Fiona Onasanya – 2018 Message to Parliamentarians After Being Found Guilty of Perverting the Course of Justice

Below is the text of the comments made by Fiona Onasanya, the then Labour MP for Peterborough, on 19 December 2018, following her conviction for perverting the course of justice.

I campaigned for justice and for the interests of ordinary people throughout my entire working life to date. Regardless of what you believe or suspect, the fact remains that I, Fiona, sought to be the choice and voice of change – but this may now take a different path. More than ever before, I am asking that you commit time in prayer for my family.

In times like these, the natural inclination of believers is to ask God: why? I personally do not, because in my experience the answers are usually far above and beyond my reach. What I do know is that I am in good biblical company, along with Joseph, Moses, Daniel and his three Hebrew friends, who were each found guilty by the courts of their day.

While God did not save them from a guilty verdict, he did save them in it and ensured that their greatest days of impact were on the other side of a guilty verdict. Of course this is equally true of Christ, who was accused and convicted by the courts of his day and yet this was not his end but rather the beginning of the next chapter in his story.

Sir John Major – 2018 Speech at the Inaugural Albert Reynolds Memorial Lecture

Below is the text of the speech made by Sir John Major at the inaugural Albert Reynolds Memorial Lecture held in Longford, the Republic of Ireland, on 10 December 2018.

An invitation to deliver the Inaugural Albert Reynolds Memorial Lecture was irresistible to me, for Albert was a friend I cared about, an ally who mattered, and a man I miss.

I’m so sorry that, due to ill health, Kathleen cannot be with us today, but I am delighted that so many members of the Reynolds family are here….

I have to tell you that walking into Albert and Kathleen’s home in Dublin was like being wrapped into a warm and cosy blanket – while enjoying hot tea and cakes. It was always a treat. And delivering this lecture is a tribute to a very special man.

Albert was never a run-of-the-mill politician. Some thought he’d strayed into politics by accident, but I don’t agree with that at all. Certainly, his background was atypical – for Taoiseachs.

Albert ran dance halls, and thrived on the back of 1960s pop music – but he was always fully prepared, fully equipped for politics: he was a deal-maker supreme, a “bottom line man”, a man who demanded an outcome, a solution, to every problem.

His background – far from being a drawback – was an asset. Albert knew people: how they lived, how they thought, what they cared about.

And, in my experience, he liked people – forever an asset in a politician.

He had no illusions about how some could go astray, but no doubt about what they could achieve if given the opportunity.

And he was an optimist – far more inclined to say “we can do this”, than to rule anything out. To Albert, a deal not made was a failure.

Some people in politics are no more than ambitious concoctions. But Albert was the real deal – in practice and in spirit. The world saw just how authentic he was at his funeral service at Donnybrook Church, when symbols of his life were carried to the altar by members of his family.

The Downing Street Declaration was, of course, laid on the altar. But then so was a pack of cards, and a tin of dog food. Even in death, Albert could shock the politically correct. During that Service I may have had tears in my eyes, but I knew that – watching from afar – Albert was chuckling.

At the very core of Albert was Kathleen and their family, about all of whom he was inordinately proud, and often spoke. I once teased him that “I know you love children because you have so many”, and he replied, “Not enough, John. Not enough.”.

And that is true, too, of his time as Taoiseach. Not long enough. Not long enough by a long chalk.

But Albert left an indelible mark on Irish history and will, I believe, be remembered long – and fondly. I know the memory of Albert will always bring a smile to my face.

In five days’ time it will be the 25th Anniversary of the Downing Street Declaration, which led to paramilitary ceasefires and, ultimately, the Good Friday Agreement. It would never have happened without Albert.

The Declaration didn’t come easily. In negotiation, you give to gain. Albert and I had a common objective, but came at it from different directions. There were many proposals, many drafts.

There were advances and setbacks. Mini triumphs and mini disasters. There were frustrations and rows, gains and concessions. And, of course, we both had critical – often hostile – opponents to persuade or to cajole.

But, with help and advice from many quarters – officials, politicians, the Church – we got there and, for Albert’s sake, I’m delighted you have remembered his own vital contribution to this document, and also honoured me by your invitation.

It is one of the greatest disappointments of my life that I wasn’t able to complete the Peace Process, but I applaud Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern for doing so. They met all the challenges successfully.

The Irish Ambassador to the UK, Adrian O’Neill – who is a superb representative of your country – quoted aptly from the Declaration in a recent speech.

The Declaration had a range of objectives: to heal past enmity; to ensure a peace that lasted; and to encourage the economic and social co-operation that was, and is, and always will be, essential for mutual understanding and, with it, peaceful prosperity.

The Declaration was born during a private conversation with Albert in the White Drawing Room of Downing Street. As I recall, we were talking of our respective children over a drink, and then – more widely – the children of the Troubles.

Albert said, “No child should have to face this”, and I agreed, adding “If it were in Surrey or Sussex it would not be tolerated; nor should it be accepted in Northern Ireland.”. So, together, we agreed to try and end it, and I could never have had a more dedicated partner than Albert Reynolds.

Were we together this evening, Albert and I would be concerned about Brexit; the Irish border; the protection of the Peace Accord; and – perhaps most important of all – the long-term relationship between our two countries.

As the Peace Process advanced in the 1990s – and especially after the Good Friday Agreement was signed – the Anglo-Irish relationship blossomed.

Our joint history is chequered, but it was put behind us: not forgotten, perhaps, but no longer used as a weapon with which to attack one another.

In the last two decades, the Anglo-Irish relationship has been better – and closer – than at any time in our history. Now, once again – as the UK leaves the EU – there is reason to be concerned.

The Republic – as well as the UK – needs the power-sharing executive to return to its duties in Northern Ireland. It needs to ensure that now – and in the future –there is no hard border dividing the island of Ireland; and it needs a future that embraces what Ireland and the UK have in common.

Some opinion – including many who believe themselves to be Unionists – has shown a breath-taking ignorance of the likely impact that unsettling the Good Friday Agreement will have on Ireland, both North and South.

To them, the Irish demand for a “backstop” is a bogus ploy to keep the UK in a Customs Union: in truth, a backstop is of vital national interest for Ireland and for the UK.

As our own Prime Minister has said, this is not a demand imposed on the UK by Dublin or Brussels – it is an interest we all share.

Furthermore, the Brexiteers claim that the backstop damages the Union is wholly misguided. The greatest danger to the Union would be a hard border that damaged jobs and prosperity in Northern Ireland, and undermined the Good Friday Agreement.

