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UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
To be published as HC 563 - ii
House of commons
TAKEN BEFORE THE
Home Affairs Committee
Work of the Home Secretary
Tuesday 18 December 2012
RT HON THERESA MAY MP
Evidence heard in Public Questions 120 - 185
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
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Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Tuesday 18 December 2012
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witness
Witness: Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Home Secretary, gave evidence.
Q120 Chair: Home Secretary, thank you very much for coming. I know you have had a very busy day and the last thing you want at 4.30pm on a Tuesday is to appear before the Select Committee, but we are very grateful; thank you very much.
I need to start with a question on drugs and the report that the Select Committee published last week. There seems to be a difference in the coalition Government over which way to go on drugs policy. The Prime Minister has made it very clear, on one of the recommendations we have made-though he was very helpful in respect of our recommendations on legal highs and prescription drugs when he appeared before the Liaison Committee; we will come on to that-that on one of the central issues, which is a royal commission, he is against the idea of a royal commission, but the Deputy Prime Minister is very much in favour of one. This is an easy question to start with; whose side are you on?
Mrs May: Thank you very much, Chair, for the question. Can I first of all say that there are indeed some aspects of the report that the Committee has produced that we will want to be looking at very carefully, particularly some of the suggestions around legal highs. This is an area where we are all trying to find the right way through to deal with these, and any improvements that we can make are always welcome, and the Committee’s suggestions are very welcome on this. I share the Prime Minister’s view: I think that in relation to our drugs strategy we did change the drugs strategy when we came into Government, we have not yet had, I think, sufficient time for that; I think there are signs that it is working, but I think we need some more time to be able to assess it. For example, the payment-by-results pilots that we are working on obviously have to run their course to be able to make assessments for them, and that is why I think it is right that we keep with the drugs strategy that we have at the moment and do not move to a royal commission at this stage.
Q121 Chair: But the difficulty is that Mr Clegg has asked Jeremy Browne, who is one of your Ministers, to go and look abroad at some of the countries that we have visited, for example Portugal, to look at their policy. Is that not difficult for you as the Home Secretary when you know that one of your junior Ministers is going to do something different to what you would like to see happen, because ultimately drugs policy is in your hands, is it not?
Mrs May: It is not. Obviously, I will be talking to Jeremy about what the Department is doing and what he will be doing as the Minister responsible for the drugs policy within the Department, but going and looking at Portugal for example is not a great revolutionary idea; the Home Office has already looked at what has happened in Portugal. I was asked about it when I appeared in front of this Committee in relation to the drugs work that you were doing, and so if there is a question of looking at it again, then we can do that.
Q122 Chair: You will not stop him going if Nick Clegg says he should go?
Mrs May: I will be talking to him about how we approach the zeal for more information in relation to drugs strategy.
Q123 Chair: Let us move on to legal highs, because we were very concerned about legal highs, and today in the House I mentioned what we said about prisons. What further action can be taken by the Government on legal highs, bearing in mind that one new legal high appears almost every two weeks?
Mrs May: As you know, the first action we have taken is introducing the new temporary banning order, which enables us to take action against a legal high while the ACMD is able to look at the scientific evidence, and I think that works well as far as it can. The big question that we continue to look at and talk to the ACMD about-it is a matter that Professor Iverson has raised with me on a number of occasions-is this whole question about how you can classify potentially whole groups of legal highs, such that we are not having constantly to look at one particular chemical make-up of these drugs because, as we know, as soon as we see one particular chemical make-up, it is tweaked. There is that whole question of what we might need to do, and looking at the American experience in terms of classification or dealing with a whole generic group of these drugs, so you encapsulate that; that is one of the key issues.
Some of the suggestions that the Committee came up with in relation to looking at what is already available at the level of local authorities, through trading standards and so forth, to be able to deal with these issues, is a timely reminder that sometimes it is important to look at what you can do with what you have already as much as it is to look at what changes we need to make.
Q124 Chair: Of course. Exactly a year ago we published our report into gun control. Given what has been happening in America, in Connecticut, we have some of the toughest gun laws in the world, but we did recommend that the 34 pieces of legislation ought to be put into one codified piece of legislation. I am sure you have seen the report of the IPCC into the Durham police and the way in which they handled the killings in Durham. Is there any other action you think we need to take in this country other than perhaps codification?
Mrs May: We are introducing some new offences in relation to firearms to catch the middlemen, and this is something I know that the Committee has had an interest in as well in the past. We are intending to introduce an offence about holding firearms with an intent to supply, and to make some slight changes around sentencing around that and limited changes in firearms offences.
In terms of producing an entirely new piece of legislation that takes everything that exists currently and puts it into one simpler piece of legislation, I am afraid I cannot guarantee anything being done on that front.
Q125 Chair: But you are happy with the gun laws we have at the moment; they are very tough?
Mrs May: I think they are very tough, and apart from this one area that mainly relates to organised crime groups’ access to firearms, where firearms are effectively rented out to organised crime groups, so somebody holds the firearms and they are used by a variety of groups, we will be toughening up our ability to deal with those middlemen.
Q126 Chair: Can I ask you also to look at the way in which people are able to order Tasers from abroad through the internet and Taser guns entering the country, which are more powerful than the weapons that, for example, the Metropolitan Police has? The internet seems to be a source of information and retail which allows people to do this. I am not sure the Border Force has been quite able to deal with the importation of these weapons.
Mrs May: I am happy to go away and look at that.
Q127 Chair: Let us turn to Abu Qatada and other issues that you are concerned with. You met King Abdullah last week, and I do not want to go through the history of Abu Qatada because I am sure that particular individual must occupy a huge amount of your time and the time of Home Office officials, but how was the meeting with the king? Is he still as firm and committed to taking back Abu Qatada, having given you assurances last year when you went to Jordan that he would do so?
Mrs May: The support that we have from the Jordanian Government and from the king continues to be as good as it has been throughout this process. They have been very supportive of the work that we need to do together to look at these legal issues. Of course, from the Jordanian point of view, they want to be able to show, having made significant changes in their constitution, significant changes in the approach to the use of torture and of the admissibility of evidence that has been supposedly obtained through torture. They have changed their constitution; they have made these changes, and they obviously want to be able to show that has had an impact. Indeed, as you know, Lord Justice Mitting’s views-the judgment that he came to-significantly supported changes that have taken place in Jordan and recognised that they would do everything they could to ensure that there was a fair trial. It is just this one issue of the admissibility of evidence.
Q128 Chair: Is he prepared to go that extra step, which is what the judge wanted, to see whether they could change the Jordanian criminal code? I accept what you said about the way in which the trial is to be conducted, but in the judgment of the court that went against the Government there was reference to the possibility of changing that criminal code. Have you discussed that with him; would he be prepared to do that?
