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Home Affairs - Minutes of EvidenceHC 563
Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Thursday 18 April 2013
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Mr James Clappison
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witness
Witness: Rt Hon Mrs Theresa May MP, Home Secretary, gave evidence.
Q186 Chair: I welcome the Home Secretary for one of our regular sessions with her, which will cover a wide range of subjects. Could I ask any members who have any interests to declare over and above the Register of Members’ Interests to declare them now?
Home Secretary, thank you very much for coming in; I would like to begin by thanking you for accepting most of the recommendations of the Select Committee as far as our report into the IPCC and anti-social behaviour is concerned. Also, could you pass on the congratulations of the Committee to the Commissioner and others who were responsible for the policing of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral yesterday, which went off extremely well as far as policing was concerned?
Could I start by asking about the situation that might affect us in respect of the London Marathon following the events in Boston? Have you had any intelligence or any communications with the American authorities as to who was behind the horrendous attacks in Boston, which were, of course, the most serious on American soil since 9/11?
Mrs May: Thank you, Chairman. Thank you for your welcome and also for the comments you made in relation to the policing of the funeral of Baroness Thatcher. I agree with you; I think the police did an excellent job yesterday, and the funeral went off-I was going to say very well, but it is a funeral. It was a very fitting event and was held with absolutely appropriate dignity and respect, and the policing was appropriate for the event.
In relation to the impact of the events in Boston earlier this week, obviously we looked at the potential impact both for yesterday’s funeral but also looking ahead to Sunday. I have had a further briefing from both the Security Service and the Metropolitan Police this morning in relation to this. I think it is fair to say that nobody has yet been identified as being responsible for the incident that took place in Boston. There has been press reporting about the investigation that has been taking place by the Americans to identify the perpetrators of this. We have looked and the police have looked at the plans for the London Marathon in the light of that, and they have made what they believe to be appropriate arrangements.
Q187 Chair: Are there any increased security arrangements? The threat at the moment I think is described as substantial in the United Kingdom, or it may just be for London, and the Commissioner said that he was going to review the arrangements. Was he reviewing it in order to put more security operations in place, or was it just to look to see that everything was in order following what happened in Boston?
Mrs May: They have made some adjustments. The national threat level is substantial, as you say, Chairman. The London Marathon is obviously a regular event. The organisers have a good record in terms of the venue security arrangements for the event, such as you can for an event that covers 26 miles. The police did look further at their arrangements. I believe they have made a number of adjustments to the arrangements that will be in place for the event, but of course everybody wants to ensure that as far as possible people can come and enjoy an event that many people have spent a very long time training for and want to be able to raise substantial sums of money for charity. We are very conscious of the security and safety needs and, as I say, the police have continued to look at this and will continue to do so up to the event itself. If further information comes out from the United States that is relevant then, of course, the police will look at that and whether any necessary further action should be taken.
Q188 Chair: I am surprised that a meeting of COBR was not called, bearing in mind that this was such a substantial attack in the United States, with the major events that were happening here. Was there a reason why COBR did not meet? This is not a criticism; it is just an enquiry.
Mrs May: COBR brings a certain number of people around the table. The answer is the people were brought around the table; it just did not happen to be in a meeting called COBR. For example, on Tuesday morning I was briefed by the Security Service and the Metropolitan Police. Other relevant briefings have taken place and the appropriate people have been sitting around the table, both with the Cabinet Office prior to the funeral-because the organisation of that was predominantly a Cabinet Office responsibility-and subsequently with the London Marathon organisers and those involved with the marathon.
Q189 Chair: Finally, you have not spoken to Janet Napolitano?
Mrs May: I have indicated that I would like to speak to Janet Napolitano. I have not done so yet because I have left it entirely at her discretion as to when she feels able to take such a call. As you will be aware, there are a number of other incidents that have taken place in the United States that would engage her-the ricin letters and, of course, today we have heard the details of the explosion that has taken place at the fertiliser factory in Waco.
Q190 Chair: Is that connected in any way to Boston, as far as you know?
Mrs May: I have not heard anything that suggests that it is connected at all, no.
Q191 Michael Ellis: Home Secretary, is it your understanding that the Metropolitan Police have decided-I realise this may be an operational issue-to increase the numbers of police dealing with security at the London Marathon?
Mrs May: They have made some adjustments to the policing arrangements for the London Marathon, and they have put some increased policing in for the marathon.
Q192 Michael Ellis: They have?
Mrs May: Yes.
Q193 Mr Winnick: As all our sympathy goes out to those who have lost loved ones, not least of course the eight-year-old child waiting for his father and eating an ice-cream, would it not be right to say, Home Secretary-and I agree with the manner in which you have responded to the questions from the Chair-there should be the utmost caution before any sort of speculation is made about who is responsible? It does seem that the US authorities are adopting a line of extreme caution until they find hard evidence. Is that not the best approach?
Mrs May: First of all, Mr Winnick, yes, of course our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have lost loved ones, but also a significant number of people were injured, have lost limbs and had other significant injuries and our thoughts must be with them too.
Mr Winnick: Indeed. That goes without saying.
Mrs May: You are right in relation to speculation about who may or may not be responsible. One of the things that I have learnt, I hope fairly early on in this job, is that it is best not to speculate until you have firm facts, at which point, of course, it ceases to be speculation anyway. The Americans are being very cautious about what they say about who might or might not be responsible. I think that is absolutely right because until you have any firm evidence to go on it is just speculation and very often, as people have found in the past, speculation proves not to be correct.
Q194 Chair: Thank you. Let us move on now to other themes. Exactly a year ago yesterday, on 17 April 2012, you told the House, "I believe that the assurances and the information that we have gathered will mean that we can soon put Qatada on a plane and get him out of the country for good". Why is he still here 12 months after you have said the words "soon put Qatada on a plane"?
Mrs May: Deeply frustratingly still here; we thought we had the assurances that we needed from the Jordanian authorities, and those assurances were to a very great extent accepted by SIAC when the case went back to SIAC. Mr Justice Mitting made clear that in his view the Jordanian authorities would bend over backwards to try to make sure that there was a fair trial for Abu Qatada. However, the European Court had raised a new point and a specific point in relation to whether or not evidence would be admitted in the trial which it was alleged had been obtained by torture. Although the Jordanian constitution had been changed in relation to torture and the admissibility of evidence given by torture, this was not tested in case law and there was a difference of opinion between experts as to the impact of that constitution, and that led to the SIAC judgment. We are continuing to talk to the Jordanian Government.
Q195 Chair: But you must presumably go into the Home Office every morning and say, "Why is he still here?" You have made this a personal crusade, certainly from the way in which you addressed the House last year and the statements that you have made and the Prime Minister has made. The country is fed up that successive Governments, not just this one, have failed to remove him from the country. You have travelled to Jordan, you have met the King, the Prime Minister presumably has had discussions-who is to blame? Is it the legislation; is it the court system; is it the fact that we do not have as good lawyers as Abu Qatada has? They seem to be constantly outwitted. Presumably they come to you and say, "Home Secretary, we’re going to win next time". They do not come to you and say, "We’re going to lose when we go to court". They must be saying, "We are going to win", otherwise we would not be paying them, but each time you go to court you lose.
Mrs May: Chairman, I am tempted to say-and I realise there will be some lawyers sitting in the room-
Chair: Quite a lot of lawyers.
Mrs May: -that lawyers are reluctant to ever say, "You are absolutely going to win", or, "You are absolutely going to lose", I am afraid, so these are always best judgments. But I think the answer in relation to this particular point is clear. The European Court moved the goalposts in relation to this point. This was an issue, in the way that they raised it in relation to article 6, that was not raised previously, and so we are responding to that specific issue, as I say. What is most frustrating, of course, is that the majority of assurances that we obtained from the Jordanian Government were accepted by SIAC.
Q196 Chair: So, you are very clear it is the European Court that is responsible for the fact that although you said to the House that you wanted him on a plane shortly, the whole House wanted him on a plane shortly, he is sitting there, having outwitted everybody?
Mrs May: It is the European Court that has established this specific issue on the admissibility of evidence that may or may not have been obtained from torture. It was that issue that they raised. The UK courts, of course, have now looked at the case against the background of that and have come, as I say, to their decision. It was the case that there were experts on both sides arguing, and it was the doubt as to which way the changes that the Jordanians had made would be enacted, would be put into practice, that led to Justice Mitting taking the view. We did, of course, appeal against that judgment. As you will be aware, we lost that appeal. We have sought leave to appeal further, and we await the judgment in relation to that.
Q197 Chair: Yes, colleagues will have questions on that. The final question from me on this is: what has all this now cost the taxpayer?
Mrs May: I do not have a figure for you, Chairman, as to what the current cost to the taxpayer is.
Q198 Chair: You must have asked this question the last time you had all your officials around the table and you said, "How much has it all cost? How am I going to go to Parliament and explain?" Is it now in millions?
Mrs May: My emphasis, Chairman, whenever I have anybody around the table is: how can we ensure that we deport this individual? I want to ensure that we stop those costs as soon as possible. Obviously, the process is-
Q199 Chair: Sure, but does somebody know a figure?
Mrs May: Well, there will be figures for Home Office costs, there will figures in the Ministry of Justice and others. I do not have a figure for the overall cost.
Q200 Chair: Would you be able to write to us with it?
Mrs May: We can look at putting a figure together for the Committee.
Chair: That would be very helpful.
Mrs May: But my aim is to ensure that we do finally deport Abu Qatada.
Q201 Chair: At any cost?
Mrs May: My aim is to deport Abu Qatada. At the point at which we deport Abu Qatada we will cease to be paying out legal costs for appeal cases and so forth.
Q202 Mr Winnick: Home Secretary, Abu Qatada, by all the indications, is a very wicked man who probably would not have any hesitation in slaughtering us. Would you not agree, however, that the legal process was the right one in so far as the lawyers instructed by him or by his solicitors shows that this is a country ruled by law and that there should be no criticism of the lawyers acting on behalf of their client, in this case the person we are discussing?
Mrs May: It is absolutely right, Mr Winnick, that we are a country ruled by law, and I have been clear in all the dealings we have had on this matter that the UK Government should recognise its obligations in the law and should abide by those obligations. That is why we have been working through the appropriate way, which is through the courts and through discussions with the Jordanian Government.
There is a question for us that we have already started to do some work on and we will be looking further at, which is about the fact-and it has been raised by the judiciary themselves, albeit in a separate case, in an extradition case rather than a deportation case-that these cases take a very long time because of the various avenues. I think we need to look at the Government’s ability to remove somebody from this country when they are identified as someone who could cause this country harm. As you say, that has been a theme throughout. At every stage there has been no doubt about that in relation to comments that have been made by the judiciary in relation to Abu Qatada. I think it is right that the Government says, "Have we got the processes right on these two sides of the deportation and extradition?" because there are a number of cases that have taken a very lengthy period of time. In some cases like Abu Hamza extradition has now happened, and it was in relation to that case that the judiciary raised this question of the length of time these cases are taking.
Q203 Mr Winnick: The latest stage announced yesterday is that permission is being sought from the Court of Appeal to take the case to the Supreme Court.
Mrs May: That is correct, yes.
Q204 Mr Winnick: That was made yesterday, was it?
Mrs May: That was made yesterday.
Q205 Mr Winnick: Can I put a question, which has been put to you not only by me but at least one other member of this Committee, about prosecuting Qatada in this country? Your response usually is along the lines that the Government does not prosecute, which is just as well, we would not wish Governments to do so. But some people do ask the same questions that we have asked you in the Chamber: why is it not possible for a prosecution to take place in this country against Abu Qatada? Surely there is quite a lot of evidence of incitement, hatred and related matters. As I say, you do not decide on prosecutions, but could you give any sort of response to people who do ask such a question?