If the people of Northern Ireland see a border returned – together with no power sharing at Stormont – will they not look once again at a United Ireland?

The plain truth is this: the future of the Union is protected, not undermined, by avoiding a hard border.

If the House of Commons defeats Mrs May’s plans tomorrow, the risk of a hard border once again becomes possible.

Even if her plans are approved, the problem is not solved, but temporarily put on hold – until a “frictionless” border moves from myth to reality; or until a long-term deal is reached that removes the need for any border at all.

A hard border – now, or at the end of a long transition period – would be disastrous. That said – whatever may happen at Westminster this week or later – I do not believe a majority of Members of Parliament will permit a hard border to become a reality.

The reckless few, who are careless of its likely effect, are a clear minority. And with good reason.

Of course, a new border would not remotely resemble its hated predecessor – with its barbed wire, its listening posts and its Army check-points.

But any new border – however gentle its intent – would become a symbol, and thus a target. Both physically and emotionally it would present not only a barrier between North and South; between Unionist and Nationalist; but between the UK and her nearest neighbour.

The fear – that must not be forgotten – is this: any border, be it now or in the future, risks creating an impediment to the excellent bilateral relations of recent years. That, truly, would be a tragedy.

Peace is at risk if we erect barriers that remind people of ancient disputes: it will only be a way of life we can rely if we create a future in which old protagonists can live and work together.

Peace is not secure – it never is – and any new border would be a focus for the wild men on the fringes to reactivate old disputes and hatreds that should be laid to rest – for good. Until sectarianism is ended, that will never be fully achieved.

Some hardline pro-Brexit voices have claimed that European and Irish opposition to a “hard” border is merely a means of frustrating Brexit. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are blind to the reality.

As Sir Hugh Orde, former Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, has said – the political consequences of Brexit “will play into the hands of those who are still determined to destroy the relative peace we have enjoyed”.

“Customs Posts”, Sir Hugh added, “would be a target for dissident paramilitaries”. Sadly, such dangerous people are still around – in both communities.

Those who mock and disparage the “backstop” should reflect on the risks of destroying it, and stop relying on uninvented, fanciful, technical alternatives that, for now, exist nowhere.

At stake is not only community relations, but security – and, with it, lives as well. We should not forget that the “Troubles” began in the 1960s with the murder of Customs Officials at the North/South border.

A “no deal” scenario would have many damaging repercussions for the UK and Ireland.

If – by accident or design – the UK was forced to trade under WTO rules, both sides would be forced to apply customs tariffs on imports from the other.

This would not be optional. Under WTO rules, the UK and Ireland could not reach a bilateral “sweetheart” deal of low tariffs – even if they wished to do so.

The UK would have to charge the same tariffs to Ireland as to any other member of the WTO worldwide.

And Ireland would have to reciprocate. The impact on business – and farming – would be instant and profound. This is no way for friends and neighbours to treat one another.

But, once again – for what it is worth – I do believe wise counsel will prevent this outcome.

I have made no secret of my own view that the UK leaving Europe is a colossal error. It is a lose-lose decision for both sides. It betrays the internationalist past of the UK, and undermines her future.

Most of the world believes we have taken leave of our senses, and so, I believe, will future generations. However, that is an argument I would prefer to make in the UK – and not here this evening.

But what of Europe? How are they affected? That is an argument for now – and for Ireland as a member of the European Union. Is the whole of Europe, including the UK, better off with a strong European Union or a weak one?

Across Europe, some extreme nationalists believe it would be better if the European Union collapsed and we returned to a Europe of nation states. I believe they are profoundly wrong in that judgement.

We live in a world in which America – so long the guarantor of European safety – is turning her interest increasingly towards Asia-Pacific.

China – with the largest navy in the world – is now growing both in economic and military power, and is prepared to use that power for political gain. Russia is, once again, behaving as a rogue nation.

In the light of these developments, is Europe better or worse off being united rather than divided? Undoubtedly, it is better united.

Are we all at greater risk if Europe is weakened? Undoubtedly yes – both economically and militarily.

Is the world order better balanced with America, China and a strong European Union broadly economically equal, or with the European Union minus Britain falling below the economic authority of their two rivals? The answer is obvious.

And yet the British departure will not only weaken the UK but – certainly more important to the wider world – diminish the role of the EU. The EU will lose:

Sixty five million citizens, and its fastest-growing economy; potentially, the largest economy in Europe;

It will lose one of only two powers with a nuclear capacity and a significant military capability;

It will lose the nation with the longest and deepest foreign policy reach; and

It will also lose the only buffer the EU has had to hold back policies promoted by Germany and France in partnership.

British pragmatism and caution will be sorely missed by smaller EU countries: on many occasions, the UK was their protector.

Time and again, it has not been unusual for the UK, alone, to oppose a European policy – while other member states remained silent – and later be thanked for having done so.

The UK’s departure means that, for the first time, the European Union is contracting and not expanding. This will weaken the EU – especially when set against the superpowers of America or China.

The British departure is likely to hasten European reform – which will involve Ireland as a Member of the Eurozone.

Over the next few years, I expect members of the Eurozone to further align fiscal policy to protect the Euro even though – at present – that is not politically acceptable.

I do not believe – after the Greek experience – that the Eurozone will hurry to admit new members and, if that assumption is correct, a distinct inner and outer core is likely to take shape.

Other changes – opting in to policies rather than opting out – may be sought by the less consensus-minded countries from Central and Eastern Europe.

Nothing is certain but – ten years from now – the Union may look very different. Ironically, it may be a Union that would be much more amenable to the UK.

The Anglo-Irish relationship will change when the UK leaves the EU – but we need to cherish it, and I will talk of that at greater length tomorrow.

For now, let me simply assert that the relationship should remain precious to us both, and our duty is to ensure that it is.

My working assumption is that the UK will leave the EU in good order and not in chaos. If so, she has a robust political and economic structure – and should be able to weather the almost inevitable economic turbulence upon leaving.

However, as many independent assessments have set out – as well as the Bank of England and the UK Government itself – I do anticipate lower growth, lower inward investment, and – subject to the terms of any future trade deal with the EU – a range of practical (and costly) obstacles for British commerce.

No-one can be certain how long such a trade deal will take to negotiate: or even if aggrieved nations will hold back – or refuse – their consent to any, or all, of it.

What we can be sure of is that the right deal will be tough to get; and an imperfect deal will be hard to sell – and harder still to justify. But, as grievances cool, a deal is in the best interests of both sides.

