11. ACTION PLAN ON ESTABLISHING AN AREA
OF FREEDOM, SECURITY AND JUSTICE
Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of
the Committee, to Kate Hoey MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State, Home Office
Sub-Committee F considered this document at
its meeting yesterday. In discussion, it was suggested that the
version which the Sub-Committee looked at (dated 10 November 1998)
had been superseded. I would be grateful if you could confirm
whether or not this is the case, and if you could submit an up-to-date
text of the Action Plan.
For the moment, the Sub-Committee is maintaining
the scrutiny reserve on this document.
17 December 1998
Letter from Kate Hoey MP, Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State, Home Office, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman
of the Committee
Thank you for your letter of 17 December requesting
an up-to-date text of the Action Plan. I enclose the final version
of the Plan (document number 13844/98 JAI 41).
I note from your letter that the Sub-Committee
is maintaining a scrutiny reserve on this Action Plan. However,
as foreseen in my letter of 17 November, the text I enclose (JAI
41) was endorsed by the Vienna European Council on 11-12 December
You will recall that in my covering letter I
said that we were sending you the Action Plan "for information".
I used this form of words advisedly, having regard to the fact
that the plan is not a legislative instrument, and therefore not
properly subject to the Scrutiny Reserve Resolution which now
applies to all such EU legislation. My letter nevertheless recognised
that the document is one of considerable political significance,
and it was for that reason that I also invited your Committee
to make any comments.
We now know that in your sift on 21 November
you decided that the draft Action Plan should not be cleared from
scrutiny and should be referred to Sub-Committees E and F. Unfortunately,
this was not picked up at the time by officials here who, bearing
in mind that the Action Plan had been submitted only for information,
did not consider it necessary to seek advice from your Committee
as to whether the draft had cleared scrutiny, either before the
Justice and Home Affairs Council on 3-4 December or the Vienna
European Council on 11-12 December 1998. Had we been aware of
the outcome of your sift on 21 November, we would have contacted
your Committee to discuss the situation.
I am, of course, sorry for any misunderstanding
which may have occurred in this case. Officials here have already
been in touch with your staff to see what can be done to avoid
future problems over scrutiny of documents, such as this one,
which do not constitute draft EU legislation but are nevertheless
politically important. I will write to you soon with our further
thoughts on this subject. I would, of course, still be very interested
in any views the Committee might have on the Action Plan.
23 January 1999