There has been widespread coverage of yesterday’s House of Commons debate and vote on the draft Criminal Justice and Data Protection (Protocol No. 36) Regulations 2014, which are related to the Government’s decision to opt back into 35 EU police and criminal justice measures agreed before the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, including the European Arrest Warrant. The Government has promised a vote on whether to join the European Arrest Warrant however a vote was held on only 11 measures, excluding the EAW. Bill Cash, and other 37 MPs, voted against the draft Criminal Justice and Data Protection (Protocol No. 36) Regulations 2014, which was approved by 464. The House of Commons endorsed therefore the Government’s proposal to opt back into 35 EU police and criminal justice measures, including the EAW. During the debate Bill Cash made the following interventions:
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): I beg to move,
That the draft Criminal Justice and Data Protection (Protocol No. 36) Regulations 2014, which were laid before this House on 3 November, be approved.
Protocol 36 is the part of the Lisbon treaty that relates to the United Kingdom’s opt-out from the policing and criminal justice measures that were adopted before the treaty came into force. The opt-out provisions are unique to the United Kingdom, and were negotiated by the previous Administration. Under the terms of protocol 36, the UK had to decide before the end of May 2014 whether it wished to opt out of all the police and criminal justice measures—some 130 in all—that predate the Lisbon treaty. The opt-out had to be exercised en masse; we could not simply leave the measures that we did not like.
Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): I want the Home Secretary to be very clear, and give a yes or no answer. Will the House get the chance in the next couple of weeks to vote on the European arrest warrant?
Mrs May: The House is getting a chance today to debate the European arrest warrant. The House has been clear that it wished to have such a debate. We were very clear during the debate on the business motion that regulations are before the House, and the House will vote on those regulations. I have also been very clear about the Government’s position. We have brought those particular regulations before the House because they are the only ones that we need to transpose into UK legislation. I will come on to comment on the European arrest warrant. As I said earlier, I am very clear that the vote today relates to whether or not the UK opts back in to the package of measures that we have negotiated. The package comes together; it is not an a la carte menu from which one can pick and choose.
Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): My right hon. Friend mentioned the scrutiny process, but, as she well knows, all three Select Committees—the European Scrutiny Committee, the Select Committee on Home Affairs and the Select Committee on Justice—have said that there has not been proper consultation with Parliament on these matters. What has happened today amply demonstrates our concerns and nothing has emerged to change our view. Will my right hon. Friend explain how on earth all this has happened?
Mrs May: I am aware of the views expressed to this House by my hon. Friend and by the Chairmen of the Justice and the Home Affairs Committees. I remind my hon. Friend that I, the Justice Secretary and other Ministers have appeared in front of the Select Committees of this House, of the European Scrutiny Committee and of Committees of the House of Lords on a number of occasions on the subject of these measures. We have also held a number of debates on the Floor of the House and varying views have been expressed from both sides of the House about the measures that have been proposed.
Sir William Cash: In the light of what has happened so far and the fact that we do not have the opportunity to vote on the European arrest warrant, as Mr Speaker has indicated, will the Home Secretary confirm that we will have an opportunity to do so, as was promised not
only by her, but by the Prime Minister? We have not had such a vote. Will she guarantee that we will have one after a proper debate on the matter?
Mrs May: I have set out quite clearly the Government’s view on the motion before the House and the debate that we are having. I will attempt to make progress, because I want to get on to some of the other issues, including the European arrest warrant. I recognise the degree of interest in that and the concern that remains among some hon. Members. That is why I wish to have time to speak about that particular measure.
Sir William Cash: Is the shadow Home Secretary effectively saying that she agrees with the treatment of the Kings: a small child with a brain tumour is taken away from his parents in Spain, a European arrest warrant is issued by the British courts—after the July reforms—and the parents are arrested? Was that a good way to treat a child?
Yvette Cooper: I think there was dreadful decision making in that case. The police should not have continued with the EAW—they should have withdrawn it—and I think it was a bad decision. However, the hon. Gentleman will know of cases in this country where the police wrongfully arrest somebody; we do not then conclude that the police should not have a power of arrest. Instead, we say there should be proper and thoughtful decision making. What happened to that family should not have happened, and the whole House will have immense sympathy with them. They should not have been put through what they were put through.
Sir William Cash: Of course, the big difference is that in the case of the Kings, this European arrest warrant is subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. It overtakes the Supreme Court; it overtakes this Parliament because the Lisbon treaty has allowed it to do so. That was passed by the right hon. Lady’s Government, but the bottom line is that it has created grave injustice.
