Extradition Bill

[back to previous text]

Mr. Burnett: I was interested to hear the Minister's comments. I detected a flower of reason and embryonic capitulation, and I am glad to hear that he will consider the matter further. Amendments will undoubtedly be tabled on Report and in the other place. However, it has always been my view that one should not negotiate from a position of weakness. I believe that the Minister's card should be marked, and he should be given a yellow card.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland mentioned, it is a matter of principle. That was also the view of the hon. Member for Surrey Heath, and the Minister should heed the wise words of the Members of the other place who spoke in the excellent debate on 14 January 2003. He should read the debate and take cognisance of the wise words of those learned Lords. It is not good enough. We will negotiate from a position of strength and vote against the clause.

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 5.

Division No. 20]

AYES
Ainsworth, Mr. Bob Campbell, Mr. Alan Crausby, Mr. David Dobbin, Jim
Harris, Mr. Tom Hughes, Mr. Kevin Stoate, Dr. Howard Twigg, Derek

NOES
Burnett, Mr. John Carmichael, Mr. Alistair Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Johnson, Mr. Boris Watkinson, Angela

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 202 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 203

Channel Islands and Isle of Man

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

Mr. Hawkins: The point that I wanted to raise has been expanded by a briefing that I received during our lunch break. The Minister will remember that when we served on the Proceeds of Crime Bill for many months last year, he and the right hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) used to poke fun at the then shadow Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve), and me for the number of lunchtime and dinner briefings that we received. Those briefings were helpful and shed light on the debate, and today's briefing was the same.

The Minister knows that I have a particular interest in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. I have raised that in Committee before, and it is a personal, long-standing interest, which also falls within the Home Office remit. There are shared responsibilities between the Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth office for our overseas territories. If I recall correctly, I made some brief points in our debate at the beginning of part 5 on British overseas territories, which are also referred to in clause 178. I shall ask specifically about the interlinking between

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clauses 203 and 178.

I hope not to go out of order, but I want to mention a case that was drawn to my attention this lunchtime. It is not an extradition case but, like other cases that Members have referred to, it has overtones that could cause concern for the future development of extradition law. We have sensitivities with cases involving international funds—funds that travel across borders—and the Government wanting to extradite large-scale crooks who are involved in money laundering.

My attention was drawn to the huge embarrassment caused to some parts of Her Majesty's Government and the Cayman Islands Government over the recent collapse of the Eurobank case. I shall not take up the Minister's time today, because that would not be in order, but I ask him, when he is considering the Bill's impact on extradition involving overseas territories, to undertake to examine with his officials and those who work with his noble friend Baroness Amos, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, the implications that the Eurobank case may have for extradition law.

I read one or two brief press reports over the weekend. I gather that the trial was going to cost many millions to prepare, and that it has now collapsed in disarray because it is thought by the Cayman Islands court that one of the witnesses was working for the security services in this country. That could also happen with money laundering to the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. If I had known about that case before we debated clause 178 I might have raised it then, but the collapse happened since that time and before today, so this is the first time that any member of the Committee could have drawn it to the Minister's attention.

The Minister and I share a desire to stop money laundering. The issues that we debated at such length on the Proceeds of Crime Bill are raised under this Bill, because international criminals who are involved in money laundering are among those who need to be extradited out of this country to face justice elsewhere or extradited back to face justice here. It is a matter of concern whenever a money laundering case collapses after the expenditure of a huge amount of taxpayers' money—whether it is our money or the Cayman Islands' money does not matter; it is the principle. I hope that the Minister will examine the matter and write to me and other members of the Committee, if they are interested. This serious matter has apparently caused a huge rift between the Cayman Islands Government and the UK Government, of which I am scratching the surface. If I went any further, Mr. O'Hara, you would rule me out of order.

Mr. Ainsworth: The hon. Gentleman or any other Member of Parliament has the right to raise such matters in whatever forum he chooses and to write to Ministers to seek an explanation. I do not see what the case has to do with the Bill, let alone the clause, so I am not sure that it would be appropriate for me to write to him in response to his remarks. If he is worried about the issues, I would encourage him either

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to table questions or to write to Ministers seeking an explanation.

Clause 203 provides for the Bill to be extended by Order in Council to cover the UK's Crown Dependencies; the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Such an order would be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure by virtue of clause 205. I trust I am, unusually, at one with the hon. Member for Surrey Heath as regards that.

