Skip to main content

EU: Justice and Home Affairs (EUC Report)

Volume 755: debated on Tuesday 22 July 2014

Motion to Take Note

Moved by

To move that this House takes note of the report of the European Union Committee on Strategic Guidelines for the EU’s Next Justice And Home Affairs Programme: Steady as She Goes (13th Report, Session 2013-14, HL Paper 173).

My Lords, my task in opening this debate is to address the recommendations made by your Lordships’ EU Select Committee with respect to the strategic objectives to be set by the Governments of the 28 member states for the development of the European Union’s justice and home affairs programme for the next five years—that is to say, from 2015 to 2019. The Government’s response to these recommendations is also available and much of what I have to say will be directed to that response. For good measure, we also now have the European Council’s conclusions/decisions on its strategic objectives for the period ahead, which were reached on 27 June and which are available in EUCO 79/14. So, rather unusually, in this debate we are debating the whole issue in the round, from the inquiry and report by your Lordships’ House through the process of negotiation to its completion.

I am speaking as the former chair—until the end of the last session, in May this year—of the EU Select Committee’s Sub-Committee on Home Affairs, Health and Education, which was responsible for the report we are debating. In doing so, I pay tribute to the members of my own sub-committee, to the members of the justice sub-committee who participated in our work, and to the three successive clerks—whose help and support in the last four years was so invaluable to me—Michael Torrance, Chris Atkinson and Michael Collon twice.

Looking back, as we did when we wrote this report, at the rapid development of the EU’s activity in the field of justice and home affairs over the last 20 years, we considered carefully what were the main drivers of that increased activity. On the basis of the evidence that was put before us and the evidence submitted to us in the context of other recent inquiries, particularly those into the block opt-out under Protocol 36 of the Lisbon treaty, we concluded that the main driver was the challenge from the massive increase in serious international criminal activity in recent years. That increase has been not only in volume but also in complexity. It has been marked by the unwelcome arrival of many new fields of criminal activity—in human trafficking, drugs, terrorism, cybercrime, child pornography and financial fraud.

It was our view that none of these challenges could be adequately combated without intensive international co-operation. If you doubt that, just look at the steadily increasing use being made by our own law enforcement agencies of such EU agencies as Europol and Eurojust. The case for much of this justice and home affairs activity is simple: it is to protect our own national security. Those who criticise this development need to explain convincingly how that could be better achieved in some different way. So far they have failed to explain that at all.

We were also clear that in the five years ahead the emphasis needed to be on consolidation and implementation and not on the proliferation of new legislation, which should be brought forward only if there is strong evidence of the need for it. I am glad to note that the Government, the Commission and now, most importantly, the European Council agreed that this should be a period of consolidation and implementation, and those words appear in their conclusions. That approach is encapsulated—slightly more crisply than the European Council managed—in the title of our report, Steady as She Goes.

Within this overall ordering of priorities, we urged that emphasis should be put on the following four main areas. First is the completion of the existing legislative programme. This includes important measures to reform and Lisbonise—it is a terrible word—Europol and Eurojust. It includes the proposals for passenger name recognition and the personal data protection package. Those are all big bits of legislation which remain unfinished and on which much work remains to be done. There are other, less prominent measures still in the pipeline. It does not include the proposal for a European public prosecutor’s office, which we continue to believe does not properly fulfil the criteria of subsidiarity and against participation in which the United Kingdom is protected by clear treaty provisions.

Secondly, we focused on the implementation of all existing justice and home affairs legislation in all member states, which is lamentably not currently the case. This country has its lapses, too, in that respect. One example is the European supervision order, which was mentioned in debate last Thursday. Fortunately that measure, which will enable British citizens to be bailed here until their cases are ready to be tried, is on the Government’s list for rejoining and should be in effect by the end of this year, a mere two years late. Will the Minister confirm that that will, indeed, be the case, assuming that the package on Protocol 36 goes through?