Mrs May: There are a number of options that we are discussing with the Jordanian Government at the moment to address the particular issue that Justice Mitting raised. He raised the possibility of a constitutional court reference; he also raised the issue, as you say, of the criminal code. We will look at those and any other avenues that appear open to us in discussions with the Jordanian Government and take forward what we believe will be the best opportunity of dealing with this issue.
At the same time of course, we have been given leave to appeal, so we have appealed and the Court of Appeal will hear that in the new term; I do not think we have a date yet, but January or February.
Q129 Chair: We will be coming on to it; Mr Reckless has a specific question. But finally from me, there were documents found that relate to MI5 in the former residence of Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli, which suggested that Abu Qatada issued a fatwa against British and American citizens. You are absolutely clear, are you, that there is no way in which he can be prosecuted in this country for what he has done? You are absolutely clear on that?
Mrs May: We continually look at the prospects of prosecution in the UK, and at the moment I am satisfied that it is not possible to prosecute in the UK, but we will continue to look at this.
Q130 Mark Reckless: You may be disappointed in the timing of the Abu Qatada appeal; my office contacted the Court of Appeal earlier today and they said they expected it to take place in March. You wrote to me on 3 December 2012 and said that you considered our domestic courts were bound to follow a Strasbourg ruling when it conflicted with a ruling from our own highest court. If that is so, how can the same-sex marriage safeguards work?
Mrs May: Sorry, I have to work this through in my mind. First of all, as I said, I do not think we have been given a date by the Court of Appeal yet. Their early indication to us was that they recognised the importance of the Abu Qatada case and therefore there was an impression given that they may expedite the case, but we wait to see what date they give us.
The point that I made in relation to how we addressed this issue, the legal issue, was that, as long as we are signed up to the European Convention, then obviously we need to abide by the law that is set down in relation to that. The Strasbourg Court had set a particular test in relation to the Abu Qatada situation and the judgment was that that was the test that the UK courts would apply and it was better to operate on the basis of that test because that then would enable us-if we achieved the decision that we wanted out of the Court-not to have to go back to Strasbourg, which in any other circumstance would have been possible and therefore would have dragged the case out for rather longer.
Q131 Mark Reckless: Can I just follow up on that point from your answer, and then I will return to the other point? You say you have made that judgment, I assume with the assistance of advisers. The Lord Chief Justice has stated, "As a matter of statute, the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg do not bind our courts. It will not always be appropriate to follow it. A statute ensures that the final word does not rest with Strasbourg but with our Supreme Court". Do you or your advisers know better than the Lord Chief Justice on this?
Mrs May: No, I fully respect the Lord Chief Justice and the remarks that he makes. The question that we had to look at was whether there was an assumption that the Court here in the UK would follow the Strasbourg test or would look to the previous House of Lords test that had been applied in this case. Our judgment was that, in the circumstances, they would apply the Strasbourg test; therefore it was better, if we followed that through, if we won the case, then we would have been able to remove Abu Qatada rather more quickly because he would not have had the further recourse to reopen the case in Strasbourg.
If we had taken the assumption that the test to be applied was the previous House of Lords test, and even if the courts that we were going to accepted that, and we believe that they would not-but even if they did, it would have been open to Abu Qatada to then go back to Strasbourg, which would have further delayed. Almost certainly there would have been an Article 39 injunction, we would have abided by the Article 39 injunction, and that would have delayed the matters even further because there would have had to have been a further hearing in relation to Strasbourg.
Q132 Mark Reckless: Once again you said "Article 39 injunction", I thought at least in the letter to me on 3 December 2012 there had been some improvement because, rather than saying it was the injunction that would prevent deportation, you described it as an indication, which of course is what our courts describe it as; an indication to the Government, not an indication to the courts. But the Lord Chief Justice was very clear on this as to what is binding and what is not, and he went on to complain, "We are being presented with far too many so-called authorities from Europe, which do not bind us at all domestically". Is it not the reality that the courts are not even going to get the decision to say, "Can we just send Qatada back without worrying about Strasbourg?" because you and the Home Office are refusing to allow that case even to go before them, despite what we have had from the highest judicial authority in our country on this issue?
Mrs May: With due respect, Mr Reckless, I had to take a decision, as did the Home Office, as to what was the best way to deal with this case in front of the courts. There is no guarantee, despite the words that you have quoted from the Lord Chief Justice, that the Court would have followed that particular rule and decided that the Strasbourg ruling effectively was not relevant to them. What they were looking at in terms of the case was whether we had been able to meet the test that had been set in relation to a fair trial. Our judgment was that the Court here in the UK would have looked at the tests that were set by Strasbourg and therefore it was better for us to present on that basis, which would mean that, if we won the case, we would not have to go back to Strasbourg. Had we done anything otherwise, even if we had won the case, there would have been an appeal to Strasbourg.
Q133 Mark Reckless: I am not sure whether you discussed this with your Cabinet colleague, Maria Miller, but what she is trying to do is have this quadruple lock to protect against a church in this country being forced to conduct a same-sex marriage. Through primary legislation it is intended that will be a defence against the European Court of Human Rights. But if, when a court decides on the basis of primary legislation, in this case the Human Rights Act, that someone can be deported, and that is the view of the highest court here, if the Government position is that can just be overturned whenever Strasbourg gives a contrary view, then how on earth will passing this primary legislation make any difference to what the European Court might say about same-sex marriage?
Mrs May: The point is that the European Court has already made a number of judgments in relation to same-sex marriage where it has clearly stated-I think it is Article 9, which is right to religious freedom, takes precedence over other rights, because they have been challenged on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Q134 Chair: Just to conclude on Abu Qatada, he has cost the taxpayer £515,778 in legal aid, yet I understand that his bank account has been frozen and his assets seized of £217,000. Is there any way that we can defray what we have paid as taxpayers against what has been seized?
Mrs May: There has been, as I understand it, some ability to defray against what has been seized, but this is an area where I have asked for my officials to look at the processes and the legislation around this area, not just because of this case, but there will be other cases as well where this is an issue that we need to look at in the criminal world as opposed to terrorists.
Q135 Chair: But in terms of the cost per day or per month as a result of the Court’s decision, what is it costing the taxpayer to keep him under surveillance?
Mrs May: I am afraid, Chairman, we do not give public figures for the cost of surveillance of any individual because as soon as we give a figure that enables people to start to look at what is being done and what is being provided. So we do not give that figure.
Chair: But he is being monitored presumably?
