EU-PNR: UK parliament committee still has proposal under scrutiny

- Government has not even sent the latest draft Directive to parliament, how many other national parliaments has this happened to?



The UK parliament's Select Committee on the European Union in the House of Lords have written to the Home Office saying that they: "are not prepared to clear the document from scrutiny" - in a letter dated 21 April 2004 to which no reply has been received (see: full-text below). The letter from Lord Grenfell, the chair of the Committee, also asks the Home Office if it is "intended to deposit" the latest draft of the proposal (doc 8058/04) which the Justice and Home Affairs Council is intending to adopted as a "A" Point (that is, without debate) at its meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday 29 April.

Under UK parliamentary rules all documents on EU matters have to be deposited then referred to the relevant Committee for them to discuss and take a view - in this case the proposal, dated 1 April 2004, has still not been sent over to parliament.

Lord Grenfell's letter contains substantive criticisms of the proposal:

1. It says the Committee "remains unconvinced of the justification of the proposal and its proportionality to the potential benefits". It notes that the intended UK Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) will only be of value in spotting those already on a "watch-list" and that the proposal "effectiveness in countering organised crime and security threats" has not been "substantiated".

2. It now appears that the obligation on carriers to hand over passenger name records (PNR) in the Directive "will not apply to intra-EU flights - contrary to what you told us when you gave evidence to us" (a reference to evidence from Caroline Flint MP, Home Office Minister). The Committee also asks where the government has:

"consulted the Commission about the proportionality of this aspect of your proposals in relation to Community law on freedom of movement"

3. The Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) shows every sign of "having been put together at the last minute".

4. The Committee questions the late change in the proposed Directive which would exempt from the requirement to delete data within 24 hours where it is "needed later" for law enforcement purposes. The letter says "this appears to be a very wide exception".

Documents

1. Lord Grenfell's letter to the Home Office, 21.4.04:
HoL Letter (pdf)
2 Council Directive on the obligation of carriers to communicate passenger data:
8058/04 (pdf)
3. Council Directive: Common Guidelines:
8842/04 (26.4.04) (pdf)

and see: 27.4.04: EU-PNR: JHA Council to agree the surveillance of all airline passengers: Report and documents


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