Select Committee on European Communities Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 318 - 339)

WEDNESDAY 10 FEBRUARY 1999

KATE HOEY, MP, MR STEPHEN BOYS SMITH and MR JOHN WARNE

Chairman

  318.  Thank you very much for coming in. As you know, we have been enquiring into and have had a number of witnesses on the question of the costs and benefits of the United Kingdom's opt-out from Schengen. I think it is fair to say that most of the evidence we have heard has been in favour of opting into as much as possible, saving the political question of border controls. It is on the basis of all that evidence that we would like to ask you a couple of further questions. Is there anything you would like to say to start with, and perhaps you would like to introduce your team?
  (Kate Hoey)  Thank you very much, Lord Wallace. It is a pleasure to be here. May I introduce on my left Stephen Boys Smith, who is the Director General of the Immigration and Nationality Department, and John Warne, the Director of the Organised and International Crime Directorate, both of whom I know you have already met. I have to say that the Home Secretary has asked me to pass on his apologies. As you know, he is not able to be here today, which I know you are very sorry about, but I am glad to have the opportunity to speak to the Committee about this important subject. I have to say genuinely that we are very grateful indeed for the work that this Committee has done already in its previous report on Schengen. It has helped, we think, enormously to shed more light on these issues and to contribute generally to the transparency of what is a very complicated and technical issue. I have to say there are probably more experts sitting here on the technicalities of Schengen than we have even in the Home Office. We do see the incorporation of Schengen as one of the most important issues in Europe in the justice and home affairs field at the moment. It will be an important feature within the wider landscape of European co-operation, across immigration, police and judicial co-operation in the fight against organised crime. We are giving very careful consideration at the moment to the way in which we wish to exercise our option to seek to participate in these matters. It is in our interests to indicate to partners as soon as possible the areas in which we wish to participate and we are working towards this. As soon as we are ready to do so—and I hope it will be fairly soon—we will wish to make an announcement to our European partners. Of course, we will keep Parliament fully informed as we do so. I cannot pre-empt today that announcement but I will try within the general guidance that I have given to answer the Committee's questions as fully as I can. Obviously, I have some very good experts beside me as well. Thank you.

  319.  Thank you very much. We have all read the Immigration White Paper but we have not yet had a chance fully to absorb the Immigration and Asylum Bill. Perhaps I could ask you, to start with, whether the British Government's position on frontier controls with the rest of the EU is seen as a permanent position or as one which one maintains until the British Government is satisfied that external border controls with other EU members are adequate?
  (Kate Hoey)  Our position on frontier controls is government policy. It was very clearly our policy to maintain frontier controls when we won the election. It is something that is obviously going to be continually talked about, particularly in the debate relating to those parts of Schengen and the Amsterdam Treaty that we will opt into under the new Title IV. But I think it would be wrong for me to imply that there is any chance at all at this stage in time and, indeed, in the foreseeable future, of the Government feeling that the need for our frontier controls no longer exists.

  320.  Do you see the Government beginning to distinguish more between arrivals in Britain from outside the EEA compared to those arriving in Britain from inside the EEA, or do you see the Government continuing to treat arrivals from both those areas in roughly the same way?
  (Kate Hoey)  We are very clear that there is at the moment, even within the controls that we exercise, a light touch in terms of how we handle EEA nationals; there is a lighter check on their passport and nationality when they arrive. But, of course, the position of non-EEA nationals is very different. Unlike EEA nationals, as you know, they do not have rights of free movement. Third country nationals do require permission to enter the United Kingdom and we do not envisage that this requirement will change. We are committed, as I said, to maintaining our frontier controls but we do want to modernise these controls to allow for greater operational flexibility, for the fact that new information technology can be useful, and for the inter-agency co-operation that already takes place. We wish to make passenger clearance quicker but still to be able to deal effectively with abuse. So, yes, there is a clear differential in a sense in how we treat people coming in from third countries.

