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Jeremy Corbyn: I am grateful for what the Minister said about the right of discretion. Will he confirm that, under both the existing legislation and the regulations, the Home Secretarythrough the Attorney-Generalhas the right to decide whether a case can proceed against someone in regard to an extradition request? Could the Home Office block the request in the initial stages?
The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) asked which options the United Kingdom had taken, and how the UK compared with other countries in that respect. The answer can be found in schedules 4 and 8 of the regulations, but I will write to the hon. Gentleman if he wants some more information.
I was slightly surprised when the right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) protested about the fact that the regulations were not incorporated in primary legislation. It was his partyindeed, I think he was a member of the Government thenthat signed up to the conventions. I do not know what representations he made then about primary legislation, but we, as the official Opposition, would have been happy to debate such legislation.
I feel that we are making progressthe provisions in the new Act allow us to do sobut the right hon. Gentleman will be glad to learn that the new Bill will provide an opportunity for a full debate on extradition. I am sure that he will participate with his usual assiduity.
Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield): I do not want to make a meal of this, but the Minister seemed to suggest that the last Conservative Government might have intended to introduce these measures by means of statutory instrument rather than primary legislation. As I am sure he knows, until the passing of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill last week it would have been impossible to do that.
Mr. Bradley: Either the hon. Gentleman misunderstood, or I did not make myself clear. I was trying to say that the last Government had an opportunity to produce primary legislation, but for whatever reasonobviously, I was not privy to discussions on business management at the timechose not to do so. We now have the opportunity to do so through secondary legislation and the new provision in the 2001 Act. We have taken that opportunity, because of the link with terrorism. It is right to do so, but I stress that there will be a debate on the primary legislation when a new Bill is introduced in the new year.
Mr. Bradley: I hear what the hon. Gentleman says. He always manages to find a way of criticising while protesting that he is not doing so. I shall not pursue the point. We are old adversaries on these matters.
The right hon. Member for Wells referred to the reform of the extradition process and the Soering judgment. The Government will be reforming extradition, and we shall introduce primary legislation in due course. These regulations are being debated today because of our commitment to ratify them by 1 January. I think that I have explained our position.
The right hon. Gentleman also raised the issue of crimes committed in the United Kingdom. The position of extraterritorial jurisdiction is not affected by the regulations. The Extradition Act 1989 remains the same, subject to the alterations to the sentencing threshold in section 2.
The right hon. Gentleman asked whether there is a limit to what a person can be tried for once extradited. If a person consents to extradition and waives specialty protection, he could be tried for any offence once returned. However, if the person contests extradition, he will benefit from specialty protection, subject to the provisions of these conventions, which will allow other minor charges to be brought.
I hope that, in the time available, I have covered most of the questions that have been put by right hon. and hon. Members. If I have not picked up all the points or have not been able to answer them, I shall ensure that hon. Members receive the information that they have requested. That will be important in guiding us into the further debates on these matters in the new year.
From the comments that hon. Members have made, it is clear that I should enjoy my Christmas because 2002 may be a challenging time on these matters. I wish everyone a merry Christmas, and I hope that they return in 2002 with a spirit of good will as we continue to debate what are important matters, as hon. Members have recognised. I hope that we approve these regulations today.
Mr. Tom Cox (Tooting): I want to talk about Cyprus. I am the chairperson of the Commonwealth parliamentary all-party Cyprus group. Many hon. Members on both sides of the House, some of whom are present in the Chamber, belong to that all-party group.
The United Kingdom has a long association with Cyprus. We are one of the guarantor powers for the Republic of Cyprus, which is a member of the Commonwealth. Since the invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the island has been divided. More than 30 per cent. of northern Cyprus is occupied by the Turkish army, which led that invasion. Since 1974, there have been many debates and many questions in the House on the policy of the Government of the day towards working for an honourable settlement of the tragedy in Cyprus. We have always been told that the Government support an honourable settlement, and work on the basis of the resolutions on Cyprus that have been passed by the United Nations. Those statements are to be welcomed, but sadly they have achieved nothing over those many years. The division and occupation of Cyprus remain. Over that period, there have been many opportunities to work for a settlement, but regrettably none of them have succeeded.
I had a debate in the House some years ago on the future of Famagusta. It is now a deserted town, but prior to the invasion it was one of the most popular towns in the whole of the Cyprus. We were led to believe by Mr. Denktash, who speaks for the Turkish Cypriots of northern Cyprus, that Famagusta would be returned. Greek and Turkish Cypriots could have lived together, worked together and started to build a future that would have insured their rights and security. Sadly, as so often happens, Mr. Denktash refused to honour the commitment that he made.
Years and years have passed, and the occupation of a sizeable percentage of a Commonwealth country continues. We have had countless meetings and discussions with senior diplomats. Politicians have been to Cyprus and have met the President of the Republic and Mr. Denktash. Sadly, nothing has happened, despite many attempts to achieve a breakthrough.
Two major developments have now taken place in Cyprus that offer hope for a future for both communities on that island. First, there is a clear indication that the Republic of Cyprus will become a member of the European Union, possibly in 2004. Secondly, Mr. Denktash is now aware that he and his closest ally, Turkey, have achieved nothing since 1974. All the evidence shows that the economy in northern Cyprus is in a terrible condition, and that vast numbers of true Turkish Cypriots want a settlement and the whole of Cyprus to become a member of the European Union. I warmly welcome that.
The great strength of the all-party Cyprus group is that we have always clearly said that the rights and security of Turkish Cypriots are as important to us as the rights and security of Greek Cypriots. That has always been the cornerstone of the speeches that many hon. Members have made over many years.
Turning to the present, I believe that there is now an excellent opportunity for a progressive future to be developed on the island of Cyprus. I welcome the discussions that are now taking place between President Clerides and Mr. Denktash. Those talks will not be easy, but that will be a test of what both men are able to achieve. I am in no doubt as to the commitment of President Clerides to work with all his might and power for an honourable settlement.
If one considers, for example, the application of the Republic of Cyprus to become a member of the European Union, Mr. Denktash has had countless opportunities presented to him by President Clerides to join him in a joint Denktash-Clerides presentation for the whole of the island of Cyprus to be involved in the discussions of its application. However, as we know, Mr. Denktash has only one reply to those invitations: "Recognise northern Cyprus as an independent state or I am not interested in taking part in any discussions." The United Nations does not recognise an independent state of northern Cyprus, the EU most certainly does not, and neither does the Council of Europe. The only country that recognises that so-called state, in being only because of the Turkish army, is Turkey.
We have recently heard statements by the Turkish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister that if the Republic of Cyprus is allowed membership of the European Union, Turkey will consider annexing the whole of northern Cyprus. I tabled a written question on the issue earlier this year and I received a reply from my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe, which said:
I want those talks to succeed, but we expect Cyprus to become a member of the EU in 2004. I hope that Mr. Denktash will not attempt to say, "We are now in talks. Let us put off membership of the EU until the talks between Mr. Clerides and me have been concluded." Any attempt to make such an argument should be totally opposed, and I reiterate the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe that a settlement is not a precondition for entry to the EU by the Republic of Cyprus. The coming months will be vital to Cyprus. The opportunity is there for a settlement and I and many others want to see Cypriots, be they Greek or Turkish, living and working together and building a stable and prosperous future for their country that they and their families can all enjoy.