European criminal justice and the sovereignty of the British people


Yesterday Parliament debated whether to opt back in to 35 of the EU Criminal Justice measures.  We have recently rightly opted out of all 135 measures, as we were entitled do under our version of the centralising Lisbon Treaty. I and others told  Parliament why we do not wish to opt back in to anything.

On June 15th 1215 at Runneymede the King conceded an important grant of liberties to Englishmen called Magna Carta. Though this was just one of many evolving constitutional documents thrown up in our history of curbing the powers of  executive government and building a stronger dem0cratic Parliament to curb excessive state power, it has become one of the earliest and most iconic. It gave Englishmen the right to fair trial under English law with proportionate punishments for the guilty. It set up a forerunner of Parliament, an elected council of 25, to supervise the settlement and check up on the government’s good faith in implementing it.

The government plans to celebrate and commemorate this event next year. It is no way to do so by passing control of these important matters of justice to the European Union. I and like minded colleagues fully understand the need for cross border police collaboration, for some common investigations of cross border crime with agencies from other countries, and the need from time to time to extradite possible criminals for trial elsewhere. We do this by Extradition Treaty or agreement with other countries in all but the EU. The EU wishes us to have different arrangements in the EU, submitting our control and jurisdiction to EU and European Court jurisdiction. This to me is a step too far, and a needless sacrifice of the sovereignty of the British people.

Yesterday the government argued that the European Arrest Warrant was necessary to get back nasty criminals for trial who had travelled to EU countries. We explained to them that we too wish to see serious crime pursued across frontiers. We wish to have an Extradition Treaty with the EU just as we have such treaties with many non EU countries. That is a better route than putting ourselves under the control of the ECJ and the Commission. We can change, influence or cancel an Extradition Treaty if we wish. Once we have opted into EU criminal justice we are powerless to change anything unless 27 other EU countries, the Commission and the European Parliament agree.


  1. Martyn G
    July 11, 2014

    John, you say “This to me is a step too far, and a needless sacrifice of the sovereignty of the British people”. At that is but one way of putting it, some might think it treasonable to give away such an important part of self-government. If it does go through and is supported by the PM it will show that, no matter what he says, he is determined to further subjugate the UK and its citizens to rule by a remote and unaccountable bureaucracy known as the EU. It will result in all of us being exposed to being summonsed to another EU country without a proper trial to determine whether or not it is justifiable to do so.
    Time and time again it has been said that the first duty of government above all is to protect its nation and people from harm or unfair treatment. It seems to me that Mr C in this respect has forgotten that or, worse, knows it but nonetheless remains determined to further subjugate the increasingly disunited UK to the EU.

    1. Hope
      July 11, 2014

      JR, is it not time for you and like minded colleagues to do a Steve Harper and start a reformed Tory party or join UKIP and make changes within? Like the EU the Tory party is dying.

  2. alan jutson
    July 11, 2014

    This so called referendum lock, (which we have been sold as some sort of safeguard) as a safeguard of no further transfer of power to the EU.

    John, can you please explain why/when, this would/would not come into force, if such proposals are to be taken forward by the Government.

    Surely there is no more important topic than personal freedom under our own law.

    Reply The Referendum lock is in place, but the government’s line on this is the overall effect of the opt outs and opt ins is to reduce EU power so it does not need a referendum.

    1. alan jutson
      July 11, 2014

      Reply – reply

      This Referendum lock in my view is really just a play on weasel words, that can be used or not used depending upon how it suits the Government at the time.

      So let me get this right.

      We have successfully managed to opt out of a number of EU policies/treaties, after hard fought negotiations I guess. but now having won, we are going to be very charitable and want to give something back out of the goodness of our hearts, and for which we get nothing more in return.



      Please explain the thought process !

      This all sounds very much like the pledged reduction in EU expenditure (a claimed victory) which then involved us in higher payments.

    2. matthu
      July 11, 2014

      But the opt outs have taken place … and the opt ins are still to happen?

    3. Lifelogic
      July 11, 2014

      So the lock is a lock the government can just ignore if it wishes, which makes it pointless, other than as yet another cast iron con.

      1. Denis Cooper
        July 12, 2014

        It’s better described as a “referendum block” law, which is how it has been used so far. But if a situation arose where the government wanted to do something like join the euro where it couldn’t avoid a referendum under that law then it would simply get Parliament to repeal it to the necessary extent. It would be enough to say in the Act to join the euro that it would apply “notwithstanding Section 6(5)(e) of the European Union Act 2011”.

    4. Timaction
      July 12, 2014

      I’ve just had the time to read this debate and the comments given by Ministers and others. This is a straight loss of sovereignty and democracy, disingenuously driven by the Tory led Coalition. There were a number of Conservative members against their Governments own proposals but I wonder if that is just spin to fool the people as all of the legacy parties have and continue to give away our sovereignty by incremental stealthy treaty.
      The UK has historically requested about 125 people from the Continent whilst they have asked for over 6000 annually (costs @£20,000 each) often for very trivial offences. Despite Government claims there are no British checks or tests of the evidence once the warrants are granted in foreign Courts. The system will be judged by the European Court with no British involvement.
      Effectively British people subject to many very poor foreign criminal justice systems and incarceration. No means to deselect or elect our leaders in Brussels. A dictatorship by any description.
      If the legacy parties were private business they would be broke. We must elect a patriotic party as LibLabCon have given up in their first duty to protect the British people.