Mrs May: Appropriate measures are taking place to ensure the safety and security of UK citizens.
Chair: Excellent; we will accept that from you, Home Secretary.
Q136 Mr Winnick: Home Secretary, I wonder if I can just preface my question. In so far as there may be difficulties from time to time between your office and the secretariat about your appearance, and we appreciate your coming along and that you lead, to say the least, a very busy life, I wonder if you can possibly look into that aspect. I do not want to dwell on it. Perhaps, having said it, you might just note and consider it with your officials.
Mrs May: I note the point that you are making, Mr Winnick. I merely make the point that my diary does get very crowded. I am grateful for the flexibility that the Committee shows on occasions.
Q137 Mr Winnick: If there can be flexibility between the two offices that would help.
On the draft communications Bill, you have an article in The Sun in which you said that the Deputy Prime Minister, and no doubt others who are opposed, should look upon the victims of terrorists, paedophiles and organised crime. The implication there clearly is that those who are opposed to the measure, often referred to, as I am sure you are aware, as the snoopers’ charter, are giving help, against their wishes of course, but nevertheless at the end of the day are giving help to the terrorists and the paedophiles and all the other evil people. Do you stick by that view?
Mrs May: My view is very simple. We need this Bill because we need our law enforcement agencies, primarily our law enforcement agencies, to be able to have access in the new internet communications world to the same data that is not content, which is why it is not a snoopers’ charter, but to the same data about who is contacting who, when and where; they need to have access to that data in the new internet-connected world. That is data that is used day in and day out in the telephony world today by the police and others to deal with matters of serious crime, of terrorist plots, of paedophiles. Our ability to deal with those individuals is being degraded. There is already a gap in our ability to deal with those individuals, and that gap will increase if we do not have this Bill.
Q138 Mr Winnick: Home Secretary, if that was just such a simple matter as you have explained it, why should there be so much opposition, indeed from your own party? On a point of order on 3 December, David Davis, the former shadow Home Secretary, complained to the Speaker about this article that you wrote, and of course the Deputy Prime Minister does not take your view. So would you accept that there is a good deal of concern, to say the least, and opposition to the way the Bill is drafted at the moment?
Mrs May: First of all, there is a consensus across Government; it is Government’s position that legislation is necessary.
Q139 Mr Winnick: That includes the Deputy Prime Minister?
Mrs May: There is agreement across Government that legislation is necessary. The Joint Committee, both the Intelligence and Security Committee and the Joint Scrutiny Committee, which was set up to do pre-legislative scrutiny on the draft Bill, both of those Committees accepted that there was a need for this legislation. There was cross-party support in both of those Committees for the fact that there was need for this legislation.
You raised the issue effectively leading to the breadth of the Bill; we recognise that there were concerns expressed by those two Committees on the issue of the scope of the Bill predominantly and some other aspects of the Bill. We had tried to future-proof it in our drafting. We accept the concerns that have been raised and we are going to accept the substance of all the recommendations and work is already starting to redraft the Bill to reflect the recommendations that have come out of the two Committees.
Q140 Mr Winnick: Bearing in mind that the Deputy Prime Minister takes a different view-I do not think you are challenging that-he may accept the need for such a measure; but certainly there is the way in which it is drafted. Do you think there is any way in which such legislation will come on the statute book before the next election?
Mrs May: Yes indeed. In fact what we are working at, at the moment, is accepting the substance of the recommendations from both of the Committees. We are working through that, but I believe the work can be done. One issue is how we consult with industry and other bodies, others with an interest in this area. But we believe that the work can be done, in fact, to get an introduction of the Bill before the end of this session and to carry over into the next Session. Obviously, as we develop the work and look at this, we have to keep an eye on that, but at the moment the work can be done to that timetable.
Q141 Mr Winnick: What it would involve, if it came about in the way in which it is drafted, would it not, every single email, every other form of communication of such like would be subject to be looked at by the security authorities. Not the content; heaven forbid they should ever look at the content-I am sure that would never happen-but otherwise that is the position, is it not; every single email?
Mrs May: No, it is not. I am afraid this is where I think there has been a concern generated that is not commensurate with what is being proposed. What we propose to do as a result of the recommendations is to clarify what sort of data we are looking at and make it much clearer on the face of the Bill what we are aiming to do. But what we want is a situation where, as of today, where a telephone call will take place, the companies will retain the details of that telephone call, which number and who the subscriber was and who they were calling and at what time and how long it took. We want that data to be retained for the new internet communications where communications service providers will not necessarily be retaining it for their own purposes; some will, some will not. Some will retain some of it; some will retain it not for the length of time that we are suggesting. So there is a mixed picture out there for that, but what we want the Bill to be able to do is to say to the communications service providers we would like them to retain that data.
The law enforcement agencies will not be looking at every single one of those pieces of data; they will only request data from companies where they have an investigation that is ongoing and where it is necessary and proportionate for them to make that request. The filter arrangements will be such that we will ensure that they only get the information that they have requested, that is the information they have a right to in terms of the necessity and proportionality of the situation. So they are not going to be going on fishing expeditions; they have to be able to say, "This is an individual we are investigating under these circumstances and we are requesting this data, as we do today for telephony, we are requesting this data on internet communications".
Q142 Mr Winnick: In opposition, Home Secretary, the Conservative party made a great deal about defending civil liberties; it opposed rightly-as far as I was concerned-identity cards. If you recognise-despite what you have just said, it provides great concern among many, many people, hence the reason it is called the snoopers’ charter-that this is a big intrusion, an unnecessary intrusion, into people’s liberties. The fact that you use terrorism or paedophiles-those are the same reasons used by the previous Government to try to justify identity cards.
Mrs May: One of the things this Government did, as you know, Mr Winnick, when we came into power, was to look across our current legislation and to make some changes from the regime that the previous Government had, to relax some of the measures that had been put in place by the previous Government. So, for example, as you say, one of the first Bills that was introduced was the abolition of identity cards. We have also looked-obviously we have put the pre-charge detention back to 14 days when, as you know, under the previous Government there was talk about the possibility of it even being as long as 90 days.
Mr Winnick: Now you introduce this awful measure.
Mrs May: You took part in that debate about pre-trial detention. We found ourselves on the same side of the argument on that. But this is about really bringing into the new internet age the ability that the law enforcement agencies already have in relation to telephone conversations.
Q143 Steve McCabe: Home Secretary, you have been quite clear in your opposition to a single centralised database. I wonder if you could just explain to the Committee what is in practical terms the difference between a series of decentralised databases with a single point of access and the ability of the police and others to self-authorise that access, and a single centralised database?