  321.  But that is people as opposed to source of arrival. Other member governments distinguish between people arriving across the external frontier and people arriving across internal frontiers. Do you see the British Government moving towards that sort of distinction? Perhaps it would help if I said we have just had a memorandum from the British Airports Authority, which talks very strongly about the costs of adaptation to Schengen, about the cost of adapting airports, for example, to any such distinction if one were to treat arrivals from, say, Latin America and Africa differently from arrivals from, say, Helsinki and Stockholm. Certainly I have the impression from some people I have been talking to in other EEA countries that they would find it easier if the British Government were to recognise that the external frontier differed from the internal frontier in terms of arrivals.
  (Kate Hoey)  Clearly the cost, as you said, would be quite substantial of re-aligning the way that arriving passengers are dealt with. We have a situation where people who can come in freely still have simply to show their passport. It is fairly speedy. All that the immigration people are checking is that they actually have the right to come in.
  (Mr Boys Smith)  To add to that, the law on which the immigration control is based (which, as the Minister has been saying, I do not think there is any intention to change) is one that distinguishes between categories of person and not places of origin. To that extent, therefore, the distinction we make between EEA nationals and third country nationals is fundamental to the control and to the general position on the Government's retention of its frontier controls. So I think in that sense the position is one that does not envisage any change of categorisation towards the geography rather than the person.

  322.  One of the points made to us was that third country nationals resident in this country find it more difficult to travel across the rest of the EEA because of the distinctions we make and that third country nationals resident elsewhere in the European Union also suffer. That is part of why we are pursuing this distinction. Is this a question the Government has in mind, that third country nationals who are resident in Britain are to that extent disadvantaged in travelling around the Schengen area compared to all other residents?
  (Kate Hoey)  Clearly that can be an effect of our position on frontier controls but that is the reality of what we do. At this stage, as I have said, there is certainly no move to change that for third country nationals who are resident here. I am afraid that is just the way it has to be.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill

  323.  I realise that political decisions are not always based upon any rational cost-benefit analysis but we have been told by Home Office advisers in earlier evidence that, to the best of their knowledge, no cost-benefit analysis has ever been carried out by this administration or any previous one as to the costs and benefits to the United Kingdom and its inhabitants of maintaining current policy. My question is whether the Government would contemplate having an objective cost-benefit analysis in addition to the work of this Sub-Committee in order that it can re-evaluate its position, looking at all the burdens and benefits of its current position?
  (Kate Hoey)  A cost-benefit analysis, I think, depends on what you are weighing up; which costs and which benefits.

  324.  All the costs and all the benefits?
  (Kate Hoey)  Of everything to do with if we were to change the system, or how it is working today?

  325.  All the costs and benefits of our current position and of changing the position, so that we opt in: the costs and benefits of opting out, continuing to opt out, on the issue of border controls, and the costs and benefits of opting in, which comes to the same thing?
  (Kate Hoey)  Of course, those costs include the effects of how our frontier controls at the moment certainly prevent illegal immigration, which is certainly a high cost in terms of those people who are fraudulently claiming asylum in this country, having been able to come in in the first place. Secondly, there is the whole cost-benefit in terms of the arrangements at our airports: that we would have to spend more in changing the way that we would have our airports working. I do not think the Home Office would feel that we would particularly gain anything in terms of our political analysis, which is that we do believe, as an island nation, even if we feel confident that all the external frontiers within Schengen at the moment are working extremely well, that we still would feel that for this country it is better that we control at the point of entry those people who are coming into the country. So I am not sure that there would be anything gained in actually doing a more detailed study.

  326.  Could I say that what might be gained is that what is now a matter of political conviction or dogma would then come to be evaluated on the basis of, as far as possible, objective facts?
  (Kate Hoey)  But we would also need to look at how we would then control immigration status within this country and the need perhaps for identity cards or certainly some method of being able to identify people in this country. In other Schengen countries, although ID cards are not all compulsory, certainly every country has some way of identifying those people who should be there. We do not have that and we would have to introduce a system. As you know, that is something that is of very great concern to numbers of people in the country as to whether that would be the way we would go.
  (Mr Boys Smith)  I think all I could add is by reference to the Minister's earlier use of the term "for the foreseeable future", namely, that because there is no present intention to change that fundamental position, it really is a question of whether the kind of analysis, to the extent that it would produce seriously meaningful figures, is one that is worth undertaking. The view hitherto has been that, given the basis of the present policy and the reasons for it of the kind that the Minister has just outlined, a further analysis of the cost-benefit kind probably would not be a fruitful use of resources. I was able, on a previous occasion, to refer to a few miscellaneous figures—I recognise they were rather miscellaneous—of work that had been done about five years ago but that, of course, was only very partial.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill:  I will stop asking questions but I just want to say, for the avoidance of doubt, that I am not speaking of an accounting operation. When I use the words "cost-benefit analysis" I mean a Benthamite calculus: on one side of the page the advantages, on the other side of the page the disadvantages, but objectively set out having regard to all relevant factors in the way one would normally advise ministers when they had a policy choice to make. That is what I mean by a "cost-benefit analysis", for the avoidance of doubt, and it seems that that is not contemplated. I am grateful to know the position, even though I am disappointed.