  3. oldtimer
    July 11, 2014

    So what is the current state of play and how will it be settled – a vote or a statutory order or what?

    Reply The government has to return to the House when it has negotiated the opt ins with other EU countries. The Commons will then have a vote on the opt ins (firm promise) but no details yet of what form the debate/proposal will take

  4. Andyvan
    July 11, 2014

    Brilliant. Parliament opts out then argues with itself that it should opt back in. Perhaps the British people should opt out of Parliament once and for all.

  5. margaret brandreth-j
    July 11, 2014

    We shouldn’t opt in to anything. Work with is a million miles away from working under.

  6. Lifelogic
    July 11, 2014

    You are, of course, quite right. Alas we have Cameron’s heart and soul and defective compass to contend with. He is always for more EU every single issue. Only the very few MPs on the sensible wing are holding him back, and even then very ineffectively.

    If you elect a green crap, pro EU, anti science, EUphile, say one thing do the opposite, 299 tax increasing, Oxford PPE graduate, come PR spin man what do you expect? To late to change him now and anyway there is no one sensible who could win due to the lefty make up of the Tory party. For which Cameron is also partly to blame.

  7. Mike Stallard
    July 11, 2014

    I understand the Labour-Unison Party agreeing to all the EU demands. They want the whole EU problem swept away so that they can demand More Pay for their Just Desserts when election time comes round.
    I understand the rump of the LibDems demanding that we should all agree to More Europe because they are led by the arch Eurocrat Himself, Sr. Nick Clegg.
    I even understand the Front bench rolling over under the advice of Sir Humphrey not to rock the boat before the General Election and to submit just this once.

    Where was the howl of protest though from the Eurosceptics? Where was this fully reported in the Press? Did the BBC get its coverage balanced? This is a huge issue.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      July 11, 2014

      Presumably the BBC coverage was not balanced because, according to Breitbart London, in2013 “the EU paid the BBC — €6,100,987 (£4,854,039) a sum in addition to the €24.4m (£19.4) in grants the EU paid the BBC between 2007-2012.”

      1. oldtimer
        July 11, 2014

        You should not expect balanced reporting from the BBC on this or other issues espoused by the EU because it is an EU sock puppet.

        For example on another issue, “climate change” reporting, it has recently decided, and has said it has decided, not to give air time to thse it considers “deniers” such as Lord Lawson.

      2. Lifelogic
        July 11, 2014

        Perhaps the money influences, but the main problem at the BBC is that they only ever recruit lefty, guardian reading, anti-science, magic money tree economics, green crap, UKIP hating, innumerate art graduates.

        Andrew Neil is about in the centre politically but very fair, everyone else at the BBC is miles to the left of him as far as I can see. Augmented by pop musicians, “artists” and actors who are almost all lefties who usually want higher taxes (except for themselves it seems).

      3. Lifelogic
        July 11, 2014

        Given the state sector strikes why does the BBC never every point out that they are already paid (with pensions) about 50% more than the private sector.

        Why is this fair when half of them deliver so little of any real value, take more sick days, work fewer hours, have better working conditions and retire earlier?

  8. Jerry
    July 11, 2014

    “Once we have opted into EU criminal justice we are powerless to change anything unless 27 other EU countries, the Commission and the European Parliament agree.”

    Once we as a country, in effect, give up out power to make and judge our own laws without any checks and balances we will have given up on our sovereignty, there is no doubt about that, it’s not just because someone might be accused of committing a crime that is not a crime in this country (it is quite possible to sit at a computer in this country and break the law in another, knowingly doing so) but because a court in this country under a EAW can’t even test that there is any real suspicion against the named individual – any one of us could be dragged off to some police cell across the EU simply because someone in that country has found our address on the UK electoral roll were we happen to share a name with someone else somewhere else in the UK, or around the corner in the next street – all you “John Smiths” be afraid, be very afraid…

    I good point was raised by the member for Bury North, that this opt-back-in will only drive the the people of the UK towards a Brexit “Out” vote but how many (most probably innocent) British people will have to suffer at the hands of a EAW before the ordinary man and woman in the street realises what has been done in their name?

    I might be wrong but many people are complaining about our extradition agreement wit the USA, whilst indeed apparently lopsided, it is different to the EAW in that a Prima facie case does need to be placed before the courts and not just the warrant.

  9. Graham
    July 11, 2014

    A perfect example of appeasement illustrating the real view Cameron has on the EU.

    Yet again JR speaks with sense but the lobby fodder just roll over him and his like minded colleagues and this is the reason why nothing will change under this administration (or any other for that matter).

    Frustration breeds anger!!

  10. mick
    July 11, 2014

    Just get us out of the failed EU, as Mr Juncker told Mr Farage the other day ” There is NO hope of limiting immigrants into UK” every thing Mr Cameron says is just a ploy to get re-elected in 2015, the public will see through all the smoke and mirrors

  11. Denis Cooper
    July 11, 2014

    JR, I recorded this debate and eventually I managed to watch it through to the end, and your opening words “Yesterday Parliament debated …” do not accurately describe what happened.

