligence picture at a strategic and operational level. It is important to make the most of Europol’s analytical capabilities to ensure that it can identify, for example, key persons of interest and operational opportunities for multilateral co-operation.
I turn to a query raised by the noble Lord, Lord Judd. He expressed some interest in the role of the Armed Forces in EU internal security and the committee’s concern that that was an oversight in the communication. We recognise that military assets can play a very significant role in supporting, for example, disaster relief activities, but we also believe that they should be used only as a last resort where there are no civilian alternatives. Decisions in such matters are, we believe, a matter for national authorities acting on a case-by-case basis.
My noble friend Lady Falkner was somewhat concerned about a lack of co-operation between the EU and NATO. I note that concern. We believe that that can be improved and developed, including in new fields such as cybersecurity, which has been raised a great deal. We have pressed both the high representative and the Secretary-General of NATO to encourage further information sharing and increased co-ordination on the ground in all areas between those two organisations.
I turn to structures and, in particular, to the questions relating to COSI which were raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, by my noble friend Lord Hodgson and by other noble Lords. We do not consider that there is a case for the standing committee on operational co-operation on internal security, or COSI—I forget how the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, interpreted those initials—but there are obviously a number of ways in which we can replace all oversight bodies that have a legislative role, such as the Article 36 committee. I want to make it clear to my noble friend Lord Hodgson, who was worried about a lack of representatives from FRONTEX, Europol and others, that my understanding is that representatives from Europol and FRONTEX attend COSI meetings as a matter of course alongside representatives of the other EU and justice and home affairs agencies—for example, Eurojust. It is important that they are there.
I should also address the question raised by my noble friend Lord Hodgson, the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and I think by my noble friend Lady Falkner about their concerns about the chairmanship and whether it should rotate. I forget who suggested that they were likely to get a rather mealy-mouthed response from me on this; from her reaction, I suspect it must have been my noble friend Lady Falkner. I understand that it is a working group and subject to the same chairing arrangements as other working groups. It is chaired on the six-monthly rotational basis that works for the Council presidency. That means that we hope we have an incoming, outgoing and current chairman and we hope that they will work together over that 18-month cycle as a troika. I think it was my noble friend who suggested that this might be the opportunity to change those arrangements, but I think for the moment it would probably be best to stick to the arrangements that we have in place for that. I am not sure that the COSI chairmanship would be the right one on which to make such a fundamental change. As regards transparency, again, it operates the same rules as other groups do. In some case-sensitive operational issues these matters can be discussed, which means that certain documents obviously cannot be publicly released. That would have to be handled appropriately, as with all other information.
The last point that I want to deal with is the question of ratifying the Warsaw convention. I appreciate that there might be other points, but time may be beginning to run out. I also appreciate that I came under a certain amount of pressure from the committee when I appeared before it the other day. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, referred to that and criticised my possibly imprecise remarks on ratification, when I said that I hoped it would happen in a year or so. I think he implied, in Sir Humphrey-speak, that that answer was not really as precise as Ministers ought to give. I have to say that, although one would like to ratify that convention, there are always concerns about ratifying and one has to get these things right.
The noble Lord referred to another convention that I was dealing with at Question Time today. We should always be very careful about any ratification; I do not think that we want to be like those countries which—dare I say it—ratify somewhat lightly, because we should consider the precise implications of ratification. In terms of the convention that I was talking about at Question Time, there are very serious concerns about extraterritorial jurisdiction, which would have a major effect on our own United Kingdom domestic law. We need to consider those carefully before we ratify and the same applies, although it is more a question of resource points, to ratifying the Warsaw convention.
As I said, a number of other issues probably need to be addressed, but time is running on—
I fear that the Minister is coming to his concluding comments and I wanted to get in before he sits down concerning the question that I asked about the forward plan, after the London cybersecurity conference of last November. Hungary is due to host the next summit and while I appreciate that he may not have the information to hand now, might he be able to write to tell us what tangible steps Her Majesty's Government are taking to implement the recommendations of the London conference?
My Lords, I have some details somewhere about Hungary. I am not sure that I will be able to help my noble friend at this stage but, if I may, I will write to her in due course. As I said, I feel that I am beginning to run out of time and I am probably keeping the House up later than it ought to be. What I want to make clear is that I will respond to any points that I have not yet answered in due course by letter, but that we will keep the implementation of the EU internal security strategy under review.