Thirdly, we urged that there should be much more systematic and effective evaluation of justice and home affairs legislation. So far, such evaluation at the European level has been patchy and inadequate and I am glad that the European Council has now agreed that there should be a review in 2015 of the internal security strategy and that there should be an overall review of the justice and home affairs strategic objectives, which we are debating this evening, in 2017, half way through the new programme period. That is a step forward and I hope the Government will be really vigilant in making these processes of evaluation more effective. Fourthly, we emphasised the critical importance of the adequate resourcing and the sound management of the European Union’s agencies: of Europol, Eurojust, the EMCDDA for drugs, ENISA for the internet, FRONTEX and the new asylum agency in Malta. Much of the success or failure of the EU and its member states in their fight against international crime will depend on the practical co-operation which these agencies can provide and engender.

I will say a word or two about the Government’s response to our recommendations. I am glad to say that this was broadly positive and I am grateful for that, even if the tone was, from time to time, just a touch grudging. However, there were a few points of misunderstanding which I tried to clear up. First, we never intended to suggest that evaluation should be entirely and solely in the hands of the Commission: it should not. However, we cannot possibly imagine these programmes being evaluated properly without the full and active co-operation and participation of the Commission, whose task it is to help to carry them out. That co-operation was not forthcoming during the evaluation carried out during the preceding Stockholm programme and it was, frankly, a pretty useless affair. Now that the European Council has mandated an evaluation process, the Commission must be involved. I am sure they will be and the Government should not find that problematic in any way.

Secondly, we made a proposal for an annual implementation scorecard showing—and naming and shaming—which member states had fallen behind on implementing justice and home affairs legislation. This could genuinely be helpful and could work to the UK’s national interest in securing a level playing field. We were not proposing, and we would not support, the much more ambitious type of scorecard championed by the former vice-president, Viviane Reding, which would involve evaluating the overall judicial system of the member states. That is not something the Commission is well placed to do and it ought not to be doing it. The sort of scorecard we suggest would be valuable and I hope the Government will have a further look at that now to see whether it is something they could push forward.

Thirdly, on the challenge of using the yellow card—the subsidiarity procedure—which is of great importance in such a sensitive area as justice and home affairs legislation, how can we make that more effective? The Government seem to have accepted our approach, under which the Commission could, without any need to change the treaty, give national parliaments 12 or 16 weeks rather than the current eight weeks to submit a reasoned opinion, agree to withdraw or to substantially amend any proposal that was the object of a yellow card, and accept that proportionality considerations could be properly raised in a reasoned opinion. Those three reforms would do a lot to make the yellow card work better. I trust that the Government will now be pressing ahead with these ideas. Perhaps the Minister could say how that is going to be carried forward.

In conclusion, I suggest that this inquiry and this report have demonstrated how your Lordships’ Select Committee can insert itself effectively into the shaping of EU policies by formulating and presenting its views upstream of formal policy proposals becoming set in concrete. That surely needs to be something that we try to do more often in the future. On the next occasion that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, presents himself here and unleashes one of his familiar tirades of complaint against the uselessness of the scrutiny procedure, I look forward to hearing him pay tribute to this report on the EU’s strategic objectives as having shown that we can be effective in that process. I may have to wait quite some time for that tribute but I will do so with patience and in hope.

My Lords, it is essential yet again to place on record the appreciation of members of the committee for the chairmanship and leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. As I have said on other occasions, he brings a wealth of relevant experience on the front line, which is invaluable as we try to discharge our duties. He is right also to praise the work of the staff of the committee. All the members of the committee found that work outstanding. It really was helpful.

I want to make just two points. First, my experience of the work of the committee has done nothing but strengthen my conviction about the indispensability of British membership of the European Union. The first reality that faces us on issues of security in the United Kingdom is that they cannot be dealt with satisfactorily simply on the basis of the United Kingdom operating as an isolated individual authority. All the challenges of the sinister and large-scale developments in international crime, to which the noble Lord has referred, and all the developments in international terrorism demand international co-operation. As soon as one begins to look at this work in any detail and break free of the superficial, melodramatic comment in the ill informed media, one sees that the safety of our people—the safety of our families—can be nothing but enhanced by the kind of work that is going on in the European Union and elsewhere. It would be absolute madness to jeopardise that in any way.