    Leave aside that it was only in one House, the Commons, on a very generous estimate no more than 50 MPs put in any appearance at all, even a brief appearance, at any point during the four hours, and most of the time the number present barely reached a dozen.

    I know that MPs have other things to do, but once again there is the impression that most MPs don’t care enough to want to be there to listen to arguments and debate the issues, although no doubt if there was a division they would obey the bell and come streaming in to cast their votes as directed by the whips without having given the matter any independent thought let alone any fresh thought in the light of the debate. We could train dogs to do that, in fact of course Pavlov did train dogs to respond to a bell.

    This is what we saw repeatedly during the debates on the Lisbon Treaty and have seen on many other occasions as well, and it is nothing like the impression that Parliament tries to convey on its website here:

    except of course when the benches are packed for the gladiatorial entertainment of Prime Minister’s Questions, which may have been when that photo was taken.

    Moreover much of the time was taken up with waffle, and not just traditional courtesies but irrelevant pleasantries and unnecessary compliments exchanged between members; when Sadiq Khan wound up for the opposition he had nothing of any substance to say but nonetheless insisted on using up his allotted time saying that nothing; at the end of debate, it was still left hanging in the air whether MPs would be allowed to vote on the EU Arrest Warrant separately from the other measures or they would only be allowed to vote on the whole package.

    There were a couple of excellent speeches, notably that from Jacob Rees-Mogg starting at Column 531 here:

    but many of the arguments advanced in other speeches were basically irrelevant when they were not entirely specious.

    It is probably just as well that very few people ever turn to the BBC Parliament Channel, because if they did then turnout in general elections might be even lower.

    1. Boudicca
      July 12, 2014

      It is a salutary lesson for the electorate that when Parliament is discussing an issue relating to our Sovereignty and the independence of our criminal justice system, only 50 MPs bother to turn up to debate.

      But when it’s about their expenses or salaries, the whole 650 put in an appearance.

      There is no greater indicator of their priority.

      Reply Expenses and salaries are settled by an independent outside body, not debated by Parliament.

  12. Antisthenes
    July 11, 2014

    Mainland Europe and UK legal systems and how they are interpreted are in many ways substantial different. Many EU states do not have systems that incorporate the checks and balances against corruption that the UK does. Even France a country that it would be believed to be in the forefront of a civilised justice system still accepts authorities word against that of it’s ordinary citizens and even criticising authority can be construed as an offence. That is something that the UK stopped doing some decades ago as it became apparent that ones position in society was no guarantee of honesty or otherwise.

    Apart from loss of sovereignty which in itself is deplorable the idea that one common system fits all is idiotic as although EU member states have some things in common there is far more that they do not. Until the goal of sharing most of the same standards and values and cultures are not so diverse then the march to political and monetary union should be stopped and reversed. A free trade common market would eventually break down many of the barriers to union over time but it would be at a pace and in a ways that would be of benefit to all the states not just to the unionist elite in Brussels.

  13. Nick
    July 11, 2014

    And yet at the same time, its two fingers to the right to a trial when it comes to tax.

    It’s fine first, ask questions later.

    Tory policy.

  14. Roger Farmer
    July 11, 2014

    The Home Secretary was reported in the Express as being happy that she had negotiated a good deal. She is attempting to turn a negative into a positive, the long term implication being that when our leader does this with all the other power grabs of the EU he will be equally impressive with his results. Utter rubbish, there was no requirement to opt into 35 aspects of this police and criminal bill. We could have stayed clear of all it’s requirements. All very symptomatic of the double dealing within our government and the sheer hypocrisy of the executive bubble.
    More ammunition given to those who will ensure the demise of the conservative party in May 2015.

  15. formula57
    July 11, 2014

    The opt out arrangement applies of course only to the pre-Lisbon Treaty measures so all the EU criminal justice measures agreed since would remain applicable to the UK.

    The objections, that I believe are substantial, to the European Arrest Warrant might fall away if the same protections as are enjoyed by UK citizens under its own laws and procedures applied in all other EU states. Accordingly, as good Europeans, we might press for reform of domestic justice systems in other EU states to bring them into line with the UK. That itself would be burdensome, no doubt, but we should have fortitude and see it as part of our civilizing mission to the world.

  16. matthu
    July 11, 2014

    They won’t listen to you.

    Why do you think there were only 16 MPs in parliament while all of these matters were being debated? Surely not because the government was going to give this any consideration at all.

    Just as they won’t tolerate any debate about the surveillance laws.

    Why did parliament go into recess early in May? Supposedly because there was so little legislation to debate.

    Yet now we have surveillance laws being railroaded through parliament with inadequate scrutiny as a result of a secret deal between the elite members of three mainstream parties.

    They aren’t listening.

  17. Bernard from Bucks
    July 11, 2014

    If this is an important issue, why (does the BBC coverage show) only 16 members in the house yesterday?