Mrs May: The answer is that those who are responsible for making decisions about prosecutions-the police have to put an evidence case together, and the CPS is the body that decides whether a prosecution can be taken forward-have looked at in the past and continue to look at what evidence is available to see whether it is possible to take a prosecution here in the UK. We have the situation at the moment where Abu Qatada is in Belmarsh. He was arrested for breach of his bail conditions, and consideration is being given in looking at the material that was discovered to see whether that leads to prosecution.
Q206 Mr Winnick: So we can work on the assumption there is a possibility-without for one moment putting words into your mouth, Home Secretary-that a prosecution could occur in this country?
Mrs May: As I say, in the current situation the breach of the bail conditions and what was discovered in the house is being looked at to see whether that is evidence that would lead to a prosecution in this case.
Q207 Mark Reckless: Home Secretary, having lost again in the Court of Appeal, have you given any consideration to changing your legal strategy, or indeed your legal team?
Mrs May: The legal strategy is not changing in that we are continuing to follow the appropriate processes through the courts. As we have indicated, we have sought leave to appeal through the Court of Appeal, and we wait to hear their judgment in relation to that in due course.
Q208 Mark Reckless: Are you continuing to accept the Strasbourg test and the new point that it asserted and jump through the legal hoops that flow from that?
Mrs May: I recognise this is a point that you have raised on a number of occasions, Mr Reckless. Yes, we continue to believe that, and in fact that has been supported by SIAC and by the Court of Appeal itself.
Q209 Mark Reckless: What the Court of Appeal said was, "The Secretary of State accepts that SIAC directed itself properly as to the general legal test to apply". Given you have lost both in SIAC and in the Court of Appeal, would it not be sensible to invite the Supreme Court to uphold the previous test set by the House of Lords here rather than to accept the Strasbourg test as you, as Secretary of State, keep on insisting on doing?
Mrs May: If I may say, the Court of Appeal said in relation to the principle of the Strasbourg test that is the principle that SIAC had to apply in the present case in light of all the evidence. I think that is a pretty clear statement from the Court of Appeal. SIAC was itself clear that it needed to rely on the legal test that came out of the Strasbourg court. There is a practical issue here that we believe that both SIAC and the Court of Appeal would apply that test, I believe the Supreme Court would apply that same test, but even if they did not apply that test, it would then be open to Abu Qatada to apply to the Strasbourg court, and I would be pretty certain that the Strasbourg court would apply their own test. They have established this as the test and therefore they would abide by it. Therefore we would have an extra potential link in the chain had we taken a different legal position. I think Strasbourg moved the goalposts. They set a new test and they moved the goalposts after the original House of Lords case in which the test you would prefer us to have applied was set, and we have to operate on the basis of the situation that we now find ourselves in. I think it is better to be able to deal with the Strasbourg test because if we can deal with that, then obviously we are in a better position to support Abu Qatada than if we ignore it and he is able to go back to Strasbourg and have it reapplied.
Q210 Mark Reckless: With respect, Home Secretary-and, as you say, we have been here before, but that was before you lost again and insist again on applying the same losing strategy-the only problem of Strasbourg operating in the way you say is presumably that they would issue a rule 39, what you describe as an injunction. Again, we are back to this case where you are asserting that that is binding on you, despite the courts in the Abu Hamza case having stated that it was merely an indication to the Government as to that court’s view of what would be in the interests of justice. The reason you have not been able to get rid of Abu Qatada is because you refuse to test the law in this and seek to get the British courts to uphold the British judgment previously.
Mrs May: No, it is not, Mr Reckless, if I may say so. The suggestion that had the Government merely done a slightly different thing Abu Qatada would have been deported is wrong, in my view. It is wrong for the reasons that I have set out, that if in the circumstances the courts had not applied the Strasbourg test Abu Qatada would have been able to go to Strasbourg, they would have applied their own test, we would have been back at square one, Abu Qatada would not have been deported and we would have had to go through an extra loop, I believe, in the system. I take a very simple view, and I know there are those who say to me, "Well, why don’t you just ignore everything that Strasbourg does?" We are members of that court. There are issues about what the future relationship with that court may be, but so far as we are members and signatories to international law I believe the Government should abide by international law as well as it abides by its own law.
Q211 Mark Reckless: There is no question of that, Home Secretary. The international law in question is the European Convention on Human Rights. It has been incorporated into our domestic law through the Human Rights Act. On the basis of interpreting that international law, our own highest court has said Qatada can go. The problem is that you are refusing to seek to send him back because you prefer to put yourself down before Strasbourg and have this continuing craven surrender to the European Court when our own court says that even under the European Convention he should be sent back, but you refuse to send him back.
Mrs May: If I might remind Mr Reckless, Chairman, that when he refers to our own highest court having said that Abu Qatada can be deported, that was the House of Lords in 2009. Judgments that have come since have changed the background against which we are looking and have changed the interpretation in relation to this article 6 point. Strasbourg, as I said, has moved the goalposts. We have to look and our domestic courts are now looking at this case against that background rather than against the background of the situation that existed previously. Would I have preferred Abu Qatada to have been deported in 2009? Yes, I would, but he wasn’t, and of course at that stage it went further to the European Court. We have since had a number of judgments from the European Court in this case, including this most recent judgment. I believe that SIAC and the Court of Appeal would have looked at their test against the Strasbourg test and not the House of Lords test.
Q212 Mark Reckless: How do we know? You have refused to test it. Again, in the alternative-it does not change or undermine the rest of the legal strategy-would the Supreme Court not consider applying the previous test set by the House of Lords, given that the Strasbourg jurisprudence is something they only need to take account of and is not binding? Why will you not test that, Home Secretary?
Mrs May: As you will know, Mr Reckless, if we have leave to appeal to the Supreme Court and do appeal to the Supreme Court on this particular judgment that SIAC took, what they will be looking at is whether there was an error in a point of law in the original judgment by SIAC. They will not be looking at the whole case and a presentation of the whole case. We will be arguing, as we have done in the Court of Appeal so far, about the way in which SIAC interpreted and applied the law. It is only on a point of law as to the original judgment that the Supreme Court will be able to look at this case.
Q213 Mark Reckless: Finally, Home Secretary, you will not ask them about the error of law in that they applied what Strasbourg had stated rather than what the House of Lords had stated and should have been binding on them. The only reason they were able to apply that is because you did not put the contrary case in front of them. Why do you not put that point of law in front of the Supreme Court?
Mrs May: First of all, in terms of this particular point of law that you are talking about, it has not been to the Supreme Court so far. The case has not reached the Supreme Court so far. We have sought further leave to appeal through the Court of Appeal. The point on the original case, though, is would SIAC themselves have applied the Strasbourg test? I believe that they would have done. I think the evidence that has come out of SIAC and the Court of Appeal indicates that both of those courts would have applied the principle of the Strasbourg test in looking at this case.
Q214 Mark Reckless: But because you accepted it, Home Secretary, that is why. You did not put the contrary case before them.
Mrs May: With due respect, Mr Reckless, I think the judges are capable of knowing what the contrary case might be and the judges in both cases, I think it is right, indicated that they believed that the Strasbourg case-
Mark Reckless: Not if the case is not before them.
Chair: Perhaps you could consider instructing Mr Reckless the next time before you go before the court, because these are points I am sure you would want to consider.
Q215 Michael Ellis: Home Secretary, I think when it comes to Abu Qatada and people like him, people are fed up with how long it is taking to go through the court process. I think most people would accept that defendants, whoever they may be, have the right to exhaust appeals, but is there any way that we can speed up the process so that it does not take quite so long to get through all the different levels of appeals?
Mrs May: That is exactly one of the issues we need to look at, Mr Ellis. A case goes to the European Court and is out of our hands in terms of the timing, although the UK, with its presidency of the Council of Europe last year, did put through a number of changes, with the agreement of other members of the Council of Europe, to try to recognise the European Court as a court that is genuinely looking at key areas of legal interpretation rather than having the number of cases it has at the moment, which of course tends to lead to a lengthier process at the European Court. So, even there we are trying to do what we can.
Q216 Nicola Blackwood: In your statement to the House on the 26th you said that you were going to introduce an immigration Bill. How do you intend this Bill to address some of the issues that have been raised here? In particular, you have made points about judges’ use of article 8 and perhaps Parliament being clearer about what it considers a right to family life. Would you also be considering deportation earlier in the appeals process, along the lines of France and Italy? Could you comment on those points specifically?
Mrs May: Yes; thank you. I should say in relation to the immigration Bill the words "parliamentary time allowing" should be added, of course, in relation to these matters, as they always are in any potential legislation. Sometimes cases like France and Italy are quoted as places that are able to deport more quickly. Sometimes when you look at the cases they do not have quite as much discretion. They have had cases in France, for example, where article 8 has stopped them from deporting people quickly. We do want to put our family law rules in relation to article 8 into primary legislation. I had expected and hoped that when Parliament put those through in changes to the immigration rules, Parliament had a debate. There was no dissent in Parliament on those rules. Sadly, one of the lower tribunal judges referred to this as a weak parliamentary debate. I think a debate in Parliament where everybody is agreeing is hardly weak; it is strong, in my view, but that was a different interpretation. So, I do now have to look at putting that into primary legislation and obviously an immigration Bill would be the vehicle for doing it.
We need to look at the appeals mechanisms as well and the processes on both the deportation and extradition side to make sure that people have their proper legal processes whereby they can put their case, but at the moment most people get frustrated that it takes so long to get these through, so we are looking at the various stages of appeal and how long they are taking, and what is appropriate to have to ensure that people have proper legal process but it is done in a speedier way.
Q217 Chair: Thank you. You are the Home Secretary, you have a huge amount of work to do and we have spent 20 minutes talking about one particular case. It is clearly a very important case for you, but it is like one of these long-running Wimbledon singles that is in the fifth set, May versus Qatada; it seems to go on for ever and ever and ever. You hoped that this matter would be shortly concluded exactly a year ago. Yesterday the Home Office on Twitter said, "It is not the end of the road yet". When will it be the end of the road in respect of this particular case? Clearly you have made getting rid of this man a key feature of your role as Home Secretary, by legal means I should say.
Mrs May: My intention is that the end of the road is when Abu Qatada is deported.
Q218 Chair: Do you have any idea-
Mrs May: As you will appreciate, Chairman, particularly given what has happened over not just the nearly three years that I have been Home Secretary but it is about 12 years now-it was 2001, I think, when this case first started-this is something that has obviously not been easy. I can’t put a date on it, and it would be silly for me to try to put a date on when he would be leaving.
Q219 Chair: But you sort of did last year. Do you think that was a mistake when you came to the House, there were cameras outside his house, and you said he would be on a plane shortly?
Mrs May: Well, we had every expectation, given the assurances we had received, that that would be the case. I am not going to put a timetable on it. We are working both through the appeal route and through continuing working with the Jordanian Government.
Q220 Chair: But are you absolutely satisfied, by what the King said to you, that the Jordanian connection is watertight? There is nothing more the Jordanians can do to satisfy you or the courts?
Mrs May: I would not reveal the subject of individual conversations with-
Chair: Sure, I am not asking you to reveal.
Mrs May: -the King or with any others but we are continuing to work with the Jordanian Government.
Q221 Chair: So there is more to be done?
Mrs May: We are continuing to work with them to look at other avenues that could be pursued.
Chair: Let’s just finally go on to TPIMs, then we must move on to another subject.
Q222 Dr Huppert: Home Secretary, I want to ask very quickly about the, I think, 10 individuals who are on TPIM measures? I think we all accept that this is not the ideal place and what we would like to do is prosecute them where possible. What are we missing to be able to prosecute these individuals? There have been discussions about whether using intercept evidence would solve it. I do not want details on the individuals. Are there categories of evidence that we are lacking to be able to prosecute them successfully?
