Extradition Bill

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Mr. Hawkins: The Minister says that my wider concerns about bail are not relevant, but he is mistaken. He said that there was not a presumption in favour of bail in extradition, but there will be now. He has already admitted that there are changes and that this is new law. For once, I was able to work that out from the explanatory notes, but I wanted to hear him say that on record. He rightly says that the presumption of bail does not apply after conviction, but I am not sure that there should be a presumption of bail anyway. Far from the Minister saying that my party did not listen to me about bail, he is saying that the Conservative 1989 Act did not include a presumption of bail, but that this Bill will include one. That is going in the wrong direction. Most of the time, the other Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Coventry, North-East (Mr. Ainsworth), has been at pains to say that the Bill is much tougher than previous Conservative legislation. However, with clause 191, the Government are making the Bill weaker in cases in which there has not been a conviction, because it introduces a presumption of bail that did not exist in previous legislation.

I am not comfortable with the clause. It will be re-examined in another place, and I hope that the Minister will respond to the points that I have just made. The explanatory notes and Minister's comments seem to show that the Government are introducing a presumption of bail that did not exist before. That is going the wrong way.

4.15 pm

Mr. Wills: I will try again to try to make the point a bit clearer to the hon. Gentleman. The arguments

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about bail can be conducted in other forums. We are trying to remove an anomaly and bring extradition in line with other domestic proceedings, and I have not heard one word from the hon. Gentleman about why extradition should be dealt with differently. All his remarks about bail were general points, but if he wants to be listened to, he should argue with greater detail and precision than he has done so far.

Mr. Hawkins: Perhaps it is my fault, but, as both Ministers said earlier, extradition is different. There is every reason why it should not be an anomaly. Both the Bill and previous extradition law make special arrangements for people facing extradition. Where the UK has decided that someone faces extradition, why should there be the presumption of bail? As I said, extradition is different; it is not an anomaly. A useful provision existed in previous law, which the Government are attempting to remove.

Mr. Wills: I do not want to protract the debate unnecessarily. I ask the hon. Gentleman to reflect further on why bail should be treated differently for extradition proceedings than for domestic ones. Many differences apply in respect of the execution of warrants and so forth, but much of our debate has been about bringing the Bill into line with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, removing anomalies and clarifying processes to eliminate doubt—in short, to streamline and expedite the proceedings. We are trying to remove an anomaly—we can argue about bail elsewhere—and if the hon. Gentleman feels so strongly about the matter, he must make his case with greater clarity and precision. I hope that we can now make progress.

Mr. Hawkins: I shall not prolong the debate beyond saying that although the Minister is right to bring the Bill into line with other legislation, in extradition cases, where people have every temptation to abscond, bail is a different matter. I take the Minister's point that we may need a more precisely targeted debate either on Report or in another place, but it is important to place on record that it is unwise of the Government to make bail provisions for extradition cases the same as for other cases. Extradition is different because of the temptation to abscond. I shall not prolong the debate, as I said, but it has been helpful to place our concerns on the record so that the issues can be reconsidered on Report. It may well prove wiser to have no presumption of bail for extradition cases in line with previous Conservative legislation.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 191 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 192

Extradition for more than one offence

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

Mr. Hawkins: I do not know what issue the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon will raise, but I would like brief clarification from the Minister. The explanatory notes provide only three lines on the

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clause. We are dealing with another Secretary of State's order-making power, though we do not know how wide it will be. Part 1 warrants are relevant, but I shall not go back over our general concerns about the operation of part 1.

How will the Secretary of State use the order-making power? We may be talking about extremely serious cases. All matters resulting in extradition will be fairly serious. As with another matter that the Minister and I debated earlier, if there is more than one extraditable offence, it could be an extremely serious case. I hope that the Minister can provide a little more clarification.

Mr. Burnett: The clause relates in part to the important principle of speciality. I remind the Committee of the wise words of the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Coventry, North-East, which were quoted in the excellent Home Affair Select Committee report. He said:

    ''We're retaining the principle that fugitives will only stand trial for the crime they were extradited for.''

The clause relates to extradition for more than one offence. Given the importance of the principle of speciality, we do not believe that these modifications should be introduced in any other form than by affirmative resolution of both Houses. I look forward to hearing the Minister's views on the matter.

