Extradition Bill

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Mr. Boris Johnson (Henley): I rise in support of my hon. Friend's judicious suggestion. Can he clarify what he envisages under the term ''hat''? A Rastafarian who is asked to remove his hat may claim that it is an article of religious importance. I wonder, a fortiori, whether a Sikh would take umbrage at being asked to remove his turban. Does my hon. Friend think that a turban constitutes a hat for the purposes of his amendment?

Mr. Hawkins: My hon. Friend goes to the heart of the debate that we had when we considered the 1994 Bill. It was made clear that the Government would not have been able to accept the amendment that Mr. Butler and I proposed if it had applied to turbans. The Rastafarian hat has never been accepted by the British courts as being part of the religion, unlike turbans, which have. That is the distinction. I am not surprised that my hon. Friend immediately went to one of the points that were raised at the time. It may seem trivial, but it is in fact a matter of some substance. That is why I mentioned that the police had written to both of us—Mr. Butler and myself—to say that the amendment had been useful. Even a one word three-letter amendment can have some relevance. I know that the Minister cannot give me an answer today but I hope that he will consider the point.

3 pm

Mr. Burnett: I simply seek confirmation that the usual protections and rules will apply and that there will be sensitivity in both male and female searches.

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Mr. Wills: The hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) was certainly right—I cannot give him a direct answer this afternoon. He raises an interesting point, and we shall approach it constructively. As our brief discussion has illustrated, there would be considerable drafting issues. We will have to ascertain whether there is a way forward, and then we will be in touch. I can certainly give the assurances that the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr. Burnett) seeks. Protections are built in and there will be a chance to examine the code of practice. We will be sensitive to the concerns that he outlined.

Mr. Hawkins: I expected that the Minister would give his usual courteous reply. As I have been able to establish that the amendment that I suggest was made to the then Criminal Justice and Public Disorder Bill, I do not think that any drafting problems would be insuperable. As I remember it, the amendment simply said, ''after 'coat' insert 'hat' ''. That is how it went into the Bill. There is a precedent. The provision is in legislation and it is still being used. I think that I would have noticed if it had been repealed or amended. I hope that the Minister comes to a profitable conclusion.

Mr. Burnett: I am grateful to the Minister for his assurances. We note that the code of practice will be introduced and that it will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 161 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 162 to 169 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 170

Delivery of seized property

Mr. Wills: I beg to move amendment No. 174, in

    clause 170, page 90, line 31, at end insert—

    '(7A) Subsection (2) applies to Scotland with the substitution of ''procurator fiscal'' for ''constable''.'.

This is a technical amendment. The Bill reflects the procedure in England and Wales that enables a police constable to hand over certain items, but it does not reflect the practice in Scotland, where procurators fiscal are responsible for such matters. The amendment remedies that anomaly.

Mr. Hawkins: We have no difficulty with the amendment, which seems perfectly sensible. The Law Society of Scotland raised one or two related issues, which I touched on in previous debates, and we shall come later to another of its suggestions. However, we certainly want the legislation to work effectively north of the border, and I have no doubt that with this amendment it will do so, so we have nothing to say in opposition to the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 170, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 171

Codes of practice

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

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Mr. Hawkins: Given what I said earlier, in the light of the Minister's helpful reference to the clause, I need not say much now. We talked about the codes of practice and early drafts of them, and the Minister said that he will do what he can. He said also that we need not debate the matter in detail now, because Parliament will have a good opportunity to consider it when the affirmative resolution procedure is used and the codes will be laid before Parliament.

Given that the Minister relies so much on parliamentary scrutiny of the codes, as I do, and given that this is such a large part of the Bill, is there a chance that, when the affirmative resolution procedure is used, the codes will come before the House of Commons as a whole, rather than just a Committee? I am not sure whether he can answer that question today, but if he can at least say that he will consider it with the Home Secretary and officials, I will be grateful.

Mr. Wills: As the hon. Gentleman well knows, I cannot give that commitment. At this stage, I can only say that we will consider the matter. I am sure that the business managers will have a view, but we will consider carefully what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Hawkins: I did not expect the Minister to say anything other than that, but at least I have said on the record that it would be helpful for the Government to consider the issue. It would be helpful if the business managers, notwithstanding the constraints on time, allowed the codes to come before the House as a whole. I say that because the Minister stresses that Parliament will have an opportunity to consider the matter when we have the codes. If we end up with only a short debate in Committee, that would not fulfil what he said earlier, which is why I am flagging up the issue now.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 171 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 172

Interpretation

Mr. Hawkins: I beg to move amendment No. 171, in

    clause 172, page 91, line 34, at end insert—

    '(c) in Scotland has the meaning given by section 33 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995.'.

As I suggested, the Law Society of Scotland has helpfully sent us some possible amendments. I am slightly disappointed that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael) is not with us. I make no criticism of that, because he has been an extremely diligent member of the Committee, as he has been of all the Committees on which I have served with him, but I had hoped that we would have our Scots expert with us to talk about the provision.

Mr. Burnett: I should at this stage give my hon. Friend's apologies. As has been said from the Government Benches, he is fishing—an important fisheries debate is taking place, in which he is either leading for our party or making a compelling contribution.

Mr. Hawkins: As I would expect, the hon. Gentleman is missing only because he has other

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duties in the House of Commons. That gives me the opportunity to say that the new experimental hours will mean that hon. Members of all parties will often find themselves trying to be in two places at once. It was a free vote, and I want to put on the record that I totally opposed the new hours for that reason. I am amazed at the number of times that I come across Government Members in the Palace of Westminster who say, ''Don't blame me; I didn't vote for it.'' I am starting to wonder whether I should re-read the Division list to discover exactly who voted for the change, as it would never have been passed if all those Government Members had voted against it.

The Chairman: Order. The hon. Gentleman has made his point.

Mr. Hawkins: I simply wanted to get that off my chest and put it on the record, Mr. O'Hara.

I make the serious point that it will be increasingly difficult for Committees considering important legislation to examine all the matters that are before them, especially if Members are missing. Under the old arrangements, there was an opportunity, more or less, for Committees to finish. Their sittings did not overlap with the sittings of the main Chamber as much as they do now. That is something that you might seriously take up as a member of the Chairmen's Panel, Mr. O'Hara. It is not a facetious point.

I hope that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, who is in the main Chamber, may have given his hon. Friend the Member for Torridge and West Devon, who represents a constituency at the other end of the country, some insight into Scots law that he is about to share with us. I do not claim to be a Scots lawyer, although I once had to go on a crash course on Scottish matters as I used to do a great deal of work in Corby when I was a lawyer in the midlands. As some hon. Members will know, Corby was a steelworks town at that time. Much of its population had been transplanted from steelworks in Scotland to otherwise rural Northamptonshire. For some years, I regularly used to prosecute at the Corby magistrates court. Corby residents would ask me what the PF said. I had to be aware that if one came from Glasgow, as the residents' families did, the PF was the procurator fiscal. One needed to be aware of Scottish terminology, so I acquired a little indirect knowledge of what happens north of the border.

The Chairman: Order. I trust that the Committee will find the hon. Gentleman's intervention relevant.

Mr. Hawkins: The relevance is that the amendment would insert into the Bill

    ''the meaning given by section 33 of the Criminal Law Consolidation (Scotland) Act 1995.''

I hope that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland will have briefed the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon on how that operates in Scots law, and that the hon. Gentleman is about to tell us.

 
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