Mrs May: I do not think it is possible to say there is a category of evidence that we are lacking, and it is not the case that intercept as evidence would be the silver bullet that suddenly would enable lots of people to be prosecuted. A piece of work was done looking at a number of cases to see whether intercept as evidence would have led to prosecutions and the answer is that this is not the single thing that is going to suddenly open up prosecutions in all these areas. There is not a category of evidence that it is possible to identify and say that if we had that we would be able to prosecute these individuals. We do look constantly at whether we need to look at the offences and look at the way that we prosecute to see if there is anything that should be done in relation to these individuals, or indeed to other cases, to enable prosecution to take place, but there is not a single category where we say, "If we do this, then we are going to suddenly be able to open the door".
Q223 Dr Huppert: The thing that I struggle with is that we have a whole range of terrorism-related offences already, so is it that these are people on whom we have information but it is not something that we could use in a court, or is it that we do not have information that they have committed an offence?
Mrs May: The purpose of the TPIM, as the purpose of a control order prior to it, was to deal with those individuals for whom it was considered, and the courts have upheld, that they had terrorist intent of some sort. It covers individuals who are engaged in differing ways in terrorism-related activity but for whom it not possible to prosecute. That may be in relation to the evidence that can be admissible in court but crucially, of course, what the courts have agreed-and recently we have had a number of TPIMs being revived or extended, as they can be for the second year, and a number of cases in court where that has been upheld. These arrangements are in place for a small number of individuals who do pose a threat but for whom it is not possible to prosecute.
Q224 Dr Huppert: I understand the problem. What I am trying to understand is how many of these cases are in the category where we have evidence of criminal wrongdoing but we can’t use it in courts for some reason-a prosecution may not be possible under the current position-and for how many we genuinely do not have evidence that they have committed a criminal offence.
Mrs May: I am trying to be careful in answering your question, Dr Huppert, because I am not going to sit here, given that there are a small number of individuals, and give any information that it would not be appropriate to give in a public forum in relation to these cases. However, you can take it that there is sufficient to be able to identify these individuals as people who do pose a threat, and that has been supported by the courts in what they have been able to see, but there is not sufficient to be able to bring prosecutions, otherwise we would be bringing prosecutions.
Q225 Chair: Thank you. We can’t get rid of Abu Qatada, but we can’t find Ibrahim Magag. He has been missing for 114 days. Where is he? Why can we not find him?
Mrs May: Well, this is an ongoing matter, Chairman.
Q226 Chair: Does it worry you? It is very clear that you are a very strong, tough Home Secretary and you send out very tough messages on terrorism and crime, and yet operationally we seem to be unable to even find one man.
Mrs May: I have to say that this is not the first case in which somebody has absconded and not been found for some time. Obviously every effort is made by those who are involved in trying to do so.
Q227 Chair: Let us move on. I will begin this section on UKBA by saying the Committee was delighted with your decision, taken on 26 March, to abolish UKBA, something that this Committee has called for, directly and indirectly, over a number of years. When did you discover that it was a closed, secretive and defensive organisation? Was it something that happened overnight, or was it a cumulative effect after your two and a half years as Home Secretary?
Mrs May: I think there had been a cumulative effect. Crucially, of course, we had taken the decision over a year ago to take Border Force out of UKBA, to separate that out and set it up as a separate command within the Home Office. We did that. Doing that enabled us to shine a light more closely on the rest of UKBA. Last year we did not take action because over the period of the Olympics and the Paralympics our minds were elsewhere in relation to making sure this was operating well for those. Then last autumn I was able to start the process of looking more closely at those parts of UKBA that remained. Through a process of discussion and consideration within the Home Office, we came to the judgment that we should be abolishing its agency status, abolishing it as it was, and bringing it into the Home Office in these two new commands.
Q228 Chair: "Closed, secretive and defensive" ranks with not "fit for purpose", which was John Reid’s statement about UKBA when he was Home Secretary. It is pretty strong stuff coming from a Home Secretary, a bit undermined on 26 March by Mark Sedwill when he said to the employees that, "Most of us will still be doing the same job in the same place with the same colleagues for the same boss with the same mission". If all of it is going to remain the same, how do we know that it is going to change from being closed, secretive and defensive?
Mrs May: It is the case that the majority of individuals working within these two new commands will be doing the work that they have been doing previously. We do need to look at processes within the commands and at the culture and the agency status. My view is that the agency status helps to generate a culture that is about separation from Government rather than being part of Government in relation to information. One of the issues that I know this Committee has been concerned about, that Ministers are concerned about and that we will now be able to put a closer focus on is the information that these commands generate and the veracity of that information when it is published, when Ministers come before this Committee or we provide that information to this Committee or in other parliamentary fora.
Q229 Chair: I know you are very busy, but did you manage to see the Dispatches programme on Monday night that looked at the work of UKBA?
Mrs May: I did not manage to see it. I have had one or two comments about it given to me, but I did not manage to see the programme.
Q230 Chair: I have a disc that we will give you so you can look at it later. One of the officials, Neil Fletcher, gets up and says that you set them a target of 31 March to, in effect, clear the backlog that had been reported to this Committee and reported to Parliament. He got up and said to the assembled case workers, "We have moved the goalposts a bit, and what we have done is we have created new categories so the backlog in effect disappears". Presumably you deprecate such action? You would expect the UKBA to be able to clear a backlog when the Home Secretary says, "Clear a backlog", and not just create new names coming out of new sections.
Mrs May: Probably like you, Chairman, I used to watch a programme called Yes Minister in which these sorts of practices were shown quite clearly. I think the late Baroness-
Chair: But this is fact, this is-
Mrs May: I am just coming to answer your question, if I may, Chairman. When I say a backlog should be cleared, of course I expect a backlog to be cleared. I think one of the tasks, though, that we need to do, with the greater focus that we can put with a separate command in relation to UK visas and immigration, is to look across the piece on the backlogs that have been identified to make sure that we have a clear baseline that we are working from in relation to moving forward and improving performance, both in relation to backlogs but also in relation to the general processing of the several million applications that the organisation has to deal with each year.
Q231 Chair: So you would not approve of anybody creating different names for the backlog in order to satisfy either Parliament or Ministers that the backlog has been cleared? You want to see an organisation that is not closed, secretive and defensive but that is open, transparent and able to communicate with the public?
Mrs May: I want to see an organisation that is, yes, able to communicate with the public, that is providing a good service, that is making the right decisions about who should be entering the country, who should be staying in the country and who should not, but an organisation also that provides an effective service.
Q232 Chair: With proper, accurate information?
Mrs May: Proper, accurate information. If I may just say on the backlogs and the changing names, of course it is not right if somebody is simply saying, "Well, let’s just call it something else, and then it will go away", but it may be that in dealing with the backlog a category is identified that should be dealt with in a different way. That may be moved if there is a category of recognition that is already there or there may be a need to provide a separate identity, but being clear about that and being clear that, "This is a group about which this decision is needed, and they are therefore here rather than in this category".
Chair: Of course. I hope you have the time to look at this tape, because it is very useful. Mr Clappison, who has had meetings with me and Lin Homer over many years and has been one of the architects of the Committee’s policy on the backlogs.
Q233 Mr Clappison: I have calculated we have asked at least five Home Secretaries about Abu Qatada as well over 10 years, but anyway there we are. Can I ask you more generally about immigration, Home Secretary? What is the state of play on the migration targets that the Government has set?
Mrs May: I am pleased to say that the last set of figures showed that we have reduced net migration by a third since the election and the latest visa figures, which obviously are slightly in advance of the net migration figures, do show a continuing fall in visas, so I would hope that we would continue to see that fall. We are on track. I think we can still achieve the aim of the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands.
Q234 Mr Clappison: One of the features that people found surprising in the past in the system was that migrants coming to work here had an automatic right to settlement as a result of coming to work here. The Government has changed that. Have there been any problems arising from that?
Mrs May: Not as far as I am aware. When you say problems, are you asking about cases, complaints or-
Mr Clappison: I have not heard of any.
Mrs May: I have not heard any.
Q235 Mr Clappison: Are you satisfied that through the migration system people who can make a contribution to this country, who can enrich it, such as entrepreneurs, scientists or high-level academics, are able to come to the country under the structure that you have put in place?
Mrs May: Yes, I am satisfied on that. I think crucially in the two areas of business, if we look at the Tier 2 visa applications, the cap has not yet been met in any month in which the cap has been in place, so there has still been scope for business, which says to me that business is able to bring in the people they need. We created the entrepreneurs and investors routes. We have had to tweak those routes as we often do, looking at making sure they are operating properly, but I believe that it is possible for the brightest and the best to come. Of course there is not a limit on the number of students who can come to universities, but we have been able to cut out the abuse that has been taking place.
Q236 Mr Clappison: Do you think the message is getting through that while this country cannot have unlimited open-door migration, because it simply does not have the capacity for it, it is a place that welcomes people who make a contribution to society-the right people?
Mrs May: I believe the message is getting through. I believe we can always do more in getting that message through. I went to India last November and met business people and others to talk to them about our systems and the way in which they were operating, and I got a very positive message.
Q237 Steve McCabe: Home Secretary, you have also been quite tough about cracking down on bogus students, but student visitor visas are running at about 30,000 per year, and these people do not need any proof of qualification and do not need to achieve any award. How can you be sure that your officials have not shut one door and opened another?
Mrs May: Well, because of those who are coming and the purpose for those visitor visas. When we looked at changing student visas overall there was a real concern by a number of parliamentary colleagues about language colleges within their constituencies who might find it difficult to provide some of the courses that they were legitimately providing to genuine language students if they were not able to be here for longer than six months. That is why we created the 11-month visitor visa for these students. Significant numbers of them are coming, for example, from Japan, the Middle East and Far East to learn the English language. Many of those, for example the Japanese, are having to learn an entirely different script and so forth, so it takes longer than six months, and I think the 11-month visitor visa was appropriate and has fixed that particular requirement.
Q238 Steve McCabe: Do you know how many enforcement actions have been taken against people who abuse this category?
Mrs May: I was just looking to see whether I had the figures that I would be able to give in relation to these and also the figures in terms of the breakdown of the numbers who are coming. There are many American students included in the short-term visitor visa, for example, coming and doing short-term courses and returning to America. I do not believe that this is a back-door route that is being used. We always continue to look at these issues. I do not have the figures to hand, but if there are any figures that the Committee wishes to look into, then I will-
Chair: That would be extremely helpful.
Mrs May: But I recognise that there are those who are claiming that this is somehow a back-door route into work. Of course we look at this issue, and we look at this particular route but, as I say, the figures-
Q239 Steve McCabe: Well, 30,000 for a year and rising is quite a high figure, Home Secretary. It is not unreasonable to ask how it is being enforced and whether or not there are any transfers going on because, of course, in other areas, as we have just been hearing, there is a bit of recategorisation. What we want to know is, is this doing what it is intended to do? I have no doubt about what you are trying to achieve. I am just trying to be sure it is doing that.
Mrs May: I believe that the figures that we have for those who are coming under this visitor visa route will show that this is doing what it was intended to do.
Q240 Chris Ruane: Home Secretary, you said that you are satisfied that the system is working. Is British business and is the British university sector satisfied that it is working from their perspectives? Is the rhetoric and the new system that you have introduced frightening off genuine high-level students, PhD students, is it frightening off business people, is it frightening off investors? Have you made an assessment of that? You said you have gone out to India and China and they have said everything is hunky-dory from their perspective. Is that the case within the UK, within British business and the university sector? What representations have you had? Is there a robust way to count people in and to count them out?
Mrs May: There are a number of issues that you have raised there in relation to this. On the last point, of course we are moving towards the implementation of exit checks. That is taking time. It is part of the border strategy.
Q241 Chris Ruane: How long?
Mrs May: We have a commitment to do that, and that will not be fully in place for a number of years yet.