Of course there is room for improvement and of course it is absolutely right to insist upon evaluation. It is also right to be looking pragmatically at the cumulative effect of what is really on the agenda now as distinct from what was there in theory and how relevant it is. All these things matter. But the second point I want to make is that we tackle these things best and make the improvements that are necessary by the degree to which we can demonstrate our commitment to the institutions. If we are always apparently grudgingly allowing ourselves to continue to be members and always insisting upon saying, “Is this compatible with the British interest?”, it is not really a very constructive or positive approach to winning friends and increasing the strength of collective consideration of these matters at international level. We must work to improve that, but that is made possible by our membership of and commitment to the institutions being in no doubt whatever. That is why I have been so unhappy about the events of the past year, which have undermined our strength in this respect.

It is time that those of us who really care about security and the safety of our people started fighting back much more forthrightly and putting the at times almost neurotically ideological critics of the concept of such European co-operation on the defensive. They are the people who are jeopardising the safety of the British people. We ought to be saying that in no uncertain terms.

The other point I would make—and I understand the reasons for it—is that there is still a certain amount of cultural work to be done in the Home Office and elsewhere. I have terrific respect for the amount of work that is done by the Home Office. I sometimes think that it too easily becomes a whipping boy for all the criticisms and frustrations that exist. It is a tremendously important part of our administration. But there is a psychology which has not yet altogether been overcome, which is, “We do these things rather well, we do them better on our own, although some international co-operation is helpful in specific areas”. I think that is archaic thinking. My own view is that we have to adopt the psychology which I have been trying to describe and say, “There is no alternative to international co-operation. We can only be as effective as the weaker links”. Now, there are weaker links within Europe and we ought, therefore, to be putting all our time, energy and skills into strengthening the work, to shore up and improve the performance where there are such weaker links.

I am very glad that on this occasion the Government have taken the report very seriously—the noble Lord has dealt very fully with the responses of the Government. I am glad about that because I think the Select Committee work in this House matters. I would like to re-emphasise, before I conclude, a point that the Minister made in earlier debates. If the quality of our Select Committee work is to be as high as it should and could be, the greater the degree of priority given by departments—in this context, very much the Home Office—to ensuring the information available to the committee, as it goes about its evaluation and considerations, is as plentiful, as helpful, and as clear as it possibly can be, and the more that can become the prevailing discipline within the department, the better it will be. Papers that arrive without proper time for full consideration—let alone any suspicion that sometimes a department does not wanting papers to be available too soon for consideration—do not help the committee to do its work well. Things have been improving—particularly, if I may say, with the present Minister at the helm. But it is an issue that cannot be given enough attention. Either we need these Select Committees or we do not. I am convinced that we do. If we are going to have them, they need to be serviced by government departments as well as they possibly can be.

My Lords, I ask the indulgence of the House to speak in the gap. This is a very well timed report; it is extremely thorough; and the response of the Government has been for the most part positive. Coming as it does before the Council meeting to consider the first full application of Article 68 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, it could not have been better timed.

It seems to me that there are a number of important elements in this report which I am glad to note that the Government have broadly adopted. It is generally considered that the Stockholm programme was too detailed and too large to be implemented entirely in the five-year gap, but it has given some guidelines to what is now required. The new guidelines were needed since the Stockholm programme expires in December 2014. A number of the objectives were time-bound. I think also that it is right to recognise that the work that is being done in justice and home affairs by national Governments and the Commission in bringing forward legislation does need to be considered carefully, evaluated and to be evidence-based—a view that was expressed by the committee itself.

I am interested to see that the Government adopt the view of the committee that,

“transposition of existing legislation by all Member States”,

is necessary to enable full co-operation and full equality of approach to the growing problems of crime. It is also encouraging to hear them state:

“Without full and consistent implementation businesses, Governments and citizens cannot be confident that legislation that applies in one Member State will apply in the same way in another”.

That seems to be very much the essence of collaboration in dealing with the growing problems of international crime. It is highly sensible that that view has been taken.

