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Europol/European Arrest Warrant

Volume 616: debated on Monday 31 October 2016

3. What assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of the UK remaining a member of (a) Europol and (b) the European Arrest Warrant mechanism after the UK leaves the EU. (906879)

As the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary have made clear, law enforcement co-operation with our European partners will continue after the UK leaves the EU. We will do what is necessary to keep our people safe. At the Home Office we are exploring all options for co-operation once the UK has left the EU, but it is currently too early to speculate on what future arrangements may look like.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but may I press him? Have the Government decided whether they will seek to retain the European arrest warrant after we leave the EU, and has the Home Secretary had some stern words with the Brexit Secretary, who voted against it only two years ago? Also, have the Government decided to sign up to the new Europol regulations, and if not, when are they going to do so? If they miss the January deadline for that, there could be some severe implications for our membership; what would they be?

The decision on whether we opt into the further Europol regulations will be announced to Parliament shortly. We will take that decision very soon; we are giving good consideration to where we are on that and will make an announcement to Parliament in due course.

The hon. Lady is right that the European arrest warrant provides a basis for a swift, and indeed cost-effective, extradition process across member states, but I will not presume what may or may not be in an agreement. We are in the early days of negotiations and will be going through that over the Brexit period.

While some seem to want to water down the referendum result and drag us back into the EU, if not necessarily by name, does the Minister agree that co-operation on security, and particularly cross-border security, is important, and that when we take back control we must ensure that we keep that very important co-operation that keeps us safe and secure?

My hon. Friend makes a good point. Our co-operation and membership of Europol will obviously continue in full with us as a full and strong contributing member of Europol, which of course predates the European institutions. We have been very clear that our co-operation with member states, and our determination to ensure the security and protection of the people of this country, will continue when we are no longer a member of the EU.

After the Paris Metro bombing in 1995 it took 10 years to extradite Rachid Ramda from the UK, but after the London tube bombings in 2005 it took just 56 days to extradite Hussain Osman from Italy to the UK. The difference in time in bringing murderous terrorists to justice was a result of the European arrest warrant. I cannot believe that the Minister will not guarantee that, however Brexit is negotiated by this Government, there is no question whatsoever of our ending our commitment to the European arrest warrant. Can he please guarantee to the House today that the European arrest warrant will continue?

I thank the hon. Lady for trying to tempt me into pre-judging what other EU member states may decide to agree to as part of the negotiations. We will be negotiating and I can guarantee that we will continue to put the security and protection of the people of this country absolutely first and foremost.