Q242 Chris Ruane: How many years?
Mrs May: I think we are talking about two or three years. We are not talking about 10 years in relation to the e-Borders strategy.
Q243 Chris Ruane: Three years maximum?
Mrs May: I am happy to provide a current timetable in relation to the percentages of those we already are able to deal with under e-Borders.
Q244 Chair: If I could just interrupt for a second, Home Secretary. Are you saying to Mr Ruane that it is your intention to have the e-Borders programme, which has stalled over the last few years and has cost so far £750 million, completed in two to three years?
Mrs May: If I may provide something in writing that is a timetable, Chairman, rather than putting it on the basis of a slightly vague reference to a number of years-
Chair: I understand that. I am most grateful.
Mrs May: We are already receiving e-Borders data on 100% of all commercial non-EU EEA aviation routes. That is both inbound and outbound, which of course has been a further enhancement to our exit check capability. e-Borders screens over 65% of passenger movements into and out of the UK, and obviously we want to ensure that we can implement the rest of the programme. The commitment that the Government made was to reintroduce exit checks by 2015, and we are working on that, because of the e-Borders changes that have been taking place-
Chair: So, that is two years?
Mrs May: -getting there at that point. As you will be aware, Chairman, there are, though, issues around aspects of entry and exit into the UK that are not as easily fitted into an e-Borders system as others, if you are looking at smaller ports, for example. That is why I hesitate to say, but certainly we want to be able to keep to that timetable.
Q245 Chair: That is very helpful. In answer to Mr Ruane are you saying, because you have just read it, that there is a commitment to have the e-Borders programme in place by the next election?
Mrs May: Exit checks.
Chair: Exit checks, but not the e-Borders programme?
Mrs May: Exit checks, and e-Borders is part of that.
Q246 Chair: Will you write to us and tell us when the e-Borders programme will be completed? Presumably you are giving out contracts. We know what the last Labour Government did and the e-Borders programme went awry. The Raytheon contract cost us £750 million; the Committee produced reports about this in the last Parliament. What concerns us is Tony Smith’s article in The Sun of 8 April, "We just don’t know who’s here and who isn’t here". That must be a concern. Is that still the case, that we do not know who is here and who is not?
Mrs May: By definition, Chairman, this is always the issue around illegal immigration. If people are here illegally, then by definition you do not necessarily know who they are and where they are. The whole purpose of putting immigration enforcement into a separate part of the Home Office, separating UKBA, is that we are now going to be able to put a much clearer focus on this; and I will come back to the earlier part of Mr Ruane’s question in a minute, if I may. As much as part of it is about improving processes in UK visas and immigration and we will also have a much clearer focus on immigration enforcement. That is something that I think members of the public want us to have.
Q247 Chris Ruane: With respect, Home Secretary, when Labour were in power and were saying, "Because they are illegal we don’t know the numbers", that was not a viewpoint you accepted then. Do you accept it now?
Mrs May: Mr Ruane, I am not sure whether I personally made any comments in relation to this figure at the time. What I do say is that by definition one of the tasks of UKBA as was-of immigration enforcement as now is-is to be able to identify those who are here illegally and remove them from the country. That has been a problem over the years. It is something we now want to put a greater emphasis on. Establishing exit checks will be a helpful part of that process; e-Borders is part of establishing exit checks. We are looking at how e-Borders will contribute to that, but there will be other aspects to that as well as the eBorders systems.
In relation to your questions about business and universities and their attitude to what we have been doing, I would point out in relation to universities that the number of applications from overseas has gone up in the last set of figures at the same time as we have been cutting out abuse in the student visa system. I think that shows, in relation to Mr Clappison’s question, that we are continuing to attract those who genuinely want to come here and study while we are ensuring that those who were not genuinely coming here to study are not able to do so. We are continuing to improve our ability to do the latter.
Q248 Chris Ruane: The business issues too?
Mrs May: On business issues, business does raise issues with me about the processes within what was UKBA. Again, separating them out, UK visas and immigration will be able to put a closer focus on processing their systems and their operations to ensure, I believe, that we can provide a better service for businesses. We are improving our visa system. The introduction, for example, of a 24-hour super premium visa service for India is one example of how we continue to look at what the needs are out there and make sure that we can provide them. I want to make sure that we can provide them and can run those systems and do so effectively.
Q249 Chris Ruane: Are we losing business deals and are we losing inward investment in the UK because of these visa changes?
Mrs May: I do not believe that we are, and my message to business is always very clear. As I say, at the last round-table I had with business they were clear with me that their concerns related more to the processing of visas and the service that was being given by UKBA and they found that there were sometimes some issues in relation to that. There was an issue in relation to the speed of dealing with tier 2 sponsorship requests. We have now been looking at that and improving that.
Q250 Chris Ruane: Are they concerned with the rhetoric?
Mrs May: Our rhetoric is about Britain being open for business.
Q251 Dr Huppert: I will leave the questions I was going to ask you on that issue. I think they have been fairly well explored. Can I ask about the process of rearranging the Border Agency? While I think many of us agree it has had a huge number of problems and we would like to see it reformed, I am concerned about how the process evolved. We heard from the independent inspector on Tuesday that he was told on the day that it was happening; I am sure a rather terse letter there. As you probably know, although I think it was the Tuesday that you announced the Border Agency was closing, just on the previous Thursday the Minister for Immigration, Mark Harper, had talked in a written statement about changes that would leave the UK Border Agency on a sure footing. What was going on there? Was he wrong to write that statement? Did he not know that there was about to be a change? Was he not involved in those discussions? How did the process end up being so confused at the end?
Mrs May: The process was not confused at the end, Dr Huppert. What happened was over a period of several months we were looking at the question of UKBA and the appropriate structure for it, looking at the question of whether to keep it as an agency status body with responsibility for two very different parts of the business or to separate those out and to bring it into the Home Office. A final decision was taken. The Immigration Minister was involved and others within the Home Office were involved in this discussion to look at what should be done. It is, of course, normal practice that on the day as a matter of courtesy those who have an interest in this will be informed of the decision that has been taken.
In relation to written ministerial statements, the Government had to continue to carry on making statements in relation to business and the operation. As at that point in time on that Thursday UKBA was in existence and the announcement had not been made, it was appropriate to refer to UKBA in the written ministerial statement. That was the body at that time, and indeed there is a legal entity of UKBA that has had to continue until we are able to make other changes in rules and so on to identify the new commands.
Q252 Dr Huppert: The question is not about referring to UKBA. I think it is about the Minister describing UKBA, as a result of various changes, being on a sure footing, which presumably on the Thursday he did not genuinely believe if he was involved in discussions, knowing you were about to get rid of it. But I notice you said that there were discussions in the Home Office. How broad were those discussions outside? Was the Prime Minister involved before the last couple of days’ phase? Was the Deputy Prime Minister involved over those few months that they were changing? Both them gave quite significant speeches that did not refer to this.
Mrs May: Yes, both of them were giving significant speeches about immigration policy. This was a structural matter within the Home Office. Others outside the Home Office were involved in the discussions about the decision that was taking place, but you would expect that most of the work in relation to this was done within the Home Office. That would be entirely appropriate. This was a structural change within the Home Office. We spent considerable time thinking about it, looking at every aspect and, as appropriate, involved others outside the Home Office.
Q253 Dr Huppert: So before the Thursday of this statement, for example, the Prime Minister’s office and the Deputy Prime Minister’s office knew that this is what you were intending?
Mrs May: Dr Huppert, you are putting quite a lot of emphasis on this written ministerial statement on the Thursday. In a position where the structure that Government is operating at that time was the UK Border Agency, the changes that were taking place will put our operations on a surer footing. It refers to the UK Border Agency, because that was the body that existed at the time. At that stage a statement had not yet been made to Parliament, and a statement was going to be made in oral form to Parliament in due course. The timing of that had not been determined at that time.
Q254 Chair: Home Secretary, the point that Dr Huppert is trying to make is that the Minister for Immigration may, by unhelpful people, be accused of misleading the House in putting out a statement saying everything is fine with the UK Border Agency when a decision had been taken, in effect, to abolish it. That is the only point he is making. In fact Mr Sedwill agrees with Dr Huppert because he said to this Committee on the same day that you abolished UKBA, and I quote, "A slightly vaguer statement might have been wise". So, it is not Dr Huppert who is saying this. It is your Permanent Secretary who is saying it.
Mrs May: We can put things in a variety of ways, Chairman, in relation to that. It was not misleading Parliament when at the point in time the UKBA was the structure that was in place, but UKBA is a set of operations, and the changes that we were making would put those operations on a surer footing.
Chair: Do you have your answer, Dr Huppert, or not?
Q255 Dr Huppert: If we have a statement in the future that some Government body is on a sure footing, that does not exclude the possibility that a decision has been made to abolish it. Is that how we should interpret statements?
Chair: For the Home Office, not the whole Government; just answer for the Home Office.
Mrs May: The Home Office will make statements that it believes are appropriate at the time at which it makes them, Dr Huppert.
Chair: It sounds a bit Yes Minister to me, Home Secretary.
Mrs May: I did say I used to watch it.
Q256 Chair: Let us conclude on immigration by asking you one question. You have not visited either Romania or Bulgaria since you have been Home Secretary, have you?
Mrs May: You are making a very oblique reference to the questions you have asked on the diary.
Chair: No, it is a very straight question.
Mrs May: It is a very straight question. I have had a number of discussions with my opposite numbers-
Q257 Chair: No, have you visited Romania or Bulgaria since you have been Home Secretary? It is a very simple question.
Mrs May: It is a very simple question, Chairman.
Chair: What is the answer?
Mrs May: The answer is very simple. I have not visited Romania or Bulgaria.
Q258 Chair: Thank you. Excellent. Wonderful. Let me just put to you this quote, "One of the greatest failures of the last Government was the failure to predict the consequences of enlargement in 2004". Do you agree with that?
Mrs May: I think that one of the problems that the last Government had was that it-I think the greatest failure was not to put transitional controls on.
Chair: I understand that, but I am asking you to comment on this point, "One of the greatest failures of the last Labour Government was the failure to predict the consequences of enlargement in 2004". Again, it is a simple question. Do you agree with that or not?
Mrs May: What I have said, Chairman, in response to that is that I think the failure of the last Government was to not put transitional controls in when the first A8 group came into the European Union. If they failed to do that because they had not looked at the potential consequences-as we know, they made a number of predictions in relation to numbers, which proved to be wildly inaccurate. We have had a very simple view that has been carried through-certainly from my party we had it in opposition-into the coalition Government that we would put full transitional controls on any new entrants into the European Union, because we believe that is the appropriate way to go. That is not just in principle but obviously a concern about the consequences of failing to do so.
Q259 Chair: You can’t do that for Romania and Bulgaria, so we are talking about Croatia and Turkey and other countries. We are talking here about Romania and Bulgaria, the debate at the moment. The biggest change this year is going to be on 31 December. The concern of this Committee and others is that there are not accurate figures as to how many people are likely to come in. They range from 10,000 to MigrationWatch’s figure of 50,000. Do you not think it would be helpful if research was commissioned in order to try to get a more accurate figure as to how many Romanians and Bulgarians are coming in? That goes back to my first question, which is what work is being done with the Romanian and Bulgarian Governments to try to find out why there is going to be, as suggested, such a large pattern of migration from Romania and Bulgaria as a result of the raising of transitional arrangements? We can’t sit there and hope, can we? We need to have some figures. Or can we sit there and hope?
Mrs May: The question that you asked me is whether we should be putting figures together, Chairman, and both the Migration Advisory Committee, which as you know is an independent body, and the NIESR have indicated that it is not helpful, it is not sensible, and it is not by definition possible, therefore, to put reliable figures together about the numbers who are likely to come to the UK from Romania and Bulgaria. Both those organisations have come at that view with their independence and with the work that they have done in looking at this particular issue. I think it is entirely right that the Government says-it is not just us but others say- that it is not sensible to try to put figures, because there are so many variables in this particular issue.