The timetable for review expressed by the Council is encouraging for the evaluation and effective implementation of the measures proposed. As to the scoreboard, I agree with the chairman of the committee, the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, in suggesting that, to make sure that the work is done by other countries, it would be sensible to have such annual scoreboards.

The Government state in respect of drugs that they must operate within the budget, the MFF. I have to ask whether the budget is adequate for that purpose, because the drug problem is growing and spreading.

My Lords, I once again thank the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and his committee and its sub-committees—as well as the noble Lord, Lord Judd, who has served on them—for the work that they have done in providing this report. We have another quite remarkable report in front of us. Having been to seminars that the committee has undertaken, I have found its work to be extremely helpful and useful in informing our debate and my own knowledge. I think back to the number of debates that we have had around these issues with the committee’s reports, specifically on the Government’s opt-out and opt-back-in on justice and home affairs measures, and they do a great service to your Lordships’ House. We have had some of the most informed debates that I have taken part in here.

Not only is the range of issues covered by the justice and home affairs brief extraordinarily wide but the seriousness of them and their impact on the public are enormous. I know that it is very popular with some parts of the party opposite, although none of them is in their place today—and UKIP is rarely seen in your Lordships’ House for debates on these issues—just to think, “National good, European bad”. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, I thought somewhat tongue-in-cheek, referred to his optimism that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, would at some point pay tribute to the committee’s contribution to the debates. He may well have to wait a very long time, because the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, despite his strong views on European issues, is rarely seen in your Lordships’ House to discuss them, but I am happy to pay such a tribute to the committee.

The issues that we are debating today reach into personal safety and security and national security, and have an enormously positive impact. That is not to say—the noble Lord, Lord Judd, made the same point—that there is not room for improvement or that we do not seek changes, but it is essential to public and national security that we have international co-operation on these most crucial issues. Specifically referring to,

“asylum, immigration, border controls, judicial cooperation in civil and criminal justice matters, and police cooperation”,

the report states:

“These matters affect the day-to-day lives of European citizens and are of considerable importance”.

It also makes clear, in paragraph 4, that:

“The whole field is one of shared competence—that is to say, one where the Member States retain exclusive powers on some matters, such as counter-terrorism, but where the Treaty provides for the European Union to take legislative decisions on a limited number of issues”.

My next point, which was made eloquently—more eloquently than I shall be able to make it—by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, is about a fact that we have discussed before: crime does not stop at Calais. We have heard numerous examples in previous debates in your Lordships’ House of cases where co-operation has been essential to bring criminals back to the UK to face justice, and cases where only by Europe-wide international co-operation can a complete picture be built up and effective evidence obtained of criminal activities.

The Minister and I have debated the Serious Crime Bill at some length over the past few weeks, and I know that he, too, is aware of how important it is that we do not try to tackle serious organised crime in glorious isolation in this country but work with other countries to tackle it. Indeed, it is a matter for some regret that normally when we talk about co-operation on such matters, the debate tends to centre around terrorism and national security. Again, it was the noble Lord, Lord Judd, who made the point that we do a disservice to the public by not being very clear about the benefits to the public of such Europe-wide co-operation. I am talking about human trafficking for slavery and prostitution, drug crime, and money-laundering, in which criminals are trying to hide the ill-gotten proceeds of their activities.

The report helpfully starts with a timescale and a narrative of the sequence of treaties, with an explanation of the issues and priorities. It also deals honestly with concerns about the effective implementation of legislation. Following on from the Stockholm programme, a decision needs to be taken on how to proceed. We also need to discuss and define strategic guidelines for legislative and operational planning in the area of freedom, security and justice. The committee addresses the question of how this should be handled.

The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, referred to the subtitle of the report, Steady as she goes. It seems to me that that very phrase oozes responsibility; it inspires confidence. I have a picture of the noble Lord himself at the helm of a trusty seaworthy vessel: “Steady as she goes”. More seriously, the subtitle indicates the style and tone of the report and its recommendations. The noble Lord joked a little bit about it, but I think it is a very apt and helpful subtitle.