  18. Brian Tomkinson
    July 11, 2014

    JR: ” Once we have opted into EU criminal justice we are powerless to change anything unless 27 other EU countries, the Commission and the European Parliament agree.”
    Quite; yet your leader and the majority of your Parliamentary party, who you continually tell us are “Eurosceptic”, are determined to surrender to the EU. As I wrote yesterday, at the first test of their good faith, regarding the relationship with the EU, your leader and party are failing. However, it clearly shows, what many of us already recognise, that there is no intention of your partywanting to take this country out of the EU. How can you expect us to vote Conservative if we want to leave the EU? Your party, your leader and others in the cabinet cannot be trusted to do anything other than solidify our imprisonment in this foreign organisation.

  19. Denis Cooper
    July 11, 2014

    As to the substance of the EU Arrest Warrant, the paramount objection has always been that it exposes British citizens living in their own country to potentially major injustice through arbitrary arrest and summary deportation to a foreign country. And this is no longer theoretical, there are numerous cases where it has actually happened.

    It is very much a secondary consideration that it obliges deliberately uncooperative governments like that in Spain to extradite British criminals back to this country when there is ample evidence to justify that. It is better that a hundred British bank robbers escape justice by living in Spain under the protection foolishly and perversely afforded by the Spanish government than that one entirely innocent Briton should end up rotting in a Spanish prison because he was denied the opportunity to exculpate himself in a court in this country prior to his removal to Spain.

    It may be frustrating for the police that some foreign authorities refuse to surrender British criminals when there is a strong prima facie case for that to be done, but that is no reason why other innocent Britons should have their lives wrecked by being unable to challenge the prima facie evidence against them in a court in this country.

    It is also a secondary consideration that the EU Arrest Warrant makes it easier to rid ourselves of foreign criminals living in our country. There is no need to allow a Polish magistrate to issue a warrant for the arrest of a Pole in this country; if the Polish police have good evidence of criminality then it would be enough for that evidence to be made available for deportation proceedings at the initiative of the British authorities, not extradition proceedings at the initiative of the Polish authorities.

    We have more than enough homegrown criminals without wanting to keep foreign criminals here, and apart from the stupidities of EU treaties and laws and judgements, and also ECHR judgements, so foolishly and supinely accepted by successive British government over recent decades, there is no reason why the British government should afford the same level of protection to aliens as it does to British citizens.

  20. Gina Dean
    July 11, 2014

    If this was so important why was there so few MPs in the commons for the debate. This is why bills are passed because of lack of scrutiny at the debate stage. Then we wonder why the government has been screwed over the small print.

  21. M Davis
    July 11, 2014

    In my humble opinion, JR, I think you should get all of the Eurosceptics in your Party (and anyone up to it in other Party’s) to join UKIP and make a go of it together. Otherwise, we are going to end up totally subjugated by the EU because of the traitorous activities of this and other Governments of yesteryears.

  22. Brian Tomkinson
    July 11, 2014

    I note from the Telegraph that this was a very “sparsely attended debate” and that Mr Rees Mogg ” pointed out that while David Cameron had opposed the arrest warrant in Opposition, he now supported it.
    Mr Rees-Mogg said: “How can people rely on what politicians say in Opposition they have backbone and in Government are jellyfish? It is an entirely hopeless way to run the country.”
    That is why there is no point in voting Conservative if you want the UK to leave the EU.

  23. Faustiesblog
    July 11, 2014

    I listened to your speech and those of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Bernard Jenkins. Excellent points made. Well done and thank you.

    But have you noticed that the front benches are simply not interested in your arguments, no matter how true, well made or balanced they are?

    They have already made up their minds and they feel that they can ignore you.

    Why is that?

    Perhaps you need to formulate a plan that they cannot ignore. Workers can go on strike. Can MPs not find the means to do the same in principle? The worst that can happen is that they withdraw the whip. Would that really be so bad, when you consider what they intend to do to our country? C

    While MPs with integrity will no doubt find standing up to the government a painful experience, the people are watching and will reward those with integrity.

    1. APL
      July 11, 2014

      Faustiesblog: “They have already made up their minds and they feel that they can ignore you. Why is that? ”

      Because they are too preoccupied with ‘delivering the message’ that has been concocted by the spin doctors, and thus cannot afford to be seen to ‘go off message’.

      Perhaps those people who were against the televising of Parliament were right after all?

  24. David Hope
    July 11, 2014

    Many of your colleagues in parliament really need to wake up and appreciate what they are giving away here. British citizens should only be subject to British law, not Italian, not Greek, not French.

    As you have pointed out, the claim that you need it for terrorism is simply dishonest – extradition treaties can handle this. The only reason terrorism is continually brought up is to scare people into accepting it. Same goes for the argument that without it paedophiles will be roaming the land snatching everyone’s children.

    1. Lifelogic
      July 11, 2014

      If people mention terrorists and paedophiles or WMD’s you can be fairly sure they a talking complete c***.

      1. Denis Cooper
        July 12, 2014

        I was watching Sky News the night before last and I was staggered to hear Cameron put paedophiles before jihadis as a serious threat to our security.

        I couldn’t believe it and rewound several times to check that he had actually said it, but he did and the clip is here:

        From 25 seconds in:

        “We face real and credible threats to our security from serious organised crime, from the activity of paedophiles, from the collapse of Syria and the growth of ISIS in Iraq and Al-Shabaab in East Africa … ”

        Has he gone mad? Should I really fear that the likes of Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris might blow me to pieces?