Q260 Mr Clappison: I am coming on to ask about EU justice and home affairs. We can ask about figures and so forth, but the plain fact of the matter is that when the transitional controls come to an end there are no further measures that the Government can take under European law.
Mrs May: That is correct; the transitional controls come off. We can’t extend them, and they come off.
Q261 Mr Clappison: I am pleased with what you have told us about the view you are going to take on this in the future, because the strange situation in the last Government was that they did not put transitional controls on the A8 countries, including some large economies, whereas they did, a couple of years later, on the 2007 entrants; just two countries.
Mrs May: Yes, they did; just two, yes. I believe they should have put those transitional controls on the A8 but, as you say, Mr Clappison, the last Government failed to do so. I think it was probably very much down to the fact that the Opposition had created quite a lot of comment on that particular issue that led to them rethinking for the 2007 entrants.
Mr Clappison: We have already had quite a Byzantine discussion on the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court on terrorism. Can I ask you about another complicated legal issue? This is European Union justice and home affairs-
Chair: Could I ask you to hold one second?
Mr Clappison: Sorry.
Chair: There is one final immigration question, and then we will move on. Mr Ruane, very finally, on immigration.
Q262 Chris Ruane: Are the UK social security systems and public services a soft touch, as the Prime Minister has described, for those who seek to come here to claim benefits or receive medical treatments? What are the actual statistics on this? What portion of those claiming benefits are legal or illegal immigrants? What proportion and what numbers of people using the NHS are illegal or legal immigrants or asylum seekers? What work is the Home Office doing with other departments on this issue? What are the actual figures? What are the trends? Are they up, down, plateaued?
Chair: Not an essay; a quick answer would be great.
Mrs May: A quick answer to this is what the Prime Minister has made clear is that we do not want to be a soft touch. We do want to look and compare ourselves with other countries in the European Union to see what they do in relation to access to benefits and other services as well. We are looking across the board. There is an inter-ministerial group that is chaired by the Immigration Minister. I have chaired a meeting at Secretary of State level to look at this particular issue, and the Prime Minister has been involved in this issue. What we are doing is looking across the board at public services to look at whether we have the right rules in place in relation to those who come into this country, and that is why we are looking at access to benefits. We are also looking at access to health service, access to social housing across the board. We are saying, "What is right? What is fair for those people who have been living in the UK and contributing to the provision of public services in relation to those who come into the country and their access to that?"
Q263 Chris Ruane: What are the actual figures on this? What figures are you-
Mrs May: We can write to you with the figures. I am sure they are somewhere within this pack but we can write to you with the figures.
If I may, Chairman, in relation to Romania and Bulgaria there are just two further points. First of all, it is not the case, as it was with the A8 countries of course, that the UK is the only country that is suddenly going to find its borders open on 1 January 2014 to those from Romania and Bulgaria. There are other significant countries within the EU, such as Germany, Austria, and France, who will also be opening their borders to Romania and Bulgaria at the same time. That is different from the situation when the A8 came in, because it was this country that chose not to put transitional controls under the last Labour Government. In relation to the work that is being done, this is being done across Government. It will relate not just to Romania and Bulgaria, obviously. It will relate to people who are coming into the country. I think it is absolutely right and proper, regardless of the issue of Romania and Bulgaria, that the UK says, "What is fair for people who have been living in this country and have been contributing to public services over the years?" Many people are concerned if they see people coming in and having access to public services without having contributed.
Chair: Indeed. Since we are not going to have figures, we will have to go to Stansted Airport on 1 January 2014, with or without Mr Clappison, who is going to ask about the European justice opt-out.
Q264 Mr Clappison: There is another European subject. The opt-in to European justice and home affairs is a very important subject, and it is very welcome that the Government has taken the decision to give Parliament a vote on this. Can you tell us what the state of play is on that?
Mrs May: Yes. We are continuing to consider the appropriate list of those measures that we choose to opt back into. It is still our current intention to opt out and to negotiate to opt back into a number of measures, and we are continuing to consider what that list should be. Obviously there have been some discussions with the European Commission. The list is a slightly moveable feast, in the sense that there are some measures within the 2014 list that could drop out because the Commission themselves are potentially going to bring forward some new proposals in relation to those measures, in which case they would go into the post-Lisbon opt-out opt-in procedure rather than the 2014 opt-out procedure.
Q265 Mr Clappison: Are you able to give us any timetable as to when this is likely to come before Parliament?
Mrs May: I would hope that this would be able to be before Parliament in the not too distant future. We are still discussing with Parliament the appropriate way for Parliament to handle this issue, because we have a clear commitment that Parliament should be able to debate and have a vote on it.
Q266 Mr Clappison: Do you agree that in order to have a proper debate, a proper vote, we need to have as much information as possible about the measures?
Mrs May: Yes. It is our intention to ensure that Parliament has the information it needs when it comes to that.
Q267 Mr Clappison: Will there be an opportunity for a vote on each measure that it is proposed to opt back into or not?
Mrs May: That is a matter that is being debated and discussed at the moment.
Q268 Chair: On this issue, ACPO, in evidence to the Lords EU Committee, said, "Opting out would be a massive step back for UK policing that would benefit no one". Bill Hughes, the former head of SOCA, said, "It would turn the United Kingdom into a safe haven for European criminals". These are obviously powerful voices. I know you have not made a decision, but presumably these would be factors before you decide what to opt in and what to opt out of?
Mrs May: Yes. Those comments were made not for the general opt-out but for specific measures. It is not my intention to take any decision that would leave the UK vulnerable. I want to maintain the security and the safety of the United Kingdom, and we are looking at all the measures very carefully in relation to that aspect and the Government’s intention. We have to look at each measure to determine whether it does have an impact on the ability of the United Kingdom to fight crime and to cut crime.
Q269 Chair: Intelligence sharing between EU countries is very important in terms of the people coming in, is it not? 8% of those convicted in London are foreign nationals who are wanted in their home countries and 35% of the convictions of people in London are from foreign nationals. These are very large figures, aren’t they?
Mrs May: They are large figures, and some very good work is being done in relation to those who are foreign nationals committing crimes in London, under Operation Nexus, between what will now be immigration enforcement, what was UKBA, and the Metropolitan Police to identify those foreign nationals and be able to deal with them appropriately. There are various levels of intelligence-sharing that take place. There is sharing of information between police forces and others that takes place regardless of whether or not there is a European Union measure to cover it.
Q270 Chair: Yes, of course. The key point is how do we know when people come into this country who have criminal convictions from abroad and who are wanted abroad? I just raise with you the case of Jonathan Limani, the Albanian man who came through the EU with three convictions for violence, was allowed to enter the UK, went on and decapitated his boss and has now been deported. How do we stop these people coming in?
Mrs May: The whole issue of the sharing of information and what it is possible to share under any measures that exist, either today or might in the future, is a matter that we have been looking at. We are having some work done, looking not just at sharing information across borders but at how any information that is shared is then dealt with.
Q271 Mark Reckless: Home Secretary, when ACPO was giving evidence to the House of Lords Committee on European criminal arrangements, were they speaking as one of the pillars of the tripartite system, as they have been traditionally, or as a private organisation under the new policing landscape?
Mrs May: First of all, I try not to use the language of the tripartite system in relation to policing these days because we have changed the policing landscape. ACPO were giving evidence as a spokesbody for chief constables in relation to this. The business leads looking at different aspects of policing activity have traditionally been within ACPO. Those are now moving over to the College of Policing. In due course it may be that the College of Policing is a more appropriate body to respond on some of these points.
Q272 Mark Reckless: Absolutely, and we look forward to hearing their views on these issues. Home Secretary, you rightly said that the European aspect is only one aspect. We have a network of mutual legal assistance treaties across the world. I wanted to take the very important one of those we have with the United States. Are you satisfied that that is working efficiently and speedily?
Mrs May: Yes, I am satisfied about the working of that, although I think we can always look at how that works and operates because by definition sometimes there are delays in the operation of requests under mutual legal assistance. This is not something that I necessarily say is there on the shelf and we will never look at, but I think it is right and appropriate that we look at these operational matters from time to time to make sure that they are operating efficiently.
Q273 Mark Reckless: You said there are delays by definition, but could you confirm that we were physically delivering requests for assistance under this treaty and that it is only in the last year that we have started making these by email?
Mrs May: That is an operational fact of which I have not been sighted, I must confess to you, Mr Reckless. I imagine that the processes by which we do this should be efficient but they should be the processes that also satisfy the legal requirements of the recipients and the senders.
Q274 Mark Reckless: Could we ask you to write on that issue?
Mrs May: I certainly can, Chairman, if that is your wish.
Chair: We look forward to all these letters.
Q275 Mark Reckless: Finally from me, Home Secretary, I understand you are now the most senior member of the Government who is not on Twitter. Can we look forward to you joining at any time soon?
Chair: Would you like to write to us on that?
Mrs May: I personally don’t intend to go on to Twitter.
Chair: I think Mr Reckless is very disappointed.
Mrs May: I have to say, I think that from time to time a tweet does go out from the Home Office that may-
Chair: Yes, we all have our tweets that we regret.
Q276 Chris Ruane: Is the information sharing between police forces and intelligence across Europe what it should be? Could things be improved? As there is further expansion with the new countries, how are our relationships with them? Again, are they concerned about some rhetoric from some quarters of Government, especially the Romanian authorities? If you want people to co-operate, you have to be nice to them. Are things what they should be?
Mrs May: I think what is appropriate in Government dealings is that we deal with people properly at the right level and that we work with them on those areas where there is going to be a mutual benefit for us to work together. What is also important in the European context is that we are absolutely clear about where British interests lie and that we are absolutely clear about defending those British interests. I certainly do not intend to do anything within Europe to go against that requirement, because I think that is exactly what the British people would expect of us.
Q277 Chris Ruane: Would other colleagues in other Departments, and perhaps the Prime Minister, do anything to damage it?
Mrs May: We have a clear position, as a Government, in our relations with the European Union. We work well in justice and home affairs, and I believe, from what I have heard from other colleagues, we continue to work well across the European Union. Indeed, the Prime Minister has had some significant successes recently as a result of his relationships and discussions with colleagues across the European Union. We do that and I think that is the right way to do it. We take issues, we sit down with people and we discuss them with them. In certain areas like free movement, for example, we have been able to work with others to persuade them that there is a problem about abuse of free movement and as a result work is being done at European Union level. That was the UK putting that matter before them and getting others to agree.
Q278 Chris Ruane: Could things be improved?
Mrs May: We always work at ensuring that we are doing the best that we can to promote British interests.
Q279 Chair: Excellent. You wrote to me on 16 April saying that SOCA had been recording the wrong figures as far the European arrest warrant was concerned. The figure that we last had was 1,355 people who were the subject of a European Arrest Warrant. Do you have a better figure for us or perhaps a very quick explanation as to why they were recording them wrongly when they received £500 million from the taxpayer to get things right?
Mrs May: Yes. I will be able to find the figures. If you will bear with me while I attempt to do so, or somebody attempts to do so behind me, the problem arose as a result of systems change. They were moving over to a new system and there was some misrecording as a result. It was brought to the attention of the House on Tuesday with a written ministerial statement, the letter having been received during the recess.
Q280 Chair: Yes, what are the figures? Is it more than 1,355?
Mrs May: It is1. Some of the figures were out by a factor of 50%. For example, in some cases it is-
Mrs May: Just wait until you hear the figures.
Chair: It just sounds like a very large percentage.
Mrs May: For example, in 2009-10 SOCA believed there were 99 arrests, but the figure is now 142. As I say, they have identified the problem because it related to the way the data was being captured and there was an issue around the change of systems. It has had no operational impact. That is the key point that I would make. As far as dealing with these is concerned, they have all been dealt with properly. It was the recording of the figures that was the issue.
