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Lords debate EU policy on criminal procedure report

Following the publication the EU Committee's report, The European Union's Policy on Criminal Procedure, in April last year, the report will be debated in the House of Lords on Monday 4 February.

The report found that that there is significant benefit to be gained from EU legislation setting minimum rights for defendants and victims, particularly for British citizens travelling within the EU who, on the whole, enjoy a high standard of rights at home. However, those minimum rights must be firmly grounded in international law norms, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, to minimise the risk of disrupting the UK criminal law systems.

Lord Bowness (Conservative), Chairman of the Justice, Institutions and Consumer Protection Sub-Committee, speaking ahead of the debate which he will open, said:

“The UK is currently at an important crossroads in our legal and criminal policies, as we consider whether to opt in or out of the 2014 policing and crime measures. This includes proposals such as the European Arrest Warrant and others which will have significant impact on British citizens.

“Protecting the British public both at home and when in other EU Member States must be our top priority. The Committee believes that establishing minimum legal rights for both defendants and victims, from all EU Member States will ensure that British citizens are guaranteed a high level of care and protection, regardless of where they might find themselves in trouble.

“But serious problems can easily arise through EU legislation as countries have such diverse national laws. Therefore, we believe that the minimum rights set at EU level should be firmly grounded in the European Court of Human Rights and other international law norms. I look forward to the debate on our report and to views put forward by other Members.”

Lord Maclennan of Rogart (Liberal Democrat), Lord Beecham (Labour) and Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts (Conservative) are also expected to take part in the debate.

Lord McNally (Liberal Democrat) will respond on behalf of the Government.

The debate is expected to begin at 3.30pm in Grand Committee.

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