The City of London is powerful, innovative and pre-eminent. But, post-Brexit, we can assume other financial centres in Europe will wish to challenge its present dominance. That is an unavoidable consequence of the British exodus.

Although I don’t believe the EU can hope to replicate the City in any foreseeable timescale, I do expect they will move towards focusing more financial activity within their own Borders – politics will dictate this as well as long-term self-interest.

Dublin itself may be a beneficiary of this trend.

The wider trade implication of leaving the EU is that the UK not only loses her free trade deal with the European market of 500 million people, but also free trade deals with 53 other nations that were negotiated by the European Union – but only for its Members.

Over time these can be replaced, but, for now, there is a very, very long way to go – and the question arises: are 65 million Britons really likely to get the same favourable treatment as 500 million Europeans?

The UK lives by her trade – so, we must try. But this process will not be swift – or straightforward.

Let me summarise. Barring a sudden outbreak of common sense, and a reality check on national self-interest, the UK will be the first nation to leave the EU.

This will be yet another irony, as the first proposal for a European Union came not – as is generally supposed – from the French cognac salesman, Jean Monnet, but from an Englishman.

Three and a quarter centuries ago, in 1693, William Penn advocated a European “Diet or Parliament” as a policy to end perpetual military conflict on the Continent. It took 280 years and two world wars to convince his fellow Britons that unity was better than division.

Forty three years later, the British people reversed that decision.

It is in the interests of both Ireland and the UK that wise negotiators can now minimise the downside and maximise the opportunities.

Let us hope they will – and they can.

Many futures depend on it – both in my country and in your own.

As I speak, I can hear Albert’s lilting voice pushing us on towards a sensible deal.

We must all do everything we can not to let him down.

Karen Bradley – 2018 Statement on the Security Situation in Northern Ireland

Below is the text of the statement made by Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the House of Commons on 17 December 2018.

This is the twelfth written statement to Parliament on the security situation in Northern Ireland since the Independent Monitoring Commission concluded its work in July 2011. It covers the security situation and threat from Northern Ireland related terrorism, rather than from international terrorism, which Members will be aware is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who updates the House separately.

In the 13 months since the last statement on Northern Ireland’s security situation, a small number of violent dissident republican terrorist groups have continued to pursue a campaign of violence. Violent dissident republican terrorists are relatively small, disparate groupings. They remain intent on killing and undermining the will of the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland who have repeatedly and consistently expressed their desire for peace. These groupings choose to pay no heed to this and continue to plan attacks with the purpose of murdering and maiming those who work on a daily basis to uphold the rule of law and protect the whole community. In attempting to impose their unwanted control on people across Northern Ireland, these groupings also choose to ignore democracy, principles that have been, and will continue to be, central to the political process in Northern Ireland.

In 2016, dissident republican terrorists murdered prison officer Adrian Ismay while in 2017 they again demonstrated their lethal intent, including one attack where a petrol station forecourt was sprayed with gunfire and two police officers were wounded. There have been two attempts to murder police officers since the last written statement, with numerous other plots identified and prevented by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and MI5. These included shots fired at police officers during rioting in Londonderry in July of this year. This incident, like many dissident republican terrorist attacks, posed a risk to members of the public in the immediate area as well as the police officers who were targeted while they were working to keep communities safe.

I wish to pay tribute to all the agencies, including the PSNI, MI5 and the bomb disposal teams, who work on a daily basis to keep people safe. In many cases their work can make them the target of dissident republican terrorists. I applaud the work they do across Northern Ireland, their professionalism and the personal sacrifices ​that so many of them make in support of this vital work. I also commend the work undertaken by An Garda Siochana, and the excellent relationship they have with their counterparts in Northern Ireland. This has had a significant impact on dealing with the threat. The commitment of such a wide variety of agencies to public service and to the communities they serve, stands in stark contrast to the acts of dissident republicans.

While terrorist attack planning continues, law enforcement pressure has reduced the number of national security attacks. Since the start of 2018 there has been one national security attack, compared to five in 2017, four in 2016 and a total of 16 attacks in 2015 and 40 in 2010. Although there has been a reduction in the overall number of national security attacks in recent years, vigilance in the face of this continuing threat remains essential and the threat level remains

Since October 2017, MI5 has identified a number of violent dissident republican attack plots; two attacks were attempted, but were ultimately unsuccessful, and others were disrupted. This success is in no small measure due to the continued close working between PSNI and MI5, as well as with the authorities in Ireland. Each of the main violent dissident republican groups has suffered significant disruption including the loss of personnel and weapons in the past 12 months. During the past 12 month period (1 October 2017-30 September 2018) in Northern Ireland, there have been 143 arrests under the Terrorism Act, with 16 people subsequently charged. During the same period, 45 firearms, 0.74kg of explosives and 3157 rounds of ammunition have been seized. This pressure, and other interventions, is a barrier to, and a brake on dissident republican activity of all kinds, although I assess that, in the coming months, dissident republican terrorist groups will continue to seek to attack officers from the PSNI, prison officers and members of the armed forces.

As a consequence of violent dissident republicans’ actions and intent, the threat from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism in Northern Ireland remains SEVERE, which means an attack is highly likely. In Great Britain, the threat from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism was reduced in March this year from SUBSTANTIAL to MODERATE, which means an attack is possible, but not likely.

The Government have consistently made it clear that terrorism, including Northern Ireland Related Terrorism, will not succeed and tackling it continues to be of the highest priority. We are determined to keep people safe and secure across the United Kingdom. To support this effort over this Parliament we have provided £160 million of additional security funding to the PSNI to tackle the enduring threat from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism. This is significant funding. They recognise the severity of the terrorist threat; it demonstrates our unwavering commitment to the brave men and women in the police and intelligence agencies, and it is helping to keep people safe.

Paramilitary groups, both republican and loyalist, continue to carry out violent criminal attacks against members of their own communities. So far this year there have been 64 such attacks. This includes one paramilitary related death, 16 casualties of paramilitary style shootings and 47 casualties of paramilitary style assaults. The hypocrisy of paramilitary-linked criminals claiming to act to defend their communities from anti-social ​behaviour and drug dealing, while at the same time profiting from this activity is not lost on affected communities. They are targeting the most vulnerable members in their communities as they try to exert control and fear.