Mrs May: I think the key concern about the single centralised database was that it was going to be held by the Government, and this was effectively creating one big Government database and there was concerns about what other Government access might become part of the picture were that to be the case. I think the point about the decentralised database is these are held by the individual companies and they are only accessed on the basis of authorised access.
Q144 Steve McCabe: But it is self-authorised access, is it not?
Mrs May: The Joint Scrutiny Committee went and looked at the Metropolitan Police’s single point of contact arrangements by which they authorise access to the data and were impressed by those, and in fact have suggested in the recommendations that for lower-level users there should be one single point of contact because that is a process that they recognise works very well. So yes, the individual law enforcement agencies make the request, but they do so only in a limited set of circumstances and through a process, which has been-I believe by the Joint Scrutiny Committee-looked at and has been found to be a very good process.
Q145 Michael Ellis: Home Secretary, I was on that Joint Scrutiny Committee for several months, in fact I even missed one or two meetings of this august Committee to attend it. We heard from Mr Davies, I think it is, from CEOP, the Child Online Protection Unit, and also from several chief constables, including Chief Constable Peter Fahy. A number of those senior law enforcement officials pressed very strongly for the Government to enact legislation that would keep up with and cease the degradation that we have been seeing in recent years thanks to the advance of technology. Looking now at the report, would you agree with what Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, is reported to have said: that this is a measure that will save lives in some cases?
Mrs May: I do, yes, I do take very seriously what the law enforcement agencies have been saying, particularly Peter Davies at CEOP, but also a number of chief constables, John Murphy at Merseyside, Peter Fahy from Greater Manchester, and indeed, as you say, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, have been very clear that this is a capability that they need to be able to maintain as communications move away from telephony into the internet and use more communications across the internet. I believe it is something-and there are examples of cases where access to this sort of data does indeed save lives. We often talk about it in terms of catching criminals and others, but there is that other side of access to the data-in threat-to-life situations access to this is very important. In kidnap situations and issues like that, this can be the difference between saving a life or not.
Q146 Michael Ellis: Would you agree that one of the issues surrounding this particular piece of proposed legislation is that it has been characterised by quite a lot of misinformation about what this measure is proposing; there is an extraordinary amount of misinformation about what it contains. It is not a fishing expedition; it is not going to apply to the whole of society. It is simply keeping the law enforcement authorities up in line with the advances in modern communication technology.
Mrs May: It is a great pity that a lot has been written about this, which describes it in ways that are completely divorced from what is being proposed by the Government. It is often claimed that the Government is going to look at everybody’s emails and read everybody’s emails, it is absolutely not the case on two counts-first of all, it is not about intercepting content of communications, so it is not about what the content of an email might be, and secondly the Government is not going to sit there even looking at all the communications data, it will be, as it is now with telephony, the information will only be accessed, the who, when, what, how, will only be accessed when it is the case that there is an investigation that merits, that justifies, access to that information.
Chairman, just to make one more point on this if I may, of course we talk about it in terms of investigation, we should never forget that very often this communications data today is used in prosecutions; it is essential in prosecuting people as well as investigating them.
Q147 Michael Ellis: I notice the Intelligence and Security Committee, which I know answers to the Prime Minister, reports to the Prime Minister rather than yourself, but in this case has produced a report on this subject, so I presume you have seen it. As well as the Joint Scrutiny Committee of the Lords and Commons, both came to a conclusion that these measures were necessary. They support these measures and that the Home Office and you accept them as substantive measures.
Mrs May: Yes, indeed. I asked the Intelligence and Security Committee to do a parallel scrutiny job on the draft Bill because they would be able to take evidence in private from security services, which would not be possible to be evidence that could be put before the Joint Scrutiny Committee. But I think that this is a very key fact that has come out from both of the reports, and these are both cross-party Committees.
Q148 Michael Ellis: Of both Houses?
Mrs May: Of both houses, and no dissenting voice. The reports are very clear; there is a need for this legislation.
Q149 Michael Ellis: Thank you. With the Chairman’s permission, can I move on to the European Union opt-out? Home Secretary, in a statement to the House of Commons you said that some of the pre-Lisbon measures are useful; some are less so; and some are now in fact entirely defunct. When do you anticipate that you will be ready to produce a list of measures about those ones that you would like to opt back in to?
Mrs May: We are still doing some work on these measures and indeed we are still discussing, I think, with the House authorities and others, how the process of a vote in the House will take place. Obviously, it will be necessary for the vote in the House for there to be clarity about the individual measures.
Q150 Michael Ellis: You would not want 130 Divisions, if we could avoid them.
Mrs May: My personal preference would be not for 130 Divisions, but we will be discussing the matter with the House authorities, and the Europe Minister will be doing so because of following up on his own proposals in relation to this. I think, Mr Chairman, your Committee has in fact written asking for explanatory memoranda on the measures.
Chair: Indeed. I think when you made your statement to the House you said that you would like the Select Committee to look at these?
Mrs May: Indeed, yes, and I am grateful to the Committee for the interest that you have shown in this. We would certainly hope to be able to provide you with the first of the explanatory memoranda by early January and to have provided all the explanatory memoranda by the middle of February, if that is helpful.
Q151 Michael Ellis: There is quite a lot of analysis, presumably, with 130 measures, so your team has been working on this?
Mrs May: Yes. There is analysis of the 130 measures; there is obviously also at the same time some discussions taking place with the European Commission and indeed with other member states, who would have to agree if we were to request an opt-in to a particular measure, about how the process will operate and the sort of ways in which they want to handle it. There is how we choose to take it through Parliament here and then obviously how we handle it in relation to the European Commission.
Q152 Michael Ellis: But you anticipate some movement by February?
Mrs May: All the explanatory memoranda by the middle of February.
Q153 Chair: We will come on to Mr Reckless on this point, but can I just ask, for example, if you look at the European arrest warrant, in principle it is a very good idea, but in practice, with countries like Poland for example-the judges issuing warrants for even minor crimes-are courts getting clogged up? It is what gives the European arrest warrant a bad name. In principle it is great, but it is the EU colleagues and the way in which they conduct their criminal justice system that there is a problem with. Will we have bilateral discussions with some of our colleagues, or is it just not worth those discussions?
Mrs May: There have been some attempts already made in relation to the AW to reduce this problem of proportionality in terms of guidance issued by the Commission and some bilateral communications in the past. This is not just a problem that affects the United Kingdom; there are other member states that also suffer the issue of proportionality. There are some issuing states who are required to take every single incident right through to conclusion, whereas here somebody might, for example, get a caution and it not be followed through to a prosecution and into the courts. The way some member states operate, they require that even the most minor offence be followed through. This is precisely the sort of issue that we need to look at when we are looking at the operation of individual measures.
