Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Which MPs will stand up and be counted on the EU referendum lock?

The Government's EU Bill returns to Parliament next week, with MPs considering amendments to the 'referendum lock'.

At the moment there is no democratic control over which EU crime, justice and immigration laws apply to the UK – neither MPs nor the electorate have a say over these decisions, only the Government. With a new briefing published today, we have stepped up our campaign to see the Bill amended to give Parliament, and in some cases voters, a say over whether Ministers sign up to these laws.

The crux of the matter is that next week MPs have the chance to give themselves increased power over the Government, allowing them to debate and approve these hugely important EU laws that will have an impact on their voters.

And there is another hugely significant issue here.

Before 2014, the Government has to decide whether existing EU crime and policing laws (those introduced before the Lisbon Treaty came into force late 2009) continue to apply to the UK. If they continue to apply they fall under the full jurisdiction of EU judges at the ECJ.

This is a massive 'more or less EU' decision that should not be left entirely up to the Government, which it would be under the current Bill. This should be decided by the people or, failing that, Parliament.

Do MPs really want to explain to their constituents that they passed up on the opportunity to have a vote on EU crime or police laws such as the European Arrest Warrant agreed in 2002, which has seen numerous Britons extradited to other European countries on spurious charges?

These are laws that have a direct, and sometimes costly, impact on people's lives - this is no time for MPs to duck the question.

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