Mr. Burnett: It is important for us to know what the Minister envisages at this stage. I presume that he does not envisage powers of arrest exercised, for example, by members of the Inland Revenue thrust unto Customs and Excise, nor powers of arrest exercised by members of the security services—
Mr. Ainsworth: Constables, Customs officers and members of service police authorities are the only sort of people who we foresee in the role. We are talking not about the negative procedure, about which hon. Members became so exercised on another clause; we are talking about the affirmative procedure whereby the order will come before both Houses of Parliament for the approval of any extension beyond a constable. That gives people an understanding of the control that Parliament still has over any extension of the powers of arrest under the European arrest warrant. The Liberal Democrat amendment would go even further, and would limit the power of arrest of the EAW to a police constable—end of story. In the scenario that we have just considered, a Customs officer who came across someone subject to an EAW could take no action other than to inform the police of the whereabouts of the person, and in some circumstances would watch them sailing out of sight and beyond the reach of any action.
If we were to delete subsection (2)(c), as the amendment seeks to do, a constable would have to have a copy of the arrest warrant in his possession in order to effect an arrest. Overwhelmingly, arrest warrants are going to be effected proactively.
The Chairman: The hon. Gentleman is talking to a separate set of amendments.
Mr. Ainsworth: I am sorry. I sought to respond to the point raised by the hon. Member for Surrey Heath. I will leave my comments at that point.
The Chairman: The hon. Gentleman should be referring to subsection (3), not subsection (2)(c), which is part of a separate set of amendments.
Mr. Ainsworth: I apologise. The issue is therefore whether ''an appropriate person'' is an acceptable term, coupled with the affirmative resolution procedure in the House for any extension to include someone other than a constable. I argue that that is a well-worn formulation. It is acceptable, and I ask the Committee to accept my assurances in the clearest terms that there is no intention to allow, now or in the future, any foreign law enforcement officer to exercise his powers in the United Kingdom. The provision is intended to be applied to the people whom I have detailed.
Mr. Hawkins: The Minister is well aware that no Government can bind their successors. I have no doubt that he is entirely genuine in expressing his personal views about what the legislation means and how he hopes that it will be exercised. Unfortunately for him, the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill is currently being debated in the other place. The
Column Number: 66Minister may have noticed that we have tabled new clause 4 on the compatibility or, as we would say, the mismatch between that Bill and this one. Although it is starred, we hope that we will have the chance to debate it later. My noble Friend, the Baroness Aneley of St. Johns, is the Opposition spokesman on the Bill in the other place, and has pointed out that, contrary to what the Minister said, the Government are proposing in that Bill to give foreign police officers the power of hot pursuit into this country.
I am sure that the Minister is honest in his comments on this Bill, but we see the floodgates opening and a general trend emerging towards overseas officers coming into the country. A future Government might say that, as the Crime (International Co-operation) Act already contains a provision that allows hot pursuit for a few hours, perhaps they will designate these people as appropriate persons. We are concerned that the two Bills run contrary to each other.
Mr. Ainsworth: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman realises that the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill, which is open to scrutiny to all Members, albeit in the other place, provides for a surveillance operation that has been started abroad to be continued for up to five hours in order to effect a handover. It gives no powers of entry or of arrest. It would be wrong of the hon. Gentleman to suggest that it does.
Mr. Hawkins: I made it clear that it is only for a matter of hours, but in that Bill we see for the first time the prospect of foreign police officers operating on our territory. The Minister cannot bind a future Government, but they may well say, ''Now that the precedent has been set in the Crime (International Co-operation) Act, we will designate those people as appropriate for the subsequent Act.'' That is the slippery slope down which we do not want to go and it is why I shall press the amendment to the vote.
Question put, That the amendment be made:—
The Committee divided: Ayes 3, Noes 9
Division No. 6]
Mr. Burnett: On a point of order, Miss Begg. To be absolutely clear, I wanted to record an abstention, but I used the expression, ''No vote''. Has that been recorded?
The Chairman: Abstentions are not recorded—either in Committee or in the Chamber.
Mr. Burnett: I hope that I have not been recorded as having voted no.
The Chairman: No. The straight answer is that there is no such thing as an abstention.
Column Number: 67
Mr. Hawkins: I beg to move amendment No. 15, in
The Chairman: With this we may take the following amendments:
No. 17, in
No. 129, in
No. 92, in
No. 130, in
No. 155, in
No. 156, in
Mr. Hawkins: I understand entirely why the Minister was getting ahead of himself just now and becoming confused. It is easy to confuse provisions such as ''delete subsection (c)'' and ''delete subsection (3)''. When a Liberal Democrat Member mentioned the other issue, I was going boss-eyed myself trying to work out which provisions came in what order.
To make it clear, we are now dealing with a group headed by our amendment No. 15, which is designed to delete subsection (2)(c). It is vital in dealing with such serious powers that the person executing the warrant actually possesses the real warrant at the time of the arrest. Otherwise, where are the protections of our civil liberties? It is extraordinary that the provision allows the execution of the warrant even if neither the warrant nor a copy of it is in the possession of the person executing it at the time of arrest. That goes far too far.
Distinguished commentators are also concerned about the problem. I have often referred to the worries of organisations such as Liberty, the Law Society, Justice and the Freedom Association. On this occasion, a distinguished constitutional lawyer and jurist, Leolin Price QC, has written to my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset and discussed with me his concerns about the wide nature of the Government's powers. The Government propose that if the person making the arrest does not possess either the warrant or a copy, a copy must be shown to the person as soon as possible after the arrest, but as Leolin Price QC rightly says, why should the burden of the request fall on the person being arrested, who is likely to be stressed, anxious and confused? Surely the burden should fall on the person making the arrest—the state, as it were. Otherwise, we run the risk of becoming a police state.
It is extraordinary to hear the Government say that it does not matter if the arresting officer does not have a warrant or a copy of it. It is a tradition of British law, civil liberties and the protection of the subject that people are entitled to ask, ''Where is your warrant?'', if
Column Number: 68they are about to be arrested or have their home searched. Traditionally, without a warrant, it cannot happen. Here, however, a warrant or a copy of it only has to be produced later on.
The concerns of Leolin Price go much further. He argues that the provisions do not comply with article 11(1) of the framework decision, even if allowance is made for the scope of a member state's choice of form and methods under article 34.2(b) of the Treaty of Union—
Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.
Mr. Hawkins: Leolin Price QC's opinion reads:
Leolin Price has rightly underlined ''and of its contents''. That is the point we are dealing with. The Government's legislation specifically does not provide for that and therefore allows the arrested person not to be shown a warrant.
As Leolin Price points out, a European arrest warrant extends to no fewer than six A4 pages, including 11 boxes, one of which occupies an entire page. He rightly asks:
Proper civil liberties in this country require that the arresting person must have in his possession either the warrant itself or a copy. We are not being unrealistic and saying that it must always be the original warrant, but it should be a minimum requirement that the arrested person should be shown a copy of the warrant at the time of the arrest.
What reason would there be for the arresting officer not to have a copy of the warrant? It could be pure incompetence only if it were not possible to provide a copy of the warrant. It seems to me the minimum requirement. As Leolin Price puts it, the only satisfactory and fair rule is that there should be a copy of the warrant and the person who is to be subject to it should be
Leolin Price then talks about the question of appropriate persons, with which we dealt under the previous group of amendments. I cannot see any good reason why it should not be a minimum requirement that a copy of the warrant should be available to the arrested person.
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