Chair: It is good of you to have told us that. We now move on to data comms.
Q281 Dr Huppert: I would be interested to understand some more about where things are with the pleadings since the draft Communications Data Bill and what has happened to the underlying evidence for it, which was heavily criticised by the Select Committee. Can I firstly ask about the historic information? Each year there are typically around 500,000 data requests. The Committee, when we met last year, was told that there had not been a detailed analysis of how it was being used or for what purposes. There was just a two-week snapshot survey that excluded various agencies. You said, when this session started somewhat over an hour ago, it is important not speculate until you have the full facts. Does the Home Office now have the full facts of how those 500,000 data requests each year are made and for what purposes? How many of them are serious crime? How many of them are, for example, in the category of other non-crime that was found in the two-week survey? Has that full analysis now been done?
Mrs May: Thank you, Dr Huppert, and thank you for the work that you, and indeed other members of this Committee, did as members of the Joint Committee. Obviously the Joint Committee found that there was a necessity for this legislation. Don’t look quizzically at me, because the Joint Committee did find that there was a necessity for this legislation.
Chair: That is how he normally looks.
Q282 Dr Huppert: I am intrigued. Which page of the report says that? It says there is a case for new legislation. It does not go further.
Mrs May: I am so sorry, Dr Huppert. The Joint Committee accepted that there was a case for the legislation. The Joint Committee did not say that we should not be legislating. They said there was a case for us to legislate. You were a member of that Joint Committee, and I am grateful to you for the work that you did on that committee.
Q283 Dr Huppert: That said, "We accept that there is a case for legislation which will provide the law enforcement agencies with some further access to communications data but believe that the draft Bill pays insufficient attention to the duty to respect the right of privacy. It goes much further than it need or should for the purpose of providing necessary justifiable official access to communication data".
Mrs May: Indeed, and that is why, and we accepted, as you know, the substance of all the recommendations that the Joint Committee put in their report. In the subsequent weeks and months since the Joint Committee published its report we have been working on the redrafting of the Communications Bill. We have done that. There is still some work being done on that redrafting, but we have redrafted the Bill to accept the substance of the recommendations that the Committee made. That is what we undertook to do, and it is what we have been doing. You asked me what the status was. That is where we are at the moment.
Q284 Dr Huppert: But the analysis of how the data has been used in the past has not changed since the time of the committee?
Mrs May: There will be some further work being done to show, in some areas, how the data has been used. I think it is important to point out to members of the Committee, and particularly to others here, that the 500,000 requests don’t necessarily relate to 500,000 people. There may be a number of requests in a particular investigation that will relate to one individual, for example. This isn’t 500,000 individuals who are having data used in relation to them or accessed in relation to them.
Q285 Dr Huppert: Although, as I understand it, we do not know how many people this is, which is part that data gap, which brings me on to the subject of the data gap that underpinned the original idea. You say that the Government accepts the substance of all the recommendations. We have not yet seen a detailed response to the recommendations, which talked about the evidence from the Home Office on the data gap as being misleading and unhelpful, and Sir Jonathan Evans said it rested on pretty heroic assumptions. Is that part of what the Government is accepting?
Mrs May: We have looked at the data gap, and we continue to believe that the data gap, as far as it is possible to identify this, is of the order that we put before the Joint Committee and other Committees.
Q286 Dr Huppert: So you do not accept that the recommendation said that it was misleading and unhelpful. What about the costs and benefits, which I think are the words-
Mrs May: I have accepted the substance of all the recommendations. That means that we are changing the Bill to reflect the recommendations. Saying that the Committee believed the data gap was not what the Government said is not a recommendation, I would say, Dr Huppert. What is important is that we believe that there continues to be a data gap, and the evidence that has been given to the Committee was of that data gap and continues to be of that data gap. There are many cases that are quoted and people like Peter Davies, who heads up CEOP, have been very clear in their public statements about this. They are already finding that there are cases of child abuse and paedophiles acting that they can’t fully pursue because there is this data gap. The identification of the data gap is there.
Q287 Dr Huppert: One of the clear recommendations as well was that the priority should be training. That was a very clear recommendation, and these other things are listed in the recommendations but I will not fight the semantics. Has that training happened? Are officers now trained to use all the data that is available, a more than exponential growth of data is I think how the report described it? Are they making the best use of what there is already?
Mrs May: We are indeed looking at the training that will take place and accept that there is a need to ensure that officers are aware of how data can be used already and looking into the future how data is used. You asked me if that training has taken place already. In the time that is available you are not going to have undertaken that in the way that it needs to be undertaken. This is a matter that needs to be done and will continue to be done.
Chair: Dr Huppert, final question.
Q288 Dr Huppert: I have many more, but I will ask just one more. You say that it has not yet been done. A quick parliamentary question to one of your colleagues, David Davis, revealed that over £400 million had been spent since the election in this area. If it was not spent on training, which is what you are now suggesting, what was it spent on?
Mrs May: First of all, I hesitate to point this out to you, but the training recommendation came out very recently, and looking at that training issue and the improvement of that training issue is something that we are now doing. By2 definition, in terms of responding to the Committee, that would not have been how the money was being spent. But there was, of course, work that needed to be done in looking at the case and developing the case, work looking at the technology and so forth that has been necessary in terms of developing what we will be able to do under the Communications Data Bill.
Q289 Dr Huppert: £405 million was the written answer, if I remember correctly-I apologise if I am off by a million-that was spent on looking at the technology for this to happen. Is that what you understand?
Mrs May: It has been spent on a variety of ways that have been necessary for Government to prepare to bring forward a Bill in this area. One of the issues, of course, has been looking at what the capability might need to be, there is a technological aspect to that, and looking at other aspects as well, but in terms of bringing any proposal forward Government has to spend money.
Chair: I think if we have further questions we will drop you a line, but thank you for that exchange. A very quick question from Mr McCabe. Mr Ellis, you do not need to cough, I know you are there and I know you were on the Committee as well; so, very quick, because we do need to release the Home Secretary.
Q290 Steve McCabe: Well, I am trying to. Home Secretary, in your interview with The Sun on 3 December last year you cited tracking communications over Skype as one of the reasons why we need this legislation, yet the transparency report for 2012 shows that UK law reinforcement was the source of 1,268 requests for Skype information as opposed to 1,154 for the entire United States and only 685 for the whole of Germany. When this information is so readily available to UK law enforcement, why do you think you cited it as a reason for needing more legislation?
Mrs May: The need for the new legislation is very clear. There are people communicating in a whole variety of ways now that are beyond the current legislative structure.
Q291 Steve McCabe: I am asking about Skype though.
Mrs May: I am going to answer you. I am not quite sure which transparency report it is.
Steve McCabe: It is the Microsoft annual transparency report, Home Secretary.
Mrs May: The purpose of the legislation is very clear. People are communicating with one another in a variety of ways other than the more traditional telephony means, which are currently covered by our ability to access that communications data. As things have been developing, the Government has been trying to keep up, as far as it can, in relation to certain means of communication, but it is not fully able to keep up across the board in relation to the new forms of communication. We want to have the legislative backing to be able to do so. We simply want to be able to carry on doing what law enforcement and others have been doing for some time, which is accessing communications data to help in the protection of UK citizens and the catching of criminals and others.
Chair: Thank you. We have to leave it there, Mr McCabe, because Mr Ellis has a question on this, then we must move on to policing.
Q292 Michael Ellis: Thank you very much. Yes, I can confirm, Home Secretary, I was on the Joint Committee with Dr Huppert, and in fact the Committee was unanimous that this communications data measure is necessary. There has been a focus on this administrative measure, effectively closing this data gap, being used for law enforcement. You have alluded to the way this measure would close the gap on such things as paedophile offenders and child abuse, and we heard evidence to that effect. Is it also right that these measures would help save lives for those seeking emergency assistance from police and emergency services who might otherwise not be able to be located?
Mrs May: Indeed. It can help save lives in a number of ways. Certainly it is very useful for the emergency services who are trying to locate an individual whose life may be under threat and it has been used and has saved lives. There are examples, and there are cases that I remember. I am very happy to provide some examples to the Committee if that would be helpful.
Q293 Michael Ellis: I think we heard one example of someone who had telephoned saying they were going to commit suicide but did not give their location.
Mrs May: Yes, indeed. I was trying to remember the details, but we can certainly provide the details of that case to this Committee if that would be helpful. It is not only in relation to emergency services in emergency situations. It can be a criminal instance, for example a kidnapping where somebody’s life is at risk or at threat.
Chair: Very helpful. If you could write with those examples, we would be very grateful. Let us move on to policing, and we are on the last lap, Home Secretary.
Q294 Mr Winnick: Leaving aside political affiliations, are you quite happy with the Police and Crime Commissioners in the short period of time they have been elected?
Mrs May: Obviously it is a short period of time. They have been getting their feet under the table. I think they have been developing some really interesting ideas, and that goes across parties. For example, I had a meeting with Paddy Tipping and talked to him about the emphasis that he is putting on matters relating to domestic violence and sexual violence in his work. I had a meeting last week with the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner in Staffordshire, talking to him about some of the things he is doing, like the police cadets that he has set up.
Q295 Mr Winnick: We both agree it has been a short time since they were elected, Home Secretary. There have been one or two court cases. As you know, in February the Lincolnshire Chief Constable was suspended by the Police and Crime Commissioner and at the judicial hearing the judge noted the serious errors by the Police and Crime Commissioner. Do you accept that there should be greater caution by the Police and Crime Commissioners in deciding these matters, bearing in mind the remarks made by the judge in the Lincolnshire case?
Mrs May: There is still an investigation being undertaken in relation to Lincolnshire so I think it would be inappropriate to comment on the specifics in relation to that particular case. The whole point of Police and Crime Commissioners is that they are elected individuals. They are under scrutiny from the Police and Crime Panel, and that structure has been set up, but they will perform the task in the way they believe is right to undertake their responsibilities. In due course it will be the electorate who will decide-not the Home Secretary but the electorate-whether or not they have done a proper job.
Q296 Mr Winnick: What perhaps has surprised a number of people, if not you, is the number of appointments made by Police and Crime Commissioners. A large number of people have been appointed to senior and junior posts, so it is not just a question of Police and Crime Commissioners but the large number employed in their offices and the rest. Did you expect that to occur?
Mrs May: It was entirely open to Police and Crime Commissioners as to how they set up their offices. There are only two posts that they are required to have in place. One is effectively a chief executive and the other is a chief finance officer, and we felt it was appropriate to ensure that there was that support. Beyond that it is up to them to decide how to spend the budget.
Q297 Mr Winnick: Have you any idea of the average number employed by Police and Crime Commissioners in their offices? Is it 20, 40 or more? Do you have any such information?
Mrs May: I don’t have the average. Of course I have seen numbers relating to individual commissioners in terms of their deputies or assistants that they have been appointing. I don’t have an average number. I think the average will be smaller than that. My sense is that as far as possible they are trying to and intending to remain within the sort of budget, as we said that they should, that would mean that they would cost no more than the police authorities that preceded them. I think that is the important thing. People should not think that suddenly money is being spent that has not been spent previously. Police authorities spent money. Police authorities had structures.
Q298 Mr Winnick: Even in the short time since they were elected, there have been reports in the press about what could be described as the rather good life that these Police and Crime Commissioners are having, or some of them. For example, the Police and Crime Commissioner in Cumbria was reported by his local paper for spending hundreds of pounds on trips in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes. This is being looked into, apparently, by whoever. Do you accept that in some instances, at least, Police and Crime Commissioners have given the impression that they are on a spending spree and really enjoying themselves?