This Government continue strongly to support ongoing efforts to tackle paramilitarism and organised crime in Northern Ireland through the delivery of the commitments made in the executive’s action plan on tackling paramilitary activity, criminality and organised crime. This work is, by design, a collaborative endeavour being taken forward by a partnership of more than 24 organisations, including executive departments, statutory bodies and voluntary and community sector partners. Delivery is being achieved through four connected and mutually reinforcing approaches, aimed at developing long term prevention measures; building confidence in the justice system; building capacity to support communities in transition; and putting in place the strategies and powers to tackle criminal activity. Supporting the move away from paramilitary activity and promoting a culture of lawfulness are key underpinning are providing £25 million over five years to support a Northern Ireland executive programme of activity. This resource is being matched by the executive, giving a total of £50 million. The Independent Reporting Commission (IRC) is charged with reporting on progress towards ending paramilitary activity, and its first report was published on 23 October 2018.

In the last year significant progress has been made. For example, key initiatives already making a difference include outreach programmes aimed at supporting young people in areas particularly vulnerable to paramilitary activity; a programme delivering mentoring support for young men; and one for women aimed at building their capacity to be involved in community transformation. Work also continues on the speeding up justice programme, and the PSNI is working with communities to implement training and interventions in collaborative problem solving, as well as local initiatives to address issues of visibility and engagement. Young people have also been taking part in a programme on lawfulness being run by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, and a number of other pilot projects on the theme of promoting a culture of lawfulness are being delivered by a range of partners.

In addition, since the Paramilitary Crime Task Force, which comprises the PSNI, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), became fully operational in 2017, it has carried out a number of high profile operations against organised crime groups linked to paramilitaries. During 2017-18 the Task Force carried out over 110 searches and made over 47 arrests, including 44 people charged or reported to the Public Prosecution Service. In addition, 21 paramilitary-related organised crime groups were frustrated, disrupted or dismantled.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the SEVERE threat from dissident republican terrorists remains and paramilitary activity continues to have an impact in certain communities in Northern Ireland. Considerable progress has been made but the need for vigilance remains. There are a relatively small number of people who wish to continue to commit acts of terror and who want to control communities ​through violence for their own criminal ends. Through the excellent work of PSNI, MI5 and other law enforcement agencies including An Garda Siochana, we will continue to bring to justice those who seek to cause harm in our society. There never has been, and there never will be any place for terrorism or paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland. We all must play our part so that we can continue to allow Northern Ireland to flourish and ensure a stronger Northern Ireland for everyone free from this harmful and malign activity.

Caroline Nokes – 2018 Statement on the Justice and Home Affairs Council

Below is the text of the statement made in the House of Commons by Caroline Nokes, the Minister for Immigration, on 17 December 2018.

The final meeting of EU Interior and Justice Ministers during the Austrian presidency took place on 6 and 7 December in Brussels. I represented the UK for Interior day. The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Hertfordshire (Mr Gauke), represented the UK on Justice day. Scottish Government Minister for Communities, Ash Denham MSP, also attended.

Interior day began with the Council agreeing a partial general approach on the amendments to European border and coast guard regulation. The presidency concluded that further discussion was needed on the numbers of border guards in the European border and coast guard standing corps, as well as in relation to issues of national sovereignty related to deployments. Member states also expressed concerns over aligning capacity with finances. The Immigration Minister did not intervene as the UK does not participate in this Schengen-building measure.

The Council also discussed the returns directive. Member states expressed significant differences of opinion on detention while a claim was processed and on clarity as to the risk of absconding. The Commission encouraged member states to finalise this file by the end of the legislature. The UK does not participate in this measure.

The Council then discussed the regulation on preventing terrorist use of the internet. Several member states were not able to support the text due to the regulation’s conflict with their own national constitutions and concerns on the balance between the removal of content and fundamental rights. Some member states sought further consideration of the measure. However, the presidency concluded support for a general approach, judging the proposal to be a good and responsible compromise text. The Immigration Minister intervened to support the general approach, emphasising the importance of this legislation in tackling terrorist content online. The presidency stated that it would seek to address various points of concern in future trilogue negotiations.

The Commission urged member states to finalise those proposals of the common European asylum reform package where agreement was in reach. However, in discussion over lunch, member states remained split on the issue of solidarity and burden sharing. The Immigration ​Minister intervened to emphasise the importance of the comprehensive approach to migration, and specifically on the issue of developing more sustainable general solutions to tackle migratory flows, including tackling the drivers of migration.

After lunch, the Council approved an action plan to tackle migrant smuggling.

The Council then discussed JHA priorities for the 2021-27 MFF. The EU JHA agencies set out their priorities. The UK did not intervene as these programmes will commence after the UK’s exit from the EU and the end of the envisaged implementation period. The UK will, therefore, not be participating in any future programmes as a member state.

On Justice day, the Council reached a general approach on the sale of goods directive. There was a wide divergence of views on the value of maximum harmonisation of law to set common contractual requirements for consumer purchases by consumers. The UK and other member states argued for the maintenance of member states’ flexibility to guarantee higher levels of consumer rights. Member states expressed desire to continue the discussion on this issue during the trilogues with the European Parliament.

The Council also reached a general approach on the recast of Brussels IIa regulation on family matters and parental responsibility. The Justice Secretary welcomed the text, as well as the presidency’s work to accommodate UK concerns on the hearing of the child. He also noted UK ambition for civil law co-operation after our EU exit, which elicited positive statements from member states not just on family co-operation, but across civil law, and on future security co-operation.

The Commission and the presidency noted progress on the assignment of claims directive at working level, which deals inter alia with the third-party effects on assignments of claims. Member states cautioned that the directive should be careful not to disrupt existing and functioning market systems.

The presidency, supported by the Commission, sought to reach a general approach on e-evidence, about law enforcement access to data held by communications service providers. A number of member states voiced strong opposition to the text on the basis that it did not adequately protect member states’ fundamental interests nor the fundamental rights of citizens.

The presidency concluded there was enough support for a general approach and the measure would proceed to trilogues where further discussions would aim to resolved other member states’ concerns.

The Commission indicated that they will finalise the draft negotiating mandates for the second additional protocol to the Budapest convention and for discussions with the US.

On data retention, the presidency updated on continuing working level discussions on the preservation of law enforcement capabilities and other public authority tools that would also meet the requirements of recent, stricter CJEU case law. The Commission noted that it would be difficult to restrict data retention to certain persons or geographic areas but nonetheless proposed to undertake additional targeted consultation. Member states called on the Commission to ensure continued attention to data retention in the future, noting likely developments in CJEU case law expected in 2019.​

The Council adopted conclusions on mutual recognition, mutual trust and the principles underlying mutual recognition instruments such as the European arrest warrant. The Justice Secretary underlined UK commitment to future co-operation with the EU on this basis to enable continued joint working to tackle the challenges of transnational crime.