I shall pick up a couple of issues. One that leaps out at me is that of cybercrime. We have debated it in your Lordships’ House recently. Indeed, we are currently dealing with it in the context of the Serious Crime Bill. As noble Lords are aware, I think that the Government’s proposals on cybercrime should have been bolder. When we return to the subject on Report there may be an opportunity to see whether we have got that aspect right and whether more can be done. What strikes me about the whole area of cybercrime and cybersecurity is how fast technology moves, and how quickly legislation—and also our knowledge and understanding of the issues—becomes out of date. I refer back to the debates we had last week on the fast-track legislation on data retention. We were then debating a directive passed in 2009 that has been struck down by the European Court. We also debated the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which deals with intercept capabilities. That legislation is now out of date. It was clear in our debates on it how urgent and important it is that we do not just keep trying to make small changes and “sticking plaster” amendments to it, but have a proper, detailed, thorough review, and try to understand not just the issues we face now but how we might not exactly future-proof the legislation but at least make it easier to amend in order to deal with future developments in technology.

When we are looking at crime and threats in the cyber world, it is not just about Governments. In an increasingly global and technological world, the ability for cybercrime to damage companies and individuals as well as nations—damaging companies can have a huge impact on national infrastructure as well—is a growing threat. The use of technology has now intruded into some of the most heinous crimes. We have heard reports of them in the press involving child sex abuse, and there are new crimes that were not even invented or thought of 10 or 20 years ago, such as cyberstalking and revenge porn. Technology is available to enable new ways of committing offences and crimes against the individual.

The Stockholm programme recognised the challenges, and the European Cybercrime Centre was set up within Interpol in January 2013. There are issues about some of the work that it was doing, but the report highlights comments made at the Europol meeting that I found extremely useful and interesting.

In our debates last week on data retention, very little mention was made of the role of, and information held by, the private sector. Not only does the private sector hold enormous amounts of information about citizens but the advice from everyone in the industry and the recommendation of the report was that far greater emphasis must be placed on closer and more productive co-operation between the private and public sectors. There are common interests. There is a necessity for sharing expertise and good practice. A common theme throughout the report is its emphasis on consolidation and implementation. Specifically when we are talking about achieving that balance, co-operation between private and public sectors is important.

I was slightly disappointed by the Government’s response. If the noble Lord can clarify that, that would be useful. When I read the Government’s response to the committee’s recommendations, I expected to see strong agreement on the need for private and public co-operation on cybercrime. However, the Government’s response seemed qualified. I hope that that is just a misunderstanding on my part, but the Government’s response does not just say, “Yes, we totally agree. This is something we have to do. We want to co-operate. We want to ensure that we find mechanisms and support for public and private co-operation”. It starts by saying:

“As the Committee is aware, the Government’s policy objectives are”,

and then gives a list of policy objectives that do not include cybercrime. Only in the second paragraph does it come on to say, “Yes, we think that that is also an issue”. I would have liked to have seen something stronger to give greater confidence. Will the Minister place on record an absolute commitment from the Government on their determination to tackle cybercrime and ensure that essential private-public co-operation?

Another point to draw attention to in the report relates to serious and organised crime. I am interested to hear the Minister’s comments on that part of the report. It is not a recommendation, but the report draws attention to the point raised by Sir Hugh Orde and Rob Wainwright of Europol that:

“Further action to fight against drugs and radicalisation should also be priorities”.

They were not listed in the Government’s priorities. I am sure that the noble Lord can confirm that they are also a government priority. Rob Wainwright also said that,

“we should be arguing for a much more effective integrated response to organised crime within the EU”.

I hope that the debate that your Lordships’ House and the other place have had on the Government’s proposals to opt out of EU criminal justice matters and then seek to opt back in have not been damaging to our relations with Europe. We take that co-operation seriously.

