Extradition Bill

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Mr. Maples rose—

Mr. Hawkins rose—

The Chairman: Order. Before I call the next speaker, I should tell hon. Members that I will not be calling a stand part debate on clause 2. We must make progress, and there is an amendment to almost every line of the clause.

Mr. Maples: I want to pursue the question of judicial authority with the Minister. He is right that the framework document states that this is a judicial decision. Article 6 states:

    ''The issuing judicial authority shall be the judicial authority of the issuing Member State.''

That is as it should be. However, subsection (5) does not state that the authority should be a judicial one, and does not refer to the framework document. It states that the authority

    ''has the function of issuing arrest warrants in the category 1 country.''

As the Minister said, there are several ways of issuing arrest warrants. It is possible that there are some people who can issue arrest warrants in a category 1 territory who would not qualify under the framework document, and others, such as judicial authorities, who would. I do not understand, therefore, why the Minister resists the insertion of ''judicial'' in the appropriate places, or why he does not include a cross-reference back to the framework document stating that the authority for the function of issuing arrest warrants is given under the framework document. That might be a cumbersome way of covering it, but it would probably do so.

I stress to the Minister the importance of inserting ''judicial'' in the appropriate places. That would ensure that the protection that he claims that the Government built into the framework document by insisting on the use of the ''judicial'' in three or four places is reflected in the legislation. It is the legislation under which people will be extradited, and not the framework decision itself. It seems to me that it is an easy concession for the Minister to make. I cannot see that it would create problems for the Government, and it would set the minds of several of us at rest.

Mr. Hawkins: I echo what my hon. Friend has said, but would like to go a little further. It is extraordinary

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that we, as parliamentarians, are listening to a Minister saying that there will never be a problem, and that we do not need to refer in the Bill to the framework document, but merely have to read the two documents in conjunction.

As I said in relation to the wider issues covered by the Bill during the debate on clause 1, the Minister's attitude is that this historic House of Parliament is now just a rubber stamp. We have to accept what Ministers of his or any other Government negotiate in Europe, and so there is no point in having a Parliament.

We are concerned, as Members of Parliament, to protect British citizens with British law. I accept the point made by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland that we must bear in mind that there are two systems of law in the UK. However, whether a constituent is from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England, our job as Members is to ensure that the legislation is right, and that only legislation that is proper should govern British citizens. The Opposition feel strongly that our job as Members is to ensure that UK legislation is right. That is the purpose of the Committee system, and that is why we scrutinise the detail of the legislation line by line, word by word and clause by clause.

It is not acceptable for the Minister to say that we must read the Bill in conjunction with the European framework document, nor is it acceptable for him to say that there have never been any problems with an extradition request or with the sort of person issuing it. Does the Minister not remember the acres of newsprint generated by the Pinochet case? One of the issues that the Law Lords had to consider, not once but several times, was the status of the Spanish magistrate—I think he was called Garzon. That magistrate was seeking to extradite someone, who was resident temporarily in this country to receive medical treatment, back to another country for offences committed in a third country that was nothing to do with the EU.

I feel passionately about that because my constituency in Surrey had to face the outrageous police costs that the then Home Secretary, who is now the Foreign Secretary, said on television would not fall on my constituents. Surrey police had to spend £1.2 million on the extra security for Pinochet while he was under house arrest, but the Government reimbursed them only to the tune of £600,000, so the cost of the Pinochet shambles fell on my constituents. For the Minister to say that there have never been issues in recent times about the issuing of extradition warrants or the status of the person seeking to issue them is an attempt to rewrite history in the most extraordinary way.

Mr. Ainsworth: Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that a Spanish magistrate is not a judicial authority?

Mr. Hawkins: I am saying that the Minister was wrong to suggest that there have not been recent problems about the status of a person issuing extradition warrants. In fact, that issue has consumed hours of judicial, political and television time and acres of newsprint. The Minister cannot

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rewrite history. The Opposition have said that, precisely because of the problems that have arisen. We want to protect our citizens by ensuring that a superior court is involved and that the presumption of innocence applies. We want our citizens to be protected by our historic traditions, such as habeas corpus and the presumption of innocence. That is why we feel so passionately.

