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EU: Justice and Home Affairs

Volume 746: debated on Wednesday 3 July 2013

Motion to Take Note

Moved by

To move that the Grand Committee takes note of the report to Parliament on the application of Protocols 19 and 21 to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union in relation to EU justice and home affairs matters (Cm 8541).

My Lords, the previous Administration made a commitment to table a report each year on the operation of the JHA opt-in protocol. The Government agreed to maintain that pledge and have ensured that such reports cover not only decisions taken under the JHA opt-in but also those taken under the Schengen opt-out protocol. The Government have since published three such reports. The most recent of these, which is the subject of this debate, was published on 25 April this year. It covers opt-in decisions taken between 1 December 2011 and 30 November 2012.

I apologise that the annual report was later than usual this year. We aim for publication in January, but opt-in decisions included in the annual report fall to a wide range of government departments. The late publication of this year’s report was due to a delay in finalising data from across Whitehall. We regret this delay and will aim to ensure that the next annual report is published promptly.

During the period of the latest annual report, the Government took 35 decisions on UK participation in EU justice and home affairs proposals. Under the JHA opt-in protocol we opted in to 24 proposals and did not opt in to eight. The Government took three decisions under the Schengen protocol, choosing to remain bound in each case.

As the Committee will be aware, the Government have stated that we will take opt-in decisions on a case-by-case basis. We consider factors such as the impact of the measure on our security, civil liberties, the integrity of our criminal justice and common law systems and on the control of immigration. At the heart of it is a commitment to focus on the national interest. As such, we will only opt in where we believe it is in the UK’s interests to do so. Examples of proposals where we judged UK participation was in the national interest were the EU-US passenger name records agreement and a directive on data protection. Both of these agreements promise to assist law enforcement authorities in combating serious crime, while including all the necessary data protection safeguards.

Conversely, the Government decided not to opt in to a proposed directive on the freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime. While we were sympathetic with the aims of this proposal, we had concerns that the published text posed risks to the UK’s domestic non-conviction-based confiscation regime, and therefore felt that it was too risky to opt in prior to negotiations, given that we would then be bound by the final text, once adopted. The Government also decided not to participate in the internal security fund regulation due to concerns over value for money. Despite our decisions in these latter cases, I note that the Government have taken an active role in both of these negotiations and will consider participation post-adoption should our negotiating objectives be met.

The Government have been clear that we want Parliament to play an important role. For this reason, we have further strengthened the role of Parliament in scrutinising opt-in decisions. My noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford’s Written Ministerial Statement of 21 January 2011 pledged to give Parliament as much opportunity as possible to comment on and influence future opt-in decisions. Under these new arrangements, we have committed to the setting aside of government time for a debate on opt-in decisions where there is a particularly strong parliamentary interest. The Government must also now report each opt-in decision to Parliament by a Written or, where appropriate, an oral Ministerial Statement. This procedure is now well practised.

The commitments included in that Statement, to give Parliament more of a say in opt-in decisions, are something which the Government take very seriously. I emphasise to the Grand Committee that we are keenly aware of the essential need to make these new arrangements work on a practical level. To this end, noble Lords will be aware that following extensive consultation with interested parties, including our own European Union Committee, the Government have recently finalised an internal code of practice. Through the code we hope to reach and maintain a consistently high standard across government in respect of handling the parliamentary scrutiny aspects of future opt-in decisions.

I do not plan to dwell on more recent opt-in decisions today because they will be covered by the next annual report to be published early next year, and before then in our six-monthly update to the European Union Committee. However, I note that since 30 November 2012, the Government have taken a further 10 decisions under the JHA opt-in protocol, opting in on seven occasions. No decisions were taken under the Schengen protocol during the period.

I hope that this is a good introduction to the background of the report we have presented to Parliament. I commend it to the Grand Committee and I beg to move.

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the Minister. I welcome this third report on the application of the arrangements concerning the United Kingdom’s participation in European Union legislation in the field of justice and home affairs, the so-called opt-in arrangements. I am pleased that the report fulfils the present Government’s commitment in the interests of transparency and accountability introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Ashton of Upholland, in the previous Government. As the Minister has acknowledged, it was something of a pity that it was published late, and I am sure that we all accept his apologies. I understand that there were difficulties this year in finalising the annexe, but that is likely to be a recurring problem for which the departments must plan ahead. My committee hopes very much that next year’s report will be published early in 2014.