Q154 Nicola Blackwood: I just wanted to pick up on the points about extradition, because obviously you made a statement to the House on the response to the Baker report and some very welcome comments on the introducing forum, on the need for more proportionality in the EAW, and also reviewing the appeals process of extradition. How are you going to dovetail that in with the EU opt-out, because obviously that does concern the EAW as well?
Mrs May: I think we can take them as separate issues, so we would look to be able to introduce the forum bar, the changes that I announced on the forum bar and taking out the appeal to the Home Secretary on human rights grounds. We would look to do that as soon as possible and there is a possibility we might be able to do that within the Crime and Courts Bill, so we are looking for the earliest legislative opportunity to do that. The EAW will be part of the discussion about the 2014 opt-out and potential opt back in, and we will have to look at the issues of proportionality and other issues that have been raised here in this House-the aspects of the extent of pre-trial detention in some member states. Scott Baker’s panel had some ideas about how to deal with that issue as well, for example. We will take those within the context of the 2014 opt-out.
Q155 Mark Reckless: With the block opt-out, what will happen if one House, for instance, does not support that; does the House of Lords have a veto on this? How will that work, on the Government motion?
Mrs May: The whole issue about how the vote is going to be presented, how the issue is going to be presented to both Houses, and what timetable that is undertaken in, how many votes there are: these are matters that are still being discussed.
Q156 Mark Reckless: But is it possible that the block opt-out is dependent on the House of Lords agreeing it by voting for a motion?
Mrs May: As I said, the nature of the motion that is put before both Houses is still a matter for discussion.
Mark Reckless: But will the opt-out require parliamentary approval?
Mrs May: We are committed to coming to Parliament, bringing it before Parliament and having a vote, or possibly more than one, but a vote in Parliament on this matter. The nature of that vote, the nature of any motion that is put before either House, is still, as I say, a matter that is being discussed.
Q157 Mark Reckless: Could you tell us about the work that ACPO is doing on which of the measures might be considered vital for law enforcement?
Mrs May: In looking at the various measures that involve the law enforcement agencies, we have been and will continue to be talking to them about the impact of measures, about the practical operation of the measures that they are working with and taking their views and considering their views as part of our cross-Government discussion about which measures we choose to opt out of or try to opt back in to.
Q158 Mark Reckless: Do you envisage ACPO having a continuing role on that, or is it being wound up?
Mrs May: Surely you are not suggesting that, as a result of this issue, we wind ACPO up. This is about ACPO; naturally we talk to ACPO, and the relevant ACPO leads on these sorts of issues on an ongoing basis.
Q159 Mark Reckless: ACPO is remaining in the new policing landscape, isn’t it?
Mrs May: That is a different question.
Chair: We will come on to the policing landscape later. Is that all right? We will come back to it. Are you done, Mr Reckless, on opt-out?
Mark Reckless: Not on ACPO, but on opt-out, yes.
Chair: We will come back to ACPO.
Q160 Nicola Blackwood: Thank you, Mr Chairman. We have obviously just had the Immigration Minister in, but unfortunately I was in the justice and security group, so I have been granted the immigration section. I wonder if we could talk about some comments that you made last week about UKBA receiving some 90,000 notifications about non-compliance of foreign students since the LMU case in August. We have obviously had some disturbing comments from John Vine about failures in the past for the UKBA to act on these notifications, so could you give your assessment on how these notifications are being acted on now? Because if they are not being, clearly these individuals could just apply for visas even though they are illegally in the country at the moment.
Mrs May: Yes. I think the first thing to say is to point out that obviously, although there have been 90,000 notifications; it is not necessarily the case that all those notifications are individuals who should not be in the country. It may be that they have changed some circumstances. So UKBA will be following up on those 90,000 notifications. What I do not have, and I apologise, is a timetable for them looking at those notifications, but they will certainly be following up on those notifications that have been received from universities and forwarded to them.
Q161 Nicola Blackwood: Because one of the concerns that was raised by John Vine was that previously the agency had no targets in place for responding to notifications made using the sponsor management system. But given that he did raise that in his report, I think that it would be advisable for that change.
Mrs May: Yes, and we would certainly be looking to follow them up. I am sorry; I just do not have the timetable for that.
Q162 Nicola Blackwood: Are you aware of the breakdown of that 90,000, because obviously it seems like a significant number and a big increase on the beginning of the year, and I wonder whether there is a percentage who are Tier 4 and whether they are student visitor visas?
Mrs May: My assumption would be that they were all people who had come on student visas, Tier 4, but I do not have a breakdown yet in relation to that.
Q163 Nicola Blackwood: Would it be possible for you to let us know because we are trying to work out whether non-compliance is more associated with Tier 4 or with student visitor visas?
Mrs May: Sorry, when you say "with student visitor visas", do you mean the 11-month visas?
Nicola Blackwood: Yes.
Mrs May: We will let you know, but my assumption is that these are Tier 4 visas because it has come out of the LMU revocation.
Chair: If you could write to us, that would be helpful.
Q164 Nicola Blackwood: Thank you, because one of the issues that has come before the Committee is that student visitor visas, since the Tier 4 changes, have increased, because obviously there are less-rigorous checks in place for the more formal study visas, and I just wondered that, given the concerns, which we all have about abuse of the student visa system, whether there is consideration of putting more rigorous checks in place for the student visitor visa regime?
Mrs May: It is certainly the case that in immigration matters you always have to look at where people might move to in relation to when you change rules in one particular area.
Nicola Blackwood: The immigration balloon effect.
Mrs May: We do keep an eye on the student visitor visas and will continue to do so, to see if any recent decisions do lead to some form of abuse of that system. We will be monitoring that.
Q165 Nicola Blackwood: The last point that I really wanted to raise related again to John Vine’s report on the asylum backlog, which found that the Committee had consistently been supplied with incorrect information. We have obviously had UKBA in on a four-monthly basis over an extended period of time and have experienced great frustrations with getting clear data, but now to hear that it was inaccurate data is even more frustrating. I wonder what steps have been taken internally to make sure that this is not recurring.
Mrs May: There is quite a lot that is being done in relation to UKBA and it is a troubled organisation, it has had a problem of delivery, this is not news to this Committee, this Committee has been saying that for some considerable time. We have made some changes already, there is the transformational plan that the chief executive has been working on, but turning the organisation around in an overall sense will not be quick, it will take several years to bring about the changes that are needed.