Clause 203 allows for modifications to be made as appropriate to ensure that differences in the islands' legal systems are catered for. The Crown Dependencies do not, for example, have a district judge, or operate the High Court and the House of Lords in the same way as the UK. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not part of the EU and so will not operate the part 1 procedures. Clause 178 applies to overseas territories while clause 203 applies to the Crown Dependencies, but the Bill does not provide for extradition between overseas territories and the islands. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will raise the issues in another way.

Mr. Hawkins: The Minister has responded as I hoped. I understand the interlinking between clauses 203 and 178 and that one needs slightly separate provisions. The Minister has set that out helpfully. I will take up his invitation to table questions or to write to him. I thought that it was helpful to raise the matter because it has recently been drawn to my attention and because anything to do with money laundering may have common implications for the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and overseas territories such as the Caymans Islands. It was worth briefly drawing attention to the issue.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 203 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 204 to 208 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause 4

Compatability with Crime

(International Cooperation) Act 2003

    '.—The Secretary of State shall certify that the provisions of this Act are compatible with the provisions of the Crime (International Cooperation) Act 2003.'.—[Mr. Hawkins.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Hawkins: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 5—Annual report—

    'The Secretary of State shall publish, and lay before both Houses of Parliament, an annual report on the operation of this legislation.'.

Mr. Hawkins: I can be brief. The new clauses are important and if the Minister does not accept them, we are likely to press for Divisions. We will, of course, listen to what the Minister has to say.

New clause 4 is designed to build into the Bill an essential requirement for compatibility between two pieces of legislation going through the House of Commons at the same time. I referred briefly to the problem earlier, and my discussions with our helpful

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Clerk about how best to deal with it in the Bill resulted in the new clause.

The issue was important enough for my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset to refer to it on Second Reading. In response to an exchange between my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier), the former shadow Attorney-General, my right hon. Friend said:

    ''I agree with my hon. and learned Friend''—

the former shadow Attorney-General.

    ''Furthermore, the Government have presented the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill as a tiny amendment that would for the first time allow foreign policemen—whom the Minister tells us he means not to authorise, but who will be authorised under the Extradition Bill—to enter the country to pursue a villain across our borders. In short, we find ourselves surrounded by a set of minor incursions that are centripetal in their intent. There is a move towards the homogenisation of systems of justice in the EU''.

There was then an interruption, as Hansard politely describes it, by the Minister for Policing, Crime Reduction and Community Safety, the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham), expostulating from the Treasury Bench. My right hon. Friend responded:

    ''The Minister for Policing, Crime Reduction and Community Safety suggests that I do not believe what I am saying. I do not think that I have ever in my life said anything that I believe more strongly. If he is sufficiently naive as not to believe it—if he is a fellow traveller rather than a willing enthusiast—he will be sorely disillusioned as the measure progresses. ''—[Official Report, 9 December 2002; Vol. 396, c. 58–9.]

As ever, my right hon. Friend puts the matter far more eloquently than I could.

The Government cannot be allowed to get away with having two Bills proceeding through Parliament—one starting in another place, the other in the House of Commons—both of which chip away at our historic freedoms. One allows foreign policemen to hot pursuit in this country for hours. The other says that foreign policemen cannot act without the authorisation of UK courts, but allows arrest warrants issued by a foreign judicial authority to be executed here by British policemen. Both measures, as my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset said, are chipping away at our policing and judicial system. We on the Conservative Benches passionately object to that.

The Minister may say that the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill allows a hot pursuit only for a few hours. He has said that the Bill does not involve a massive extension of foreign judicial power to the United Kingdom, but if we allow all this chipping away, we will end up losing all our freedoms. We will end up as a tiny administrative region of the European Union.

Conservative Members think that many Government Members want this country to be just a minor region in the EU. The current Secretary of State for Wales was pretty honest and open about it when he was Minister for Europe. I have always thought that as the right hon. Gentleman, who represents Neath, is not British but South African—and should not

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therefore play any part in our Government—he does not understand how British people feel about their historic freedoms. How could he? He did not grow up in Britain.

The current Minister for Europe comes from the former eastern Europe; he did not grow up in Britain either. We refer to him as ''the hon. Member for Geneva, Central'', because he spent most of his career working for the World Bank in Switzerland. I am worried about the Government. The past two Ministers for Europe have not been British and do not understand our historic freedoms. If we allow the two pieces of legislation to which I have referred to trundle away through our legislative procedures—

3.45 pm

 
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