The Commission updated Ministers on significant progress made in answering points raised by the CJEU on EU accession to ECHR. It was agreed that amendments to the draft accession agreement would be strictly limited to what was required by the Court. The importance of accession was highlighted as a priority for the EU and its citizens and swift resolution encouraged.

Ruth Smeeth – 2018 Speech on Kayden Dunn

Below is the text of the speech made by Ruth Smeeth, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, in the House of Commons on 17 December 2018.

should start by saying that due to personal events the family cannot be here with us tonight, but they are watching.

I am here today to tell a tragic story, one that I sincerely wish had never happened, but nevertheless it is a story that needs to be told, even at this time of year. It is a story of loss, of a family let down by our criminal justice system and of a community united in grief.

At the heart of this story is a wonderful little boy named Kayden Lee Dunn. Kayden was a happy, healthy little boy with a huge personality, big blue eyes and a laugh his mum said could “fill the world with joy.” His mum, Tonie, has told me that when she first held him and stared into those big, shiny blue eyes, she tried to imagine the perfect future for her little boy. She thought about what his life might hold and the role he might play in the world he had just come into. Perhaps he would grow up to be a policeman, a footballer or even a dancer. Whatever the future might hold, Tonie knew that she would always be proud of Kayden and that he would always make her proud.

Kayden was full of energy, and he loved to learn. At the age of three, he would play games on his way to nursery with his mum, trying to spot shapes in the clouds or count how many cars there were of each colour. Red was his favourite. He loved going to school, too. In his last few months of year 2, he was engrossed in his lessons about knights and castles. Learning his times tables was a different story, but Kayden was determined to get them right, practising every night at the kitchen table and so proud of himself when he finally cracked his three and four times tables. In 2015, he made his acting debut in the school Christmas play. His line was, “To the moon and the stars.” That was a line that would come up again and again with his family. Whenever Kayden wanted to know how much his mum loved him, that was always her answer: “To the moon and the stars.”

For Kayden’s family, it is fitting that we should be having this debate in the week before Christmas, because this was his favourite time of year. He would spend Christmas eve making keepsakes and baking cakes with his parents and siblings, waiting for the joy of Christmas morning, with the laughs, the excitement and—with lots of young children—the noise as the gifts were unwrapped. If he were here today, Kayden would be fizzing in anticipation for next week.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)

I spoke to the hon. Lady beforehand to ask if I could make a comment in the debate. I sympathise with her and with the family who have lost a loved one, because just last week in my constituency, a wee three-year-old boy was knocked down on Thursday night and passed away on Saturday past. That was the second death in that family; their wee girl died some 18 months ago. I just want to put on record my sympathy for the family and to agree with the hon. Lady that Christmas should be a time for fun and families. They called that wee boy in my constituency Kai Corkum, and his mum and dad and his two wee brothers are grieving for him today.

Ruth Smeeth

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. I am sure that the whole House sends its condolences to Kai’s family.

Unfortunately, Kayden Dunn will not be with us this Christmas, nor any other. On 14 April 2016, while he was playing with friends after school, Kayden was run over and killed in my constituency. He was just seven years old. The driver’s name was Shakeeb Zamir, and he was driving without insurance. He had taken his father’s car without permission—a car he was not legally authorised to drive. The investigation into Kayden’s death concluded that at the moment of the accident the car was travelling at between 38 and 41 mph—far in excess of the speed limit—on a quiet residential street in the middle of Sneyd Green. When Kayden stepped into the road, the driver did not even brake.

What happened next cemented this tragic event as an act not only of gross irresponsibility but of heartlessness. As Kayden lay mortally wounded in the street, the driver got out of his car and checked the vehicle for damage. Then, without a second glance, he got back in and drove away. Although he later returned to the scene on foot, accompanied by his father, that belated gesture of self-preservation was too late to help little Kayden. He died from his injuries in Birmingham Children’s Hospital five days later, on 19 April, 2016.

This was a tragedy beyond measure for Kayden’s family and friends. He was a bubbly, blue-eyed little boy. His mum said he was cheeky, full of joy and brought a smile to everyone’s face. In an instant, this treasured son and brother, this bundle of energy who would spend all afternoon on his trampoline shouting, “Mummy, I’ve done 250 bounces; I’m shattered,” was gone—taken—but, as heartbreaking as that is, it got even worse. This family, who had already lost their child, would be denied justice, too. After pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving, the perpetrator was sentenced to 12 months—just 12 months for a life.

The sentence did not just devastate a family but infuriated and angered a community. Thousands of people signed a petition calling for an urgent review of the case. The driver claimed in court that his disgraceful actions at the scene were due to shock, yet CCTV footage of the incident shows him calmly leave the car, checking only for possible vehicle damage and seemingly showing no concern for Kayden’s critical condition. His actions both before sentencing and after his release also demonstrate an absence of remorse. Following his release, Kayden’s killer was handed a number of conditions and has broken several of them. Shortly after his release, he was jailed for a further 12 weeks after being caught behind the wheel of a car in defiance of a driving ban. He is not supposed to make contact with the family, yet he approached them in a local convenience store just before he returned to prison.

The family have also seemingly fallen through the cracks with the probation service. The family were informed that it would organise a victims meeting, so that Kayden’s family could confront the perpetrator in a safe environment and have the chance to express what his actions had done to them, the impact on their family and their complete devastation. However, such a meeting never materialised, despite the promises of the probation service at the time. To lose a child, especially at such a young age, is to endure a wound that never heals. For the family to see the perpetrator treated so leniently and ​to be made to feel insecure in their own community is to have salt rubbed into that wound in the cruellest way possible. My constituents have been let down by the Crown Prosecution Service, which failed to secure a punishment befitting the crime, and by the probation service, which seems uncommitted to enforcing the conditions that were still in place to protect this grieving family.

In October 2017, the Government announced that the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving would be raised from 14 years to life imprisonment. That was the right decision and I welcome it, but it came too late for Kayden’s family and it will fail to deliver justice in future unless prosecutors pursue charges that fit the crime and do not reduce such heinous acts to the lighter charge of death by careless driving. We do not just need the right sentencing guidelines; we need to ensure that the right charge is brought in the first place.

While our institutions may have failed on this occasion, our community stepped up. I have already mentioned the thousands who supported the campaign for justice for Kayden, but that is nothing compared with the extraordinary outpouring of love and support in Sneyd Green and beyond in my great city of Stoke-on-Trent. Thousands of pounds have been raised and a permanent memorial to Kayden can now be found in the heart of the community where he went to school and where his family still live. In the midst of that good will and kindness, Kayden’s family decided to give something back to the community.