One of the issues that we have put a particular focus on is this whole question of accuracy of data, because it is not just for the Committee, I mean anything that is publicly said by the agency in relation to the figures, they should be able to stand up, it should be accurate data. There are obviously some areas in the immigration field where it is difficult to put firm figures on, but in terms of cases that the agency is dealing with, it ought to be able to put firm figures on where those cases are and what is happening to them. I believe that the introduction of the new Performance and Compliance Unit will help with this issue. I have specifically asked Chief Inspector John Vine, both to look again in the new year at the CAAU at the legacy cases and to see what has been happening following his report on that area, but I have also asked him to look at this Performance and Compliance Unit that has been set up to ensure that it will deliver what we are hoping it will deliver.
Q166 Nicola Blackwood: In addition to accuracy targets, could there also be clarity targets, because it is quite difficult to trace accuracy when you cannot understand the data, and accountability is very much linked to that. One of the challenges that I think we always have is that people find it very difficult to understand the immigration data when it comes out. If it was simply understandable by the layman, if not the Committee members, I think that would be a helpful start because having headlines about failures in our immigration system is not good for any of us, particularly people with student populations in their constituencies like me.
Mrs May: I am happy to.
Q167 Chair: Are you happy with the work of John Vine?
Mrs May: I am, yes, I think that John Vine does a good job for us. It is uncomfortable reading sometimes, but that is the whole point of having a chief inspector. To be fair, there are areas where he has shown that there has been improvement in UKBA’s performance, some of the areas in terms of quality of decision-taking, for example he has praised the improvements that he has seen. But the point of having a chief inspector is that he shines a light sometimes in some awkward places and it is better that we know about it.
Q168 Chair: We indeed have welcomed some of the work the UKBA has done, in particular your announcement that there is going to be face-to-face interviews. In the posts abroad we have called for this for five years under successive Governments and this is the best way to keep bogus students and others out of the country.
One final point on immigration, you told The Sunday Times on 7 October that the issue of free movement in the EU is under review, but then you wrote to me and said that in fact we really cannot do very much about it because of treaty obligations. Are you still reviewing EU migration?
Mrs May: There are three areas of work that will be undertaken, some of which has already started. We are working with other member states on the whole issue of the abuse of free movement and we were able to get that consensus from other member states who have increasingly been seeing this as an issue themselves. It was endorsed by the European Council and we have a piece of work there that the UK is leading in relation to issues like sham marriages. So we are working on the abuse of free movement.
In the UK here we are looking at the pull factors, we are looking at what is it that would attract people to exercise their free movement to come to the UK, what are the things that we can do in relation, for example, to access to benefits and to other public services that would have an impact on that attraction that the UK currently has for people.
Then the balance of competencies work, which the Foreign Secretary announced, where there will be, over the next two to three years, this piece of work looking at virtually every aspect of the relationship with the EU, looking at where balance of power lies, where decisions are taken, and how that affects what happens in the UK. Free movement will be within that work as well. There are three various ways in which we are looking at it.
Q169 Chair: The previous Government was criticised very strongly over its failure to predict the number of people from the A8 who came into the UK after the restrictions were raised. You have decided that from 31 December next year Romanians and Bulgarians will be treated as equal EU citizens, in other words they can work here. Is there any work going on as to the number of Romanians and Bulgarians who might enter the UK as a result of the raising of the restrictions at the end of next year?
Mrs May: If I may, in relation to the initial countries, of course the Government did not relax the transitional clause, the last Government never put transitional controls on, whereas there were transitional controls put on by countries like Germany and France.
In relation to Romania and Bulgaria, transitional controls have been on, they do come off at the end of next December, and in that context we are looking at some of the work that I have referred to in relation to pull factors. It is very difficult for us to predict because of course we have a slightly different scenario in that the transitional controls will be removed for a number of member states, so for states like Germany for example, they will no longer have transitional controls on Romanians and Bulgarians either. But we are looking at this issue.
Q170 Steve McCabe: Home Secretary-police and crime commissioners with no questions about elections. Is someone responsible for letting you know how many of our 41 police and crime commissioners have second jobs or hold other public offices in addition to being police and crime commissioners?
Mrs May: The first point is no, I do not have somebody who puts that sort of information in front of me because that is information that I believe is for the electorate to make a decision on, not for the Home Secretary to make a decision on.
Q171 Steve McCabe: So it does not matter if they have second jobs; it does not matter if we know if they have second jobs or hold other public offices?
Mrs May: Obviously we encourage the police and crime commissioners to be transparent about their situation.
Q172 Steve McCabe: You mean the electorate? Sorry, I am not trying to be awkward; I am just trying to understand this. At the moment we have 41 people, and we do not know how many of them are doing it as a part-time job and how many of them have other jobs where there may be interests that are associated. I am just wondering how do we find that out?
Mrs May: I think I am right in saying that there is a requirement for them to declare any other employment. We took the very simple view that we would not put any rules in relation to that because it was up to the electorate to decide whether it was right for somebody to have a second job or not.
Chair: Sorry to interrupt; is there a requirement or not?
Mrs May: My understanding was that we had certainly issued guidance to them in terms of what they should be, but I will check, I can certainly check that.
Q173 Steve McCabe: If there is not a requirement, Home Secretary, are you saying today that there should be a requirement that they should have to declare, like MPs and other people, any additional interests and the sources of any additional income?
Mrs May: What I am saying is that I would expect police and crime commissioners to be as open and transparent with their electorate as are the requirements on what Members of Parliament do. I would expect police and crime commissioners to be transparent with the electorate and then the electorate to be able to make a decision.
Q174 Steve McCabe: But I do not get to vote on it again for quite a few years, so I am just wondering, if I get that transparency now-they are quite big posts; lots of money tied up-surely we have to have a mechanism to know what else they do?
Mrs May: Why do you not write and ask them, Mr McCabe?
Steve McCabe: All 41; you would recommend I do that?
Mrs May: You might like to ask your own. I am not trying to be difficult here. We took a very clear decision that it will be for the electorate to make these decisions about whether people have done a proper job, whether they have done a good job, whether they are full-time or not.
Q175 Steve McCabe: As the person ultimately in charge, is it not a concern for you as well, do you not want to know that?
Mrs May: But it is not going to be my decision as to whether an individual police and crime commissioner has given the right amount of time to their post. Obviously, if there are real problems that arise around those, the backstop power is with the Home Secretary, but the whole point about the democratic election is that it is up to the electorate to decide, so it is up to them to decide whether a police and crime commissioner has done a good job, whether they have been doing so many hours a week or so many-plus hours a week, it is not for me to decide that; it is for the electorate.
