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Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East): Is it not significant that, in all that barrage of questions, the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) expressed no concern for the victims of the terror of Pinochet during his years in office, when he was ready to deny justice to thousands? Because of that, we must be a model of justice in this respect--as, indeed, I believe my right hon. Friend has been.

Does my right hon. Friend's statement imply that he believes Senator Pinochet has a veto over who receives copies of his medical report? Surely representations can only properly be made by the interested organisations if they have full sight of the report. The interests of justice will be met not by a self-serving disclosure to only the Home Secretary and the Crown Prosecution Service, but by disclosure to all groups with an interest in the case, including countries that have sought the extradition, and bodies such as Amnesty International which have intervened. If they are to make proper representations, they must have the full medical facts.

Mr. Straw: In this case, as in all other extradition cases, I have sought to follow the rule of law and to make decisions as fairly and carefully as possible. I have followed the same procedure in respect of the medical report as I have in respect of other extradition applications. I was advised that, at this stage of the proceedings, the question of to whom the report could be submitted--other than me, and the United Kingdom prosecuting authorities--was a matter for Senator Pinochet.

As for representations by other interested parties, I am bound--not least by section 12 of the 1989 Act, but also by a wider discretion--to take into account all representations made to me. That applies both to representations relating directly to the senator's medical condition--I have before me a full, thorough and independent medical report--and to representations relating to other matters.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey): I entirely appreciate the Home Secretary's

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quasi-judicial position, but will he tell us on what legal basis--the 1989 Act, or common law--his prospective decision will be made, if he proceeds as he has suggested that he will? Also, will the decision that Senator Pinochet may be unfit to stand trial be based on evidence that not just the Crown Prosecution Service, as the prosecution authority, but the Spanish Government, as the authority requesting extradition, should be entitled to see? It was the Chilean Government, with the assent of General Pinochet, who asked for the medical matters to be taken into consideration.

Without going into more detail, can the Home Secretary tell us whether it is a question of the senator's mental or physical health? Can he tell us specifically whether the test of unfitness to stand trial that applies in this country is the test that would apply in Chile if the senator returned there? In any event, can he confirm that, whatever his final decision, it will not alter the decision of the courts last year that heads of state are not immune from either prosecution or extradition if they have committed offences such as those of which General Pinochet has been alleged to be guilty, and on the basis of which the extradition has been sought?

Mr. Straw: In response to the hon. Gentleman's first and last questions, I and any other Secretary of State have to take decisions in extradition matters on the legal basis of the Extradition Act 1989, the extradition conventions to which we are party in so far as they are regarded as forming part of our domestic law and the weight of judicial authority, including last year's decision by the Appellate Committee of the other place in respect of the applications.

On the hon. Gentleman's question about fitness to stand trial, it is a decision for me and has to be so, given the stage that has been reached in the extradition proceedings. Among the criteria that I took into account were whether the senator would be in a position to follow the proceedings, to give intelligible instructions to those representing him and to give a coherent statement of his case, and of recollection.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): I vehemently support the careful and, indeed, impeccable way in which the Home Secretary has gone about the matter, but, in a personal capacity--not as chairman of the all-party Latin America group--may I say that many people in the continent of South America, many of whom have cause to loathe Senator Pinochet and what he stands for, will nevertheless think, rightly or wrongly, that the decision should be made not in Madrid, not in London, but in Santiago? Will the Home Secretary take that into consideration?

Mr. Straw: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for what he says about the way in which I have dealt with the matter. I hope that I can continue to work in that way until it reaches a conclusion. As for his other points, of course I note what he says.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood): May I express my appreciation that the Home Secretary did eventually sanction the medical examination of Senator Pinochet? He will be aware that I represented to him on

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24 and 26 November my concern about the senator's health. In his consideration of the representations that will be made, will he bear in mind at all times the interests of the people of Chile? Is it not true that Chile is now a democracy in every sense of the word? It is conducting an impeccable presidential election campaign. Have not the Chilean people and the Government whom the newly elected president will have the honour of leading the right to put the matter behind them and to look to the future with hope and every confidence?

Mr. Straw: On the hon. Gentleman's first question, I note what he says about sanctioning the medical examination. I was aware, of course, of his interest in the matter. I did ensure, as did my officials, that we proceeded as speedily as possible in the complicated process of identifying and assembling a team of independent expert clinicians and then getting them together to make the examination.

On the hon. Gentleman's second point, I have set out--for example, on 15 April 1999 in the Official Report of the House of Commons--the considerations that I took into account when I issued my second authority to proceed.

Mr. Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway): I offer what limited support I can to what has fallen from the Home Secretary. Those of us who made common cause with him at protests and vigils immediately after the murder of Allende and the nightmare that followed in Chile know that he personally has nothing to prove to himself, to the House or to the international community when it comes to expressing opposition to that regime, but will he reflect on what has been achieved as a result of what he has done and the steps that he has taken in the past 15 months? That odious man has effectively been tried in an English court--[Hon. Members: "No."] I shall deal with Conservative Members' comments in a moment.

The man's crimes, and the infamy that he has committed, have been revealed in that court, and that court has found in the clearest possible terms that, in respect of those crimes, he has the clearest possible case to answer. [Hon. Members: "Ask a question."] The court has found as a matter of law--

Madam Speaker: Order. I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to ask his question now. Other hon. Members are seeking to ask questions, and a full statement follows this one. May I have a question now for the Home Secretary?

Mr. Marshall-Andrews: My Lord--[Laughter.] Madam Speaker, my question is this: does the Home Secretary believe that the case has revealed a very dark side to Conservative Members? Does he agree that, although there are honourable exceptions among them, the case has emphasised the fact that hon. Members sit on two sides in the House?

Mr. Straw: My hon. and learned Friend and the House will forgive me if, in the light of my comments on my quasi-judicial role, I do not follow him.

Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot): Although I join my right hon. and hon. Friends in welcoming the fact that the Home Secretary now feels minded to bring this

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unfortunate fiasco to a conclusion, will he confirm that the matter could drag on for months, and that that sick man could be detained in the United Kingdom for many weeks and months? Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House some indication of how long the process is likely to continue?

Further to the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson), is it not true that every political party in Chile has said that they should be entitled to resolve the matter, and that the matter should not be usurped by the British Government, the British Parliament or the British courts?

Is it not bizarre that the Government seek reconciliation between white and black in South Africa, and Jew and Arab in the middle east, and even invite us to sit down with republican terrorists in Northern Ireland, but deny the people of Chile the right to reconcile their differences there?

Mr. Straw: For the reason that I gave to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews), I shall not respond directly to the hon. Gentleman's comments--if he will forgive me--except to say that, on the issue of the time scale, I have not only endeavoured to secure but have secured a situation in which, after receiving the original reports from the Chilean embassy, I acted as quickly as I could consistent with fairness and care in the case. I shall continue to do that, as I recognise that Senator Pinochet and his representatives would be anxious to secure a conclusion to the matter as quickly as possible.

I have to take fully into account all representations that I may receive. In this type of decision, I am subject to review by the courts, and I cannot anticipate whether that will occur.

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