Lord Inglewood

  327.  Minister, if I might ask you another question about border controls—and in fact you touched on this in one of your responses to Lord Lester—is it the Government's view that the existing arrangements on border controls are the most efficacious way of satisfactorily implementing and executing our policy in respect of immigration and, therefore, we want them because they represent the most effective method of doing it, or is it the Government's position that it does not want to lose the ability to be able to use strict border controls in order to control immigration, even though it may not necessarily accept that it provides the best means of doing it, but it does not want to lose this potential tool in its armoury in the face of an uncertain future?
  (Kate Hoey)  I think it is a bit of both. Certainly your first point is that it is very clear that we are able, because of our frontier controls, to prevent people coming into this country who should not be coming into it and that is something that I think any government would want to be able to ensure that it can do. The second point in a sense is true as well because we would not want to be giving up that ability to use border controls as a method of preventing people coming in. But, of course, this is not just about immigration controls. There is within Schengen generally the whole question of law enforcement. That is not quite so important but there is still a very useful check with our frontier controls that can help in law enforcement areas as well.

  328.  If I might come back to you, my understanding of some of the evidence we have had is that, as far as immigration controls are concerned—and it is less so in the case of immigration controls than in criminal matters—it does not necessarily seem to follow that the system of border controls provides the most efficacious way in the modern world of dealing with all these immigration problems. For example, a lot of people who are illegal immigrants arrive legally, get inside and then overstay their welcome and, of course, as I understand it, the raison d'être for our retaining our border controls is in any event based on the requirement for immigration purposes rather than the more general criminal advantage that might accrue to us, and again there have been question marks put over that. So I was trying to establish in terms really what the underlying reason was and I think it is ultimately that you do not want to give this tool away?
  (Kate Hoey)  Yes, I personally think that certainly at this stage it would be rather foolish for us to give that tool away, if you want to refer to it like that. Clearly if we did not we would be now saying that we wanted to opt into the free movement part of the new Title IV. We are not saying that at the moment.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford

  329.  I am harping on the same theme, I am afraid, which might be a bit boring. The evidence we have had, which your officials have heard before—I put it crudely—came down to this, that most of the stoppage of immigrants or criminal activity was the result of evidence from abroad and, as you know, passing through English Customs, they rarely stop people and in cases where they do, you have evidence from abroad. So in a way you are dependent on the co-operation. Therefore, one has to ask the question my colleagues have asked: why do you go on with a sort of canopy, an obstinate attachment to an idea of the last resort which is defied by facts, since I remind you again, when people are caught they are usually caught because someone in France, Italy or Spain has told us about them. Therefore, I go back to Lord Lester and say, why is it not possible to give an assessment on the Benthamite manner, for and against, particularly over the emotional item of identity cards? Everyone says the whole of England is against it because when we were tiny children in the 1940s we were so delighted when they went. Now I think there are only about three of us here who were tiny children in the 1940s. The point is that I felt that this Government and the previous Government, dare I say it, hide behind a sort of rhetoric which, dare I say it, the Minister said, that people do not like identity cards? Do you not think that you ought to follow Lord Lester? I am saying the same as he said but in a sense your answer was, "Well, we want to have a last resort. We do not like identity cards. We know the people out there do not like it. The editor of The Sun does not like it, therefore we do not follow"? Is it as crude as that?
  (Kate Hoey)  I am not sure about The Sun actually, but I think it is true that we have a tradition in this country of personal liberty within the country without internal checks or any kind of cards. If you move away controls from the borders that would be a major departure from this and we are not convinced that it would be beneficial in terms of effectiveness or, indeed, in the very important aspect of wider community relations. The main justification for our maintaining our frontier controls is that they are the best arrangement for the United Kingdom, which is an island nation, and we need to capitalise on our island geography. It helps us and we consider that border checks at ports and airports, where traffic is naturally channelled, are still the most effective way for us to control immigration and prevent drug-trafficking. I personally would be quite happy to carry a national identity card. I have a Northern Ireland driving licence with my photograph on it. I still use it and I found it quite strange that people were very upset when we suggested that driving licences should have photographs here. I personally would not have a problem with it and if that were the only reason, because of the civil liberties aspect, then I think that might well be something that, properly argued, we could justify, but I think there are other reasons that are equally as important.