  25. Paul
    July 11, 2014

    I caught a few minutes of the debate on BBC Parliament and, as usual, the vast majority of our elected representatives couldn’t be bothered to turn up and have no interest in debating or listening to matters concerning our national sovereignty. Switch the debate to MPs pay though and see the difference in attendance.

    Reply MPs pay is settled by an independent body so it does not come up for debate. It has been subject to public sector pay controls this Parliament.

  26. Iain Gill
    July 11, 2014

    I am more worried about the one sided extradition arrangements we have with the USA.

    I hope we vote to leave Europe and so all these agreements are worthless anyways.

  27. Denis Cooper
    July 11, 2014

    As to the politics of the EU Arrest Warrant and related issues, in May 2010 when Hague was negotiating the coalition agreement with the LibDems he must have known that this question would come up in 2014, and yet apparently he did not insist that the officially stated Conservative position must prevail.

    And anyone who looks to see whether opting back into the EU Arrest Warrant would trigger a referendum under Hague’s much-vaunted “referendum lock” law will be disappointed, as they will find that it is not even mentioned among the long list of various cases which would require an Act or would require both an Act and a referendum, even though once again Hague must have known about Protocol 36 attached to the EU treaties through the Lisbon Treaty and that a decision would have to be made whether to transfer power to the EU by opting back in.

    There is only one possible conclusion, that these omissions from the coalition agreement and then from the “referendum lock” law were not accidental but quite deliberate; indeed this is now the third case where that Act has not resulted in a referendum on an EU change which clearly merited a referendum, simply because Hague deliberately wrote it to avoid referendums on changes which he anticipated would occur.

    So yesterday when Bernard Jenkin was recalling various statements of that official Conservative position before the general election, which was uniformly hostile to the EU Arrest Warrant and other measures, from Column 520 here:

    and suggesting that Theresa May had fallen prey to coalition politics and submitted to the eurofanatic will of the LibDems, he could have gone on to say that this was not an unavoidable accident, it has turned out that way because Cameron and Hague always wanted it to turn out that way.

  28. AndyC
    July 11, 2014

    I just read the debate in Hansard… I found the government’s position contemptible, and little short of treason. I had wanted to think better of Mrs May, but at best it seems she has been got at by her officials. Or, even worse, she actually believes her own public position.

    Here’s an idea. Instead of celebrating Magna Carta next year, we should take all the copies down to Runnymede and publicly set light to the whole lot. I’m sure there’s more we could add to the pyre, Bill of Rights, other unnecessary stuff like that. Juncker could hold the matches and we could play Ode To Joy while televising the entire thing to the world on live TV. Mr Cameron would receive a pat on the head from Merkel and Obama, then the field could then be levelled in preparation for the building of a rabbit hutch housing estate. All in the name of national security and economic prosperity of course. Anyone caught protesting could be swiftly extradited to spend a few years awaiting trial in a luxury Greek prison. It’s for our own good after all.

    That at least would be an honest approximation of Conservative policy, rather than the breathtaking mendacity we now get. Renegotiation, don’t make me laugh. You, and otherwise good people like you, are in the wrong party Mr Redwood. And by remaining in the wrong party, you are making the problem worse.

    1. Lifelogic
      July 11, 2014

      Personally I have always found Mrs May to come across dreadfully on TV . The idea of her as a potential leader makes even useless lefties like Cameron and the dreadful Hillary Clinton look almost attractive.

    2. forthurst
      July 11, 2014

      “Here’s an idea. Instead of celebrating Magna Carta next year, we should take all the copies down to Runnymede and publicly set light to the whole lot. I’m sure there’s more we could add to the pyre, Bill of Rights, other unnecessary stuff like that.”

      Our history is much better preserved for display under glass so that tourists and others can ponder the ruins of a once great civilisation.

  29. Peter Stroud
    July 11, 2014

    I watched a considerable amount of the debate, and the Eurosceptical Tory backbenchers made excellent points. Furthermore, early in the debate they certainly put the Home Secretary on to the back foot. I suggest that a majority of rank and file Tory members would also be happy if we remained opted out of all the criminal justice measures. Why is Mr Cameron happy to opt in to the European Arrest Warrant now, when he was so much against doing so in opposition. He is quickly losing the support of his grass roots members, and he doesn’t seem to care.

  30. Tom William
    July 11, 2014

    While I applaud your sentiments I think this comment from Richard North’s blog is informative and relevant:

    What is of more interest, though, is how many of the 20 or so Tory “eurosceptics” who lined up to denounce what John Redwood claimed to be a “surrender of sovereignty” to “a foreign power” had actually looked in detail at the opt-back-ins of which they were complaining.

    For instance, there was some considerable talk about the Council Framework Decision 2008/909/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences or measures involving deprivation of liberty for the purposes of their enforcement in the European Union.

    Clearly, this provision is very much to the advantage of the UK. It allows the transfer of prisoners who are foreign nationals, so that convicted criminals from other member states can serve their sentences in their home countries, reduces overcrowding and saves us the costs of looking after them.

    But while the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg arguing that Britain could effectively counter cross-border crime through a bilateral treaty with the EU, neither he nor anyone else in the House mentioned that the prisoner transfer agreement does not actually stem from the EU.

