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Treason Felony, Act of Settlement and Parliamentary Oath

Mr. Kevin McNamara accordingly presented a Bill to amend section 3 of the Treason Felony Act 1848 in order to establish that it is no longer an offence to express an opinion in favour of republicanism or advocating the abolition of the monarchy; to amend the Act of Settlement to provide that persons in communion with the Roman Catholic church are able to succeed to the Crown; to amend the law relating to the parliamentary oath; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 11 January, and to be printed [Bill 77].


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(1)(a) (Consideration of draft deregulation orders),


Question agreed to.

Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Before we come to the next item of business, could you inquire whether it is possible to make available copies of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, under which the extradition regulations are to be made? As you will remember, Madam Deputy Speaker, the Act received Royal Assent in the early hours of Friday morning. We all understand the haste with which the last stages proceeded, but when inquiries were last made in the Vote Office, copies of the Act were not available. Is it possible and proper for Parliament to debate regulations when it is not possible to obtain copies of the Act under which they are to be made?

Madam Deputy Speaker: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order, which is in fact a point for debate. Ministers who are present will have heard his comments.

Simon Hughes: With respect, Madam Deputy Speaker, that cannot be a point for debate. The regulation is to be made under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act. The conditions of the relevant section of that Act were controversial; they have been debated and changed by Government amendment and by negotiation in the past couple of days. It is therefore very important that my colleagues have the final wording of what is permitted under that section, as opposed to what was in the original drafting. As a matter of principle, I think that we should have the Act. But if we cannot have it, it is proper that we should have its final section, which received Royal Assent last Friday.

Madam Deputy Speaker: I repeat what I said to the hon. Gentleman: there is nothing to stop the debate proceeding. That is the intention of the motion on the Order Paper.

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5.47 pm

The Minister for Criminal Justice, Sentencing and Law Reform (Mr. Keith Bradley): I beg to move,

In moving the 2001 regulations, I shall start by responding to the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes). Obviously, it would be preferable for the hon. Gentleman to have a copy of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. As he knows, it includes an enabling provision, which we approved, to allow debate on the regulations. I know that he does not have the precise words of that provision, but is only an enabling measure and does not affect our ability to debate the regulations, of which I hope he has the full text.

Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey): I have the full text. Will the Minister explain why he is introducing what he called the 2001 regulations, whereas the published regulations include the words "Regulations 2002"?

Mr. Bradley: I apologise for the error. I am sure that Hansard will correct it and make sure that the right regulations are in the text of our debate. Clearly the season of good will has not yet hit Liberal Democrat Members.

I am pleased to be able to introduce the regulations, both because they are intrinsically worth while, as I hope I shall be able to demonstrate, and because, as I have just pointed out, they are the first such regulations to be made under the provisions of section 111 of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, which received Royal Assent last week.

The regulations demonstrate the value of the enabling power that that section created. The changes that they make are desirable, but essentially quite minor. It would simply not be worth devoting the parliamentary time that would be required to enact primary legislation to give effect to their content; the previous Government were evidently of the same view, because they did not introduce primary legislation to make the required changes when they were in office.

Now, however, we have the opportunity to give effect to the 1995 and 1996 European Union conventions on extradition, which will bring our extradition arrangements more closely into line with those of most of our European partners.

Before describing in detail what the regulations do, I shall say a little about what they do not do. They do not give effect to the European arrest warrant, which is a subject that has attracted some comment in recent weeks. I therefore do not propose to deal with that. The necessary legislation to give effect to that instrument will be contained in an extradition Bill, which will be introduced early in the new year. There will be adequate opportunity

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to debate that Bill, which will go much wider than Europe, and cover our extradition relations with the rest of the world.

Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot): Does that mean that the Home Secretary cannot be extradited from the United Kingdom for xenophobia?

Mr. Bradley: I shall continue with the serious elements of the debate.

As I have said, the regulations are designed to give effect to two European conventions. These are formally known as the convention on simplified extradition procedures between member states of the European Union of 1995, and the convention relating to extradition between member states of the EU of 1996. The first was signed on 10 March 1995 and the second on 27 September 1996. The two conventions make a number of changes to speed up and simplify extradition between EU member states, and require amendments to the Extradition Act 1989.

Assuming that the regulations are agreed to, they will come into force 90 days after the date of the United Kingdom's notification of our ratification to the Secretary General of the Council of the EU under the provisions of the conventions, which we intend will happen immediately.

Currently, extradition between member states of the EU takes place on the basis of the European convention on extradition of 1957—the ECE. The two conventions amend the provisions of the ECE between EU states. Their provisions do not affect our extradition arrangements with the Republic of Ireland, as those are regulated not by the ECE but by reciprocal legislation.

We are bringing the regulations forward in advance of the extradition Bill, which will be introduced in the new year to meet the deadline for the ratification of the two conventions by all member states set by the special Justice and Home Affairs Council on 20 September as part of its response to the terrible events in the United States on 11 September.

The conventions are nothing new. Indeed, they were the impetus for the review of extradition law that began in 1997. That was ultimately to lead to the consultation paper published earlier this year entitled "The Law on Extradition: a Review", which contained nine specific recommendations regarding the two conventions, as well as a wide range of other proposed amendments. A summary of the responses received was placed in the Library, as well as on the Home Office website, on 24 October. In addition, the conventions were subject to, and cleared, the parliamentary scrutiny process while they were being negotiated.

The amendments to the Extradition Act 1989 are set out in schedule 9 to the draft regulations. They are limited to countries in respect of which the conventions are in force between them and the UK. The provisions of the conventions, and hence the amendments to the Extradition Act, apply only to requests made after the regulations come into force.

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): I have been reading the regulations and schedule 9. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that under the proposed regulations, anyone

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indicted under the recently passed terrorist legislation could be extradited without having appeared in open court in the United Kingdom, or am I wrong about that?

Mr. Bradley: My understanding is that my hon. Friend is wrong on that point. However, I shall check. I hope that I shall be able to respond later. I do not want to mislead him. If he cannot remain in his place throughout the debate, I shall certainly write to him. It is important that we get these things right.

Jeremy Corbyn: I thank my right hon. Friend. If the regulations applied to someone indicted under the legislation that we have so recently passed, could he or she be extradited without having gone through a legal process either here or in the extraditing country?

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