Mr. Ainsworth: Of course, we would have to include details of the offence, specifying whether it was a violent offence or a theft, for example, as well as the circumstances in which the offence was committed, but it would not necessarily have to contain details of exactly what injuries had been suffered or a full list of every detail of the loss incurred. It is for the court to take those matters into account during the trial and, if the person is found guilty, during sentencing. An extraordinary amount of detail may not necessary for the purposes of extradition. However, the details of the offence—the what, when and where—would have to be provided. I hope that that reassures the hon. Gentleman.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. Hawkins: I beg to move amendment No. 2, in
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 127, in
No. 10, in
No. 11, in
No. 131, in
No. 149, in
No. 84, in
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'(2) The only authority to be recognised in a British court for the purposes of this Act from a category 1 territory is to be a judge of a High Court (equivalent to the High Court of England and Wales) in which the presumption of innocence applies in the same way as it applies in the courts of England and Wales.'
Mr. Hawkins: This is a substantive group of amendments, some of which were tabled by the hon. Members for Orkney and Shetland and for Torridge and West Devon, who will doubtless speak to them. It is fair to say that many concerns have been expressed by the Opposition and outside organisations, but especially by the Select Committee on Home Affairs in its excellent report about this part of the Bill.
Amendment No. 10 seeks to delete subsection (5). We want to ensure that there is a judicial safeguard for British citizens who may face extradition, not only the opinion of a designated authority. The Bill is silent about what a designated authority will be. The explanatory notes state that it is intended to be the National Criminal Intelligence Service and, in Scotland, the Crown Office. If that is what the Government intend, why is that stated only in the explanatory notes and not in the Bill? It would be helpful if the Minister were to say that he is prepared to include that in the Bill.
The main criticism of clause 2, to which the amendments refer, is set out in paragraph 58 and subsequent paragraphs of the Select Committee's report. It is a serious allegation, which is bald and strongly worded. Paragraph 58 states:
We tabled these important amendments to reflect precisely the concern that the European Scrutiny Committee and now the Home Affairs Committee have raised. The report continues:
We think that that is vital. It is part of the protection about which my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon has spoken powerfully.
The report goes on to say that the Under-Secretary
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In that case, those assurances were given to me and my hon. Friends the Members for Stratford-on-Avon and for Henley (Mr. Johnson), because we attended that Committee.
The report continues:
That having changed, the Home Affairs Committee says in paragraph 62:
The Select Committee rightly drew that conclusion, because
The Home Affairs Committee concludes in paragraph 63:
That reinforces the points that I and my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon have made about the sort of countries that are likely to become members of the European Union and some existing members. My hon. Friend referred to his experience of dealing with constituents languishing in Spanish courts. There are also those who languish in Italian prisons without ever being brought before a court, a matter that the Select Committee and some organisations have raised. Italy is an EU partner country, for which many of us have a high regard in other respects, but those who know about the Italian system cannot have confidence that it will protect people who face charges before its courts, given our experience of trying to protect British citizens who languish in Italian prisons and our knowledge of what happens to Italian citizens before their own courts. That is why the Home Affairs Committee went on to say:
The amendment would ensure that the judicial authority that issues the warrants is a high court judge and that British citizens have the protection of
Column Number: 045knowing that the warrants had received detailed judicial scrutiny by the equivalent of a English High Court judge, that is in a superior court of a territory in which the presumption of innocence as applied in the courts of England and Wales applies. Organisations on the right and left in politics—all those concerned about civil liberties—have written to me and to other members of the Committee because they are worried that in other jurisdictions that may be covered by the proposal there would be no presumption of innocence.
We want the Bill to include reference to a judicial authority. Amendment No. 127, tabled by the Liberal Democrats, which I believe was drafted by Justice, would have a similar effect, as it would restore the words ''a judicial authority''. We go further because we want to ensure that there is protection for British citizens. The amendment reinforces the points made so powerfully by my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon.
It is extraordinary that the Minister is presenting a Bill that completely undermines his assurances to previous Committees. The Minister smiles but I do not regard it as a laughing matter; it is extremely serious. The Minister should take more notice of the strongly expressed views of the distinguished Home Affairs Committee, which is dominated by members of his party and chaired by a distinguished Labour Chairman, the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin). The Government, who usually take notice of the hon. Gentleman's views, seem completely to have ignored them on this occasion. The Minister may want to dismiss the matter with a smile and laugh now, but when the Bill as drafted goes to another place he will face the strictures of lawyers who are more highly qualified than I am and of parliamentarians who are far more senior than both of us. I strongly suspect that the Minister will not get the measure through Parliament unless the protections set out in the amendment are included at a later stage.
|©Parliamentary copyright 2003||Prepared 9 January 2003|