As always, we are eternally grateful for the work of our own scrutiny committees: the EU Committee in this House, and all its sub-committees. They do a valuable job, and probably do a better job of scrutiny of EU matters than those of any other Chamber in any other country throughout the EU. On that, they should be congratulated. I also hope that the usual channels—that strange body which the noble Lord, Lord Roper, and I used to be members of many years ago—will take note of all the comments, particularly those of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and ensure that in future these matters are debated in a timely fashion, as appropriate.
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who contributed to this very useful debate. I am particularly grateful to the three members of the sub-committee that I chair who participated in the debate in a singularly apt and helpful manner, but I am grateful also to all other noble Lords. I hope that I will be forgiven if I do not mention everyone, because brevity is the essence of the contribution that I am called on to make at the end of the debate.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, for what he said about cybercrime. He brought a lot of very pertinent evidence to bear and demonstrated that there is a huge cost to all our economies from the—alas—all too successful cybercrime that exists. Therefore, when we come to look at the resources we devote to combating this form of crime, we should bear in mind those massive sums and think about how, not in strictly budgetary terms, they could benefit not only this country but Europe collectively. I am also most grateful for what the noble Lord said about the follow-up to the Foreign Secretary's initiative last November, which the committee warmly welcomed. Perhaps I dare say that we envisaged such a conference before it was even a gleam in the eye of the Foreign Secretary. We had written a report on cybersecurity some time previously, in which we said that we hoped to see the Government taking an initiative to deal with the global issues that the noble Lord, Lord Judd, so wisely put his finger on.
I will make just two points about the reply of the noble Lord, Lord Henley. I am grateful to both noble Lords on the Front Benches for their offer of thanks and support to the committee; it is of great benefit to us. My first point is on the budgetary issue. I will not go any further because the response given today by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, was helpful. However, I must draw his attention to an Explanatory Memorandum that his department put its name to recently, which was less helpful than the response that he gave across the Floor of the House this afternoon. I think it was in paragraph 26 of the memorandum—I cite from memory—that the department stated that any increase in the resources needed for, let us say, cybercrime or anything in the justice and home affairs area must be found within that chapter of the budget. That is unbelievably restrictive and completely contrary to the policy that has been pursued by successive British Governments for I do not know how long, which is that we should look for transfers and shifts in the priorities of the budget, most obviously away from excessive expenditure on agriculture, and should focus the budget on higher priority areas.
The answer that the noble Lord gave just now was spot on. My committee is not saying that we should increase the overall resources allocated to the European Union; we are saying that we should reprioritise them. The Minister’s answer said precisely that: if savings can be found in other parts of the budget, it will be fine. However, it is not what the Explanatory Memorandum stated. I will not go on any longer because the EU Select Committee that is preparing a further report on the budgetary aspects of the multiannual financial framework will come back to this point in that context, and the Government will have an opportunity to give their considered response. I hope very much that the department for which the noble Lord is responsible will play its modest role in ensuring that it is properly understood that if we say that everything has to be found within individual chapters, it will be a recipe for stasis and for no change at all, and that no other member state will have any incentive to support reductions if resources cannot be moved to higher priority areas.
I turn finally to the noble Lord’s reply on the institutional point. I think that there was a slight misunderstanding. The approach that the EU Select Committee and my sub-committee supported was not to create any new institution. However, we are saddled with the fact that the Lisbon treaty instructs the institutions to provide oversight that brings together national Parliaments and the European Parliament. We are not proposing any shift because these meetings already take place on an annual basis between the chairs of the home affairs committees and the LIBE committee of the Parliament. We are merely suggesting that the Government throw their weight behind somewhat formalising that structure as the basis on which to keep an eye on Frontex, Europol, Eurojust and so on. It is totally cost-effective. It does not cost a penny, and it involves no new institutions. I mention that because I think that the Minister rather implied that we were thinking of something more ambitious. We are not.
I thank all those who participated and thank the Minister for his extremely thoughtful response. I am a little sad about the Warsaw convention, and I still hope that he can find some way to accelerate that. It is quite clearly less difficult than what he was dealing with earlier this afternoon. I previously dealt quite a lot with extraterritorial issues, and I understand that they bristle with difficulties. We are not really talking about that sort of thing in terms of the Warsaw convention, and I hope that he will find some way of moving to ratification of that pretty quickly because I do not think it does our reputation any credit and I do not think it is in the interests of this country that people pick and chose the things that they do or do not ratify.
House adjourned at 5.12 pm.