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T7.  Barry Gardiner (Brent, North) (Lab):
Last Thursday evening was the first anniversary of the Mumbai bombings, in which 165 people died, many of them friends and relatives of my constituents. The involvement of the Inter-Services Intelligence in the
planning of those bombings is widely known, yet there has not been co-operation by the Pakistani Government to bring the perpetrators to book. What can my right hon. Friend do to ensure that pressure is brought to bear on the Pakistani Government on this matter?
David Miliband: My hon. Friend, who has a long record as a deep, deep friend of India, is right to raise this terrible anniversary. The Prime Minister and I both conveyed to Prime Minister Singh the deepest sympathy and condolences of the British people on the first anniversary of the terrible Mumbai attacks. As for the prosecution of those involved, my hon. Friend will know that seven people have been charged in the Pakistani political system-or rather, in the Pakistani criminal justice system-for their role in the Mumbai attacks. We have been urging the Pakistani authorities to proceed with those trials at the earliest opportunity. This is an issue that we will take up again with Prime Minister Gillani when he comes to London on Thursday.
T8.  Mr. Mark Lancaster (North-East Milton Keynes) (Con): Ascension Island faces bankruptcy next June because of the ongoing dispute between the FCO and the Ministry of Defence over just £600,000 of unpaid taxes. The island's school is set to close, and many St. Helenians are set to lose their jobs. Will the Foreign Secretary finally get a grip of this ongoing dispute, bang heads together and sort the issue out?
Chris Bryant: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising this issue. He had an interesting visit to the island earlier this year. He has mentioned these issues to me several times, and I am happy to say to him that I have every intention of trying to resolve them as a matter of urgency. I am meeting my counterpart in the Ministry of Defence tomorrow or the day after, and I hope that we will be able to have the matter resolved in time for the Overseas Territories Consultative Council.
Mr. Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich, West) (Lab/Co-op): Russia has a crucial role to play in the future security of energy provision to this country and the EU. Can the Minister give us an update on the position and the relationship between the EU and Russia in negotiations on future energy supplies?
David Miliband: My hon. Friend raises a very important point. The development of a common energy policy across Europe is one example where greater European co-operation and co-ordination is needed. Engagement with Russia needs to be taken forward on a far more coherent basis. That is one of the priorities for the new Commission. It is certainly something that we will be urging upon it.
T9.  Norman Baker (Lewes) (LD): Just a few days into the Chilcot inquiry, it must be painfully obvious to everybody both that the Hutton inquiry of 2003 was useless and that Tony Blair gravely misled the House and the country. Given that John Chilcot is chairing a non-statutory inquiry, what steps will the Government take to ensure that Mr. Blair and his immediate circle at the time are properly held to account for the enormity of what they did?
David Miliband: I think that after a week of the Chilcot inquiry, it is time for all sides to recognise the value of the inquiry. It is doing its work in an outstandingly professional and clear way. We should allow it to finish its work. No one else is drawing conclusions, even if the hon. Gentleman is. My suspicion is that he already had his conclusions before the inquiry even opened its doors.
Dr. Brian Iddon (Bolton, South-East) (Lab): The middle east peace process is badly hindered by the rift between Fatah and Hamas. Does my right hon. Friend agree that if Marwan Barghouti is able to heal that rift, we should persuade the Israelis to release him from prison?
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Any decision on the release of prisoners is a matter for the Israeli Government and has to be a case for negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In the context of that debate, we strongly urge Hamas immediately to release Gilad Shalit, who was illegally detained against international law. We support the Egyptian efforts to seek unification in the Palestinian leadership between Hamas and Fatah. As I understand it, Fatah signed up to such an agreement, brokered by the Egyptians, but Hamas refused to do so. We continue to support the Egyptian efforts.
Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) (Con): Extreme violence against both black and white in Zimbabwe continues, and Mr. Mugabe totally ignores the rulings of Southern African Development Community institutions. Is it not now the case that the only individual who can do anything about Mr. Mugabe and bring about his fall is Mr. Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, who could switch off the electricity and cut off the fuel supplies to Zimbabwe?
David Miliband: The hon. Gentleman, who has taken a long interest in that issue, is right to point to the importance of South Africa, and in particular of President Zuma. President Zuma gave to the closing session of the Commonwealth conference a report on SADC's efforts, and he dedicated himself to support the global political agreement that, after all, has been signed by Prime Minister Tsvangirai as well as by President Mugabe. Switching off the electricity is not part of the global political agreement. It is right that we support those brave reformers in Zimbabwe who have committed themselves to the political process. I very much understand the hon. Gentleman's scepticism about the ability of ZANU-PF to stick to the agreement, but it seems to me vital that the international community remains united in demanding that it do so.