Mrs May: No, I don’t, and what I say to you, Mr Winnick, is what I have said previously, both here and on other occasions. The whole point is that the Police and Crime Commissioners will be accountable to their electorate. The point will come where the electorate will take a decision as to how it is appropriate for Police and Crime Commissioners to spend their money and how effective they have been in their main task, which is about setting police priorities, setting the police budget and holding the chief constable in the police force to account. That is the role that they are doing.
If you look across the country, there are some very good examples of work that the Police and Crime Commissioners are now doing and instituting, which was not previously being done by police authorities but which is enhancing the ability of the police to do the job that they are doing of cutting crime.
Q299 Mr Winnick: Why is it that Police and Crime Commissioners do not put online-they are not forced to put online at least; some may, but they are not forced to, as I understand it-all the information regarding police budgets, their hiring-and-firing decisions but also their expenses? There is no obligation to do so. Shouldn’t that be changed?
Mrs May: There is a certain amount of information that PCCs are required to put up in relation to their personal circumstances, such as other pecuniary interests or other paid interests, in their register of interests. They must publish the budgets, contracts and tenders, senior salaries, expenses and key decisions, and the public can then judge.
Q300 Mr Winnick: As far as other matters such as perks, packages, gifts and hospitality, as I understand it-I could be wrong-there is no obligation to put such information online. If that is the case, would you wish that it should be so?
Mrs May: I had a number of questions in relation to this at my last appearance before the Home Affairs Committee. We have set out requirements to the PCCs for them to publish certain information-as I have just said information like budgets, contracts and tenders, senior salaries, expenses and key decisions-so that the public are in a position to be able to judge whether the Police and Crime Commissioners are undertaking their role effectively and efficiently and crucially undertaking the role in a way that the public are satisfied with. It is not going to be my decision as to whether they are doing a good job. It is the public’s decision as to whether they are doing a good job.
Q301 Mr Winnick: Members of Parliament have a situation where all information relating to expenses is immediately put online, as you know. Is there any reason why it should not also include Police and Crime Commissioners’ perks, packages, to repeat what I said before, all forms of gifts and hospitality?
Mrs May: As I understand it, they are required to publish expenses as Police and Crime Commissioners and they are required to give other information in relation to the other interests that they have. I have come to the point that it is for the electorate in any area to decide whether the Police and Crime Commissioners have been doing their job properly and have been delivering for them.
Q302 Chair: Home Secretary, we are not going to change your mind today and you are right, we did raise it on the last occasion. There is a feeling on the Committee that there ought to be a register and we will be publishing our own survey of what has gone online and it will make very interesting reading. We accept your view that at the end of the day it is up to the local electorate, but 50% of Police and Crime Commissioners have not published the information that the Government expects them to publish. This was in today’s newspapers. They are not even complying with what you want. It is not that we are against the principle of Police and Crime Commissioners; they are there. But you announced to the House that there is going to be a register for chief officers and chief police officers are going to have to register second jobs, and they are going to have to register all their perks and all the other information. For an ordinary police officer who is seeing this kind of money being spent on PCCs when morale is low, it can’t be right that this is the only group of people who are exempted from being part of a national register. I know we are not going to persuade you today.
Mrs May: There is a register. They must publish a register of interests.
Q303 Chair: Home Secretary, they are not complying with it.
Mrs May: You quote from a newspaper article, I understand, about whether or not they are complying with that.
Q304 Chair: Do you have the figures?
Mrs May: I will go away and check the veracity or otherwise of what is in that newspaper article. We are clear about what the Government has set for Police and Crime Commissioners, but I am also clear that if people know that they should be publishing this, then it is up to members of the public to challenge their Police and Crime Commissioners.
Q305 Chair: Home Secretary, I am a bit puzzled by this, because this is obviously another one of your very important changes to the landscape of policing and you have told us that you have met with Police and Crime Commissioners. There should be no need for you to check the veracity of newspaper articles. Someone in that vast monolith that is the Home Office should have been able to tell you by now that 50% have not put the information online. I accept that at the end of the day, and the Committee accepts, it is a matter for the local electorate but if there was a national register then everyone would be able to see this very clearly. Why are you exempting the only group of people in the new landscape? Even chief constables are having to. As Mr Winnick has said, Members of Parliament, you yourself as a Member of Parliament, have to put this on the register. Why do we have to pick out these pieces of information from newspapers?
Mrs May: We are not, Chairman. There is an issue about whether or not they have yet published their register of interests.
Q306 Chair: 50% have not.
Mrs May: That is a separate issue. That is a separate issue from whether or not there is a register of interests.
Chair: I agree.
Mrs May: What you are saying to me is you think it should be a national register of interests. I don’t agree with that. I think we have said to PCCs, "You should publish a register of interests, and you will be held to account according to that".
Chair: I understand.
Mrs May: I think that is the proper way forward.
Chair: The Committee will be publishing its register very shortly.
Q307 Mark Reckless: Home Secretary, when I was a member of the Kent Police Authority I received an allowance of £8,000 a year. The Kent Police and Crime Commissioner has appointed her Liberal Democrat campaign manager to a post at the equivalent of an annual salary of over £80,000. Do you think that can be right?
Mrs May: The point of localism of appointing Police and Crime Commissioners is that it is up to them to make decisions about their budget.
Q308 Mark Reckless: You must have a view on it.
Mrs May: But this is just the whole point, Chairman. What you want me to do as Home Secretary is to say, "This Police and Crime Commissioner should not be doing that. That one shouldn’t be doing this. This is right to do this. This is right to do that" and so forth. What I am saying is that these are matters that the electorate will judge the individuals on. I come back to the point that there are Police and Crime Commissioners who have publicly committed to keeping-as I understand the Police and Crime Commissioner, for example, in Northamptonshire has-within the budget that was previously the budget of the police authority. Mr Reckless makes reference to the amount of monies he received as a member of the police authority. There were a number of members of the police authority who were receiving money and expenses. Police authorities cost money. It is not the case that suddenly Police and Crime Commissioners are coming in and costing money when there was not anything there that did.
There has been some controversy around some of the appointments that have been made by the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, but it is for that individual to make those decisions and for the electorate to judge them on those.
Q309 Mark Reckless: Yes. I agree with what you say on that, Home Secretary, and I know you are not, yourself, on Twitter. One thing we recently had in Kent was a 17-year-old appointed to the position of youth commissioner who was going to lead engagement with young people across Kent. The Police and Crime Commissioner has a specific individual whom she has appointed at public money to be her social media adviser, yet when this individual was appointed no check was done on any of this past social media stuff that then came out in such an unfortunate way, particularly for the young lady concerned. Clearly that has attracted a lot of media attention nationally. Do you not think it would help local electorates to judge these Police and Crime Commissioners if their other interests, their expenses, the things they might be given and-I think really importantly-the number of people they employ and the amount they are paid, were publicly available in a way that people from different areas could easily search? Will you at least give some more thought to the arguments for that type of national register?
Mrs May: I come back to the point I made that it is not the case that none of this information is going to be made available. We do require publication of a register of interests for PCCs so that any other pecuniary interests or paid interests that they have are on that register of interests. The Committee has raised a separate issue, which is are they actually doing that, but what I am saying is that there is that requirement for them already. It is not the case that we are saying, "You don’t have to publish anything". We have not said that to them.
Chair: Home Secretary, we will let you see what we have done in a couple of weeks’ time, and if you like it, we do not mind you stealing the idea.
Q310 Steve McCabe: Home Secretary, in Cumbria it appears that the whistle-blowers, who have exposed what looks like an expenses scandal have been arrested. I struggle to see that that is a localism issue. Doesn’t the Government have a view in protecting whistle-blowers?
Mrs May: Any decisions about arrests will have been made by the police in Cumbria themselves in relation to-
Steve McCabe: Who are subject to the Police and Crime Commissioners.
Mrs May: There is operational independence, Mr McCabe, and this is very important. I am aware of the press reports around what has happened in Cumbria but I am only aware, literally, of the press reports of what has happened in Cumbria. I don’t think it is appropriate for me to comment on the actions that have been taken only on the basis of what has appeared in the press. What I do say is that any operational decision about arrests will be decisions taken by the police. That is absolutely clear. We have been clear about operational independence, and it was a matter that the chief constables were very clear about when we were discussing with them how the Police and Crime Commissioners would operate.
Q311 Steve McCabe: If these people are not publishing their expenses in line with your own requirements and someone else takes it upon themselves to expose what is going on, is it right as a matter of principle, without commenting on this case, that a whistle-blower in that situation should be arrested and prosecuted?
Mrs May: I don’t believe it is my job as Home Secretary in any circumstance to say whether or not somebody should be arrested. I believe that is a matter for the police.
Q312 Nicola Blackwood: I want to raise the issue of police cautions, which came up at the beginning of April, raised by the Magistrates Association. I know that a review is going to be conducted by the Ministry of Justice. I was concerned by some of the figures that came out, particularly that a third of serious offences are being dealt with by caution and a fifth of sexual offences are being dealt with by police caution. There can be reasons that that would be the case and we do not want to interfere with operational independence, but my local paper came up with some disturbing figures about child sexual offences cases dealt with by police caution, one rape of a female child under 16, two sexual activities with children under 13, penetration, and so on. These are very serious cases dealt with by caution. What action is the Home Office taking to look at whether the police are dealing with cases appropriately and taking sexual offences against children appropriately? I just want to know that the Home Office is engaging with this process appropriately.
Mrs May: The process that will be looking at this has been launched under the remit of the Ministry of Justice but the Home Office is involved with it as well in looking at the use of cautions. I have already been at a meeting with the Justice Secretary and the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, who transcends both the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, in discussing with the police a separate area in relation to the use of cautions. It is an issue that we are aware of and are looking into, but the prime work on the use of cautions will be done under the remit of assessment by the Ministry of Justice. They will be looking at the use of cautions. One of the other striking aspects of the figures is that in some areas there is a difference in the use of cautions between different forces-the extent to which cautions are used in different forces. The point of the exercise is to say, "Why are cautions being used in different ways?" and "Are they being used appropriately?" The sort of cases that you have identified would be among those that will be looked at to see whether cautions are being used properly and appropriately.
Q313 Nicola Blackwood: Given the ongoing case we have in Oxford, this is very sensitive locally. In the child sex exploitation inquiry that we are doing here we have heard frequently that victims feel like they are not being believed when they come forward and this is something that needs to be addressed. We have heard evidence from ACPO and from CEOP that they are looking at best practice with policing in terms of different measures that can be used to try to address the issue of credibility of perpetrators when they come to court. How is that work is going to be linked into the MoJ work? There is no point in having two strands of work on the same problem that is not linked in properly.
Mrs May: I think there is work to be done anyway by the College of Policing in relation to the training and the appropriate approaches that are taken in this particular area, working with CEOP who have the expertise in this area. I think it is right that the work continues anyway. At the point the MoJ work identifies any particular problems or issues around the use of cautions and around the approach that police officers are taking in relation to sexual offences-and particularly, as you have indicated, issues around child abuse-the two pieces of work will come together in the sense that that will be fed into the work that is being done on training. An argument could be put for saying, "Why don’t you stop the work that is being done on training now and just wait for the MoJ?" but I think we do know sufficient for the College of Policing to start to look at this issue of training.
Q314 Michael Ellis: Can I move on to the wider issue of the police landscape? I am concerned about compensation culture in this country. You have responsibility for police, Home Secretary. I am worried about, and I know lots of people in this country are rightly worried about, the effect on victims, that they might be sued if police officers, in any given case, are injured in responding to calls from the general public for assistance. Do you think there ought to be some form of jeopardy for any person who takes a civil suit out so that they at least have some reason to be cautious before they initiate legal action? Do you think we need to look at this whole issue of the compensation culture?
