Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Second Report


23. EUROPEAN NETWORK FOR THE PROTECTION OF PUBLIC FIGURES


(23430)

6460/3/02


European network for the protection of public figures — text proposed by the Presidency following the proceedings of the Article 36 Committee (11/12 April 2002).

Legal base:Articles 29, 30(1) and 34(2)(c) EU; consultation; unanimity
Deposited in Parliament:3 May 2002
Department:Home Office
Basis of consideration:Minister's letter of 29 May 2002
Previous Committee Report:HC 152-xxxi (2001-02), paragraph 6 ( 22 May 2002)
To be discussed in Council:13 June 2002
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared


Background

  23.1  This is a Presidency proposal for a Council Decision to address the threat of assassination and attacks on dignitaries visiting Member States by setting up a network of contact points within national police departments, or other bodies responsible for the protection of public figures. When we considered it last, we decided to keep it under scrutiny until we learned whether the Government had secured the assurances it was seeking on various aspects of the text.

The Minister's letter

  23.2  The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) has now written to tell us that he believes all the specific points have been resolved. The first related to the Government's wish to have Article 1 (2) amended to prevent the names of national contact points being published in an unclassified document such as the Official Journal. The Minister tells us:

"I am now satisfied that there would be no requirement to publish the names of individuals nominated as contact points. It would be up to each Member State to offer information about contact points as it saw fit; we could, for example, name a post rather than an individual."

  23.3  The second point concerned the Government's wish to ensure that any information exchanged should be subject to, or in accordance with, national legislation. The Minister now says:

"Whilst the definition of information in the document includes reference to operational and technical data, it must be remembered that the Network wishes to promote the exchange of such information. The Government is under no obligation to provide such information according to the wording of the document but again, has sought reassurance on this fact. The one area...that makes specific reference to operational information is covered by the caveat that such an exchange should be in accordance with national legislation."

  23.4  The third point related to the Government's concern that any exchange of information should be in accordance with the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (28 January 1981). The Minister tells us that, as all EU Member States have signed the Council of Europe Convention, he is now convinced that there is no need for a reference to it in the document.

Conclusion

  23.5  We thank the Minister for his response. Although he considers that all the points on which the Government sought clarification have now been resolved, we note that the text itself has not been substantively amended. Nevertheless, given that the remit of the proposed network has been considerably limited, we clear the document.


 
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