I welcome the committee’s recommendations in “Chapter 3: Strategic guidelines for the Next Programme”, which include a recognition and acknowledgement that the priorities are implementation of existing agreements and consolidation. That does not mean that nothing new can be considered, but it means that a case must be made. I was certainly interested in the comments that any future programme should be more succinct, targeted and strategic—clearly, we do not want to fall into the trap of being vague or woolly—and have flexibility so that it can respond to unforeseen developments and trends. The noble Lord’s comments on that would be helpful.

Finally, the Government’s comments on passenger name recognition were interesting. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, also referred to this. It is not the first time that this issue has been raised; it has been raised for a number of years and, indeed, there was a previous report from the EU Committee on this. The Minister says that “good progress” is being made. I hope so. We were very concerned that the e-Borders programme was cut so significantly in 2010. A lot of money—more than £150 million—has been written off by the Home Office. As serious as these matters are, I do not want to go into whose fault it is; what I need to know from the Minister is what is happening, when is it going to happen and whether he can give a progress report on this, because it is crucial if we are to tackle terrorism and serious and organised crime.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and to my noble friend Lord Judd, who is also a member of the committee, for the work they do, and I hope that the Minister will address some of my questions.

My Lords, I join in expressing gratitude to all noble Lords who have participated in this debate; fewer, perhaps, than might be considered enough to do justice to a very thorough report and a serious matter, but of course it is soon after we discussed matters last Thursday evening. I am delighted to see the noble Lord, Lord Boswell of Aynho, in his place. I thank him and, through him, all members of the House’s European committee for their excellent work. They do great service to the House by the diligence with which they study these matters. I thank, in particular, the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. A bit like Frank Sinatra, I cannot imagine that this is his last appearance, but this is, I am sure, his last appearance as chairman of Sub-Committee F. I am grateful to him and to his sub-committee for the work they have done on this report and I pay tribute, along with all noble Lords, to the work that he has done on a whole range of matters. It has been of great benefit to the House in European affairs and I am sure that that will continue. If not as chairman, I am sure that he will still be involved in other ways.

The sub-committee’s inquiry, to which my ministerial colleagues from the House of Commons, James Brokenshire and Shailesh Vara, gave evidence in February, was very thorough. Its subsequent report was of its usual extremely high standard and the Government were grateful for such a well considered contribution to the debate. As noble Lords will be aware, the new strategic guidelines in the field of justice and home affairs were agreed by the Prime Minister at the June European Council. The Government are pleased with the strategic guidelines, which reflect all our key priorities in this area. The Government were successful, as noble Lords will know, in securing a strong and clear reference to the need to tackle “misuse” of free movement and fraudulent claims. We welcome this and hope that it will lead to member states and the Commission being more proactive in addressing cases of fraud and abuse of human rights.

The new strategic guidelines also contain welcome references to the need to strengthen the EU’s external border, in particular through strengthening co-operation with countries of origin and countries used for transit. We were also successful in securing two explicit references to the need for action to tackle human trafficking, which reflect the importance we attach to the fight against modern slavery. Indeed, noble Lords will know that the Modern Slavery Bill is going through its Committee stage in the House of Commons at the moment. This is an area where the EU can and should be ahead of the curve and I hope that, in turn, so can we.

The overall messages of the new guidance are ones of implementation and evaluation of existing measures, and on strengthening practical co-operation rather than bringing forward new legislation. That is in keeping with the general tenor of the committee’s report. In a field where we have seen so much new EU legislation over the past few years, this is welcome. As noble Lords will be aware, the Government place particular importance on the full implementation of the prisoner transfer framework decision by all member states. We welcome the explicit reference in the guidelines to the need to improve cross-border information exchanges, particularly in relation to criminal records.

As noble Lords will know, the Government shared the disappointment of this House that a proper mid-term review of the Stockholm programme did not take place. We are therefore very pleased that we were able to secure a Council-led review mechanism in the new strategic guidelines. I think that was genuinely welcomed by all speakers when they referred to it. This review mechanism will give us an opportunity to work closely with the new Commission, and the current and forthcoming EU presidencies, to ensure that the Council continues to hold the Commission to account as concerns the proper implementation of the strategic guidelines. The Council now has a clear role in ensuring that the Commission’s future actions in this area are in line with the strategic guidelines agreed by the member states.