Mrs May: Certainly in relation to the areas I have responsibility for in terms of policing, it is absolutely right that we do not want members of the public to feel that they can’t ring 999 because they are worried that the police officer might sue them as a result of something that happens when the police officer is there to look into the incident that has taken place. I have initiated some work within the Home Office to look at the extent of this issue. There are a number of ways in which police can be provided with compensation, criminal injuries compensation for example, and there is some insurance that is available to police. I will not comment on the individual circumstances of the case, but there has been a case recently that has highlighted this. The question I am asking is, is that case symptomatic of a culture or is it simply a one-off case and does not reflect what is happening out there? I think it is important for us to get the evidence base on that particular issue before we look at this issue more widely in terms of guidance or any changes that need to be taken.
Q315 Michael Ellis: The way the courts work is not a matter for you-it will be your colleague-but the way the police work is. Therefore, can you reassure the Committee that you have initiated some sort of investigation, or at least an inquiry, to report back to you as to what the state of play is so that we are getting an accurate picture, and you are getting an accurate picture, of how often this is happening?
Mrs May: Yes, I have asked for work to be done in relation to this. These are not figures that are held, though, by police forces. They are figures that will be held by the Police Federation and I have asked that we work with the Police Federation to try to identify the extent this is an issue of the sort that would concern the public.
Q316 Chair: Excellent. I have some very quick questions for the end, and then Dr Huppert has. As far as Operation Yewtree is concerned, are you relaxed about the fact that the Metropolitan Police are calling in G4S to help them in respect of dealing with the investigation into Yewtree, given what happened at the Olympics last year?
Mrs May: These are separate matters. I don’t think you can transpose in relation to what happened from the Olympics last year into any action that the Metropolitan Police will take in relation to this particular issue and any action that they will take to decide that they need to boost their-
Q317 Chair: Sure, but the principle is do you mind private-sector companies coming in and helping with murder cases and managing cases? That is perfectly fine, is it?
Mrs May: The key point here is, as I understand it, there is no intention that the private sector company will carry out police activities that require warranted powers. I have been very clear throughout that we do not expect private-sector companies to carry out activities that require warranted powers. The only circumstances in which activities requiring warranted powers have been passed to private sector companies was the decision taken by the last Government to enable the private sector companies to undertake detention and escort duties. As we know, very often there will be private-sector companies operating in custody suites. As I understand it, there is no intention for the private sector to carry out any activities that require warranted powers.
Q318 Chair: You would have an objection to that, obviously?
Mrs May: We have been clear that we don’t expect the private sector companies to undertake anything that requires warranted powers.
Q319 Mr Winnick: When you say you do not expect G4S or any other private sector organisation to undertake work involving police investigations, murder investigations, Home Secretary, are you saying, in effect, it should not be done?
Mrs May: What I am saying is that there is no intention to allow private sector companies to carry out activities that are police activities that require warranted powers. The last Government took the decision to enable the private sector to undertake certain activities that had previously only been available to those with warranted powers in detention and escort, but there is no intention to pass warranted powers on to private-sector companies to allow them to do this.
Q320 Mr Winnick: To the extent there may be some ambiguity arising from the newspaper article, will you be writing to chief constables to make absolutely clear that murder investigations will not be carried out by the private sector?
Mrs May: What I have made clear in a number of comments is that there is no intention of enabling warranted powers to be passed over to private-sector companies.
Q321 Chair: I have been totting up the number of investigations that are going on in the Met concerning police failings in the past. I have nine at the moment, Weeting, Alice, Elveden, Tuleta, Herne, Fernbridge, Yewtree, Pallial and Pinetree, which have so far cost over £13.7 million, involving 278 officers, 108 arrests, and 24 people have been charged. Does it worry you that there are so many Metropolitan officers and it is costing so much money to deal with these issues? That is an awful lot of inquiries going on.
Mrs May: There are a lot of inquiries going on. There are inquiries going on outside of the Met in relation to some historic cases as well. These inquiries differ in terms of the subject matter that they are looking at. I think it is right and proper that they have been set up. As you will be aware, Chairman, one of the concerns I have had is the impact that this has on looking at the overall integrity in relation to the police and public confidence. That is why we have made some changes in this particular area. There are two things; one is to learn the lessons. The purpose of looking at these past cases, apart from finding where there are individuals who should be prosecuted, is to learn any lessons for how the police operate in various ways.
Q322 Chair: One particular inquiry, which was the undercover officers inquiry, went on for 18 months and cost £1.2 million. Since you last appeared before us, DAC Gallan came to give evidence to us and now Mike Creedon is looking at this issue. He has written to the Committee to say, in effect, he has not started because there is so much work to undertake. Does it worry you that the parents of the dead children whose identities have been used have still not been informed as to whether or not their children’s identities have been used? It is an awfully long time, isn’t it?
Mrs May: It is a very long time and I recognise that it is a very long time. We always want, as far as possible, information to be given to, in this case, parents as soon as possible and we want investigations to be able to operate in a timely fashion. I believe that is what is happening and will happen in this case but because of the nature of the investigation-
Chair: It must be terrible for the parents. There are a lot of parents who simply do not know whether their dead child’s identity has been used.
Mrs May: It is of deep concern to those parents. It is always a frustration when information is not available because an investigation is ongoing, but I think it is right that we ensure that these investigations take their proper course and are undertaken properly. I think bringing Chief Constable Creedon in to oversee an investigation was the right decision to take.
Q323 Chair: Now we turn to alcohol minimum pricing. You told the House on 23 March, "We will, therefore, introduce a minimum price unit for alcohol. We will consult over the coming months." Since then there has been a change of heart. Where did that come from?
Mrs May: What I would say, Chairman, is the position is currently that we did consult. The consultation was closed and we are now assessing the results of the consultation and the Government will indicate in due course what route it is going to take.
Q324 Chair: It just worries me that it sounds a bit like "shortly" and Abu Qatada, going back to the beginning. "In due course"; this year, perhaps? Would you have some kind of information before Parliament by 31 December? Is that "in due course"?
Mrs May: It would certainly be my intention that it would be some time this year, Chairman, but we are assessing the results of the consultation.
Q325 Chair: As far as the College of Policing is concerned, you now have it in place, it has a chair, it has a chief executive. Presumably you support it being called a Royal College, as the chief executive told us when he gave evidence to us?
Mrs May: Indeed. I have discussed this throughout the last couple of years. When the concept was evolving we discussed the idea of it becoming a royal college. What would happen in due course is that we would intend to be able to put it on a statutory footing, but that, of course, will depend on the availability of parliamentary time.
Q326 Chair: The College will deal with the integrity issue, which you have identified as one of the key issues. Will they also hold a register for chief constables’ declarations as to their second jobs and interests, or who will hold that register?
Mrs May: I think we have not come to a final decision as to who holds the register. There is a very good argument for it being the college that holds that register. There are two issues that we have to look at as a result of the integrity in terms of lists, if I can put it like that. There is the register of chief constables’ interests but there is also the register of those former police officers who have been effectively struck off because of disciplinary action that has been taken.
Q327 Chair: The Committee went to the Gulf to look at visas and counterterrorism recently and we were struck by how very highly regarded the brand name of "British policing" is out there. We feel that there is a role for the college, not so much to lend people to other countries but to let them be hired out so that this particular brand can be used to train other police forces in other parts of the world. Do you think the resources exist to allow that kind of visionary thinking for the College or are you set in your mind as to what you think it should do?
Mrs May: No. I am absolutely clear that one of the issues for the College will be about seeing the extent it is possible to use the British brand of policing and to use that as an opportunity in a variety of ways across the world. It may be through individuals, it may be through training packages, it may be through educational materials. There is a whole variety of ways in which the College, in building the evidence base and the best practice base, can build on the British brand of policing, which is respected across the world.
Q328 Mark Reckless: If you establish a royal college of policing by royal charter but later seek to put that on a statutory footing, would that mean that there would have to be a two-thirds majority under the new Leveson-type arrangements?
Mrs May: The way in which we do this, the process by which we do this, has not yet been-as I say, I intend to be able to put it on a statutory footing. The details of that and the details of the royal charter will be worked through. I think the first aim is to get the College of Policing undertaking the role, the business areas coming over from ACPO, undertaking the new work that we hope it will be doing. We have already passed quite a lot of work to the College of Policing in areas like integrity and other areas.
Q329 Chair: Do you think that the names of people arrested should be kept secret by the police and not released to the press, those arrested as opposed to those charged? Do you have a view on this?
Mrs May: My view is that I think you need to be careful about this sort of information. I am trying to think it through. We have had a lot of debates about anonymity in relation to various sorts of crime taking place.
Q330 Chair: Like rape, for example?
Mrs May: Like the debate we had on the rape issue. These are often not just black and white arguments in terms of one side or the other. I think you have to look at them very carefully in terms of the impact that this has.
Q331 Chair: You don’t have a view at the moment?
Mrs May: This is not an issue that I have looked at recently. We looked at it in relation to the rape position and, as you know, the Government came to a different position from the one it had first mooted in relation to that issue, precisely because of some of these questions, but this is not an issue that I have looked at recently.
Q332 Chair: Very finally, because we bend the knee to the god of Twitter, we asked Twitter users to put questions to you. We are going to give you two of them but you must answer in 140 characters, and you must be very brief, Dr Huppert, because we are running out of time.
Q333 Dr Huppert: I will do my best, and if they do need longer answers I suspect a written answer would be fantastic. There were three that were suggested to the Committee and all I will do is read them out to you and I would have any follow-ups. The first one was from Inspector Michael Brown, the Mental Health Cop blogger and serving officer, who asks, "Did you know that approximately 20% of police demand is connected to mental illness and that the time officers spend dealing with non-criminal non-violent incidents is often counted in whole shifts and more?"
Mrs May: Yes. I have had meetings with the former Secretary of State for Health, the current Secretary of State for Health, and we are working with the Department of Health-this is more than 140 characters-to ensure that we can deal with this issue. It is one of the biggest issues raised by police with me.
Chair: That is fine. Hashtag.
Q334 Dr Huppert: I am sure he will be pleased to hear that. The second one is from Alan Wright, "Given that police pensions must change and evolve, why are these changes being forced upon existing members? If all proposed changes were restricted to future members of the scheme much hostility and opposition could surely be avoided".
Mrs May: We have developed what I believe is a very good package in relation to changes to police pensions. Across the public sector people are being moved on to new arrangements but we have managed to protect, in the police pensions, those who are within 10 years of retirement and there is a tapering down for four years prior to that 10 years of retirement. I believe there is a good package there, but this is not something that is unique to the police. Across the public sector people will be moved on to new pension arrangements.
Q335 Dr Huppert: The last one is from Adam Corlett, "In November 2010 the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs submitted its completed report for the consideration of the use of foil as an intervention to reduce the harms of injecting heroin to the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Health. Upon request, the ACMD provided supplementary evidence in December 2011 and February 2013. Why has it taken the Home Office two and half years and counting to respond to a single recommendation? Is the Home Secretary minded to follow the ACMD’s advice on this matter? In what rough timeframe should we expect a response?"
Chair: That is not 140 characters.
Dr Huppert: I agree. I am just reading it out.
Mrs May: I don’t know whether I should answer the first 140 characters or not. The answer is we did require extra information from the ACMD on this, and I will respond when the Government has properly been able to consider that extra information and come to a decision.
Chair:Home Secretary, as usual, thank you very much for coming in. You have answered over 100 questions in the last two hours. We are most grateful. Thank you very much.
 Witness note: the Home Secretary and Chair were talking at cross purposes. The Chair was referring to the bulk information provided previously by SOCA, while the Home Secretary was referring to the smaller data sample relating to outgoing requests where the problem was first identified as arising. The bulk data hasn’t been checked yet. What the Home Secretary said is correct but the figures quoted don’t relate to those quoted in the question.
 Witness note: It is worth noting that a certain proportion of the expenditure to date has included the type of training to which Dr Huppert has referred.