Extradition Bill

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Mr. Ainsworth: I seek clarification. Is the hon. Gentleman speaking to amendment No. 8, which would leave out

    ''or another form of detention''?

Mr. Hawkins: Yes, I am. We believe that the amendment is necessary because the wording added to the provision is not good enough. It should refer not only to three years imprisonment, but to imprisonment as such and not to ''another form of detention''. The change from three years to 12 months and the reference not only to imprisonment but to ''another form of detention'' are part of the same slippery slope.

Mr. Carmichael: In some jurisdictions, a distinction is made between imprisonment and detention. In my experience, detention means custodial detention for people under 21 and imprisonment is appropriate only for those over 21. Another distinction is that detention usually takes place in a young offenders institution. Does the hon. Gentleman want to remove such distinctions from the scope of the Bill?

Mr. Hawkins: I do not suppose that the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that we should extradite juveniles to other countries. As the Home Affairs Committee said, extradition should be reserved for the

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most serious offences. Extending the scope further by changing three years to 12 months and including ''another form of detention'' cannot be justified.

Mr. Carmichael: Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that a 16-year-old alleged to have committed murder should not be made the subject of extradition?

Mr. Hawkins: No, I am suggesting that we should reflect carefully on the Government's policy of taking us down a slippery slope whereby less serious offences can lead to extradition. We are sent to Parliament to protect British citizens, who might be sent abroad for not particularly serious offences that do not attract serious custodial sentences. The Minister may return later with alternative wording to deal with the problem. For now, I want the Committee to be aware of the slippery slope. In earlier responses, we heard the Minister say that he would re-examine the framework decision. In this instance, however, the Government are not adopting the words of the framework decision, but moving away from them. I stress our concern that we should return to the protection on which British citizens historically have been able to rely.

The Chairman: Before I call other hon. Members, I remind the Committee that we are debating

    ''or another form of detention.''

The length of that detention is set out in clause 63, and there will be an opportunity to discuss that at a later date.

Mr. Ainsworth: I am grateful for that clarification, Miss Begg, as I was confused when the hon. Gentleman started to talk about other, admittedly important, issues such as whether we should implement the framework decision minimally or whether we are prepared to go further. Those issues have nothing to do with the amendment.

The approach suggested by the hon. Gentleman would create pitfalls, which the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland rightly exposed. UK courts send young people to young offenders institutions, not to prison. Equally, in appropriate cases, people may be detained in mental institutions rather than imprisoned. One size does not fit all in the UK, and there is no reason why the situation should be any different in any other country. I do not know the different titles that different European countries give to their detention facilities, and we cannot be over-prescriptive. Bearing that in mind, if we were to remove the words

    ''or another form of detention'',

we would create a loophole for a criminal to exploit, and we would make it impossible to extradite a person detained in an institution called something other than prison.

The amendment is not appropriate. It would create a loophole for serious offenders in some circumstances, and the hon. Gentleman should withdraw it.

Mr. Hawkins: I do not accept the Minister's argument. However, I have alerted him to the strength of our feelings about the matter, and I

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understand that our suggested deletion may not cover the point. Again, I suspect that the other place may consider the issue again, and that the final wording may be different to that used by the Minister. However, I have probed the matter and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: No. 106, in

    clause 2, page 2, line 8, at end insert—

    '(4A) The information is—

    (a) particulars of the person's identity;

    (b) particulars of the conviction;

    (c) particulars of any other warrant issued in the category 1 territory for the person's arrest in respect of the offence;

    (d) particulars of the sentence which may be imposed under the law of the category 1 territory in respect of the offence, if the person has not been sentenced for the offence;

    (e) particulars of the sentence which has been imposed under the law of the category 1 territory in respect of the offence, if the person has been sentenced for the offence.'

No. 107, in

    clause 2, page 2, line 10, after second 'the' insert 'Part 1'.