I will do my best to respond to all the points raised during today’s debate but, as usual, I promise to write to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, to copy all those who have spoken in on that letter and to place a copy in the Library if there are any that I do not address at this stage.

The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, asked specifically about the implementation of the European supervision order. I can confirm that we are preparing legislation on this matter and I hope that it will be in force by the end of this year. He also asked whether the Government would carry forward raising the proportionality issues and strengthening the yellow card procedure. As we made clear in our response to the committee’s report, the Government would like to see the yellow card mechanism strengthened. We want to have the scrutiny period extended from eight to 12 weeks and to extend the scope of the yellow card mechanism to include proportionality as well as subsidiarity. We also want to lower the threshold at which the yellow card is triggered.

The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, also asked whether the Government will have another look at the idea of a scorecard. I thank noble Lords for their further explanation as to how this matter would work. We will give the committee’s recommendation further reflection.

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, in another of his excellent speeches, referred to Home Office culture and the need to support links in the EU where countries are weak and need support. The UK offers practical support to member states. For example, we have provided a wide range of support to Greece to assist with the implementation of its action plan on asylum and migration. It is obviously in our interests—is it not?—to make sure that the EU borders are secure and properly policed and that we do not have the difficulties at Calais which we do, simply because people have leaked through what should otherwise be secure borders.

It was nice that my noble friend Lord Maclennan of Rogart was able to speak in the gap. He asked whether the budget was adequate for work on drugs, particularly for the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. The UK benefits considerably from the information we receive from the EMCDDA; but, as with all these negotiations, this Government have stressed the importance of budget discipline. That means that EU agencies must operate within their budget. We are satisfied that they can still do good work within that budget.

The noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, asked me a number of questions. I will do my best to answer what I can now but I will be writing to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, as I have said, and if she does not mind I shall copy her in on that. It is a good way of making sure that everybody knows the answer.

The noble Baroness was concerned that the Government were not sufficiently focused on cybercrime and co-operation between the public and private sectors. I am surprised at that, given that whenever I speak I try to make it clear that we see it as a very serious issue. We fully support programmes that bring together the public and private sectors to share information on threats and to take co-ordinated action against them. I am happy to confirm on the record that we seek co-operation on cybercrime matters across a whole series of things, not just matters of security or even serious crime, but beyond to domestic incidents of cybercrime, which aggregated together can become very serious crime very quickly.

I am pleased that the noble Baroness noted that the report was helpful, informative and useful. I agree with her; I felt that the report did justice to the issues. I agree with her also that crime does not stop at Calais and that there is a need for European-wide co-operation in dealing with crime. I hope that she can be satisfied that when we discuss the Serious Crime Bill on Report these matters can be made clear in debate. There is no conflict between the Government’s policy on the matters contained within the report and our policy in legislating here within the UK.

I hope that noble Lords will be happy that I will write to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, on the points that have been made and not answered in the debate.

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this reasonably short debate. In particular I thank the Minister for the considered way in which he has responded to all the questions that were asked. I am delighted that he will have another look at the scorecard idea.

I have two points. The point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, about the importance of the way that crime is dealt with in other member states as being part of our national security is one that is not terribly well grasped. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, made that point, too. In the world we now live in, with a highly integrated European market, the fact is that the criminals are half way down the track before we have left the start line. Measures of co-operation of the sort we have been debating are the way in which we are going to catch up with them and, it is hoped, get ahead of them and catch them—because these things often happen elsewhere than in the UK, but then the criminals come here and continue their activities. There are many ways in which these cross-border crimes continue. The noble Lord and the Government have got the balance about right now and I hope that this will lead to what I was delighted to see was a commitment to Britain’s membership of the Justice and Home Affairs Council that goes beyond the fatal date of 2017. That was a welcome sign indeed. I hope that when the Protocol 36 negotiation is finally concluded—successfully, we must all hope—the Government will again become, after a year of necessary negotiation, a full participant in this field to which we have contributed an enormous amount over the years, and from which we have gained a large amount.

Motion agreed.