Throughout this awful period, Kayden’s family have spoken glowingly about the care that Kayden received at the hands of our NHS and the support that was there for the family in their darkest hour——the air ambulance staff, the emergency NHS practitioners, the police, the school, the residents’ association and the wider community. To thank the community, the family launched the Kayden Dunn memorial fund, and one of their first acts was to raise funds to donate parcels for families who will unfortunately have similar experiences to theirs, encouraging people to donate the vital items that families need in times of unexpected crisis, such as toothpaste, shower gel and clean underwear, to Birmingham Women’s and Children’s hospital to ensure that those essentials will be available for other families.

I am immensely proud to represent a place where such care and community spirit exist, and I am honoured to represent this family who have endured so much and shown such courage in the face of tragedy. My speech to this House is nearly over, but there is no end to this story for Kayden’s family. The pain of losing a loved one never leaves; we simply learn to bear it. In this instance, that pain is made worse by the knowledge that justice has not been delivered, but this family is inspirational, and their new daughter, Angel, has helped them survive and thrive together.

However, we will not forget that the man who stole Kayden’s life has been allowed to go with his own without serving an adequate punishment for his crime and without showing any genuine remorse for his actions. His sentence was an affront to justice and an insult to a suffering family. It is too late to change that, too late to bring Kayden back and too late to hold those who took him from us to account, but it is not too late to learn the ​lessons of this case and to apply them to try to ensure that no other family will have to suffer the way that this family has.

Words cannot give Kayden Dunn his life back, but they can honour and preserve his memory. While his life was all too brief, they can ensure that his name and his memory will live on long after us through the records of this place. In that spirit, I believe that the final words should not belong to me, but to Kayden’s mum, Tonie. In her eulogy for little Kayden, she said:

“I miss him so much. I wrote this so you could all have an insight into my boy’s life, not to upset you but to show you how proud I am of my baby, and to show you what a beautiful impact he had on our lives. Memories will never fade and I’ll always be grateful for my little blue-eyed boy.”

James Brokenshire – 2018 Statement on Rough Sleeping

Below is the text of the statement made by James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, in the House of Commons on 18 December 2018.

In August, we published a cross-Government Rough Sleeping Strategy, setting out how we will halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it altogether by 2027. The strategy has three core pillars of prevention, intervention, and recovery, with a preventive approach towards rough sleeping at its heart.

Today, the Government are announcing the locations of 11 Somewhere Safe to Stay hubs, warm and dry centres where people at crisis point will be able to seek shelter, while their housing and support needs are quickly assessed by specialist staff. This follows an expression of interest round which closed at the end of October, and includes the most innovative proposals, from local authorities who can mobilise and deliver services from this winter. A full list of the early adopter areas can be found here:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/rapid-rehousing-pathway-somewhere-safe-to-stay-early-adopters

Somewhere Safe to Stay hubs, allowing for a quick and effective assessment of needs, are central to these local authorities’ “Rapid Rehousing Pathways”. In the 11 early adopter areas, we will be providing funding for a range of policies alongside the hubs—including specialist “Navigators”, supported lettings, and local lettings agencies—to ensure that there is a full and functioning pathway in place to help people into sustained accommodation and appropriate wrap-around support.

These hubs will not only take people off the streets into a safe environment but, crucially, will also take in individuals who have been identified as being at risk of sleeping rough, stopping them having to sleep on the streets in the first place. In this way, the “Somewhere Safe to Stay” model builds upon the success of the “No Second Night Out” model of rapid assessment hubs.

This approach fits with the Government’s objective to intervene sooner, and move towards a preventive approach towards rough sleeping.

The full programme of funding will enable local areas to connect people with the right support, and sustainable housing. It encompasses funding for specialist Navigators, who act as a single point of contact to support people from the streets into settled accommodation; the establishment of local lettings agencies to source, identify, or provide homes and advice for rough sleepers ​or those at risk; and funding for a supported lettings programme, which will provide flexible support to help individuals sustain their tenancies.

The announcement of the “Somewhere Safe to Stay” early adopters represents key progress against the delivery of the rough sleeping strategy, as set out in the “Rough Sleeping Strategy Delivery Plan” on 10 December. These pilots will be the first step in testing innovative structural change to local systems and the move towards a rapid rehousing approach, bringing us a step closer to the 2027 vision of putting an end to rough sleeping.

The Government will invite a wider bidding round in 2019, for other local authorities to improve and implement their “Rapid Rehousing Pathway”, and will announce the details of this in due course.

Michael Gove – 2018 Statement on the 25 Year Environment Plan

Below is the text of the statement made by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in the House of Commons on 19 December 2018.

This Government have made a commitment to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it. This landmark environment Bill—the first in over 20 years—will be an essential step towards this goal. We will support increased biodiversity and thriving plants and wildlife. We will continue to clean up our air and our water, creating a healthier environment. We will cut down unnecessary resource use and waste, reducing our impact on the world and shaping a more efficient, sustainable and competitive economy.

The draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill is one key aspect of this ambitious broader environment Bill that will be introduced early in the second parliamentary Session. These draft clauses will put environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of Government. It will create a framework for environmental governance, demonstrating this Government’s strong commitment ​to maintain environmental protection as we leave the EU. The draft Bill applies to England and to reserved matters UK-wide.

First, these draft clauses include a set of environmental principles to guide future policy making. It also requires the Government to publish a policy statement which sets out how Ministers should interpret and apply these environmental principles. Ministers will need to have regard to this statement when developing their policies. Through this approach, we will firmly embed practical and proportionate environmental considerations in policy making.

Secondly, these draft clauses commit Government to have a plan for improving the environment and to regularly review progress on this plan, publishing a set of indicators. This creates a strong, long-term, economy-wide incentive for action on our landmark 25-year environment plan, which sets crucial changes in motion to improve the environment within a generation.

Thirdly, the draft Bill creates a new, statutory and independent environment body: the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). This new domestic body will support and uphold standards as we leave the EU. The OEP will be able to scrutinise and advise on environmental legislation and the current 25-year environment plan; investigate complaints; and take enforcement action, including through legal proceedings if needed. Establishing the OEP will ensure that this and every future Government benefit from the expertise vested in a consistent, long-term, independent body on the environment.