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): It is extremely regrettable that the British Government's representative did not take part in the vote at the UN Human Rights Council on the Goldstone commission report, which I understand has now been referred to the UN Security Council. Will the Foreign Secretary assure me that there will be no further blockage of a full investigation of Goldstone's recommendations, and that if necessary, the cases will be referred for international judicial review?
I am sorry if there is any confusion about that issue in my hon. Friend's mind, but the British Government have been absolutely clear that we support an independent, full and transparent inquiry into the credible allegations that the Goldstone report
makes. We have made that position absolutely clear in public and in private, and that seems to me to be the right position to hold. That is different from giving a wholesale endorsement of the Goldstone report, which includes some items that we are clear are not accurate, and also fails to take account of some important factors. However, the report makes credible and serious allegations that should be investigated through a transparent and full inquiry. We continue to say that.
Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): With reference to the previous answer by the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Bury, South (Mr. Lewis), to his hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, South-East (Dr. Iddon), does the Foreign Office understand the sense of injustice that is the principal motivating factor behind so much Islamist violence, and that a just settlement of the middle east peace process is an absolutely vital British national interest?
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government are absolutely clear that there is an urgent need for progress in the peace process. We strongly advocate, as a matter of urgency, comprehensive negotiations towards a two-state solution-a viable contiguous Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel. Those negotiations have to deal with the questions of the 1967 borders, of Jerusalem, of justice for Palestinian refugees, and of normalised relationships between the Arab world and Israel. That is now a matter of urgency: we share the hon. Gentleman's analysis in that respect.
Chris Bryant: We made it clear before the elections that we believed that President Zelaya should not have been removed from power, and that if the elections were to be valid, they had to be engaged in under President Zelaya. Without his return before the end of his term, which is at the end of January, it will be impossible to believe that those were proper elections. However, we recognise and welcome the fact that the elections that did take place did so in a peaceful situation.
Mr. Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD): May I commend Ministers for their continuing engagement with the situation in Burma? However, will they, perhaps with their colleagues in the Department for International Development, investigate reports coming out now that aid to the Chin people on the border with India is being given in the form of loans on which 200 per cent. interest is charged? Surely that is not consistent with other Government policy in the region.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The hon. Gentleman is right to say that the situation in Burma is crucial. Right now, it is poised at an incredibly important stage, and we believe that we must maintain sanctions against the Burmese regime while engaging in a political and diplomatic process and seeking to secure the release of political prisoners-especially Aung San Suu Kyi. On the hon. Gentleman's specific point, I shall write to him with the information.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary laid a wreath on behalf of the overseas territories, but has the time not come for the overseas territories to be allowed to lay it? We had a meeting with a previous Minister, who said that they accepted that the territories had grown up enough, so we should rid them of their colonial masters and allow them to lay a wreath themselves.
Chris Bryant: And my views have not changed. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle) knows that the issue will be discussed in the Overseas Territories Consultative Council next week. Let us hope that we can come to a conclusion that is suitable to all.
Mr. David Burrowes (Enfield, Southgate) (Con) (Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his decision not to intervene to stop Gary McKinnon's extradition to the United States.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Alan Johnson): Gary McKinnon is accused of serious criminal offences. He is alleged to have repeatedly hacked into US Government computer networks over a period of 13 months, including 97 US military computers from which he deleted vital operating systems and then copied encrypted information on to his own computer, shutting down the entire US army's military district of Washington's computer network for 24 hours. During interviews under caution, Mr. McKinnon admitted to much of the conduct he is accused of.
A great deal has been made of the perceived imbalance in UK-US extradition arrangements in respect of probable cause versus reasonable suspicion. While I am clear that no such imbalance exists, as Mr. McKinnon has admitted the conduct which has given rise to the extradition request, this issue is academic in his case. This aside, under the terms of the Extradition Act 2003, I can prevent an extradition only in very specific circumstances: where the person in question could be sentenced to death if convicted; where there is a chance of that person being tried for crimes committed before that extradition which were not specified in the extradition request; or where the person has previously been extradited to the UK from another country, or transferred here by the International Criminal Court, and no consent has been given to their being extradited elsewhere.
Outside of the statutory extradition scheme, the courts have made it clear that the only circumstances in which I could prevent extradition would be where the evidence demonstrates that extradition would be a breach of human rights. If it would breach human rights to proceed with extradition, I would have to halt proceedings. If it would not, it would be unlawful for me to do so.
