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Heathcoat-Amory: Freedom, Justice and Security in Europe

Speech to the European Convention

Our thanks are due to the hard work of the working group chairman, John Bruton, but the report does not do justice to the diversity of views expressed. It uses phrases like, "the Group recommends," when in fact I, and sometimes others, were in disagreement. The report therefore gives a false picture of unanimity, and this has serious implications for the working methods of the Convention.

It is important that minority views are referred to and recorded, in order to stimulate debate and show the public that we are debating issues and options.

Second, the group only discharged half the Laeken mandate. The case for more efficiency is made, but we were also asked to become more democratic, accountable and closer to the public. These issues - immigration, criminal justice, detention, penalties and policing - are very sensitive. They are about the coercive power of the state. They go to the heart of each country's democracy, and our common law system is very different to that on the Continent.

Neil MacCormick in his intervention was right to remind us that even within member states there are different legal systems.

To 'approximate' (which means harmonize) these laws, to apply majority voting, and to centralise their administration, would widen the gap between the EU and the public, and intensify the democratic deficit.

The working group did useful work on cooperation and coordination at operational level, sharing intelligence and the like. But its recommendations on other matters are unacceptable.

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