As a member of and now the chair of the European Union’s Sub-committee on Justice, Institutions and Consumer Protection, I have followed closely the Government’s approach to European Union proposals. The sub-committee has scrutinised a range of proposals in the justice field since the UK’s opt-in arrangements have applied to the area of justice and home affairs, and I think that the Government’s case-by-case approach is the right one. In the civil justice area, like the Government, we have been cautious and particularly mindful of the principle of subsidiarity because of the potential effects of the proposed measures on UK legal systems, particularly on our law of property and the implications for the laws of inheritance in other jurisdictions. For example, we recommended that the UK should not opt in to a proposal which would lay down common rules on the choice of national court and law to apply where a deceased person had property in more than one member state.

We have also been unable to support, at any rate in its current form, the proposal for a common European sales law, despite its laudable objective of improving the operation of the single market. This would introduce an additional, albeit optional, law of contract for consumer transactions. Our concern is that its potential to introduce legal uncertainty and confusion among consumers would outweigh the expected benefits. We have suggested that the Commission would be wise to adopt generally, in the civil justice area, a cautious step-by-step approach.

In the field of criminal justice, the EU has taken that kind of approach, implementing two so-called road maps which set out specific measures agreed by the Council of Ministers. We have recommended that the Government should opt in to all these measures apart from one on the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings. We agree that the right of a suspect or defendant to legal advice is a vital part of the legal process, but we consider that the original proposal did not strike the right balance between the rights of suspects and defendants on the one hand and the ability of law enforcement authorities to investigate and prosecute offences on the other. For the future, we have suggested that before the EU embarks on further measures in the criminal justice field, it first completes the road maps and then leaves time for a proper evaluation of the effects of the legislation. Any exceptions should require particularly strong justification.

Relatively few proposals subject to the opt-in fell within the remit of my sub-committee during the period covered by the report we are discussing. On the whole, the committee agreed with the Government’s approach to the proposals that have come before us. The single exception this year concerns the justice programme, where we differed on whether it offered good value for money.

Finally, I, too, welcome the code of practice for the guidance of government departments on handling proposals which are subject to the opt-in procedure, which should ensure that the scrutiny committees can undertake their work within the strict time limits imposed by the treaties because committees deserve and need the time properly to fulfil that obligation.

My Lords, my main concern so far is on the block opt-out. I could never see any real justification for this, and my feelings were strongly confirmed by the report of the House of Lords committee. Therefore, I thought I would look at the way in which the Government have approached the pre-2013 opt-outs and opt-ins and the ones now up for consideration. Like other speakers, I very much welcome the report as the proposals appear to be extremely pragmatic and the relevant cases are judged on their merits.

I wish to cite a few examples on which I have concerns. The proposal at page 14 of the report for a directive on criminal sanctions for insider dealing and market manipulation is welcome in principle. However, the Government very sensibly say that they want to see how it works out and will participate fully in the negotiations to enable the proposal to be better progressed. That seems to me a very sensible, practical proposal, and I am surprised that that attitude was not taken on the European arrest warrant, the merits of which appear to be extremely plain. The obvious way in which to influence these proceedings is to take part in the negotiations and see how they can be improved.

I have questions about the proposals on page 17 of the report regarding the internal security fund. The Government have not reached a final decision on this matter and state in the report:

“We need to be absolutely sure that the value benefits or cost savings we will secure from the Programme outweighs the cost of participation”.

It is obviously desirable that we should participate, so what are the costs involved? Are they really substantial or are they fairly unimportant in this context?

A further regulation,

“establishes a single Justice funding programme which combines three previous programmes”.

That is very sensible, but the Government raise the question of value for money. What sums are involved?

Finally, I have some questions as regards,

“the need to harmonise the offence of money laundering at EU level”,

mentioned on page 33 of the report. Again, it seems to me that it would be extremely sensible for the Government to look at this further.

