Embargo: 00:01 Wednesday 11 June 2008
Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659
PASSENGER NAME RECORD AGREEMENT AN EFFECTIVE TOOL AGAINST TERROR BUT SHOULD NOT BE EXTENDED TO OTHER USES - LORDS EU COMMITTEE
The House of Lords European Union Committee have today accepted the effectiveness of Passenger Name Record data in combating terrorism, but have insisted that the data should be used only in the fight against serious and clearly defined crimes.
The Committee were convinced by confidential evidence submitted by Meg Hillier, Home Office Minister, that PNR data, used in conjunction with data from other sources, can significantly assist in the identification of terrorists.
The Committee have been considering an EU initiative for the use of PNR data by all Member States. They insist that PNR data should be used only in the case of clearly defined crimes, including terrorism. The legislation should avoid broad terms such as 'organised crime' or 'serious crime' which could lead to a gradual expansion of the list of offences to include minor crimes. The Committee suggest that the definition of 'serious crime' in the European Arrest Warrant could be used as a basis for a clear definition of crimes for which PNR data can be used.
The Committee state that attempts by the Government to extend the use of PNR data to more routine revenue and customs offences, or illegal immigration, are likely to be unacceptable to other Member States, which have serious concerns about the civil liberties impact of such use of PNR data and the lack of specific data protection provisions.
The Committee share these concerns. They point out that if the UK attempts to extend the use of PNR beyond what is acceptable to other Members States, it may be unable to take part in the Framework Decision. It would then be unable to use data collected by other Member States and would potentially lose an important tool in the battle against terrorism.
Commenting Lord Jopling, Chairman of the Lords EU Sub-Committee on Home Affairs, said:
"We have been convinced by the Government that PNR data, in combination with other sources of intelligence, can be a useful tool in the fight against terrorism. However we do not believe its use should be extended to more routine crimes.
"For PNR data to continue to be of use against terrorism it is vital that all EU Members States share the data they hold on passengers. This could be undermined if the Government push further than our European partners want in extending the use of PNR data.
"We encourage the Government to work with other Member States to agree PNR legislation which clearly establishes the purposes for which the data may be used, and to negotiate appropriate data protection safeguards."
Notes to Editors
1. The report,
The Passenger Name Record Framework Decision, is available from The Stationery Office, House of Lords European Union Committee (Sub-Committee on Home Affairs), 15th Report of 2007/08, HL Paper 106.
2. The report will be available online shortly after publication at:
3. The member the House of Lords Sub-Committee on Home Affairs are:
Lord Jopling (Chairman)
Baroness Garden of Frognal
Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts
Lord Young of Norwood Green
For copies of the report or to request an interview with Lord Jopling, please contact Owen Williams on 020 7219 8659.