It is simply not acceptable for the Minister to brush all that away and say, ''Well, it doesn't matter that that is not in our legislation. You have to look at the European directive.'' He blithely says that if the issuing or requesting country does not use a judicial authority, it will be in breach of the framework decision. Is he really saying that other countries never breach framework decisions and always act in line with every dot and comma of every European decision?

Our constituents complain to us all the time that we are forced to comply with every dot and comma of European legislation, whereas people in other countries are not. Many of our constituents are concerned that we gold plate European legislation, whereas other countries blithely ignore it where it does not suit their citizens. I want to ensure that British citizens are protected by what is in the Bill—our legislation. That is our job in Parliament.

Mr. Ainsworth: If the issuing authority were not a judicial authority as designated in the framework document, the National Criminal Intelligence Service would not accept the warrant—it would not be dealt with. The position is as simple as that.

Mr. Hawkins: Where does it say that in the Bill?

Mr. Maples: We must be clear on what sort of European document we are debating. It is not European legislation, but a framework decision that is being translated into British law through the Bill. It is therefore the Bill that applies. An authority could issue a warrant that was in breach of the framework decision but that complied with clause 2. That is what concerns us.

If the framework decision were a piece of European legislation that was automatically incorporated into British law, I could see the Minister's point, but it is not. I may be wrong, but as I understand it, the framework decision has no validity as a piece of UK legislation. The Bill will have that validity when it becomes an Act, so it would be possible for an arrest warrant to be issued in breach of the framework decision but in compliance with the Bill. Inserting ''judicial'' in a couple of places would solve the problem, and I cannot see the difficulty with doing that.

Mr. Hawkins: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend: he reinforces my point. We must ensure that the Government take these concerns seriously. If it were only Conservative Members expressing concerns, that would be one thing, and the Minister might be able to wave them away, but as I said, Liberty, Justice and the Labour-dominated Home Affairs Committee make the same points. That Committee, in very strong wording, says that the Minister has not acceded in the wording of the Bill—the legislation that he proposes

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should govern our citizens—with what he promised previous Committees.

It is simply not good enough for the Minister to say that the Bill must be read with the framework decision, as my hon. Friend said. We feel extremely strongly about that, so I shall press the amendment to a vote.

Mr. Carmichael: I should say at this stage that I intend to press amendment No. 127 to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 2, Noes 9.

Division No. 3]

Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Maples, Mr. John

Ainsworth, Mr. Bob Campbell, Mr. Alan Carmichael, Mr. Alistair Crausby, Mr. David Harris, Mr. Tom
Howarth, Mr. George Hughes, Mr. Kevin Stoate, Dr. Howard Twigg, Derek

Question accordingly negatived.

10.45 am

Amendment proposed: No.127, in

    clause 2, page 1, line 15, leave out 'an' and insert 'a judicial'.—[Mr. Carmichael.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 3, Noes 8.

Division No. 4]

Carmichael, Mr. Alistair Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Maples, Mr. John

Ainsworth, Mr. Bob Campbell, Mr. Alan Crausby, Mr. David Harris, Mr. Tom
Howarth, Mr. George Hughes, Mr. Kevin Stoate, Dr. Howard Twigg, Derek

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment made: No.101, in

    clause 2, page 1, line 17, after second 'the' insert 'Part 1'.—[Mr. Bob Ainsworth.]

Mr. Hawkins: I beg to move amendment No.3, in

    clause 2, page 1, line 17, leave out 'is accused' and insert 'faces charges'.

I shall be brief, but my brevity is not intended to suggest that we are not serious about the amendment. My hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon referred to the issue earlier and said that he hoped we would deal with it by amendment, which is what we are doing. We want the Bill to state clearly that the person accused, who may face extradition from this country to another, has been subject to the formal process of facing charges rather than merely being accused. Again, organisations such as Justice, Liberty and the Law Society feel strongly about the issue. I reinforce what my hon. Friend said, that it is essential that the Bill includes reference to someone actually facing formal charges rather than merely being accused. That is necessary for the protection of British citizens, for the reasons we have set out. I do not need to say more.

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