In developing these draft clauses, we have drawn on the views and expertise of as many stakeholders and members of the public as possible. We held a 12-week consultation on “Environmental Principles and Governance after EU Exit” from May to August 2018. The monumental 176,746 responses we received are proof of the strength of public interest in this new legislation.

We welcome the forthcoming parliamentary pre-legislative scrutiny to ensure that these draft clauses makes the best possible contribution to protecting our environment as we leave the EU. By creating a new, independent body to hold the Government to account on environmental law, incorporating environmental principles in law, and committing the Government to making and reviewing plans to improve the environment, we are taking unprecedented steps forward to help secure a cleaner, greener future.

Water conservation report: action taken and planned by Government to encourage the conservation of water

Today I am also laying before Parliament the water conservation report. This report provides an account of the work done by the Government to encourage the conservation of water since the publication of the previous report in 2014. The report will also set out the Government’s current plans for water conservation and policy options for demand management in the future.

The report sets out the importance of demand management, including leakage, in securing resilient water supplies to respond to future challenges including climate change, population growth and the need to protect the environment better. These changes are needed alongside new water resources infrastructure, including reservoirs and water transfers, to provide a plentiful supply of water for future generations.​

The report commits the Government to launch a call for evidence on setting an ambitious target for personal water consumption. Alongside this, we will hold a consultation to examine the policy options required to support the target. This will include exploratory questions around the labelling of water-using products, improving building standards, the future role of metering, and behaviour change including improving information for consumers.

The report also endorses the water companies’ commitment to reducing leakage by 50% by 2050.

Jeremy Hunt – 2018 Statement on Daesh

Below is the text of the statement made by Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons on 19 December 2018.

The global coalition against Daesh has continued to make significant progress in recent months. Since counter-Daesh military operations began, the coalition and its partners in Syria and Iraq have recaptured the vast majority of Daesh territory.

Daesh now remain in control only of a small pocket of territory in eastern Syria. Progress has been made towards forcing Daesh out of Hajin town; the RAF and coalition forces are helping to consolidate contested areas and push out towards outlying Daesh positions.​

In Iraq, we are proud to have played a leading role in supporting Iraqi security forces to liberate their country a year ago. A new Government of Iraq have now been formed following the elections in May. I congratulate President Saleh and Prime Minister Abdul Mehdi. We look forward to working with them and their Government.

In Syria, the conflict has entered its eighth year. Our ongoing counter-Daesh efforts there, while successful, are part of a wider context of a brutal civil war. We are playing our part in alleviating humanitarian suffering across Syria. We also continue to push for a negotiated settlement that ends the conflict and protects all Syrians. To that end, we remain committed to supporting the UN-led Geneva process.

As I have previously made clear to the House, the Government are prepared for Daesh to evolve and change its form as it loses territory. Over the past year, we have seen that beginning to take place. Daesh is no longer operating in the open. It is beginning to transition to a clandestine network.

Much remains to be done in the global campaign against Daesh and we must not lose sight of the threat from Daesh. This Government will continue to do what is necessary to protect the British people and our allies and partners. I will provide an oral update on our counter-Daesh efforts in the new year.

Alex Chalk – 2018 Speech on Rail Fares From Cheltenham

Below is the text of the speech made by Alex Chalk, the Conservative MP for Cheltenham, in the House of Commons on 19 December 2018.

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I have called this debate on rail fares between Cheltenham and London because when it comes to rail travel, my constituents are not being treated fairly. Local people, simply because they live where I and my constituents do, are being charged more per mile for their train travel to London than others who live a similar distance from the capital. It is an injustice that stretches back decades and it needs to be put right.

Cheltenham is around 90 miles or so from London. Because Dr Beeching, in his wisdom, pulled up the more direct line through Andoversford, the train line itself is a little lengthier because it travels a more circuitous route, but the central point remains: it is not terribly far from London at all. It is a substantial town, with more than 110,000 people. It is larger than Basingstoke, Chelmsford, Maidstone and Worcester. It is the home of GCHQ and GE Aviation—certainly if we include Bishops Cleeve. It is the home of Spirax-Sarco and Superdry. It hosts the world famous Cheltenham jump racing festival, the renowned literature, jazz, and science festivals, and much more besides. When it comes to train use, Cheltenham is by far the busiest station in Gloucestershire. Data from the Office of Rail Regulation shows that 2.35 million passengers used the station in 2016-17—almost as many as all the other stations on the route combined, and twice as many as 10 years ago.

Despite all that, there is a glaring discrepancy when it comes to the price of tickets, and season tickets in particular. Take, for example, Kingham to London, which is admittedly a shorter distance, but not much shorter. The season ticket price is £7,124. What about Bath Spa to London, which is further than Cheltenham to London? The season ticket price is £8,064. A season ticket for Bristol Temple Meads to London is £8,244, and a season ticket for Worcester to London is £8,400, yet a season ticket for Cheltenham to London Paddington is £10,344. To make the point absolutely clear: were someone to go way further than Cheltenham, down to Exeter, which is a similarly sized town, the distance from London is 202 miles, which is approximately double the distance to Cheltenham. The season ticket for Exeter to London is £9,788. In other words, it is around £500 cheaper than the Cheltenham season ticket. How can that possibly be fair?

What rubs salt into the wounds is that the service is not as good as it should be. First, there is a systemic problem: it is too slow overall. I see the hon. Member for Stroud (Dr Drew) nodding his head in agreement. Let me put that into some kind of perspective: the journey from Bristol to London takes around an hour and 43 minutes, and from Exeter, which as I said is around double the distance, it takes two hours and two minutes to get to London, yet the shortest journey from Cheltenham takes longer still than that. On average, it takes two hours and 16 minutes.

The first problem, then, is that it is too slow, which is galling because there was a time when Cheltenham had the fastest train service anywhere in the country—the ​Cheltenham Flyer was the fastest train in the land. The second problem is that there are too many delays and cancellations. On Saturday 4 August, five services were cancelled because a train manager was not available.

What is the impact of all this? Put bluntly, the impact in my constituency is modal shift, which is a technical way of saying that people get in their cars. So many of my constituents drive to Kemble, Kingham, Swindon, Oxford, or even all the way to London. My constituents express frustration at the fact that they are forced to do so and at the fact that that has an unhelpful impact on the environment and air quality. Other concerns are expressed about businesses being restricted from developing and expanding in the way that they otherwise might have done. I posted on social media about this issue, and businesses in Eagle Tower in the centre of Cheltenham said that they are unable to recruit in the way that they might otherwise do or to expand their businesses.

