Select Committee on European Scrutiny Eleventh Report


CO-OPERATION IN PROCEEDINGS FOR ROAD TRAFFIC OFFENCES AND THE ENFORCEMENT OF RELATED FINANCIAL PENALTIES


(a)
(20424)
10553/99


(b)
(22315)
7059/01


Explanatory Report for the agreement on co-operation in proceedings for road
traffic offences and the enforcement of financial penalties imposed in respect
thereof.


Initiative of the Federal Republic of Germany for a Council act establishing an
agreement on co-operation between the Member States of the European Union
in proceedings for road traffic offences and the enforcement of financial
penalties.


Legal base:(b) Articles 31(a) and 34(2)(d) EU; consultation; unanimity
Deposited in Parliament: (b) 19 April 2001
Department:Home Office
Basis of consideration: Minister's letter of 11 December 2001
Previous Committee Report: HC 152-vii (2001-02), paragraph 14 ( 21 November 2001)
To be discussed in Council: None planned
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:(Both) Cleared (decision reported on 21 November 2001)


Background

  5.1  These documents are both concerned with enforcing financial penalties resulting from road traffic offences committed by EU citizens and residents in an EU Member State other than their own. When we considered them in November, we cleared both. We recognised that document (a) had been rendered redundant by the decision not to implement the Schengen Agreement for which it was the Explanatory Report. Document (b), which we considered to be a satisfactory replacement for the earlier text, will now probably be superseded by the draft Framework Decision on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to financial penalties[6].

  5.2  We were seriously concerned, however, about the long delay in supplying Explanatory Memoranda for these documents — over two years in respect of document (a) and six months in the case of document (b). We demanded an explanation from the Minister.

The Minister's letter

  5.3  The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) has now written to us as follows:

    "I apologise on behalf of the officials concerned for the delay in submitting the Explanatory Memorandum. This was originally due for submission on 2 May, but was delayed due to the General Election and was then due for submission after the summer recess. Unfortunately, further work on the EM was delayed due to pressures of work arising after 11 September. Meanwhile, no negotiations took place on the document because the Presidency determined that it was of insufficient priority. The Home Office Scrutiny co-ordinator contacted the Committee Clerks to apologise for the delay and said that we would submit the EM as soon as possible. However, I agree that delays of this kind are unacceptable.

    "The Committee was also concerned about the delay in providing further information on the Explanatory Report, deposited in 1999. As there had been no negotiations on this document we did not think it necessary to provide further information. However, I am sorry that the Committees were not made aware of this until last month. Staff in the European and International Unit and in policy Units are at your disposal to provide information to the Committee Clerks on the progress of negotiations on any document which has been deposited for scrutiny."

Conclusion

  5.4  We thank the Minister for his reply and for his apology. While we recognise that the terrible events of 11 September resulted in a considerable pressure of work for the Department, we are still surprised that it took officials so long to submit the relatively short Explanatory Memorandum on document (b).

  5.5  In relation to the Explanatory Memorandum on document (a), the explanation is unsatisfactory. Our weekly reminders to Departments of remaining business before the Committee indicated that this document had not been cleared. It was therefore incumbent on the Department to provide us with information so that we could clear it. Being "at our disposal" to provide information is insufficient in the case of an uncleared document: officials need to be proactive.

  5.6  We have already cleared both documents.


6  (22622) 10710/01; see HC 152-viii (2001-02), paragraph 2 ( 28 November 2001). Back


 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 17 January 2002