  330.  I will not run on too long. You said "not convinced" and I am sorry to say it but we seem to go in a circle. I say to you and you agree that, on the whole, people who are caught you are told about—I am talking just about the Community—and, therefore, the Customs controls are not as strict as all that. You have to have previous information. So if you want to put flesh and blood on this "not convinced", which has two aspects, first—and you said in broad terms, rather generous terms, about the identity cards—what is it really that would make identity cards impossible? Not just, "We don't like it," because I think France would claim to have a libertarian tradition as well, so why do we just say, "We don't like it" and why, when we say our Customs, our immigration, our entry system, depend, I say again, on information from abroad, do we say that almost obstinately? In other words, why are you not convinced? Just put a bit of flesh and blood on this and let us see a real Rubens-like picture.
  (Kate Hoey)  As you yourself have said, more and more we are relying on intelligence information to counteract illegal activity and, as we become more sophisticated and clever, so, unfortunately, do criminals. I think that for us, being an island, the natural point to make use of any intelligence which we have picked up in order to apprehend a person is going to be at the border. Port controls do work and they do have an obvious effect and have a deterrent effect. The figures show, I think—and you can correct me, Stephen, if we are wrong—that over 27,000 people were refused at ports of entry in 1998. That is a significant number of people who were legitimately refused entry into this country. I also think that there is the whole question of terrorism. In spite of what is happening at the moment in Northern Ireland and in other areas to prevent terrorism, there is still a terrorist threat and the reality is that our ports and airports are an essential first line of defence against the terrorist trying to enter the United Kingdom. So, for all those reasons, what I am trying to say is that it is not just the civil liberties aspect, which is very important, but there are other things. It may be that in the long-term future the two things will be able to come together and it might well be that we would feel as a nation that this was something that we wanted to move to, but I do not want the Committee to be under any illusion that it is something that at the moment there is any serious consideration going into.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford:  We never thought that, Minister, but it is nice of you to tell us.

Chairman

  331.  Do you have any details, incidentally, of how many of those 27,000 people were arriving in Britain from elsewhere within the EEA or from outside the EEA?
  (Kate Hoey)  I am sure that is something that, if it would be of interest, we could get details on.

Lord Elibank

  332.  I am sorry to come back to or stick with the subject of border controls but it really is, it seems to me, the key to Schengen and our attitude to it. We have heard a certain amount of evidence of how other countries in the EU handle their borders and they seem to manage very well, at least as efficiently as they did before the Schengen Agreement, in the control of immigrants into their countries. We say we are an island race and we have ports and that is very true. Of course, as far as air control is concerned I presume we are in the identical position to the rest of Europe in the sense that if you land at an airport it does not too much matter which country it is. Port control, I can see, does have an advantage but are we so convinced that our method of apprehension of these immigrants is so efficient that it merits our standing outside what in other respects, I think you would probably agree, would be a very beneficial system of co-operation for us to enter into? If we could get into Schengen there are many advantages but we hold back because we say our border controls are more efficient than our neighbours' and if we dropped them we would be more vulnerable to illegal immigration. The evidence on that that we have heard is ambiguous, I think it is fair to say, but it would have to be, would you not agree, Minister, pretty compelling for us to take a stand on Schengen which we take at the moment of saying, "We will not go in because it will weaken our defences"?
  (Kate Hoey)  I am glad you raised that because I do hope that we are going to get some discussion on the other elements of Schengen, which are actually very important and on which it may well be that there is a greater agreement perhaps between this Committee and myself. These are areas of co-operation where we would and we will, hopefully, feel that there are ways in which we could be much more positively involved in, such as the judicial co-operation aspects that we are already involved with in the EU, to do with extradition, and the whole question of law enforcement, where we may well find that there are very good benefits to be had for this country by being involved. There is also the question of whether we wish to be involved with the Schengen Information System, which will be another very useful tool for sharing information on areas not just of immigration but to do with criminal activity and organised crime. So I think in a way it would be very helpful to get your views. I know some of you feel very strongly on the particular aspect of frontier controls but in a sense, having made our position clear on that, I am not sure we are going to gain an awful lot by going over that again and I would be very interested in your views on the other aspects of Schengen, particularly relating to the SIS and the cost-benefit analysis of that in terms of real costs, and also on judicial co-operation. I know that was not answering your question.