Q176 Chair: I think Mr McCabe accepts that at the end of the day it is the electorate that decides, but he is perhaps suggesting there should be a national register so people can inspect exactly what the other jobs are, as there is for Members of this House and other people who hold elected office. To give you just a couple of examples, in the west midlands the PCC there has appointed a Birmingham councillor as his deputy and at the same time she is continuing with her other council jobs. The PCC in Northamptonshire has submitted plans for a private office that is larger than the old police authority, including four assistant commissioners. The PCC for Cambridgeshire has appointed a deputy who is on a salary of £28,000. Wherever the examples are, there are examples in every party, including the independents, all over the country. Of course the Committee will write to everyone, I think it is a very good idea, we are happy to do it if nobody else is going to do it, but do you not think that this is really something that the Government should do rather than the Select Committee on Home Affairs, or even Mr McCabe personally, great though he is as a campaigner. This is the kind of information that really ought to be in the public domain.
Mrs May: Perhaps if I can clarify, because I was operating on a basis of my memory of what we had done when we introduced PCCs, "PCCs must publish a register of interests including every other pecuniary interest or other paid interests, budgets, contracts and tenders, senior salaries and key decisions".
Chair: Excellent; that is all we were looking for.
Mrs May: So transparency is required from the PCCs.
Chair: So it is already there?
Mrs May: In relation to the appointment of deputies, obviously they have to appoint them in an open and transparent way. That includes a public confirmation hearing, a recommendation by the police and crime panel, so the body that is there to scrutinise the PCC. The PCC has to take that decision, it is their decision as to who they appoint as a deputy, but they have to obviously notify the police and crime panel and give them the information about the criteria they use to assess the candidate.
Chair: That is extremely helpful, but it is not sort of co-ordinated in one register; the Committee certainly will write.
Mrs May: It is not co-ordinated in one register because in each police force area individuals will want to know their PCC rather than all the national PCCs.
Chair: Of course, that is very helpful and I think that clarifies the issue and we will certainly write to them. Mr McCabe, you have a question on the College of Policing.
Q177 Steve McCabe: This is straightforward, Home Secretary; I just wondered if you could give us some idea when the chair of the College of Policing might be appointed. I think there is still a question mark about whether or not individual police officers will have to pay a subscription to the college. I wondered if a decision had been made on that yet.
Mrs May: Well, yes and no, in the sense that, in terms of the College of Policing, I do not have a date when I can announce the name of the chairman. Obviously I am very pleased that Alex Marshall has accepted the role as chief executive. The interim college came into existence on 1 December and, as soon as we have parliamentary time allowance, we will set it up on a statutory basis. So what we have done is we have legally incorporated it as a company limited by guarantee in this initial phase to enable us to get it up and running. But, as I say, I am not able to give you a precise date as to when the chairman will be appointed.
On the question of whether or not individuals would have to pay to be members of this organisation, certainly as it is being set up at this stage, there is no requirement for a membership fee.
Chair: You have been very helpful.
Q178 Mark Reckless: Another organisation owned by its members which is a company limited by guarantee is ACPO; it seems to be fighting something of a rearguard action. I am not sure if I am right on that; obviously, if it is a private company, it is not for you as Home Secretary to decide to wind it up as such, but can you say what, if any, role you are envisaging for ACPO in the new policing landscape?
Mrs May: There will be a requirement for the chiefs’ council to operationalise the positions that come out of the College of Policing. It is necessary, for example, that standards will be determined by the College of Policing, and most of the ACPO business areas will be in the College of Policing. That will be where the leads are operating and doing all the work in terms of development of standards. Obviously there will be a decision for a chiefs’ council to be able to agree that something can actually be put into operational practice. So there will be a role for a group of chiefs in that sense. As you yourself say, ACPO is owned by its members, although it has had funding from the Home Office and from the police authorities in the past, and it is for them to decide what their future role should be in relation to the wider aspects of the role that they have at the moment.
Mark Reckless: But you do not see that as being entrenched within the Policing College?
Mrs May: I have been clear that we have the College of Policing and a chiefs’ council will be necessary. That may or may not be the same as ACPO, but ACPO will have to take decisions for itself about its future.
Mark Reckless: So it is a chiefs’ council within the College of Policing; maybe ACPO?
Mrs May: No, sorry. There will be a need for chief constables to come together in a chiefs’ council to make certain decisions. That will probably not sit within the College of Policing, but the decisions will be passed to the chiefs’ council to take those operational decisions. The question of what ACPO does and how ACPO members decide the future of ACPO will be for them to decide. That is not for me to decide.
Mark Reckless: Just finally-I think I have understood-the chiefs’ council is not ACPO; the chiefs’ council is something separate?
Mrs May: The chiefs’ council is a separate body. As it happens, ACPO has a chiefs’ council at the moment, so this is where the language starts to get a little awkward. There is a necessity for chief constables to come together in a forum called the chiefs’ council.
Mark Reckless: But it is not ACPO, and you are not going to be providing ACPO with any more-
Mrs May: There are some functions that the chiefs’ council will be responsible for.
Mark Reckless: Not the council of ACPO, though?
Mrs May: The future of ACPO is not for me to decide. That is the point. The future of ACPO is for ACPO to decide.
Mark Reckless: You can stop giving it money and you can not give it any powers from the Home Office.
Mrs May: ACPO will be looking at what it believes it should be doing in the future. There are certain functions that we need the chiefs to come together to agree and to undertake and there are actual operational functions around, for example, what was PNIC, and we have been looking at how that will be provided for in the future, so that mutual aid can be provided for in times of public disorder for example, or when it is required around the country. So we are looking at some functional issues, but whether ACPO continues to exist in its current form is a matter for ACPO.
Q179 Chair: Does it worry you that in 26 out of the 43 police forces there is either no chief constable or the chief constable is discussing imminent retirement? By no chief constable, I mean no permanent chief constable; there are acting chief constables.
Mrs May: Every year, there is always a turnover of chief constables.
Chair: This is half the number.
Mrs May: Yes, and this is partly because of the transition to police and crime commissioners. We discussed with ACPO in advance and we took some decisions about the protocol that would apply, so that there would be more temporary appointments precisely because we did not want to have lots of chief constables suddenly being appointed before the PCCs came, given the role of PCCs. Some of those temporary appointments were deliberately temporary appointments in order to give the PCCs coming in the ability to make the permanent appointment.
Chair: Very helpful.
Q180 Nicola Blackwood: The Committee is doing an inquiry into child sexual exploitation, a particular concern in my constituency as we have a major case going to the Old Bailey in January. This is a really shocking experience for any community to have to go through, and in evidence that we have received from Peter Davies and from others I think the move of CEOP across to the NCA may be helpful in terms of making sure there is better co-ordination between SOCA and CEOP, but I just wondered what discussions you have had about how we can make sure there is better support for police forces up and down the country, to make sure they are prioritising child sexual exploitation properly. Some areas still do not think that this is an issue that they need to be concerned about, and I think we can say quite categorically that that is not the case.
