European Scrutiny Committee

No. 10
(Session 2002-03)


As recently announced, the European Scrutiny Committee has decided to conduct a short inquiry examining the report of Working Group X of the Convention on the Future of Europe, entitled "Freedom, Security and Justice".  In connection with this inquiry the Rt. Hon. David Heathcoat-Amory, MP, will give oral evidence to the Committee on Wednesday next, 19 March at 9.40 am in Committee Room 15.

Mr Heathcoat-Amory was a member of the Working Group and will be invited to give some insight into how well the report reflected the Group's discussions and where opinions were most divided. The Committee will also seek his views on specific proposals.

The working group's proposals include:

  • extension of qualified majority voting and the process of co-decision by the Council of Ministers and European Parliament to legislation on asylum and immigration, measures of judicial co-operation concerning parental responsibility, and some criminal matters;

  • approximation of certain areas of criminal law (for serious crimes with a cross-border dimension) and procedure (e.g. common minimum rules on the admissibility of evidence);

  • providing specific legal bases for a common asylum system, a common policy on immigration, an integrated system of border management and mutual recognition of judicial decisions;

  • Commission competence to bring infraction proceedings relating to criminal matters;

  • more extensive European Court of Justice jurisdiction over criminal matters.

The Committee plans to report before Easter.

For further information telephone 020 7219 0861.

13 March 2003

Notes for Editors

The main purpose of the European Scrutiny Committee is to report to the House on the legal and political importance of each EU document and to determine which EU documents are debated. Such debates take place either in a European Standing Committee or on the Floor of the House. The Committee normally reports weekly on a range of documents when the House is sitting.  Under the House's scrutiny reserve resolution, Ministers should not agree to EU proposals until the Committee has completed its consideration of them, or any debate it has recommended has taken place.  The Committee also monitors business in the Council of Ministers, especially the activities of UK Ministers in the Council, and produces occasional reports on wider EU developments.

The Convention on the Future of Europe was set up to prepare proposals for the EU's Inter-Governmental Conference in 2004.  It began meeting in February 2002, and is due to present its proposals by the end of June 2003.  Much of its work has been carried out through a series of working groups.  It is currently drafting a new constitutional treaty, which is expected to incorporate many of the working groups' proposals.  The European Scrutiny Committee's main contribution to debate in the Convention was a report of June 2002 on Democracy and accountability in the EU and the role of national parliaments (Thirty-third report of 2001-02, HC 152-xxxiii).

The Committee has 16 Members, as follows:

Jimmy Hood MP (Chairman) - Labour - Clydesdale
Richard Bacon MP - Conservative - South Norfolk
Colin Breed MP - Lib Dem - Cornwall South East
William Cash MP - Conservative - Stone
Michael Connarty MP - Labour - Falkirk East
Tony Cunningham MP - Labour - Workington
Wayne David MP - Labour - Caerphilly
Terry Davis MP - Labour - Birmingham Hodge Hill
Jim Dobbin MP - Labour/Co-op - Heywood & Middleton
Mark Hendrick MP - Labour - Preston
Jim Marshall MP - Labour - Leicester South
Anne McIntosh MP - Conservative - Vale of York
Angus Robertson MP - SNP - Moray
John Robertson MP - Labour - Glasgow Anniesland
Anthony Steen MP - Conservative - Totnes
Bill Tynan MP - Labour - Hamilton South

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