It seems to me ludicrous not to support the proposal to combine Europol and CEPOL. It is obviously sensible to rationalise in this case, but it depends on our final decisions on Europol and the training college. It seems that the Government’s attitude has changed during the course of the negotiations between the coalition partners whereby a much more pragmatic mood has been created, but it would be absurd if we were not to remain members of Europol. We have the president of Europol and the college here in Britain, which brings in a considerable income. Obviously, the proposals depend on us remaining part of Europol.

I am pleasantly surprised by the pragmatic spirit in which these questions have been proposed. All the matters up for decision in 2013 seem, in principle, to be welcome, and I hope that we will continue to judge them entirely on their merits. I end by saying that I hope that this new mood of pragmatism, a mood that has always been there in particular areas, will prevail and that in the end we will find that we are full, participating partners in co-operation on criminal justice and crime in Europe.

My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for a useful report and, in my role as chairman of the European Union Select Committee as a whole, I extend those thanks to all those who are participating in this debate, which is exposing some interesting issues.

Be it far from me to suggest that the issues are easy to grasp at first instance and, to be frank, I would not recommend them to a novice member of my committee who had never been to one of these debates because it is not the easiest territory on which to start. However, we should remember as a committee that this subject reflects the real interests, welfare and, in certain cases, security of our citizens. It is important that we get it right. I am heartened by the way in which the Minister presented his case in terms of looking at the issues and making decisions on their merits. I say, with respect, that that is the way in which our sub-committees have tended to produce their reports, even on occasions when their conclusions have differed from those of the Government—or perhaps have not been confirmed by government until a later stage.

Inevitably because of those comments, my emphasis will be on aspects of the process. I have to offer some praise to the Government and some blame, too—alternatively, as it were. We certainly all welcome the fact that this report is being debated approximately two months after its publication. That is in line with the request made by the committee during the debate on the first annual report in 2011. I am delighted to see the noble Lord, Lord Roper, attending this debate, and he will remember that request. So far, so good but, as the Minister wisely confessed to the Committee, it is regrettable that this, the third annual report, was published nearly four months late, although its two predecessors were bang on time and both came out in January. The importance of timeliness should be emphasised by the Minister in rallying the outlying departments that have to be consulted on these matters. I hope that he can give an assurance that unless some great disaster intervenes, the fourth annual report will be published on time in January next year. There is a related issue to this and it would be helpful if the Minister could clarify how the report’s delayed publication will impact on the scheduled publication of the mid-year update to the report, which should be available by now, or very shortly in early July.

While on the subject of complaint, we also note that two of the opt-in decisions listed in Annexe 1, which is a very helpful annexe, cited incorrect legal bases. These have been subsequently corrected in correspondence with the European Scrutiny Committee in another place. Mistakes happen, of course, but we trust the Government will ensure that such errors are not repeated in the next annual report.

To turn to the positive, we, too, welcome the recent publication of the Government’s code of practice on scrutiny of opt-in and Schengen opt-out decisions. This is for the attention of all government departments to ensure that the views of Parliament are taken into account. I thank our officials in the Select Committee for their input to that process which has been mutually beneficial.

To come to what is, I suppose, the most important legal crux, but, again, not a particularly immediately obvious one, there is a consistent implication from the Government that the UK opt-in will apply to proposals which include justice and home affairs elements, despite not citing a Title 5 legal base, which is the normal legal basis for a justice and home affairs proposal. The Select Committee of this House and the European Union Scrutiny Committee in the other place have had little sympathy for this approach in the past. We suggest that it tends to fall on deaf ears in the Commission and Council. Perhaps the Minister will indicate to this Committee whether the legal base of a new European Union committee has ever been amended as a result of the Government’s approach in this regard and what the current Commission and Council position is on this matter.

Turning to slightly more substantial matters, the report notes that negotiations continue on a number of proposals where although the United Kingdom Government did not opt in during the initial three-month period, it remains their objective to seek to amend the text in a way that will allow the United Kingdom to exercise its right to opt in to the proposal after it has been adopted across the board. This situation applies to the directive on the freezing and confiscation of the proceeds of crime and the directive on the right of access to a lawyer. I think we all have some sympathy with doing this; the question is whether an acceptable outcome can be achieved. I would be grateful if the Minister could provide an update regarding what progress has been made in relation to both these proposals, including the likelihood of post-adoption opt-ins by the Government.

