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Baroness Turner of Camden: I support my noble friend. My name stands to Amendments Nos. 24 and 25. Amendment No. 24 has been moved and Amendment No. 25 has been spoken to. As I understand the framework directive, the processes outlined in the Bill have to be, as it were, started by a
Lord Clinton-Davis: I worry about the words "after a judicial decision" because I am not convinced they are entirely required. On the other handand there is always another handwhy should they not be included? My noble friends have argued the case with impeccable logic and I cannot see why the Minister cannot also take this issue away to reconsider. I do not think that the statute would suffer by the words "after a judicial decision".
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The noble Lord, Lord Wedderburn, has assisted the Committee by tabling amendments which try to add some clarity to the Bill. He has also assisted me by making me think sideways as to some of the other implications of the clause. My sideways thinking is not directly relevant to his amendment. However, I shall utter it briefly so that it can perhaps be considered before we reach the Report stage, when I may bring forward an amendment around it.
The Minister will recall that on the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill, we had some lengthy discussions about administrative proceedings in the European Union. We were given some definitions of what "administrative proceedings" could be. It seemed that they were the same as judicial proceedings. Obviously, I need to consider whether the Bill as currently drafted may cover all types of decisionsperhaps I may call them thattaken in other EU jurisdictions, both now and in the future when the Bill is perhaps amended by additional and other offences. That was simply an observation.
These amendments relate to the "process"that is the important matterfor issuing European arrest warrants in other countries. The Bill provides that the UK's designated authority, NCIS or the Crown Office, must certify that any incoming warrants come from a bona fide source and that they contain all the necessary information.
With regard to the source, the designated authority must be satisfied that the issuing authority in the requesting state is a judicial authority, which has the function of issuing arrest warrants in the country
As I said in response to the earlier debate, there will be a central register in which the approved issuing authorities in each country will be listed so that it will not be unduly difficult for the UK designated authority to carry out the necessary checks. I should also make it clear that, as I said earlier, we expect to receive incoming European extradition requests from exactly the same people as we get them from at the moment. We currently receive requests from a wide range of judges and magistrates across the European Union, and we see absolutely no reason why that should change.
Amendment No. 24 would provide that the decision to issue a warrant has to be a "judicial decision". I have to confess that I am not wholly clear what is meant by that. As I have already explained, all warrants will have to be issued by a judicial authority. I think that it is reasonable to argue that any decision taken on a matter of law or procedure by a person holding a judicial officesuch as a judge or magistrateis a judicial decision. So I cannot see what the amendments would add to the Bill.
I certainly hope that my noble friend is not suggesting that in order to qualify as a "judicial decision" the decision to issue a warrant should be taken in court with some kind of formal procedure or hearing. That may be what my noble friend and his supporters want, but that is not how we do things in the United Kingdom. It is not our practice. An arrest warrant can be issued, on application from the police, by a justice of the peace. Clearly the justice needs to be convinced that the arrest would be justified, but he does not have to hold any kind of formal hearing for that purpose. Nor does that process need to happen in court. After all, a justice can sign an arrest warrant at home in his pyjamas if necessary, and there have been occasions when that has happened.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I wonder whether the Minister would like me to intervene now in order to assist. I sat as a magistrate for 13 years. I can assure him, without trying to be flippant in any way, that I never once signed an arrest warrant in a state of undress or in any relaxed manner. The matter is taken very seriously by justices in this country. What we are trying to elicit from the Government is a statement as to whether the matter is taken seriously in other countries. I cannot speak for other members of the judiciary, but the lay judiciary are given not only very
Lord Bassam of Brighton: We too take these matters very seriously. I was not attempting to be flippant in any way. I was merely trying to suggest that although these matters are dealt with without the formal trappings of a courtit is in no sense a full hearingthey are taken very seriously indeed. I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, and other justices take every warrant application very seriously and that they give them very careful consideration. That is exactly what we expect to happen outwith our own jurisdiction. However, we see no need to impose requirements on foreign judicial authorities that we do not impose on our own judicial authorities. We expect that the process will be similar to that in the United Kingdom and that it will be of similar veracity.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: I have been listening to the Minister and to the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay. I have never been a magistrate, but my wife has. Therefore, I know how carefully these matters are dealt with. The process may be done in someone's sitting room or dining room, but if the individual is a magistrate, he or she is a judicial officer and the process is a judicial process. The fact that it does not take place in a court room is neither here nor thereit is a judicial process. What the noble Baroness and my noble friends are concerned about is that in other countries it need not be a judicial processit may be an administrative process. I hope that my noble friend agrees with what I am saying. In some countries it may very well be that the exercise of a warrant does not happen through a judicial process but through an administrative process. I am worried about that. I am worried that other countries' systems are not as good as ours. I think that that is what the amendment seeks to achieve.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: In a sense I think that the noble Lord helps our argument. It is absolutely correct that, regardless of the location, as I said at the outset, we expect the judicial process to be very similar to ours and as robust as ours. It should be considered in exactly the same way. That is why we will be clear and ensure clarity as to what constitutes a judicial authority. The judicial authorities will be properly listed.
As I said, we do not see the need to impose requirements on foreign judicial authorities that we do not impose on our own judicial authorities. Yes, it will be a judicial process in the sense that the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, understands, but that process will be similar to ours. We expect it to operate very similarly to ours.
Lord Wedderburn of Charlton: I have a feeling that entertainment gets us some way, but that what one noble Lord has called impeccable logic does not get us quite as far. I have to preface what I want to say with an expression of astonishment at my noble friend the Minister's description of magistrates' activity. I should
The Bill as drafted would allow for a case in which a judicial authority on the listor even not on the list, in a sense, although that is not questionableon which the Minister relies acts, as a formality, on the request of some administrative or other state body or officer. That would be a judicial authority because it is on the list, but it is not exercising a judicial process in coming to a judicial decision. My noble friend the Minister confuses the process and source. The Bill now clearly stateswe are gradually getting it rightthe source: it must be a judicial authority. We get to know which is whichMaria Teresa will be on the listbut it does not say anything about what has to happen.
There might just be a case where the public prosecutor has established such a close connection with the judicial authority that the judicial authority will do more or less what he wants. I do not believe that it is our intention to enact that. I especially do not believe it because it would controvert what the framework decision says. As my noble friend has pointed out, the framework decision says that the European arrest warrant is,
I have no objection to the Government remarking, as they have in previous debates in another place and in your Lordships' House, about gold-plating the framework decision. However, I have some objection to copper-plating the framework decision such that the Government can engrave into it an inferior procedure to that in the framework decision.
Lord Mayhew of Twysden: I wonder whether the noble Lord agrees with me that there may be some confusion in the Government's mind arising out of what is meant by a judicial decision. It would be understandable, as it is a linguistic problem. The noble Lord is talking about an adjudicationan action by a judicial authority resulting in an adjudication, having weighed the pros and cons of whatever issue was put before it. Perhaps the noble Lord would agree that it might be worth suggesting to the Minister that the words "an adjudication", "by virtue of an adjudication" or "after an adjudication" might be an alternative way of expressing the correction that the noble Lord is keen on.
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