Mrs May: My firm belief is that CEOP within the NCA will be better able to deal with cases, because they will have the extra support of not just SOCA but also the border policing and the NCA’s intelligence hub that will form the core of the NCA. When you get down to individual forces and their ability to deal with these issues, it is variable across the country, as you said, and there have been some very good pieces of work done. The shocking thing for all of us is the extent of child sexual exploitation that takes place around the country, which is only really just being surfaced, both through individual investigations and obviously the Children’s Commissioner and the Deputy Children’s Commissioner’s recent report in this area. Yes, work is being done to try to ensure that through ACPO-and in due course the College of Policing will have a role in this-police forces are operating to the same standards in dealing with these cases, particularly in the initial stages as to whether or not they actually take something and see it as a need for an investigation. Often the problems have occurred where individuals have tried to report something, which is difficult in itself, but then have not been listened to or not been believed and things have been left. That is where most of the problems have occurred.
Q181 Nicola Blackwood: In the evidence we have received those areas that do act face quite a backlash for why they have not acted so far, but also once they do start acting and there is publicity, they suddenly have a big peak in disclosure and have to increase resources and divert resources significantly to that child sexual exploitation operation. They suddenly have to learn a lot in that area, and I wonder what can be done perhaps to offer, not necessarily financial resources, but best practice resources in a very quick response way to those areas. It is quite a trial by fire.
Mrs May: I appreciate that, and it is difficult. The number of officers who are specifically trained in this area is limited across the country. Obviously a number of officers are currently being used for some historical investigations as well as on-going live investigations. It is an area that I recognise there is a difficulty in, I am afraid I cannot give an instant answer about the resources and training.
Chair: Perhaps you could write to us about it. Yesterday, the Daily Telegraph reported that the Prime Minister is facing a revolt by senior Cabinet Ministers on minimum pricing for alcohol. Have you come across any revolting senior Cabinet Ministers who do not support your line, which is to reduce the availability of alcohol for binge drinkers? Or is it going along swimmingly?
Mrs May: There is an across-Government view that we need to do something about binge drinking.
Chair: And the Committee’s view; we recommended this.
Mrs May: Thank you. Obviously the MEP is out to consultation at the moment. There are a number of issues around the MEP about the levels that should be set out, the interaction with what is happening in Scotland, the legal basis for dealing in this area, but we are out to consultation at the moment and look forward to receiving the views from a wide variety, I would guess, of organisations and individuals.
Q182 Chair: You are about to get a new Permanent Secretary, although unusually you will not be choosing. I spoke to one of your predecessors and I asked what happened when he was Home Secretary, and said he insisted on having two names put before him. Certainly, Ministers are given two names when private secretaries are being selected, two or three names, and they choose. But in this particular case it is being done by the Civil Service Commission. As you know, in terms of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Prime Minister vetoed the appointment of David Kennedy right after the process was completed, and you indeed vetoed the suggested name for the head of the UK Border Force, after he had gone through the system. Do you not think there is a case for the Home Secretary to be much more closely involved in the selection of the Permanent Secretary rather than leaving it to the end when you might not particularly like the person who they select?
Mrs May: First of all, you should not make assumptions about the processes. I think we are in a point of slight flux in relation to the operation of the selection processes.
Chair: But you are six months without a Permanent Secretary.
Mrs May: Yes, I recognise that, Mr Chairman. We have a very good acting Permanent Secretary in place. The last Permanent Secretary left in September. It is not six months.
Chair: She told Bob Kerslake in July; she told us this.
Mrs May: There is discussion taking place about what the process should be in relation to these appointments and the extent to which Secretaries of State should be involved, that is an ongoing discussion.
Q183 Chair: But it will not affect this appointment because the interviews were this week, I understand.
Mrs May: There were indeed interviews this week, but you should not necessarily make assumptions, Mr Chairman, about a process that you are not involved in.
Chair: Home Secretary, I want you to be involved. There are discussions about your involvement?
Mrs May: I have already had some involvement, and I would expect to continue to have involvement.
Chair: That is very pleasing; I am very pleased about that.
Q184 Steve McCabe: Can I ask one last thing on police and crime commissioners, Home Secretary? Do you have any plans to commission any kind of evaluation into the impact of this change?
Mrs May: Do you mean with a view to whether or not we are going to continue with the policy; because we are going to continue with it.
Steve McCabe: No, I just wondered if you had any plans to have any independent evaluation into what it had achieved and what impact your changes have brought about?
Mrs May: We are obviously looking on an ongoing basis at what police and crime commissioners are doing, watching the impact of what they are doing in due course. They have not had much opportunity yet to have an impact in terms of any changes that they might make. We will of course look at that, but I come back to the fundamental point about the police and crime commissioners that they are accountable to their electorate. So it will be for their electorate to determine whether they have had the impact that they claimed they would have, that the electorate wanted them to have, or whether they want to change. It is not for me to say that.
Steve McCabe: Okay; thank you.
Q185 Mr Winnick: Home Secretary, all Home Secretaries have the responsibility, it goes without saying, of trying to do their utmost to defend our country, especially in view of the continued dangers of acute terrorism and the rest. How far would you like to be remembered as a Home Secretary who, while doing that, did her utmost to defend our traditional freedoms or a Home Secretary who, no doubt through good intentions, eroded those freedoms?
Mrs May: I am tempted to say "nice try", Mr Winnick.
Chair: Say it anyway.
Mrs May: I would hope I would be seen as a Home Secretary that, yes, puts safety and security of the public first, but recognises that needs to be balanced against our civil liberties and the actions that the Government had already taken in terms of 14-day pre-charge detention, in terms of the ID card; some other aspects of our counter-terrorism legislation that we have looked at I think reflect that.
Chair: Home Secretary, you are not going anywhere; that sounded like an epitaph, but, of course, you are still going to be with us next year. Can I end with a thank you from the Select Committee for the decision that you took on Gary McKinnon; it has been a recommendation of this Committee and successive Committees, we have urged your predecessors to do it, and none of them have done it. It was the right decision to take, and we are extremely grateful for the way in which you took it, the manner in which you deliberated so very carefully, the fact that on extradition you are suggesting the creation of a forum bar, which we have also recommended, and we are delighted by what you have done. Thank you very much, and can I wish you and your officials a very happy Christmas and a happy New Year.
Mrs May: Thank you Chairman, and happy Christmas to the Committee and the Clerks.