Saturday, October 16, 2004

More on that Commons debate

Following on from my colleague’s piece about the Daily Telegraph (and aren’t we all glad that he has returned safely from the Irish Sea), it is worth pointing out that in another article on the subject of the Europol debate, Andrew Sparrow has shown that the Home Office Minister, Caroline Flint has refused to state categorically that Britain will not sign up to the five year programme at the next Summit.

She was pressed on the subject by a Tory backbencher, Nick Hawkins and by the spokesman Jonathan Djanogly, but would say stubbornly that the Tories were scaremongering and the Government did not agree with many aspects of the five year plan on the “area of freedom, justice and security”. It ought to be added that even the Labour-dominated European Scrutiny Committee is alarmed. Its chairman, Jimy Hood, said that all this talk of a single area of freedom, justice and security was
“…encouraging the notion of such an area of unitary state separate from member states. Regardless to the countless assurances from our ministers, it is not easy to be comfortable with the rhetoric from the commission throughout its proposals.”
One wonders where Mr Hood has been all this time, but we shall let that pass.

All Ms Flint would say, however, is:
“There is no question of the UK signing up to a harmonised European legal system and the communication does not propose one.”
Well, it proposes a public prosecutor’s office (which has already been thrown out once and has reappeared on the agenda), a common border corp and investigative powers for the Europol police force. On rather wonders what would constitute a harmonised legal system for Ms Flint. Still, it is heartening to see MPs finally, long after most other people, waking up to the dangers and a major newspaper reporting the discussions.

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