Select Committee on European Communities Report


16.  PROPOSALS RELATING TO TRAVEL DOCUMENTS AND RESIDENCE PERMITS (11362/97, 11602/97 AND 11748/97)

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to the Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, Secretary of State for the Home Department

  Sub-Committee F considered these documents at their meeting on 18 March and have asked me to write to you raising the following points.

  1.  For all three documents, your Explanatory Memoranda state that when the opportunity arises you will discuss the implications of the proposals with non-governmental and voluntary organisations concerned with asylum and immigration issues. For each proposal, have you had any such consultations so far? What consultations do you have planned?

  2.  In relation to document 11362/97, the proposed form states "valid only if accompanied by the identity document number...". Do you understand the reference to an "identity document" to include documents such as driving licences and credit cards; or do you understand it to refer only to an indentity card?

  The Sub-Committee has decided to retain document 11362/97 under scrutiny until they have received your answer to these questions. The other two documents have both been cleared from scrutiny.

24 March 1998

Letter from the Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, Secretary of State for the Home Department, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 24 March in which you requested information on when the Government intended to discuss documents 11362/97 (a proposal for a uniform format for forms for affixing visas issued by Member States holding no, or not recognised travel documents), 11602/97 (a proposal relating to sharing the costs of film masters for the uniform format residence permit) and 11748/97 (a proposal for common rules for completing the uniform format residence permit) with NGOs. You also requested clarification of the definition of the term "identity document" contained in document 11362/97.

  We have not yet held the discussions with non-governmental and voluntary organisations concerned with asylum and immigration issues about any of the three proposals and because of recent developments such discussions are unlikely to be held in the immediate future. Indeed, further work on both the substance of these proposals and their handling within the European Union has shown that this is unlikely to be necessary. Work on document 11362/97 has been suspended indefinitely by Member States and we see little practical value in discussing this proposal further at the present time. If work on this document were to be resumed then we would consider arranging a meeting to discuss the implications of this document.

  Document 11602/97 is a purely technical paper, and on reflection it does not seem necessary or productive to consult NGOs about what is simply an arrangement between Member States on dividing up the cost of a technical process which enables the residence permit to be printed in the uniform format. Document 11748/97 is part of a package of measures which relate to the introduction of the uniform format residence permit itself. Member States have a maximum of five years to introduce the uniform format residence permit and the Government intends to take full advantage of this opportunity not only to look at our current procedures to check compatibility with the new format but also to take the opportunity to discuss the introduction of the uniform format with interested parties from NGOs. My officials will therefore arrange any appropriate discussion of this document with NGOs at an appropriate moment.

  As I have previously stated the work on document 11362/97 has been suspended. As a result there has been no detailed discussion on the contents of the draft Joint Action. However, I believe that the reference to an "identity document" in this particular context would not include driving licences or credit cards but would simply refer either to an identity card, or in some cases the travel document, if this was one that was not recognised by the Member State in question.

13 May 1998


 
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