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Lord Lamont of Lerwick: I wonder whether I could return to a point that was made last week. I apologise for the fact that I was not able to be here. Unfortunately I had to be abroad, although the amendment concerned was one which interested me very much. I assure the Minister that I shall not go over what was said but I want to raise certain points which, as far as I can see having read Hansard, were not raised. I refer to the very important point of a warrant
Certainly, I have read a number of articles that have suggested that in a number of countries it is quite common practice for people to be put under pressure by being detained. The pressure is on them to strike a bargain with the investigating magistrate. They are held for questioning. I did not realise there would be an opportunity to raise this and came unprepared. I do not have the article here, but
Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill): I apologise for interrupting the noble Lord. We have dealt with Amendment No. 30 in Clause 2. That is now over and done with and we are dealing with Clause 2 stand part.
The Deputy Chairman of Committees: We have been debating this for over half an hour. As the noble Lord was not present last week, perhaps he would be as brief as he humanly can be and make the points that he is entitled to make.
The point I wish to press is that I have read quite a number of articles, including many by John Mortimer QC, suggesting that in France, Belgium, Spain and Germany it is common practice for people to be held without being brought to trial. I made reference to the fact that in Belgium, one person has been held in prison on remand for in excess of five years without being brought to trial. That is a case which raises a question mark about the relationship between the judiciary and politics in Belgium. Certainly, there have been comments in France about this practice.
Therefore it seems to me, particularly in the case of extradition, we should ask whether one can be satisfied with the words "with a view to". The Minister said that that had been the practice since the 1989 Act, no more and no less. That is all right, but in those days extradition procedures took much longer. They took the 17 months which the Minister is now trying to reduce to three months.
I should like to hear the Minister comment more about the practice in other countries. There are many points which cause me concern, but this is the one which causes the most. I do not know whether the Minister saw a Written Question which I tabled, which asked about British citizens held in prison in the European Union. According to the Answer supplied by the Foreign Office, there was no one in the position of having been held but not charged. It is unfair to ask
Perhaps the Minister could distinguish between the words, "accused", "charged" and "indicted". I would be particularly interested eventually to know in what sense there were zero UK citizens abroad who had been held without being charged. I am very sceptical of that in the light of the proceedings one reads about in articles by eminent Labour lawyers such as John Mortimer QC.
Lord Filkin: I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, for the question he raised. I think that I understand the two essential limbs of it. He referred to whether the wording, "with a view to prosecution" opens up the risk that someone could be extradited when the requesting state was essentially saying that it wanted to put this person on trial and was ready to do so but in practice wanted to get the person there with the hope that they would be able to prosecute them but using their presence as a mechanism to extract further information to increase the likelihood of a prosecution. Perhaps I put words in his mouth, but I sense that that was the gap that the noble Lord was trying to explore in the use of the phraseology, "with a view to".
Our position is clear: that people should not be extradited for interrogation or questioning; they should be extradited only in the circumstances we have discussed under Part 1 when the requesting state says, "We have evidence which we think is sufficient to put this person on trial. We want to have them within our jurisdiction so that we can put them on trial". I believe that the wording we have is appropriate. It goes back to the question of whether it is "with a view to". They need to have that person in their state before they can put the prosecution into effect.
I shall reflect, no doubt over the summer, as to whether it is beyond doubt in that sense. I do not think that on that point there is a difference; it is whether the wording captures the issue. The noble Lord, Lord Lamont, is quite right; the current legislation is completely vague on that point. It does not mean that everything is perfect. On the other hand, we are not aware of problems. I am not saying that means that there will never be problems in the future but we are going further than the current legislation goes in this Bill. We are tightening up extradition law in this country as a consequence of this measure rather than weakening it.
There is a further point as regards the ECHR obligations of a district judge and whether he thinks that the person's rights under the ECHR will be satisfied. I shall look at what the Foreign Office wrote in response to the questions from the noble Lord, Lord Lamont. I shall see whether we have any information on citizens languishing abroad, to paraphrase what the noble Lord said. As I indicated earlier, I shall reflect on
Viscount Bledisloe: If the noble Lord is to reconsider the matter, will he consider one further point? Assuming that the wording in Clause 2(3)(b) is limited to a formed intent to prosecute with sufficient evidence, and not an intent to investigate, and that the warrant contains the statement that that is so, has the district judge, or anyone, any power to intervene, if he is convinced that that statement is not true and that what is actually intended is to interrogate someone once he is in the foreign territory? Suppose the magistrate has issued a whole series of warrants to this effect and there is clear evidence that the previous 12 people who had been extradited pursuant to a warrant from that magistrate in the foreign territory were held for a very long time and interrogated and not brought to trial. Has the district judge any powerI cannot find anyto say that he will not extradite because he does not believe the statement?
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