|International Criminal Court [Lords]
The Chairman: Is it the Committee's wish that the amendment be withdrawn?
Mr. Blunt: On a point of order, Mr. Cook. I know that you have moved on, but I thought that I saw the Minister trying to catch your eye. I have asked the Minister for an assurance. We are at an important point of the discussion. I hope that the Minister will have an opportunity to respond.
The Chairman: I picked up the phrase ``at a later stage'', and wrongly assumed that the hon. Gentleman was expecting that assurance later.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. John Battle): I apologise for not making it clearer that I wished to speak. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Blunt) for his undertaking to withdraw his amendment. There is a technical flaw in amendment No. 40. I know from being in opposition that it is hard to get the legal niceties right, but that is not the substance of our objection. Amendments Nos. 38 and 39 would, through implication, have altered the tone and intention of the Bill. They implied that if Parliament did not like the ICC's ruling on admissibility, we would withdraw from the ICC.
This is not about blind faith, but an element of trust is involved. In one sense, I did not think that the analogy given by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Hendrick) was too far removed. We should go into this with some commitment. Our first position should not be to negotiate an immediate withdrawal. Relationships may work better when one is attempting to work at them. I extend that analogy deliberately because a process is involved here. The hon. Member for Reigate invited me to make that point. An organisation is being formed I emphasise the word ``organisation''and we must get together to agree the details.
Any institution has the capacity not to work. We cannot always legislate simply for failure and nor can the organisation be issued a blank cheque to enable it to behave in any way that it sees fit. We agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman about that. Judges, for example, cannot develop the crimes in the statute as the hon. Gentleman suggested. Article 22 states that the crimes must be considered as set out in the statute and cannot be extended by analogy. Similarly, the ICC cannot ``develop'' the crimes in the statute to create new crimes. I listened to the hon. Gentleman's comments about the international drugs trade with great interest, but this may not be the arena in which to sort it out and at present it cannot be that arena. New crimes can be created only by amending the statute.
Article 22.2 of the statute states:
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising those issues and I hope that he is assured that we want to be proactive in this organisation. It will develop, but it cannot go down the road suggested by the hon. Gentleman: defining new clients is ruled out under the statute.
Mr. Blunt: I am grateful to the Minister for his reply, but he has not provided sufficient reassurance for me to say that I shall definitely not return to the matter on Report. As you rightly noted, Mr. Cook, there will be a further opportunity to discuss similar declarations later. At this initial stage of parliamentary considerationpart of the ratification process of the statutewe should put our reservations on the record. I shall examine the Minister's words further to establish whether to return to the matter on Report. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. Garnier: I beg to move amendment No. 14, in page 2, line 10, leave out `shall' and insert `may'.
The Chairman: With this we may take the following amendments: No. 15, in page 2, line 15, leave out `shall' and insert `may'.
No. 16, in page 2, line 24, leave out `shall' and insert `may'.
No. 17, in clause 3, page 2, line 34, leave out `shall' and insert `may'.
No. 18, in clause 3, page 2, line 41, leave out `shall' and insert `may'.
No. 19, in clause 3, page 3, line 3, leave out `shall' and insert `may'.
No. 21, in clause 3, page 3, line 10, leave out `shall' and insert `may'.
Mr. Garnier: The amendments relate to clauses 2 and 3, which deal with the arrest and delivery of persons. The amendments are designed to give the Secretary of State the discretion not to initiate the sending of documents to a judicial officer, thereby maintaining the autonomy of the United Kingdom in international matters.
The amendments to clause 2 are based on the premise that the Secretary of State should be accountable to Parliament. We submit that he should retain the discretion to refuse to activate a request for arrest and surrender. The other amendments would give the Secretary of State discretion in endorsing the warrant for execution in the United Kingdom where the request for arrest and surrender is accompanied by a warrant for arrest and the judicial officer is satisfied with it.
The purpose is not to destroy the scheme of the Rome statute, but it is worth noting that although the statute does not presently permit the exercise of discretion by the Government or the Secretary of State, it does permit it by the court. I shall demonstrate the fact with reference to articles in the statute.
I am unsure whether the Solicitor-General or the Minister of State will respond, but I should like to return to points raised in another place by my noble Friend Lord Howell of Guildford. In response to the opinion of Geoffrey Robinson, QC, who said that our soldiers would, in theory, have to be tried by the International Criminal Court, my noble Friend stated:
The amendments in another place did not find favour with the Government or the Liberal Democrats. I want to take the Committee through some of the arguments that were raised against my noble Friend Lord Howell in Committee in the other place. Having introduced similar amendments on 8 February, my noble Friend was met by these comments from the Attorney-General. Lord Williams said:
The Attorney-General was supported by Lord Lester of Herne Hill, the Liberal Democrat lawyer, who said:
I find myself in a frustrating position: no matter how cogent or lacking in merit my arguments might be, no matter what the Committee does with the amendments that I or my hon. Friends might wish to debate or press to a Division, the agreement that the Government, as the representative of the sovereign, has made with the other signatoriesthe other state partiesin relation to the statute of Rome will not be altered.
|©Parliamentary copyright 2001||Prepared 24 April 2001|