On June 7 HMG, in the form of Baroness Neville-Jones, responded to a question about the Common Immigration Policy in a bland and reassuring fashion:
Any EU legislation giving effect to the common immigration policy for non-EU migrants under Article 79 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union would be subject to opt-in arrangements. The Government will not opt into any measures that are contrary to their policies for immigration control.The trouble with that response is definition. For example, how does the noble Lady and those advising her, nay, writing her replies, feel about Council Directive 2003/86/EC, on the right to family reunification? Would this be part of a common immigration policy? Article 17 of the Preamble says that the UK is not obliged to participate in this Directive. But is it actually going to? Will it decide to opt in to individual and, apparently, humanitarian measures of this kind?
On June 8, Baroness Neville-Jones (again) replied to the following question:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the status of the proposed European Public Prosecutor; and whether United Kingdom citizens may be extradited to stand trial in other European Union member states under its powers, or under those of the European arrest warrant.One cannot help describing the bland and reassuring reply as being inadequate:
The Government do not support the creation of a European Public Prosecutor (EPP) and have made it clear that they would not participate in its establishment.The noble Lady seems to have missed the status of the European Arrest Warrant. It is not an extradition treaty but EU legislation that has been implemented into British legislation through a Statutory Instrument. Are we to understand that HMG intends to review that piece of legislation?
The Government are giving careful consideration to the UK's current extradition arrangements worldwide-including the European arrest warrant (EAW)-to ensure they operate effectively and in the interests of justice. A range of options are being considered and the Government will make an announcement in due course.
On June 9 there were two Written Answers. One concerned the European Gendarmerie:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the status of the European Gendarmerie Force; what is its purpose; and whether they plan for it to be deployed in Britain.Lord Howell's reply gives a detailed explanation of what the EGF is and assures us that:
The European Gendarmerie Force (EGF) is a police force with a military status that has full police powers in the jurisdiction of participating states, capable to respond to the full spectrum of police missions, both under civilian and military control. The UK is not part of this initiative. The Government see no circumstances in which they would consent to an EGF operation in the UK.Well, that is good to know.
The second question was one that has cropped up year after year under various governments with the same inadequate response being given by them all.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will commission an independent cost-benefit analysis of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union.To be fair, Lord Howell's response was a little different from past ones; it did not say that the benefits of Britain's membership of the EU were incalculable. But it was clearly written by the same civil servants and delivered with the same aplomb as the noble Lord's predecessors used to do it:
The Government have no plans to commission such an analysis. We believe that membership of the EU is in the national interest of the United Kingdom. We intend to champion vigorously the interests of the UK and play an active role within the EU on areas of common interest.Lord Howell must recall similar sentiments being expressed by Mr Major's government and where that got the country.