Chairman

  333.  May I ask a supplementary on that. Reading through the Immigration and Asylum White Paper, I was struck by the immense rise in numbers of arrivals in the United Kingdom, by the emphasis placed on increasing selectivity and intelligence in terms of managing these larger numbers and the essentially light touch which we intend to apply, which indeed we already apply. I wonder how far we are moving into an area of semantics and theology in terms of talking about the maintenance of effective frontier controls, whereas in Schengen one is allowed to opt in and maintain selective checks. Does the Government recognise that the implications of the Immigration and Asylum White Paper are that we will, in effect, be moving towards, as Lord Tordoff has remarked, the Bangemann wave of the passport for most people at most and selective checks on a small percentage of those who come in?
  (Kate Hoey)  The main aim of the Bill is to improve the system that exists at the moment, where the whole slowness of our immigration and asylum decision and appeal system is clearly not working. We are for example going to introduce a streamlined right of appeal for visitors who are refused entry clearance. It is about modernising our immigration system and it is also about looking at such things as controlling the very dreadful immigration advice that is given to many of our asylum seekers by immigration advisers who are not in any way legally qualified. We will also be wanting to strengthen the enforcement, as you have said, of immigration control and extending the powers of immigration officers. But I think that that in itself does not actually change the debate about whether we would opt into the new Title IV aspects of the Amsterdam Treaty.
  (Mr Boys Smith)  I follow that with the comment that there are, indeed, powers in the Bill—I appreciate you have not had time to study them yet—that allow for a more flexible exercise of the control at the frontier; for example, to allow the leave to enter to be granted by the United Kingdom official operating abroad rather than necessarily actually at, let us say, Heathrow, but they are all powers that are predicated upon the continuation of the frontier controls. So if I may say so, my Lord Chairman, it would be wrong to see in the Bill anything that moves the position away from that reliance on the frontier control. It is a question rather of a more efficient exercise of that control, the more efficient deployment of resources.

Lord Inglewood

  334.  Does Mr Boys Smith's comment underscore the commitment to frontier control, as it were, the other side of the coin, to the point that he made?
  (Mr Boys Smith)  The legislation reflects the Government's position that it wishes to retain the frontier control. It does not, of itself, mean that powers are not available elsewhere, but it is based upon the assumption that immigration officers at port need certain powers and need to be able to exercise them efficiently.

Earl of Dundee

  335.  On the cost benefit study relating to immigration control, you have made plain that it is not the Government's intention to launch such a study. It is reasonable that Government should take a position like that. However, you implied a moment ago in regard to other aspects of balance, the extent to which the Government might be prepared to make use of cost benefit studies. If that is the case, what guidelines would you like to explain to us that the Government, at the moment, may have. Upon which areas and aspects they might feel they would subject to a cost benefit study in order to weigh up and decide the variety of options that you have; and which kind of areas and aspects would you not wish to see so subjected.
  (Kate Hoey)  I think we are perhaps getting into a debate on what we meant by cost benefit. Lord Lester made his point after I had spoken. In fact, he was not talking about costs at all in terms of an actual financial weighing up of costs. Where I was talking about costs—perhaps cost benefit which should not be used—I was talking about the actual costs of our being part of the Schengen Information System because there will be an actual cost in that. We will have to weigh up the costs of that against the advantage which it would give us if we were to be members of the SIS. That is obviously one of the areas which we will want to be announcing our views on in the next couple of months.

Chairman

  336.  Does the Government have a certain view yet of what other areas of Schengen it will be in the national interests to wish to opt into?
  (Kate Hoey)  As I said at the beginning, I cannot pre-empt what will be the final decision on the areas which we might wish to be signed into fully. But clearly the areas that we are looking at would include whether we would sign up to the Schengen Information System, which would give us a very useful tool indeed in combating cross-border criminality; and certainly, as you probably heard from other evidence, the police themselves would be very keen for us to do this. There are also areas of judicial co-operation. Many of the points that we would be getting involved with there are things we are already doing, so it is not perhaps such a contentious area. I do have to say that the decision, when it is taken, as I said at the very beginning in my opening statement, will be taken very soon. Clearly our other European Union colleagues, partner countries, are very keen for us to make our views known on it as soon as possible. Parliament obviously will be as well, so there are certainly going to be decisions announced—I think the terminology is shortly.