Mr. McKinnon has challenged his extradition in the district court, the High Court, with the Law Lords, and in the European Court of Human Rights, all of whom have ruled that the extradition should go ahead. Following the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome in August 2008, he made fresh representations to the then Home Secretary claiming that because of his medical condition his extradition would breach the European convention on human rights. The then Home Secretary decided in October 2008 that the evidence Mr. McKinnon submitted did not meet the threshold needed to constitute a breach of the ECHR. Mr. McKinnon challenged in the High Court this decision and the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service that there were no grounds for him to be tried in this country.
On 31 July 2009, the High Court handed down both judgments. In its judgment on the Director of Public Prosecution's decision that Mr. McKinnon should be tried in the US, Lord Justice Stanley Burnton said this:
"It is true that the Claimant's offending conduct took place in this country. However, it was directed at the USA, and at computers in the USA; the information he accessed or could have accessed was US information; its confidentiality and sensitivity were American; and any damage that was inflicted was in the USA. The witnesses who can address the damage done by his offences are in America...However, it is not for this Court to decide where he should be prosecuted. The decision is that of the DPP. As appears from the preceding paragraphs of this judgment, he cannot be faulted for considering that, other things being equal, the Claimant should be prosecuted in the USA."
"manifestly unsatisfactory in the extreme"
Secondly, the Court ruled on 31 July that the decision of the Home Secretary that the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the US would not amount to a breach of his human rights was also correct. The Lord Justice said:
"Ultimately, I have to weigh the impressive medical evidence adduced by the Claimant against the severity involved in Article 3. I have no doubt that he will find extradition to, and trial and sentence and detention in the USA, very difficult indeed. His mental health will suffer. There are risks of worse, including suicide. But if I compare his condition with those considered in the authorities to which I have referred above, even taking full account of the (in my view undesirable) possibility of his being prosecuted in this country, his case does not approach Article 3 severity."
Following that decision, Mr. McKinnon's lawyers made fresh representations, including additional medical evidence. I have carefully considered those representations and I am clear that the information that his lawyers have provided is not materially different from that placed before the High Court earlier this year and does not demonstrate that sending Mr. McKinnon to the United States would breach his human rights.
There are legitimate concerns about Mr. McKinnon's health, and the United States authorities have provided assurances, which were before the High Court in July, that his needs will be met. It is also clear from the proceedings to date that there is no real risk that Mr. McKinnon, if convicted, will serve any of his sentence in a supermax prison. Should Mr. McKinnon be extradited, charged and convicted in the US and seek repatriation to the UK to serve his sentence in this country, the Government will progress his application at the very earliest opportunity.
As I have said at every stage of these proceedings, we will not commence extradition proceedings until all legal avenues that Mr. McKinnon wishes to pursue have been exhausted. He can lodge a judicial review within seven days of this decision, and he can appeal to the ECHR within 14 days of the same date. I am currently considering a request from Mr. McKinnon's lawyers for an extension of the seven-day time limit.
Mr. Burrowes: I do not propose to ask the Home Secretary to use any general discretion that he says he does not have, nor today do I wish to highlight the unfairness of the UK-US extradition treaty. I want him to focus on the medical evidence, which he has considered and not disputed, and the limited human rights discretion that he accepts he has.
"is now suffering from an exacerbation of his very serious Major Depressive Disorder...aggravated and complicated by anxiety and panic attacks"
"even higher risk of self-harm and suicide"
"suicide is now a real probability and will be an almost certain inevitability should he experience extradition",
"will require inpatient psychiatric containment",
surely he has established a real risk of human rights being breached should extradition proceed. Putting it more bluntly, how ill and vulnerable does Gary McKinnon need to be not to be extradited to the United States?
The Home Secretary wants to rely on previous court judgments. Given that Lord Justice Stanley Burnton indicated that if Gary McKinnon were not extradited he could be prosecuted in this country, how can it be proportionate to allow the extradition of a UK citizen who is suicidal and sectionable? Is it not the case that far from being powerless to stop Gary McKinnon's extradition, in the light of the medical evidence the Home Secretary has shown himself and his Government to be spineless?
Alan Johnson: This is a difficult decision, and not one that can be made by the hon. Gentleman. I admire him for the way in which he has represented his constituent, and I met him just a couple of weeks ago on a one-to-one basis. I understand that completely, but I am the only person who can make this decision and I have to make it on the basis of the facts, and all the facts. It is a quasi-judicial decision, and Lord Justice Burnton did not say that if Gary McKinnon were not extradited he could be tried in this country. I have quoted what he said-he was absolutely clear that that is a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is not for politicians to decide whether someone is prosecuted and where, and he said that it would be
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