    In fact, all the framework decision does is set out the procedure for transfers, but in so doing all it does is implement the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons of 21 March 1983.

    Under that Convention, sentenced persons may be transferred to serve the remainder of their sentence only to their state of nationality and only with their consent and that of the States involved. There is also an Additional Protocol to that Convention of 18 December 1997, which allows transfer without the person’s consent, subject to certain conditions.

    The interesting thing here is that, even if the UK had not opted-back-in to the EU framework decision, the prisoner transfer agreement would still stand, and it would still apply even if we left the EU, implementing as it does a Council of Europe Convention.

    Without the opt-in, though, there would be no agreed procedure implementing the Convention, so to stay aloof from an unexceptional procedural decision would be a tad absurd.

    For sure, there are issues with the headline opt-back-in, the notorious European Arrest Warrant. However, as Teresa May explained, she has legislated to reform the operation of the arrest warrant and increase the protections for those wanted for extradition.

    On the issue of British citizens being extradited for disproportionately minor offences, the law has been changed to allow an arrest warrant to be refused in respect of minor offences. A British judge will now consider whether the alleged offence and likely sentence are sufficient to make the person’s extradition proportionate.

    Then, on the issue of people extradited for actions that are not against the law of this land, the rules on dual criminality have been clarified to ensure that an arrest warrant must be refused if all or part of the conduct for which the person is wanted took place in the United Kingdom and it is not a criminal offence in the UK.

    As far as it goes, the worst excesses of the arrest warrant have thereby been removed and, if there was no opt-back-in, we would have problems of our own getting hold of alleged offenders we wanted to see in our own courts.

    Most of the other matters are also unexceptional, such as Council Decision 2000/375/JHA on combating child pornography on the internet, and Council Decision 2002/348/JHA (and amendment) concerning security in connection with football matches with an international dimension.

    These we would be implementing anyway and such is the situation with football matches that UK law is already in place, and no new law is required to implement the Council Decision.

    However, with there being no vote in the Commons, the MPs obviously – and rightly – decided that this was not an issue on which they should go to the wire. It seems that Conservative MPs have taken a strategic decision not to rock the boat before next year’s general election.

    “We want to win the election”, said one Tory eurosceptic. “The time to question the prime minister’s strategy is when he has completed his renegotiation – then people can make up their mind whether it is good enough”.

    Whatever one’s views on that, there is an element of tactical acumen there. Now is not the time for the big fight. We want that on a larger canvas – just supposing we can win the argument. Fighting over this level of technical detail, at this stage in the electoral cycle, is not of the essence.

    1. stred
      July 11, 2014

      The total absence of MPs on the opposition side was shameful. I saw the last part and heard the speeches from the various Tory knights and one rather chubby pompous chap who thought we should give ditch Magna Carta because the chief police officer’s union thought it was a good idea. I was pleased to see that another knight, who looks rather like you gave him a good lance up the proverbial. It seemed that most of the knights were lawyers and most of them understood the position clearly.

      The idea that Mrs May has changed the law to allow minor offences to be put before an English judge seems to miss the point. There will be argument about what constitutes a minor offence and the power to legislate for any misjustice will be taken away from Parliament for ever. Any hope of righting wrongs via the EU with their Commissioners and majority voting will be hopeless.

      On the other hand it seems odd that we have chosen to opt out of proposals which are to our advantage. For instance, our opt out of the law coming into force next year which allows a person living in another EU country to opt for inheritance law in their country of origin. As it stands now, only citizens of the UK and Denmark cannot take advantage of this proposal to avoid French laws, which automatically gives relations, which may have swindled, libelled or attacked us, a share of our inheritance if owned in France.

    2. Denis Cooper
      July 11, 2014

      “… the worst excesses of the arrest warrant have thereby been removed …”

      Until the ECJ rules that the restrictions May has put in through domestic law are illegal under EU law, when her successor will have to get them abolished.

    3. Vanessa
      July 11, 2014

      Spot on Tom ! I read North’s blog too. Also the oft quoted 35 measures are actually reduced to 33 that we can opt out of.

    4. acorn
      July 11, 2014

      You almost feel sorry for the guys who have to sit at a desk all day and write this crap. Just do a “find” for the word “arrest” and see what you get on the EAW. Otherwise don’t bother reading it unless someone is paying you to do it.

      “It has not been possible to assess whether administrative costs will increase or decrease as a result of SISII. There is expected to be increased administrative costs from processing additional alerts but also savings from streamlining the process and moving away from bilateral arrangements.

      The EAW could provide significant savings to the criminal justice system in comparison to the base case due to the lower cost of extradition (£13k from £62k in the base case). Any increase in extraditions as a result of SISII could bring a net benefit to the UK (see Sensitivity Analysis).

      EAW and SISII could bring significant justice benefits for UK victims of crime by removing bars to extradition and thus increasing the UK’s ability to extradite individuals back to the UK to face justice.

      Overall, real-time access to the 51 million alerts on SISII should help the UK to tackle cross-border criminality as well as reducing the likelihood that the UK is viewed as a safe haven for criminals from the EU.”

      What the little people have to conclude is that our Punch & Judy parliament MPs, are allowed to play with things to the extent that our Civil Service allows them to. That’s what happens when you delegate everything to Ministries and Quangos, just to avoid having to take the blame for anything.