Sir William Cash: As my right hon. Friend will know, the European Scrutiny Committee has considered all these matters carefully. If, as is the normal course of events, we were debating a Bill rather than what is provided for by the Lisbon treaty, all 35 of these measures would be before us in the form of separate clauses, and amendments would have been tabled. What we have been debating, however, is a non-amendable motion. Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Home Affairs Committee itself said that there must be a separate vote on the European arrest warrant? How does she reconcile what she said this afternoon—and, indeed, what she is saying now—with the fact that there will undoubtedly be no vote on the European arrest warrant, although several Select Committees have said that there should be?
Mr Speaker: I would have called the hon. Gentleman to speak on this proposition in due course, but I have a feeling that he has already done so. So be it. I call the Home Secretary.
Mrs May: Thank you, Mr Speaker.
As I made clear earlier, I am well aware that my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), as Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, and his colleagues who chair the Justice and Home Affairs Committees, have indicated their wish for separate motions and separate debates on particular parts of the measures, including the European arrest warrant. However, I have also made clear that the Government put the regulations before the House today so that the House could see the legislative process that would be put in place. There is no requirement in legislation for any measure to be put in place for us to remain party to the European arrest warrant.
Sir William Cash: I must point out, with great respect, that what my right hon. Friend is saying is, “We will go by prerogative.” That smacks of everything that is in direct contradiction to the evolving democracy of the House of Commons. The fact is that it was the prerogative that was displaced by parliamentary change and reform. What she is saying is that, on this particular matter, she will decide on behalf of the Government without regard to what Parliament has to say, and that is unacceptable.
Mrs May: I am not saying that. I suggest to my hon. Friend that I have been very clear about this matter. The Government have negotiated with the European Commission, and with other member states, a package of measures for us to opt back in to. We believe that those law and order measures are necessary for ensuring that our law enforcement agencies have the tools that they need to catch criminals and to deal with matters of justice, which is why we have put before the House legislative measures that will enable United Kingdom law to accord with that package of 35 measures.
Mr Speaker: As the previous Question is an unusual procedure, I think I ought to repeat to the House the effect of this motion, because several Members have come up to me, quite understandably in this unusual situation, somewhat uncertain about what is at stake and what the implications of a particular course of action are. Let me try to help.
If the previous Question—that is, the motion put by the shadow Home Secretary at, if memory serves me correctly, 7.1 pm is agreed to—the draft regulations introduced by the Home Secretary will not be further considered at this sitting. That is to say, they will not be further considered tonight. If the previous Question is negatived—that is, the right hon. Lady’s motion is defeated—the Chair would be required to put the Question on the draft regulations straight away, without any further debate.
Lastly, before I put the Question, I can say to the House, with reference to an inquiry at a very senior level that has just been put to me, that yes, of course, if the House wishes to debate a motion or a set of motions of a similar or a different character, or a combination of similar and different characters, tomorrow, it is perfectly at liberty to do so. I am not saying it should do so; I am not saying any such thing. That is not for the Chair, but the House would be at liberty to do so with an emergency business statement to explain the change of business.
I hope it is clear what the implication of agreeing to the previous Question is—no further consideration of the draft regulations tonight. If the motion is rejected, the draft regulations would have to be put to the vote without any further debate. And yes, the matters can be treated of by the House tomorrow if colleagues wish to do so. My role is simply to facilitate the will of the House. Is that clear?
Yvette Cooper: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you confirm that the House will now move to vote on the 11 measures that the Home Secretary has put forward, which we support? Have you had any indication from Government Front Benchers, in the light of the speeches made in all parts of the House today, that they will come forward with a vote tomorrow on the remaining 24 measures?
Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the right hon. Lady for her point of order. As I indicated in my explanatory statement before this vote, in which I sought to explain to the House the implications of different courses of action, I had been approached about debating some matters tomorrow, and I explained what was possible, but no determination was communicated to me by Government on that matter. In the circumstances, therefore, the proper course is to proceed to the next vote, which flows naturally from the defeat of the first motion. I therefore now need to put the Question on the draft regulations straight away without any further debate.
Bill Cash was quoted by The Daily Telegraph as saying:
“This is a disgraceful way of going about a very, very important matter. It is tainted with chicanery, it is not the way this Parliament should be treated.
“It is completely unbelievable that she should have come to the House today and presumably tried to argue… that this is about the European Arrest Warrant when it clearly is not.
“The reason that it is being done in this fashion is to avoid having a real decision taken today as was promised to us by the Prime Minister only a few weeks ago.”