No. 108, in

    clause 2, page 2, line 12, at end insert 'Part 1'.—[Mr. Bob Ainsworth.]

Mr. Hawkins: I beg to move amendment No. 13, in

    clause 2, page 2, line 16, leave out subsection (8).

I draw hon. Members' attention to a point I made earlier that the Opposition and some organisations believe that the Bill should specify which bodies will deal with extradition. It is not acceptable to specify them only in the explanatory notes. The Government say that they intend the bodies to be NCIS in the UK and the Crown Office in Scotland. If British citizens are to be affected by the legislation, they should be able to see plainly from the Bill which bodies will deal with extradition. They should not have to face the open-ended power of a Government who can, at a later stage, designate more than one authority or different authorities for different parts of the UK by Order in Council. Legislation should be clear. If the Government can specify in their explanatory notes which organisations will be used, why can that not be included in the Bill? We feel very strongly about this issue, but I will not take up any more of the Committee's time in stating our beliefs even more baldly.

Mr. Carmichael: On this occasion, I approve not only of the end but of the means.

Mr. Ainsworth: It is our intention that NCIS should be the UK's main designated authority, with the Crown Office performing the role in Scotland. It makes good sense for NCIS to perform that role as it will be the home of the UK's Schengen bureau, and we expect most requests to be transmitted by the secure Schengen system. Similarly, it is entirely appropriate for the Crown Office to perform the role in Scotland, providing administrative assistance to the judiciary north of the border. Designating an additional authority for Scotland will allow swifter transmission of the relevant warrant when it is known, for example, that the individual being sought is actually in Scotland.

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I fail to see the harm in designating an additional authority. As to whether that should be in the Bill, I ask hon. Gentlemen to think back and remember that not so long ago NCIS did not exist. It has an administrative function, and if someone were at some point to change the arrangements north or south of the border or retitle NCIS, primary legislation would be needed if the authorities had been designated in the Bill. There is no need for that, because our intentions are clear, sensible and known to everyone. However, there may be a structural change in the future as there has been in the recent past—not that any is planned—and I ask Opposition Members to accept that it would be nonsense to have to rewrite primary legislation in order to cope with such a situation.

Mr. Hawkins: I do not accept what the Minister says. It is entirely appropriate that British people should be able to see in the Bill which bodies they are. Vague phrases such as ''designated authorities'' are simply not good enough. It is essential that they should be stated in the Bill.

Mr. Carmichael: I suggest that the envisaged defect could be rectified by including the words ''or their successor bodies'', or something equally appropriate.

Mr. Hawkins: The hon. Gentleman is right. I suspect that something like that will be included in the measure because the Government will have to concede the point in the other place or at a later stage.

Mr. Ainsworth: I am happy to consider whether there is a form of words that covers such an eventuality as I have described. I am happy to give the Committee an assurance that I will consider whether such a proposal would be sensible. I oppose the amendment as drafted because I want to avoid the need to return to Parliament if such a change should

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take place. I thought that the hon. Gentleman would see that as common sense.

Mr. Hawkins: In response to the helpful intervention of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland and to my strong views, the Minister is now wondering whether to reconsider the matter and perhaps bring forward Government amendments. I was about to press the amendment to a Division, but as the Minister is starting to change his position I shall not do so. If the Minister does not table a proposal that puts a reference to NCIS and the Crown Office or their successor bodies in the Bill, we shall return to the matter at a later stage. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question put, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 3.

Division No. 5]

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

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

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Derek Twigg.]

Adjourned accordingly at a quarter past eleven o'clock till this day at half-past two o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Begg, Miss Anne (Chairman)
Ainsworth, Mr. Bob
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Carmichael, Mr.
Crausby, Mr.
Harris, Mr. Tom
Hawkins, Mr.
Howarth, Mr. George
Hughes, Mr. Kevin
Maples, Mr.
Stoate, Dr.
Twigg, Derek
Watkinson, Angela

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