This issue is also important because Cheltenham has plans for a cyber-park, which I have been passionate about since 2014 and which has made really crucial steps forward in recent months. The Department for Transport has committed £22 million in transport infrastructure improvements. The Department for International Trade is promoting the park at international conferences and so on. The park will succeed, but its ability to do so will be immeasurably enhanced if we can have an affordable and good rail connection with London.

Dr David Drew (Stroud) (Lab/Co-op)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. Considering that we are talking about the Stroud Valleys line, which goes to Cheltenham, I have a vested interest in this matter. On fares, when I had to travel to Gloucester last week, I found to my shock that it cost an extra £10 either way. That may well be what happens from where I live in Stonehouse, and yet that is exactly the same cost of just getting a train from Stonehouse to London. In other words, the company is charging a person the same when they are on the train as they would do if they were getting on the train for the shorter journey. That cannot be right or fair. Effectively, it is charging the punter more than it should. Does he agree?

Alex Chalk

I do agree, yes. There are two aspects to the pricing perversity that that helpful intervention discloses. First, the line itself is more expensive than similar lines. Secondly, there can be perversities within the line itself, which is an inequity for local people. In the interests of balance, it is important to note that there are some really important and good things taking place. Nationally, I commend the fact that the Government are continuing with an ambitious programme of investment. That is £48 billion over the next five years. The DFT is in the process of moving from Delay Repay 30 to Delay Repay 15, which is more justice for consumers. In Gloucestershire, the redoubling of the Kemble to Swindon line is a hugely positive infrastructure improvement. There are impending timetable changes and new faster trains, so we will be getting a direct hourly sub-two hour service to London in 2019. That is all great. It is also great that Cheltenham is getting an additional 70 surface car parking spaces, taking capacity to at least 320 spaces. That is investment worth £700,000 going into Cheltenham, so that is also good news, and there is further investment ​to come. I am not standing here and saying that, somehow, we should turn the clock back. I do not believe in renationalisation. I am just about old enough to remember British Rail, and it was absolutely terrible. The fact is that, since privatisation, a huge amount of money has been invested in our railways and passenger numbers have soared.

It is not enough to say that renationalisation would be a terrible backward step. It is not enough to say that it would cost the taxpayer, not save them money. It is true that it would reduce investment, not increase it, and innovation would be stifled, not encouraged and so on. However, simply rejecting renationalisation is not enough. The market needs to be forced to act fairly. Private companies have a responsibility to the public, and a particular responsibility where the public is a captive market, and cannot take their custom elsewhere, as is the case on the railways. The provider must operate within a framework that ensures that that monopoly position is not abused and customers are treated fairly. It is fair to say that, in these circumstances, it is not acting as it should. In a debate on 15 October—so, not very long ago—the then rail Minister referred to “historical anomalies”. He also stated:

“No one could defend the current fares system”.—[Official Report, 15 October 2018; Vol. 647, c. 476.]

He was absolutely right, and I really welcomed that frank admission. One issue is that monopoly power on certain lines distorts pricing. For example, if we look at Grantham, which is also around 100 miles from London, we see that there are three franchises competing to provide a service. A season ticket from Grantham is around £3,000 a year less. Equally, if we look at Crewe, where there are two operators, it is only £500 a year more, despite being 170 miles from London, so a considerable distance further. The issue of whether there is a single operator or more providers can make a big difference as well.

This issue must be fixed. I am aware that the Government have commissioned the Rail Delivery Group’s “Easier Fares” consultation, and are considering that. I am also aware that, on 11 October, the Secretary of State launched a “root and branch review of the rail industry”. In his words, he said:

“It is vital that this review leaves no stone unturned and makes bold recommendations for the future.”

I warmly welcome that, but one of those stones needs to be marked “Cheltenham”. We are not asking for special treatment, but we are asking for fair treatment. For the sake of my constituents and the future of the town I represent, that cannot come soon enough.

Stephen Barclay – 2018 Statement on Agreements with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

Below is the text of the statement made by Stephen Barclay, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, in the House of Commons on 20 December 2018.

The UK has reached agreement with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (the “EEA EFTA states”), and separately with Switzerland, to resolve the issues arising with those states from the UK’s exit from the European Union. The Government have been clear that their first priority as part of securing a smooth and orderly exit from the EU was to provide certainty for citizens. As such, we announced in February that we were seeking agreements with these countries, similar to the UK’s withdrawal agreement with the EU.

The EEA EFTA states participate in the single market and other EU-led initiatives. As a result, the agreement with them also addresses a small number of the other separation issues that we have agreed with the EU in the withdrawal agreement.

The EEA EFTA agreement will cover:

Citizens’ rights. As with part two of the withdrawal agreement, the agreement ensures that citizens falling within scope will have broadly the same entitlements to work, study and access public services and benefits as now.

Goods on the market, public procurement, intellectual property, and data protection. Provisions in this agreement broadly mirror the arrangements set out in the withdrawal agreement. Where necessary, small technical adaptations have been made, in line with existing technical differences between EU law and the EEA agreement.

Ongoing judicial proceedings. This will allow UK lawyers to continue to appear before the EFTA court in cases which are ongoing at the point of exit.

Police and criminal justice. These provisions broadly mirror the arrangements set out in the withdrawal agreement, but for the smaller subset of police and criminal justice matters in which Norway and Iceland participate.

Governance arrangements. As for EU citizens under the withdrawal agreement, EEA EFTA citizens will be covered by the Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA). A joint committee consisting of the UK and the EEA EFTA states will be established to oversee this agreement.

The agreement reached with the Swiss Confederation will lay out the arrangements for citizens when the current EU-Swiss free movement of persons agreement ceases to apply between the UK and Switzerland. This supports the ending of free movement after we leave the EU. The terms of this agreement protect the rights of Swiss citizens in the UK and UK nationals in Switzerland, ensuring that they can continue to contribute to their communities and live their lives broadly as they do now.

Together, these agreements will protect over 50,000 UK citizens living in these countries and nearly 30,000 citizens from these countries in the UK.

It is also the Government’s intention that the rights of these citizens would be protected in the event of a no-deal outcome with the EU. The citizens’ rights agreement with Switzerland already addresses this. We are discussing a separate citizens’ rights agreement with the EEA EFTA states for a no-deal scenario.

I will be depositing these agreements and explainers today in the Libraries of both Houses. The Government intend to sign both agreements before exit day and legislate for them through the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) ​Bill. Both agreements are subject to ratification processes in each of the relevant states, including the provisions of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (CRaG) 2010 in the UK.