The Minister’s report refers to the proposed Europol regulation as a “forthcoming dossier”. Owing to the delay, the proposal was published very shortly afterwards. We acted fairly quickly in our Sub-Committee F report regarding the measure, which recommended that the United Kingdom should opt in. It was debated and endorsed by this House on 1 July. We note that the Government must reach a decision in response to that by 30 July, which will take the views of both Houses into account. We look forward to receiving notification of that decision, presumably before the other place goes into recess on 18 July. There is not much time for that, but it is important to know where we are.

Then there is what I might call the elephant in the room, which is the United Kingdom’s opt-out decision to be taken on the existing or pre-existing measures in 2014. The report correctly notes that this is a separate issue as it concerns the pre-Lisbon measures, but it is relevant in the context of this debate. All the post-Lisbon measures that the United Kingdom has chosen to participate in are listed in the report. It is worth recording that the average participation by the United Kingdom Government in these post-Lisbon measures varies, but is somewhere between 70% and 80%, so the significant majority are acceptable to the Government on consideration, although in certain cases, including the two I have referred to, it may take time, and it may take more than the three months to reach an acceptable decision. We would feel better late than never, if I may put it like that in shorthand.

Granted that all the post-Lisbon measures involve the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union, we wonder about the Government citing concerns about this jurisdiction as one of the reasons for exercising their opt-out in relation to the pre-Lisbon measures that I have mentioned, which they suggest were not drafted with the court’s jurisdiction in mind. In the report that our joint sub-committees have issued on the opt-out report in relation to Protocol 36, this suggestion was considered and rejected. We therefore look forward to a further announcement on the opt-out, which we understand is now imminent.

It would be fair to say, in summary, that although we are not in any sense ideologically in favour of always acceding to justice and home affairs measures, and have aligned ourselves on a number of occasions with the Government in not doing so, we are broadly sympathetic to the approach where we can do so. We hope that the Government will wish to consider the Protocol 36 decisions sympathetically and provide a good portfolio of responses in due course.

My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for introducing this debate and express my thanks to all who have participated with their considerable experience and knowledge—which I do not mind admitting is somewhat greater than mine—and not least my noble friend Lady Corston, who explained the work and views of her committee on certain key issues and referred to the code of practice. From current personal experience, I certainly share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Boswell of Aynho, on the difficulty of getting to grips with the detail of this report.

As the Minister said, this is the third annual report to Parliament on the application of Protocols 19 and 21 on the Schengen opt-out and justice and home affairs opt-in respectively. Once again, the reports arise from the previous Government’s commitment in 2008 to strengthen parliamentary scrutiny of the justice and home affairs opt-in, part of which was an undertaking to provide Parliament with and make available for debate an annual report that both looked ahead to the Government’s approach to EU justice and home affairs policy and forthcoming dossiers, including in relation to the opt-in, and provided a retrospective annual report on the UK’s application of the opt-in protocol. Annexe 1 of the report in front of us sets out all the JHA opt-in decisions and Schengen opt-out decisions taken from December 2011 until the end of November 2012. Annexe 2 outlines legislative proposals which are expected to be brought forward in the current year and will require a decision on UK participation under the justice and home affairs opt-in protocol.

One of the legislative proposals mentioned in Annexe 2 is the proposal for a regulation on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Co-operation and Training—Europol—about which, as has already been noted, we had a debate on Monday in the context of the European Union Committee’s report on the UK opt-in to the Europol regulation. At the end of the debate, the House agreed with the committee’s recommendation that the Government should exercise their right to take part in the adoption and application of the proposed regulation. Whether that will have any impact on the Government’s decision remains to be seen, since it is not unknown for internal party considerations to play a part in determining this Government’s approach to any matters European. The Minister told us on Monday that the decision on whether to opt in to the Europol regulation was “finely balanced”. Can he say which of our law enforcement agencies feel that we should not opt in to the regulation?

