HOME AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
Memorandum to the Liaison Committee
1. The Liaison Committee has asked for an annual
report from select committees. The Home Affairs Committee met
for the first time on 18 July and started taking oral evidence
on 16 October, so there is not yet much to report.
2. We have published one report, the result of
some pre-legislative scrutiny of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and
Security Bill. Before the Bill was published we took written and
oral evidence on the policy proposals already announced. After
the Bill was published we took further evidence and published
a report in time for second reading on 19 November. I tabled amendments
to implement some of our conclusions and two of these were accepted
by the Government - a sunset clause ensuring that the power of
detention would expire after five years and provision for a statutory
annual review of the powers in the Bill. The Committee is interested
in scrutiny of legislation and in our First Report we said:
We express the hope that, in time, all
Government departments will acquire the habit of making Bills
available in draft form far enough in advance for evidence to
be taken from interested parties and assessed by the relevant
3. The Home Office is due to produce a bill on
police reform early in the new year and we shall be hoping to
conduct some pre-legislative scrutiny of those proposals. We have
also started an inquiry into drugs policy which has attracted
over 170 written submissions and a considerable degree of interest.
We hope to report in the spring. We have conducted single evidence
sessions with the Home Secretary and the Lord Chancellor on their
priorities for the Parliament. We followed up a report of the
previous Committee in a single evidence session with the Prisons
Minister and Director General of the Prison Service.
4. Members of the Committee attended a briefing
on the terrorist situation by the Prime Minister in Downing Street
on 24 September, together with Members of the Select Committees
on Defence and Foreign Affairs and the Intelligence and Security
Committee. The chairmen of the four committees met later that
day and subsequently to ensure close cooperation on this subject.
5. At our first meeting we set objectives as
set out in the attached table, but at this early stage of our
work we have not assessed delivery. We also adopted a proforma
for choosing inquiries which is aimed to ensure we select subjects
on which the Committee can make a difference.
OBJECTIVES AGREED BY THE HOME AFFAIRS
COMMITTEE ON 18 JULY 2001
|Oral evidence from Home Secretary on current policy issues and legislative plans
||general session every autumn|
|Oral evidence from Lord Chancellor on current policy issues and legislative plans
||general session every autumn|
|Consider any draft bills published||when required (possible draft bill on criminal courts structure later in 2001-02 session)
|visit one major prison ||annually (for a current inquiry)
|visit one major police force||annually (for a current inquiry)
|monitor EU Justice & Home Affairs developments
||annual oral evidence session; Brussels visit once every two years
|single evidence sessions on work of departments from two permanent secretaries and Director of Public Prosecutions
|single evidence session with non-departmental bodies or quangos
||one from each department a year; aim to cover all over four years
|hold short inquiry into one emerging policy issue
|take note of any treaties referred to the Committee
|take note of any significant statutory instruments laid
|seek debate in House or Westminster Hall on committee report
||one per year|
|consider any significant public appointments (especially of Inspectors etc)
|meet equivalent committees of other EU Parliaments; offer meeting and working lunch to visiting committees
||one a year from major EU countries, others as required
|monitor results on public service (delivery) agreements
HOME AFFAIRS COMMITTEE INQUIRY PROPOSAL FORM
In recent years, the Committee has sought to identify
key issues to be addressed at the start of an inquiry and to choose
subjects on which the Committee's report can 'make a difference'.
This form aims to assist that process. The example is drawn mainly
from a recent inquiry.
|Proposed subject: ||Physical controls at UK ports of entry
|Key issues to be addressed:||1 Why has the demand for asylum in the UK risen? How does this compare with demand in other European countries?|
2 How effective are current controls at UK borders by the responsible agencies?
3 Would border controls be enhanced by the creation of a single agency?
4 What investment is made in the use of modern technology?
5 Are there more efficient ways of the UK meeting its international obligations to those who apply for asylum?
|Likely number of oral evidence sessions:
||one ||two to three||four to six
|Key witnesses (who should not be missed):
||1 Port operators
2 Migration expert
|Any recent or pending reports by other bodies?
||yes/no||if so, by ...NAO study on immigration controls in 1996
|Any critical dates for starting or finishing inquiry?
||yes/no||if so, why? Asylum and Immigration Act fully in force by April 2001
|Any other considerations?||
|What difference could a select committee inquiry make?
||Might draw Ministers' attention to lack of joint working between different government agencies and relatively poor use of technology.
|Name of Member:||