Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of
the Committee to Mike O'Brien MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary
of State, Home Office
Thank you for your letter of 24 May, informing
me of the developments in relation to the above proposal, in particular
of the fact that the Presidency intend to seek political agreement
on the proposal of 6 June.
This Directive and the accompanying Framework
Directive on equal treatment in employment and occupation are
the first major proposals following on from the inclusion of Article
13 in the EC Treaty. They are of great importance both for the
UK and for the rest of the European Union, and it is proper that
they should be subjected to searching parliamentary scrutiny.
I accept that the accompanying Action Programme is of less significance,
and therefore the Committee has agreed, exceptionally, to lift
the scrutiny reserve on that proposal.
Sub-Committee F has conducted a detailed inquiry
into these proposals, and on 24 May the EU Committee published
a substantial Report, containing numerous recommendations which
touch both on the general principles at stake and on many points
of detail in the Directives. The Report has been recommended for
debate, and this recommendation cannot be withdrawn without the
formal consent of the Committee. Given the importance of the proposals
I believe it is extremely unlikely that such consent would be
While I am grateful for your letter, there are
many questions raised in the Report which the letter does not
satisfactorily answer. We look forward to receiving a full Government
response to the Committee's Report. I remind you that the Report
is likely to be debated in the House in late June.
I understand that the Race Equality Unit has
now sent a copy of the final draft of the Race Directive (9055/00),
as it emerged from COREPER on 31 May, to the Clerk of Sub-Committee
F. The covering letter describes this text as confidential. However,
the document itself is only stamped with the classification "Limite".
Numerous documents in the field of Justice and Home Affairs bear
this classification before their adoption, and this has not prevented
them from being subjected to parliamentary scrutiny. Recent examples
include the Draft Council Regulation establishing "Eurodac"
(Doc 7079/00 Eurodac 1) and the Draft Convention on mutual assistance
in criminal matters (Doc 7846/00 COPEN 32). I would therefore
welcome clarification as to your understanding of the status of
Document 9055/00. As it appears to differ significantly from the
original version of the proposed Directive I would expect it to
be deposited in both Houses along with a new explanatory memorandum.
I also note that there is a separagraphte report on outstanding
issues (Doc 9056/00), which should also be deposited.
5 June 2000