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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, for opening with an interesting and, in a sense, challenging amendment. I can summarise my response by saying that the concerns set out in the noble Lord's speech were so far from our mind that we failed to spot that the word "surrender" was the central thrust of his concern. In short, the Bill does not abolish extradition between EU member states. Extradition is the process by which one country sends a warranted fugitive back to another country after due process. That is precisely what Part 1 does. I draw to the Committee's attention the Long Title of the Bill. It states unequivocally that it is a Bill to "make provision about extradition". There we have it: that is the purpose of the Bill.
I appreciate that the new clause appears to go further than the Long Title and specifies that the Bill is also designed to give effect to the European arrest warrant. The Bill already makes that explicitly clear. In defining extradition offences for the purposes of Part 1, Clauses 63 to 65 refer to the framework decision. This is the implementing part for the European arrest warrant being executed in this country. Clause 142 makes a similar reference, which effectively implements the framework decision for warrants issued in this country to be transmitted elsewhere. There is also an interpretative provision in Part 5 at Clause 203(7), which gives the full title of the framework decision. There is no mystery or secret there.
The new clause refers to the Bill being about extradition, as well as implementation of the EAW. Part 2 is concerned with extradition to non-EU countries and sets out clearly the procedures to apply. Therefore, I failed to see what the new clause might add to the Bill. It occurred to me, however, that the intention behind the amendment was that the Bill should be restricted to those purposes. Again, I do not think that there is any cause for dispute on that. The Bill is clearly concerned with extradition and with nothing else. If there was anxiety that it might have been intended that the Bill should be used incrementally to add on other things or as part of a process of creep, I can say that it is a single purpose Bill. The brevity of the Long Title attests to that.
There are, inevitably, transitional or related provisions that must be made. We have provisions to extend the presumption in favour of bail in Clause 193; to apply legal aid in Clauses 184 to 186; to clarify police powers in various provisions in Part 4; and so forth. All of those are clearly defined in the extradition context and in that context only.
We shall, in due course, come to the transitional provisions concerning requests issued prior to January 2004, which is when the European arrest warrant will come into effect. They are requests that are currently on the Schengen Information System being operated by other member states in the EU, and we will need the capacity to deal with them when the UK becomes a party to the system in 2004. Such requests can be made only on the basis of a pre-existing domestic arrest warrant issued by a judicial authority and would normally require the permission of that authority to be placed on the system. As we have explained, that is a limited short-term measure to put beyond doubt any question that such warrants are in some way less valid than one issued after 1st January 2004. In any event, the potential for challenge will not affect warrants issued once the European arrest warrant has come into effect, which is why the provision has such limited application. However, it was clear from the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, when speaking to his amendment, that that was the central thrust of his argument. Nevertheless, it is now on the record, should that be of help.
I am not certain that I will necessarily have satisfied the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, on these matters because, in a sense, the position of the Government is clear. It is not that this is a part of a dreadful process of creep towards corpus juris, but that we need an effective system of extradition if we are to fight international crime. The Bill does that. It is why we regard the legislation as necessary and important. For those reasons, I hope that I have been able to help in part, if not in full.
Lord Wedderburn of Charlton: I want to ask my noble friend at the Dispatch Box whether I heard him right. He said that he failed to see what might be added to the Bill by Amendment No. 1. I repeat, did I hear him right in that? Although the amendment lacks merit in certain respects, for some of us it does make things clear. First, if it were added to the Bill, it would make it clear that Part 1 is not primarily concerned with terrorism. Of course Part 1 is not primarily about terrorism, it goes back to a long time before September 11th. One can date it from 1999. I know that while the Government like to link that development with the whole debate on corpus jurisI hope that Members of the Committee will not be detained too long on those debatesthis is a project that goes back to the origins of the European arrest warrant.
Does not the Minister agree with one point rightly made by the noble Lord in moving his amendment; namely, that the objectives set for the Union, presumably to which the Government subscribethis legislation is instrumental in securing our agreement to the framework decisionare leading to the abolition of extradition and replacing it with a system of surrender? It is perhaps permissible to consider that the very abbreviated Long Title to the Bill is even somewhat misleading when it states "Make provision about extradition". The Bill makes very necessary provisions on extradition proceedings. Anything I may say in this
Whether the wording of the amendment could be improved is another matter. I had expected my noble friend to say something about the wording, but again that is another matter. However, its thrust exposes the fact that the Long Title is missing something that could be added at the outset. Of course I am experienced enough to know that many complications arise when seeking to amend the Long Title of a Bill. Nevertheless, while the Bill concerns extradition, Part 1 especially seeks to give effect to the framework decision about the European arrest warrant and surrender procedures which are explicitly stated in that decision to be the object of the Union.
I must apologise to noble Lords because I shall have to leave the Committee proceedings before they finish this evening. However, I should make it clear at the outset that I speak on this matter for one main reason: any amendments I move or speak to will have one primary aim; that is, to defend the human rights of ordinary people. Part 1 raises questions for noble Lords to consider and I hope that those rights will be the thrust of the debates on particular matters. Therefore to declare, "This is what the Bill is all about", has more merit than has been given to it by my noble friend at the Dispatch Box, who said that he failed to see what it could add.
Lord Filkin: I do not think there is much that I can add to what I said in response to the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, apart from agreeing with my noble friend Lord Wedderburn that the Bill is not concerned primarily with terrorism, it is about extradition. The Bill is not about the abolition of extradition. As I have already explained, Clauses 63 and 65 make it clear that the legislation will not abolish extradition. However, the last thing I wish to do during what is obviously a preparatory discussion is to enter into an area of controversy on an issue which appears to be in the nature of a perfectly legitimate probing amendment seeking to mark certain political points.
For the reasons I have explained, I genuinely believe that the Long Title is appropriate for its purpose. Furthermore, the framework decision does not use the term "surrender" but, as the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, indicated in the extract of my letter he read out, once enacted, this Bill will govern our extradition procedures. Part 1 will put in place extradition arrangements which involve due process as a consequence. I shall not trouble the Committee by going further than that at this point.
I have four or five brief questions to which I would be grateful if the Minister could respond. First, is not the framework document which derives from the Tampere meeting absolutely critical to our extradition arrangements? The answer to that has to be "yes". Secondly, does it not introduce a detailed system of surrender? Again, the only answer to that question would be "yes". Thirdly, does it not need to be implemented into our domestic law in order that our obligations under Tampere and the framework document are fulfilled? My last but one question is: does not the Bill achieve just that? If not, what else does it achieve?
The noble Lord will be relieved to hear that the question was in fact my last. However, I believe those to be quite important questions of principle. If the answer is "yes" to all except the last querythat nothing else would be achieved except that of meeting our obligations under Tamperethen what on earth is the objection to setting out in the first clause of the Bill that the purpose is to do just that?
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