Lords Committee criticise Home office for lack of transparency over the effects of Brexit on justice and security.
The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has published a report today criticising the Draft Law Enforcement and Security (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.
These Home Office Regulations are a contingency measure in case of a no-deal Brexit which relate to 24 different security, justice and policing matters. The Committee criticises the Home Office for providing insufficient explanation on the impact of proposals to allow Parliament to scrutinise them effectively.
In its report, published today, the Committee says:
“Correspondence with the Home Office has not persuaded us that so wide-ranging an instrument, covering policy areas which are individually of significant concern to the House, can be justified. Effective scrutiny is further inhibited by the failure of the Home Office to provide any contextual explanation, with estimated numbers or an indication of the degree of usage, to illustrate the impact of the changes that this instrument addresses. Without such information we cannot determine whether a policy change is significant and whether it needs to be drawn to the special attention of the House as a result. “
The Report states:
“As with any other instrument, the House needs sufficient information to understand the context and whether the solution offered by the regulations is an effective one. In order to do that, the House needs practical information on the real-world effects before and after exit day.”
The Committee highlights the dearth of information provided by the Government and refers to finding information on the BBC website more relevant than the Home Office's explanatory material.
The Committee also criticises the Home Office for making statements that were bound to cause concern but then failing to give the House sufficient information to assess the scale of the problems: for example, in the revised Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the instrument the Home Office said:
“Should the UK leave the EU without an agreement in March 2019 (the ‘no deal' scenario), the UK's access to EU security, law enforcement and criminal justice tools would cease … The UK would rely instead on alternative, non-EU mechanisms, where they exist. The assessment concludes that these mechanisms, which include Interpol and Council of Europe Conventions, would not provide the same level of capability as those envisaged in a deal scenario, and would risk increasing pressure on UK security, law enforcement and judicial authorities.” (EM2 paragraphs 7.3-7.4)
Read the Committee's report here.