      Hence, we get the following:- “It [the document] says that a permanent secretary must “balance ministers’ or high-level stakeholders’ immediate needs or priorities with the long-term aims of their department, being shrewd about what needs to be sacrificed, at what costs and what the implications might be”. In a letter to cabinet colleagues seen by Newsnight, Conservative Mr Maude says: “As currently framed [the document] plainly does not conform with constitutional propriety”.

      Whitehall or Brussels apparatchiks; what’s the difference for the little people?

  31. Kenneth
    July 11, 2014

    I fear you will lose on this one. The public have been largely kept ignorant of this transfer of their power as the media, and the BBC in particular, is not giving it any prominence.

    This has been the same for years. Powers move on a regular basis to the eu and the BBC keeps it well away from public scrutiny. Shame on them and shame on the government for letting this happen.

    If this goes through I will not vote Conservative unless it is repealed. No matter what arguments you throw at us about wasted votes, I cannot vote for a Conservative (nor Liberal Democrat) government that has willingly given away our powers.

  32. Bert Young
    July 11, 2014

    Your strong response yesterday to the European Arrest Warrant proposal is something I admire and commend you for . The interference of the EU in our affairs is an abomination and insult to our voting and legal systems . We do not need advice , and worse – direction , on how we decide and conduct ourselves , we are a democracy that has long been an example to the world . Anyone who surrenders our independence should be hung drawn and quartered . Our political leadership has let us down and will answer for its sins at the forthcoming election . We must put an end to this ridiculous EU bureaucracy and regain the dignity of managing ourselves .

  33. Richard1
    July 11, 2014

    If the other EU countries all agree to a common EU arrest warrant it would seem a simple thing for the UK to sign a single extradition treaty with the EU, as we will in practice be able to extradite anyone wherever they are so long as they can still be arrested under the common warrant.

    On another subject, have readers noticed the extraordinary episode of the announced future censorship and gagging of Lord Lawson by the BBC because he dissents from the BBC’s view on ‘climate change’. Anyone who listened to Lord Lawson’s debate with Sir Brian Hoskyns – or reads the transcript (available on Lawson’s website but now deleted by the BBC) – can see the points he makes and entirely reasonable, and well-argued. It is a disgrace that this poll tax funded public institution is so biased on an important political issue. It’s time to abolish the license fee and move to a subscription model.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      July 11, 2014

      By keeping Lord Lawson off the BBC they are looking after the interests of their EU paymasters. According to Breitbart London, in2013 “the EU paid the BBC — €6,100,987 (£4,854,039) a sum in addition to the €24.4m (£19.4m) in grants the EU paid the BBC between 2007-2012.”

  34. ohn Wrake
    July 11, 2014

    Dr. Redwood,

    You are right to take a stand on the safeguard to justice for an individual against oppression as afforded by the terms of Magna Carta. It is part of our written constitution and so inviolable, except by agreement of a Constitutional Convention of Monarch, Lords and people. Its terms on the administration of justice have been upheld many times through our long history as a nation.

    You are correct in stating that to surrender that right to the terms of the European Arrest Warrant, as the government presently claims is necessary, is not only illogical in the face of the plans to celebrate Magna Carta next year, but is unconstitutional and unlawful.

    The current question is whether your stand on the matter will prevail.

    We have now reached a point where the upholding of fundamental principle by individuals in Parliament is regularly overborne by the numbers of Members, whatever their Party affiliation, who vote in favour of unlawful legislation. Such individual action may cleanse the individual’s conscience, but it does nothing to right the wrongs being done to the nation.

    Something more is needed from you and those who share your stand.

    John Wrake.

  35. Tad Davison
    July 11, 2014

    ‘Once we have opted into EU criminal justice we are powerless to change anything unless 27 other EU countries, the Commission and the European Parliament agree.’

    Such are the dangers of belonging to the EU at all, and this perhaps gives us the clue as to this government’s real intentions. They like to make us believe they are Eurosceptics, but scratch away the surface veneer, and they’re just as federalist as the rest. The only sure-fire way to regain total control of our own destiny, and do so to our own satisfaction in a way that ensures primacy of our own elected parliament, is to get out of it altogether. But then that’s hardly a revelation.

    I wouldn’t trust a Cameron-led government as far as I could throw it.

    Tad Davison


  36. Terry
    July 11, 2014

    Does our Government not see the dangers of such an opt-in? British citizens must be protected by their own elected Governments and to pass control over to faceless persons within the Brussels Empire is nothing short of treachery. I have come to the irresistible conclusion that Mr Cameron really is not on OUR side for pursuing such a demented pro-EU/ECJ course.

  37. Dennis
    July 11, 2014

    “Yesterday the government argued that the European Arrest Warrant was necessary to get back nasty criminals for trial who had travelled to EU countries. ”

    So without this Warrant the EU countries so love to have our criminals they will do anything to keep them?

    1. Denis Cooper
      July 11, 2014

      Yes, apparently the Spanish government is so keen to keep our bank robbers and sundry other villains as highly valued residents that they are even threatening to stop us rejoining the EU Arrest Warrant.