Mr. Wills: Our proposal is that this process should take place by the negative resolution procedure However, we are always happy to listen to strong and detailed arguments for changing our mind on this issue. So far, both hon. Gentlemen have been admirably brief. I am unpersuaded of the need to change our proposal. I am happy to give way if either of them wants to go into more detail.

Mr. Burnett: May I ask the Minister a few questions? First, does he believe that the doctrine of speciality is important? Secondly, if there are to be specified modifications to decide which offence or offences a person will be extradited for, does he not think the order should have the fullest debate and consultation? It will have that consideration if it is pursued by affirmative resolution, rather than through the back door by negative resolution.

Mr. Wills: I am slightly baffled. Affirmative resolutions are for where proposals may be controversial and require a great deal of scrutiny. This is not the case here. The clause simply allows the Secretary of State to modify the provisions of the Bill in cases where there is more than one offence for which extradition is requested. That clearly must be sensible, just in terms of the expeditious dispatch of business.

The extradition procedure will be exactly the same as is set out in the Bill. That is what we are discussing at great length in Committee. That should be reassurance for all members of the Committee. I am baffled as to why there is an urge to subject this process to the affirmative resolution procedure, but we are always happy to listen to good arguments. There has to be a process for accommodating multiple requests. We are simply suggesting that that will be set out in an order and will be subject to a negative

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resolution. It is a purely administrative measure to deal with the expeditious despatch of business.

Mr. Hawkins: The Minister may be able to reassure me to some extent. Rather like the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon, I should like to ask the Minister two questions. First, does he envisage that there will probably be only one order? Was there simply not time to put all the details for multiple requests into the Bill?

The clause provides a one-off occasion for the Secretary of State to make an order so that repeated modifications will not be brought before the House of Commons. Does the Minister recognise that, because of the greater political sensitivity of part 1—a matter to which we shall undoubtedly refer again next Tuesday, but also on Report and in another place—we have had four Committee sittings on part 1 and one sitting or less on each remaining part of the Bill; and therefore anything relating to part 1 should be subject to the scrutiny of the House?

It is the reference to part 1 that makes the clause different. If, as on an earlier clause that we discussed with the Minister's colleague, a matter were subject to the affirmative resolution procedure under another part of the Bill, that would be less significant. That is not to say that the affirmative resolution procedure would be unnecessary in that case. We were happy that our debate led the Government to say that the matter would be subject to affirmative resolution. However, anything to do with part 1 is potentially more controversial and for that reason, as the time that we have spent on part 1 shows, it should be subject to the scrutiny of the House of Commons under the affirmative resolution procedure.

Mr. Burnett: I wish to elaborate. As was conceded by the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for

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Coventry, North-East, it is possible that because of the loss of the doctrine of dual criminality, extradition might be sought on two offences, one committed in this country and one committed elsewhere. I presume that such sensitive matters will be dealt with in the modifications, and that additionally some reference will be made to the notorious annex in the framework decision listing the 32 offences.

I hope that the Minister will put on his thinking cap. In the space of a few minutes we have been able to give one or two compelling reasons why these modifications are important and should be widely consulted on, and why they should receive the most detailed scrutiny in the House of Commons. I hope that the Minister will agree that the affirmative resolution procedure is right.

Mr. Wills: I do not want to labour the point, but I want to answer the specific questions. The first was whether there would be one order—the answer is yes, it will not come back over and over again. Secondly, the clause will not affect specialty. If someone is wanted for several offences, clause 192 allows all the offences to be covered, so specialty protection is not affected. We are trying to provide a procedure to deal with the matter. Of course we will consider what hon. Members have said, but at the moment I remain unpersuaded of the need to change the procedure we propose to adopt.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 192 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Derek Twigg.]

Adjourned accordingly at twenty-eight minutes past Four o'clock till Tuesday 21 January at twenty-five minutes past Nine o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
O'Hara, Mr. Edward (Chairman)
Ainsworth, Mr. Bob
Burnett, Mr.
Crausby, Mr.
Dobbin, Jim
Harris, Mr. Tom
Hawkins, Mr.
Howarth, Mr. George
Hughes, Mr. Kevin
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Maples, Mr.
Stoate, Dr.
Twigg, Derek
Watkinson, Angela
Wills, Mr.

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