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Mr. Cash: Does my hon. Friend have in mind the framework decision on the freezing of assets and evidence, which was debated in European Standing Committee? Difficulties arose in implementing the arrangements covered in clause 13 of the Bill, particularly the problem that the request for assistance and information did not have to come from a court or a judicial authority. Another question is the extent to which Eurojust would qualify as an international authority under clause 13. As the convention is coming up in the lift, that question would also apply to Europol, if it were established under the treaty. Those matters will doubtless be debated in Committee, but I invite the Minister to reflect on them, too.
Mr. Hawkins: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that point. We are worried about the proposed European convention being introduced, and about how other legislation links into that. I share my hon. Friend's concerns, and echo his request to the Minister to deal with the matter, both this afternoon and in Standing Committee.
In his opening remarks, my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cambridgeshire raised several matters to which we hope that the Minister will respond. For example, foreign police officers will come into the UK for surveillance purposes, subject only to a vote in proceedings on a statutory instrument. The Opposition believe that the House as a whole should consider such matters.
We also stress our opposition to clause 82(6), mentioned by several other speakers, which denies UK citizens any recourse in terms of civil liability if their personal property is damaged in any way by a foreign officer conducting surveillance in this country. There are also huge concerns about clause 82(8), which deals with the time frame of five hours. When Lord Filkin was asked in another place why five hours had been chosen, he said that the figure was plucked from the air because it is the figure used in Schengen. That is not a sufficient answer to a very good question, and we shall certainly want to explore the matter further in Committee.
In his opening speech, my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cambridgeshire rightly noted the great concern about officers who may be involved in surveillance in our territorial waters. If they were looking for drug smugglers on board a ship, for instance, the concern is that the clock would not start to run on the five-hour period set out in the Bill until any foreign officer who may be involved had landed in this country. We shall refer to that matter again in Committee.
Chris Grayling: Technically speaking, in law, one enters British territoryat Calais, or at the channel tunnel terminuswhen one passes through passport control. There will therefore be a significant amount of time between when a person passes through the terminal and when that person arrives in the UK proper.
In his opening remarks, my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cambridgeshire also stressed that we want a clear undertaking from the Ministereither today or in Committeethat the measures that will be imposed on our citizens by the Bill will also be pursued in exactly the same way by other signatories to the framework and to the protocol. In fact, we should prefer something to that effect to be included in the Bill. In the past, other countries have signed up to directives, protocols and frameworks, but then have not implemented them in any way, shape or form. Many countries have a good record for signing things, but a quite appalling record when it comes to implementation. Many British citizens are concerned about that, and their worry goes far beyond this Bill.
My hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cambridgeshire expressed concern about the information systems, and I have referred to the 49,000 terminals that were already in existence two years ago. There may well be many thousands more now. That concern is reinforced by the fact that some of the EU law enforcement systems are very much in their infancy. There is a battle going on between those who want ever more centralised power and those who regard the very successful joint investigation teams as a more sensible way forward. We shall certainly want assurances from the Minister that we will not move towards the introduction of a Napoleonic judicial system. We do not want a corpus juris system brought in by the back dooran issue that was recently raised in the context of the Extradition Bill. The Police Federation is concerned about reciprocal protocols, especially the protection that is needed for British officers when they are operating on foreign soil. We want to ensure that the Bill, instead of concentrating on the rights of foreign officers when they are here, allows for rights to protect our British police officers when they operate internationally.
My hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cambridgeshire and the Minister might be right to say that the Bill will not receive a great deal of media coverage in the current international situation, but a great deal more coverage would be justified given that it deals with a very important matter and has implications for action against terrorism.
I want to turn briefly to the speeches of other hon. Members. The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) stressed his concern about security at our ports, especially our smaller ports, and we very much agree with that. He said that the Government were dealing with matters in a piecemeal fashion; again, we agree. He also stressed, as we continually do, the need for the House to scrutinise what the Government are signed up to. I want to make an additional point. The Government have introduced the concept of so-called pre-legislative scrutiny, which is becoming more popular. It would be much better if all these protocols
Mr. Heath: The hon. Gentleman is making an extremely important point. There is clearly a democratic deficit in the way in which the Council of Ministers deals with such matters. Has he had an opportunity to look at the system that pertains in Austria, where, as a matter of course, before a Minister appears at a council in Europe, the matter in hand is taken to what I believe is called the first committee of Parliament, where it receives a clear mandate, or at least consideration?
Mr. Cash: As a counterpoint to that, does my hon. Friend know that the Convention proposes that conventions, by which I mean instruments to implement treaties of this kind, will not even have to be ratified by national Parliaments, as part of the process of completely dismantling the national parliamentary system?
Mr. Hawkins: Yes, Madam Deputy Speaker, but if I may say so without trespassing on your ruling, many hon. Members on both sides of the Houseindeed, the Minister herselfreferred to overlaps between the Bill and the Convention. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I have been discussing these matters with a colleague, Mr. Nirj Deva, who is a Member of the European Parliament and a former Member of this House.
The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome said that it was absolutely vital that there should be no danger of compromising the security of our information systems and that most people in this country would not want an erosion of our system of law in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, although there should be respect for other systems. I agree with him. He also stressed the need to defend the liberties of the individual. He rightly said that, in this legislation, issues arose to do with dual criminality. I agree with the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome again, but the Minister is well aware that we have sought to put comparative and complementary matters into this Bill and the Extradition Bill to force Ministers to certify that they are compatible. There is a clear overlap in those two pieces of legislation, which are going through the House at the same time. We shall come back to that in Committee.
The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome rightly referred to concerns over administrative rather than judicial proceedings. He raised the issue of the admissibility of evidence and mentioned the need for
I wholly agree with the important point that the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome made on the need to safeguard the rights of the people of Gibraltar. He may not know that I am engaged in an all-party committee to support Gibraltarians. Many hon. Members of all parties are involved in that, but it is fair to say that many of my hon. Friends on the Conservative Benches want to ensure that the rights of the people of Gibraltar are safeguarded. That issue is referred to specifically in this legislation. We want to ensure that the Government make no attemptas the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome feared they mightto put pressure on Gibraltar. We want pressure to be put on Spain in response to the way in which it has quite wrongly mistreated Gibraltarians.
The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome spoke about his worry over the Bill's lack of a remedy for UK citizens if civil offencesor civil torts, as lawyers would call themwere committed against them by foreign police officers. He also wanted to support what my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cambridgeshire said about the dangers of surveillance taking place in our territorial waters.
My hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois), in a very powerful speech, talked about his concerns over data protection. He explained his concern about the implications for this legislation of a statutory instrumentthe Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) (Elected Representatives) Order 2003which was introduced by the then Leader of the House, the right hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook). My hon. Friend, who has detailed knowledge of data protection issues, discussed his concerns about subsection (7) of the new section proposed in clause 81 of the Bill and about the position of the UK Information Commissionerpreviously known as the data protection commissioner. My hon. Friend foresaw the absurd situation of the European convention on human rights being turned against the UK Government and the Information Commissioner. He foresaw the danger of what were intended to be safeguards in the legislation being used against the Government.