Annex 2 sets out a number of other proposed measures. Any specific update from the Minister on the situation in respect of some or all of those proposals would be helpful, in particular on whether any decisions have actually been taken. My noble friend Lady Smith of Basildon asked him, in the debate on the Europol regulation on Monday, how many measures were awaiting an opt-in decision by the Government and whether any have been delayed because of the decisions regarding the opt-out, to which reference has already been made.

There is one other issue I would like to raise from what was said on Monday. If memory serves me right, it was the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, who referred to a European surveillance order in which the Government do not have an opt-in or opt-out. They have simply failed to implement a piece of European legislation that they agreed to and which came into force throughout the European Union in December last year. What is the Government’s position on that order, which provides the possibility for someone who is subject to a European arrest warrant to be bailed in their own country?

The Government have sought to argue in this report that decisions taken in relation to the JHA opt-in and Schengen opt-out protocols are separate from the 2014 opt-out decision under Protocol 36 to the European Union treaties. However, that argument does not really hold water. As was pointed out in Monday’s debate, if the measure is a police and criminal justice measure that was adopted before the Lisbon treaty entered into force in 2009, deciding to opt in to that measure or a variation of it, or deciding not to opt in to a variation of it but to seek to influence it from the outside, would be completely nullified if we then decided to opt out of all those measures under Protocol 36. Perhaps the Minister will tell us which of the measures on which decisions were made to opt in between 1 December 2011 and 30 November 2012 as set out in Annexe 1 of the annual report would cease to apply to the UK if we made an opt-out decision under Protocol 36. Likewise, if we decided to opt in to all the proposals in Annex 2, or not opt in but seek to influence them from the outside, which of those measures would cease to apply to the UK if we made an opt-out decision under Protocol 36? If the Government decided to opt out under Protocol 36, no one knows which measures, including the European arrest warrant, we could subsequently get agreement to opt back in to or, if we could, on what basis or terms. All 130 measures were agreed by unanimity under a system where the UK had the veto, and not a single one of them was foisted on the UK against our will.

The noble Lord, Lord Boswell of Aynho, referred to the Europol regulation. I know it is only two days after the Minister was asked about it on Monday, but can he now clarify the Government’s position, including when the debate on the government Motion on the decision on the Europol regulation, postponed from today, will take place?

I shall conclude with a few specific questions on the report. On page 26, the Government have not opted out of parts of Schengen, such as the Schengen information system second generation. I understand that we will be connected in the fourth quarter of 2014. If we exercise the block opt-out, we will be leaving all pre-Lisbon parts of the Schengen acquis. What does that mean as far as the decision not to opt out of the Schengen information system second generation is concerned? On page 6, reference is made to the directive on the protection of the financial interests of the EU against fraud by means of criminal law. The report says that the Treasury will provide an update as soon as possible. If that has not already happened, when is it likely to happen?

Page 10 refers to the trade agreement between the EU and Colombia and Peru. I am genuinely not entirely sure what the current position is. Has that agreement been concluded? Was there an undertaking, as has been suggested to me, by the Government that there would be a vote in both Houses on the trade agreement between the EU and Colombia and Peru? Page 13 refers to passenger name record sharing with the USA to which the Minister referred in his opening comments. How is that operating and how effective is it proving to be? Page 16 refers to the asylum and migration fund. How would this be affected if we exercised the blanket opt-out? How much of an effect would an opt-out have on the UKBA’s resettlement activities?

Finally, page 23 refers to the confiscation of the proceeds of crime in the EU; once again, the Minister referred to this issue in his opening speech. Have any problems arisen subsequently as a result of not opting in? I appreciate that the Minister is unlikely to have all the information immediately to hand to respond to my detailed points; I mean that—I would be amazed if he did. However, I would nevertheless appreciate a response at not too late a stage.

My Lords, this has been a good debate. I would love to be able to amaze the noble Lord, Lord Rosser. I will do my best, but he is quite right in assuming that some of the questions are quite detailed. However, I am becoming more informed every minute, as the noble Lord can see, which is a very helpful support. I think that the noble Lord and I start off as relative novices in this esoteric part of the Home Office brief. We bow to the expertise to which we have had the opportunity of listening. However, I have found in the briefings which I have had that this is a fascinating and important area of government with real effects on how the Government operate and on the lives of the citizens of our country.