  38. Ray Veysey
    July 11, 2014

    I give in you win, just wring your hands cast your impotent vote, then come back and tell us you “tried your hardest”. We all know that that statement means “as hard as you were comfortably prepared to go, and no further”, we all know you will regret this government’s action, but actions they will be and the continuing capitulation will go on until the upcoming point when there will be no easily going back. Cue more hand wringing, and low moans, then life will go on for those in the comfortable regions you inhabit.

  39. Elliot Kane
    July 11, 2014

    This should trigger Cameron’s famous referendum lock, shouldn’t it? I can’t see any way that surrendering control over so much of our legal framework would not constitute a significant transfer of power.

    Not that I want us to opt back into anything at all, of course. The EU already has vastly too much power. Far more than is healthy for Britain.

    Please keep at this, John. We need you and your like minded colleagues to win this one.

    1. Denis Cooper
      July 11, 2014

      Of course it is a significant transfer of power, but there is no mention of it in the “referendum lock” law, the European Union Act 2011. Many other potential changes are mentioned, such as signing up to a European Public Prosecutor – that would need both an Act and a referendum – but this is not mentioned in the Act even though Hague must have known perfectly well that it would be coming up in 2014, three years down the line from when he was drafting that law. This is why back in 2010 the Tories and the LibDems could agree that there was no prospect of any referendum being triggered in this Parliament, because expected changes which should have triggered a referendum were carefully excluded from the scope of the “referendum lock” in one way or another.

    2. Ray Veysey
      July 12, 2014

      Keep at what Elliot? what exactly are Mr Redwood and his colleagues doing? They make ineffectual noises, cast impotent votes and then support Cameron, and why? because their life is so constructed around the “conservative” party they cannot conceive of a life outside it. Regardless of the fact their “leader” is not a conservative, his government is not conservative as long as they don’t actually call themselves “Social Democrats” he will, as they say “die with his conservative boots on” in the conservative “Alamo”

  40. Martin
    July 11, 2014

    “We can change, influence or cancel an Extradition Treaty if we wish. ”

    I think you should check with an International Treaty lawyer on this.

    My understanding is that an international treaty can only be amended/annulled if either provided for by the terms of the agreement or by consent of the parties involved.

    No parliament or government can act unilaterally as you imply with the phrase “if we wish” (for the simple reason that any country that rips up treaties would not be worth making agreements).

    Reply Countries often terminate or seek to amend treaties. That is what we will do if we vote for Out of the EU. Treaties are subject to endless renegotiation

    1. Martin
      July 11, 2014

      “Countries can seek to amend treaties” – yes but the other party has to agree. Spain wishes to amend the Treaty of Utrecht (about Gibraltar) but the UK (the other party) declines.

      The UK cannot unilaterally impose or amend treaties with other countries. Countries which carry on like that are regarded as international outcasts. Which foreign power/entity would say buy UK government bonds if the UK unilaterally changes treaties?

      The right to leave the EU is enshrined in article 50. The UK (or any other country) leaving would not therefore be in breach of a treaty as it would be acting within the terms of that treaty which the parties have already agreed to.

  41. margaret brandreth-j
    July 11, 2014

    The point is that the EU are not going to lose face with their immigration and free movement policy. The immigrants having marginalised those out of their mindset and in a position of control will have their position underlined by the EU.

  42. Atlas
    July 11, 2014

    Good points John. I’ve already bent the ear of my MP on the matter.

  43. ian
    July 11, 2014

    I do not recognize eu in my mind, it hear today gone tomorrow, corrupt/self serving institutions that will fall.The people and the markets will crush it.

  44. Brigham
    July 11, 2014

    There may be a lot of problems that will need clearing up if we leave the EU. My thought is that we should leave as quickly as possible, and then sort out the problems once we are out.

  45. bluedog
    July 11, 2014

    Well said, Dr JR. Now one reads that the EU is setting up a prosecutors office, an even more dangerous development. The UK must opt out of all this EU nonsense before politicians such as yourself are arrested for taking a dissenting stand.

  46. Lindsay McDougall
    July 12, 2014

    This Government is only mildly Eurosceptic. It still accepts the principle that everything is done through EU Institutions unless you opt out. That may be why the Conservatives’ poll share has flat lined at about 32% and it is still not recovering votes from UKIP.

  47. Boudicca
    July 12, 2014

    This is a step too far ….. one of many steps too far.

    This is surrendering control of our legal and justice system to a foreign organisation, which has no regard for Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus or the presumption of innocent until found guilty by a jury of your peers.

    Cameron has been bleating on about commemorating Magna Carta, whilst with his other hand is preparing to dismantle it. He is a Janus; an untrustworthy charlatan.

    Interpol has existed for decades. We have had extradition treaties for centuries. We do not need to sign up to any elements of the EU’s “Justice” agenda. This is just one more piece of the jigsaw they are completing to build the United States of Europe they crave.

  48. Keith Latham
    August 1, 2014

    Have you people not heard of all the UK citizens being ripped off by UK fraudsters abroad who then return to the UK with impunity. I myself have been trying for the last 5 years to get justice from one such fraudster who fled from Spain with 18000 euros of mine . Unless he returns on his own violation what chance of justice is there for me . 18000 euros may be petty crime in a right wing Tory’s view – certainly not mine. Get real support the victims not the offenders

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