Baroness Turner of Camden

  337.  The Minister has referred to the possible advantages of SIS and so on. We have had a number of witnesses before us recently, Justice and the Immigration Advisory Service, and both organisations have expressed some concern about data protection as far as SIS is concerned. It appears that there is a lot of information floating about which can, of course, be used against individuals. There does not seem to be very much of a check on it. We do, of course, have data protection in this country. Both organisations expressed some concern about that. I wonder if the Minister has any views on that.
  (Kate Hoey)  Data protection is another of those issues which is involved in so many of our decisions when we are trying to improve communications technology, and information technology, and keep it balanced with the personal liberties. Any decision to participate in Schengen Information System would have to depend very much on whether we felt, and were satisfied as a Government, that the system contained adequate safeguards to protect data held on individuals. But there are, as you know, I am sure, specific data protection arrangements built into SIS in the Schengen Convention itself. These include the right to access information contained on the SIS; the right to correct data, which is sometimes very important, where there is a de facto mistake or a de jure mistake; and the right to apply to the courts or competent authorities to demand that this data be corrected. They also include the right to ask for data to be checked and to question the use made of such data. If we were to go into the SIS after it is incorporated, after Amsterdam is ratified, it will be subject to the European Union's data protection requirements depending—I know it is another discussion and we probably do not want to get into this—upon what part of the Treaty it is actually allocated into. It is clearly something we have taken very seriously. I understand people feeling strongly about it. Indeed, what I have been struck by since I have been a Minister and involved in some of the European discussions, is just how strongly other countries, (in particular, Germany), feel about data protection; so we are not alone on this. It is something that certainly would be taken into consideration before we made a decision.

Lord Hacking

  338.  Is it not very important that we should be in the SIS from the very beginning so that we can put our (I hope it would be) strong input into the final structure of the SIS. Sitting on other sub-committees of our European Committee here, we have been made aware of some horrific examples of misinformation being passed from one police force to another, and perfectly innocent European citizens being arrested and put into gaol and the like, only because there were inefficiencies in the passing of information from one police force to another. Therefore, there is a real concern when expressed by Justice and others that there should be a protective mechanisms built in. If that is right, are we not again - and it is the political concern—that if we come in late into Europe, as we did; if we come in late into the Social Chapter, as we did; if we come late into the EMU; on every occasion we are at a disadvantage because we are not there at the beginning in shaping and influencing matters that are actually of long-term concern to us as a European country.
  (Kate Hoey)  I think there is a very sensible view which would say that where this country is involved in negotiations and is involved in making its views known, that we bring a very good influence to bear. That is quite true. I think, again as someone who is fairly new to the European scene in terms of the discussions that go on, that our country and indeed one or two others from perhaps the more northern parts of Europe, sometimes bring a much more direct and sensible approach to problems to be solved. I think that is very true but, of course, we have to weigh up whether all the other factors which are to be taken into consideration, in deciding whether it is still best for us to be involved. Of course, I would say that even if we were to take the decision that we were not going to be involved with it, that we are still a member of the Council. We are still going to be involved in the discussions and in the working groups. We simply would not have a vote and would not have access to the information.
  (Mr Warne)  On the SIS I very much take the point that the United Kingdom contribution to its development could be very useful, and I think a number of other countries think that as well. The fact is that the SIS already exists. It was created by the Schengen countries as part of the compensatory measures for the removal of internal frontier controls. But certainly we would see, and the law enforcement agencies would see, advantage in being involved in future development; we could take account of issues like the quality of information and data protection issues to make sure that it was working in a fair and proper way.

  339.  Can we have our cake and eat it? Can we, on the one hand, maintain our frontier controls and, on the other hand, say we want to have full involvement in the whole structure of SIS? The other countries in the convention will say, "Hey! You are not in the same position. You are maintaining your frontiers."
  (Mr Warne)  If I may follow that question, the answer is yes, that is a part of the Amsterdam agreement. There is a Frontiers Protocol for the United Kingdom with a facility to opt-in on parts of Schengen. That is an opportunity which is available. So there is a facility to opt-in on parts of Schengen without changing our frontier control. That was an agreement reached at Amsterdam.
  (Kate Hoey)  There are probably other countries who do wish they had their cake and could eat it as well. Clearly we cannot be totally pernickety and say, "We will have this little bit, but we will not have this little bit in this area." What we are trying to do is look at areas which come together. In a way, that is sensible if we are going to maintain our frontier controls but still be very much part of that co-operation in the areas that we feel it is in our interests to go into. The feeling certainly that we get is that the other European countries would very much, as John has said, like us to be part of SIS. We have seen the influence we have had on spearheading and really being key players in setting up Europol. Having visited it on Monday and seen the influence there from this country, that does tie in very well with your point about the United Kingdom being able to influence where we are involved.


 
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