I am delighted that my noble friend Lord Taverne takes the view that our approach of being pragmatic and looking at issues on their merits is the right one. That is certainly true, and I have been impressed by the rigour with which this process has been pursued by the Government.

The Government are fully committed to engaging with Parliament on European Union issues and on the opt-in in particular. As such, the debate has been useful. Indeed, as noble Lords have mentioned, this is the second time this week we have considered the implications of this. This is a more general debate; we had a specific debate on Europol on the Floor of the House on Monday. This shows the seriousness with which the Government take these matters. During the period of this report, your Lordships have debated two other decisions on UK participation in EU measures: one on data protection and the other on the confiscation of criminal assets.

I will commence by going through points that noble Lords have made. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Corston, for her contribution. She started off with a modest reprimand which was reinforced by the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, that we were late. I acknowledge that, but we have plans and do not want this to happen again. We will be providing a report in January. We understand how important that is.

The noble Baroness also rightly asked that the committee be given enough time to consider our proposals. The committee exists to scrutinise, and we want to facilitate that. That is the intention of the code of practice. We are conscious of the time constraints on the committee and, indeed, sometimes on the process in which we are engaged. We will seek to keep the committee informed of what is in development, as well as providing Explanatory Memoranda promptly.

The noble Baroness regretted our decision not to opt in to the justice programme. My noble friend Lord Taverne also expressed concerns about this. We have said that we will consider seeking to opt in after it is agreed, if there is evidence to show that it is worth while. We take note of what the noble Baroness has said and would welcome any further evidence she or interested parties may wish to submit so that my right honourable friend the Justice Secretary can consider it at the appropriate time.

My noble friend Lord Taverne asked what the sums involved are. That issue remains under negotiation. The sums will depend on the nature and outcome of negotiations.

The noble Baroness mentioned the committee’s advice on civil and criminal measures. I completely agree with her about the measure concerning the estate of a deceased person and the directive on access to lawyers. Certainly, there needs to be a cautious approach in both cases because of civil and criminal law. On the question of a common European sales law, I agree it risks causing some legal uncertainly. However, the opt-in does not apply to the measure since it has been brought forward only as an internal market measure not as a justice measure.

My noble friend Lord Taverne wanted more detail on the reasons for the decision not to opt in to the internal security fund. The sums involved are still unclear as discussions on the EU budget remain under negotiation. However, we have committed to review the decision post-adoption and will consult Parliament then. He asked also why the merger of Europol and CEPOL is not a good thing. Noble Lords who were present at the debate on Monday evening will have heard me explain the Government’s position on this measure. We are concerned that by combining the two we are going to dilute the core functions of Europol. We do not believe that is in our interests.

The noble Lord, Lord Boswell, asked what was happening to our mid-year reports. Given this report was presented late, will our mid-year report be late? We plan to send it to the committee this month. We are catching up, and I hope we will continue to be on time in the future. The noble Lord—I keep thinking of him as my noble friend but given his now exalted position I have to reduce my friendship with him as we need to be at arm’s length and it is difficult to do—asked whether the Government’s position on the interpretation of the opt-in had changed. The Government believe that any measure including substantial JHA content triggers the opt-in protocol irrespective of whether it has been categorised as a JHA measure by the EU by, as he says, the citation of a JHA legal base. We often assert that the opt-in applies to measures that are predominantly non-JHA but which include a binding JHA content. That is what is determining policy. The Government have not changed their position in that regard, but it is very important to emphasise that it is the binding JHA content that triggers the opt-in procedure.

The noble Lord also asked about the inaccuracies that had crept into the annual report in the matter of legal bases. There was an administrative error in relation to the correct legal bases. The Secretary of State wrote to the chair to explain that the correct bases for the Turkey social security measure were Articles 289 and 48 TEU and on assurance mediation were Articles 53(1) and 62 TEU.

The noble Lord also asked whether we had ever successfully negotiated a change of legal base. We have done so in the case of a directive on road transport offences, which secured unanimity in the Council to change the transport legal base to a JHA legal base on police co-operation. We did not, in fact, opt into that measure.

