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Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Howell of Guildford and Lord Dykes, for their positive response to these important orders. I have taken note of the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, on the need to look seriously at such provisions. They may not attract much attention in the media, but these matters involve public money and therefore we have to be sensible about the whole issue of accountability and effectiveness.
I shall start by addressing the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, on AITIC and the forthcoming International Organisations Bill, which will receive its Second Reading next week. I understand that the reason for bringing forward this order on AITIC is because it does not deal with privileges and immunities. Those will be addressed in the Bill, while this order deals only with legal capacity. The AITIC order gives legal capacity only to the list of issues I referred to at the opening of our debate: the acquisition and disposal of immovable and movable property and so forth. It does not confer immunities and privileges. That is why it is not in conflict with the Bill to be brought forward next week.
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Does the noble Lord wish to speak? I am sure that he will read my remarks in Hansard, and that if she feels it necessary to do so, the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, will bring this matter up again in our debate on Second Reading next week.
The noble Lord also asked why we are conferring privileges and immunities by means of the ICC order when a Bill is to come before the House next week. I am advised that the Bill will give the UK the power to confer privileges and immunities on categories of persons connected with the ICC, but not covered by this order. Those persons are family members of judges, prosecutors, deputy prosecutors, registrars and representatives of states participating in the assembly. I am sure the noble Lord will wish to return to this issue on Second Reading.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, why on earth are these new categories not included in the orders with which we are dealing today. I do not wish to pre-empt next week's debate, but it seems bizarre that we are dishing out these extensive immunities to a court that was set up a couple of years ago, and now someone has thought up a whole new category of people with which we are going to deal next week. Would it not have been more reasonable in terms of public accountability and procedures to have put all these matters together?
The legal basis of the ICC order is the International Criminal Court Act 2001. It was, however, not possible to use the provisions of that Act to confer privileges and immunities on family members of the judges of the court and on representatives of states participating in the assembly and its subsidiary organs and representatives of international organisations as required by the ICC privileges and immunities agreement.
The International Organisations Bill, which was laid before the House on 24 November, will amend the 2001 Act to enable us to confer privileges and immunities on these persons by an Order in Council which will be made once the Bill enters into force. So there we have it. I am sure that it will all be as clear as daylight on Second Reading next week.
The noble Lord asked how we will ensure that AITIC is effective. Both noble Lords referred to the fact that there is a great responsibility involved in both organisations. We will participate actively in the council of representatives, as we have done in the preparatory committee. Our aim is to ensure that AITIC follows best management practice in its operations and meets the needs of its clients effectively.
In relation to the ICC, the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, asked why we are covering the extent of immunities and privileges that we are. The UK is under an international obligation to confer all privileges and immunities contained in the ICC agreement on privileges and immunities. The order does no more than that. The UK is not conferring any privileges or immunities that are not required by the agreement.
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The noble Lord said: My Lords, with the permission of the House I shall speak also to the draft European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (European Police Office) Order and the draft European Communities (Immunities and Privileges of the European Police Office) (Amendment) Order 2004. All three orders were laid before the House on 24 November, together with the Explanatory Memoranda now required for all affirmative statutory instruments.
The first order will enable the Government to give effect to the headquarters agreement recently negotiated with the European Police College. The privileges and immunities agreed in the headquarters agreement are similar to those conferred on other organisations and headquarters based in the United Kingdom. The European Police College is now known as "CEPOL" from the original French acronym for the organisationCollege Europeen de Police.
CEPOL is a network of senior police training colleges, which are located in all EU member states. The network is supported by a central secretariat, which is now permanently located in the United Kingdom at the headquarters of the Central Police Training and Development Authority at Bramshill. The secretariat provides administrative, financial and technical support to the CEPOL network.
CEPOL was established by Council Decision 2000/820/JHA in December 2000 to improve police co-operation, to identify and disseminate good practice, and to develop and deliver training to senior police officers involved in the fight against international and cross-border crime. We are very fortunate in having the secretariat established in the United Kingdom. We won the right to do so against strong competition from seven other EU member states.
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The second and third orders are required to amend the European Communities (Immunities and Privileges of the European Police Office) Order 1997 by providing that Europol officials participating in joint investigation teams shall not enjoy immunity from suit and legal process in relation to their official acts regarding their participation in such schemes.
I emphasise this point because these orders are unusual. They do not confer privileges and immunities but, rather, they take them away. Europol staff members have privileges and immunities from prosecution in relation to their official duties. These are in line with members of other international organisations. Retaining these privileges and immunities would not be appropriate for Europol staff when they are working alongside law enforcement officers on international joint investigation teams. It would give Europol staff protection from criminal and civil liability, whereas other members of those teams would enjoy no such protection. Therefore, in this context, the privileges and immunities are removed.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, and I thinkalthough I may have followed these things inadequatelythat he has now assumed some responsibilities in foreign affairs. Is that correct? In which case, I take this opportunity to welcome him very warmly to foreign affairs, in which the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, and others participate all the time. When the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, joined your Lordships' House, a year or two ago, he parachuted in with amazing ease and, from day one, appeared to be totally at home with your Lordships' quirks and moods. I congratulate him on that and am very glad that he is now involved in our discussions of foreign affairs, which are on-going.
These three orders deal, as the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, rightly said, with the network of European police colleges, CEPOL, the secretariat of which is to be set up at Bramshill in Surrey. I have visited there and it is a very fine Elizabethan building with extensions. It will, no doubt, be a good home for this body. We welcome the secretariat being set up in the United Kingdom.
We favour intimate collaboration and co-operation between police forces, intelligence services and all categories of policing throughout the European region, contrary to some assertions that are aimed at these Benches from time to time. We very much support real and effective European co-operation and collaboration and, indeed, the building of unity in detail. It is just that the kind that we like is different from the ersatz kind of imposed collaboration and co-operation that seems to be offered by the European constitution document and peddled by people such as
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the Minister, Mr MacShane, and others. I realise that that is another debate and I do not want to open it up now. We will be having plenty of it at a later time.
This is a positive move, a positive organisation and a positive arrangement. It is right that we should deal with the question of immunities and privileges for those working in it in a positive way. As the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, rightly said, the second two orders are unusual in that they reduce some of the immunities and privileges that would otherwise accrue to those working in the Europol network. That is unusual, but it is entirely proper and right for the reasons that he has explained.
I am not 100 per cent clear about the legal basis of the whole CEPOL arrangement. We welcome it as it is an interesting and important development, but is it a "body" of the European Union or an "institution" of the European Union or has it nothing to do with the European Union or its treaties at all? A word of illumination on that would help us.
I notice that in another place the European Scrutiny Committee had a number of questions on this order about why and how immunities and privileges procedures were being applied. It asked why, if this body was getting this treatmentboth the immunities and privileges that the order gives and some which it adjusts and takes awaythat was not also being applied to other bodies such as Eurojust. It would be useful to have a comment on that as well because colleagues in the other place went into it in considerable detail and we are concerned by aspects of it. Having said that, we welcome these three orders and are glad to see these matters being clarified.
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