As regards further information on the Government’s position on the 2014 opt-out, all noble Lords would like to receive it as quickly as possible. The Government’s position is that we will keep Parliament informed.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked about the question asked by his noble friend Lady Smith of Basildon in the Europol debate about opt-in decisions pending. I had hoped that the noble Lord would ask about that because I can place this on record and save myself a stamp. Among others, we have opt-in decisions pending on the directive on legal migration, a co-operation agreement with Indonesia, a mandate for an agreement with Cuba, an association agreement with Ukraine, a mandate for an EU-China investment agreement and the Europol decision, as the noble Lord will know. All are being managed within required deadlines.

Talking of the Europol debate, the noble Lord asked which law enforcement agencies say that we should not opt into Europol. The Government are yet to take a decision on the new Europol regulation and in the decision-making process we have been consulting a number of law enforcement colleagues, including the Met police and SOCA, on the options. Given that the decision-making process is ongoing, I cannot give any further detail on that matter.

The noble Lord also asked when the debate will take place. I gave a commitment that Parliament would be informed of the decision and I have little doubt that the debate in the other place will be tabled for consideration before the Recess. We are committed to a debate on the Europol regulation and are seeking to arrange for it to take place before the House rises.

The noble Lord asked about the European surveillance order, which I remember the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, talking about. I asked about that because I could not find any record of it. I think the reference was to the European supervision order, but the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, is normally so reliable, I can understand why the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, followed up on this matter. However, this measure was agreed under the pre-Lisbon arrangements and would fall within the Protocol 36 decision. The Government will determine their approach to implementation when the decision on that protocol has been made.

The final issue on which I have a note here was about the measures in Annexe 1 to our report. Would the Government be forced to leave if we took a block opt-out decision in 2014? I cannot give noble Lords a definitive answer until we have completed our discussions with the Commission on the measures that we would intend to rejoin. We regard the legal thresholds of practical operability and coherence to be a high bar. I hope that I have surprised the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, to some degree but not in absolute terms, and there are some points that I should like to cover in correspondence. I will not have saved a postage stamp, after all.

If we look to the future, it is not possible to say what proposals regarding an opt-in will be brought forward over the remainder of this year. In the report, we have given an indication of what we expect to happen based on work programmes, our knowledge of dossiers which are being considered, those which were carried over from last year and discussions we are having on an ongoing basis with our European partners. The Government have been very clear that we will take opt-in decisions on a case-by-case basis, so noble Lords will understand that it is not appropriate for me to comment on whether we will opt in to any new proposal that might come forward in coming months. I can give a commitment that whatever happens, we hope that the committee will work with us in scrutinising these matters and we will give Parliament as a whole the opportunity to be engaged in this important part of democratic scrutiny of European policy.

We expect a number of EU measures to emerge that will trigger a European opt-in decision. Most significant is the new Eurojust regulation which we expect to be published this month. At the same time, there is likely to be a proposal for a European public prosecutor. We expect that, as with the Europol proposal, the Eurojust opt-in decision will be subject to parliamentary debates in government time. Noble Lords will be aware that the Government have already indicated that we will not participate in the European public prosecutor. We also anticipate the publication of proposals on combating money laundering. After long negotiations, it is possible that an EU-Canada passenger names records agreement will be signed and concluded triggering opt-in decisions. I understand that the Ministry of Justice is anticipating proposals on special safeguards in criminal procedures for vulnerable suspected or accused persons and an initiative regarding legal aid in criminal proceedings. It is also possible that new initiatives on e-justice and the law applicable to contractual and non-contractual obligations will emerge.

Additionally, it is usually the case that we expect a number of further opt-in decisions will fall to other government departments during this period. I assure noble Lords that as the lead government departments on the opt-in the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice are committed to providing advice and assistance to other departments which are grappling with what can be quite a complex policy area.

I look forward to the participation of the European Union Committee and, in particular, the specialist committee headed by the noble Baroness, Lady Corston. Our next annual report covering the period 2012-13 will be laid before the House in January.

Motion agreed.

Committee adjourned at 6.48 pm.