|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Clinton-Davis: I am bound to say that both Amendments Nos. 43 and 149 are precisely the same. The Court of Appeal can look at whether a judge has behaved sensibly. I cannot see any difference between Amendment No. 43, which the noble Lord has said is perfectly OK, and Amendment No. 149. It is not as though there would not be checks; there would be. For that reason, we are arguing about something very unreal.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My noble friend probably made this point, but I wish to clarify that, in suggesting the wording, the Law Society of Scotland is saying that in Scots law "reasonable grounds" is considered an objective criterion whereas "reason to believe" is less so. Therefore, the society thinks that "reasonable grounds" is crisper, more solid and better grounds. As the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, said, the wording applies to the whole United Kingdom; it is not intended to be a Scottish issue.
We have heard from distinguished lawyers south of the Border that they do not see the point of that. I can understand that, because they are accustomed to the other phraseology. It is a matter of wording. It is an interesting point, but it is not an enormous one, as my noble friend would probably agree.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, has stimulated an interesting, diverging debate. There is value in that. I tremble in trepidation of tackling Scots law, particularly given that the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, is a Member of the
I shall deal first with Amendment No. 43, which concerns provisional arrest under Part 1 of the Bill. Clause 5 currently provides that a police or customs officer may arrest a person without a warrant if,
Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: I thank the Minister for giving way. He inserted a very important word, "shortly", between "will" and "be". There is no "shortly" in the Bill. The provision contains the words "will be", not "will shortly be". It would be wrong for the Committee to allow that to go unchecked, as it makes quite a different inference on what we are talking about.
The last thing that I wish to do at this stage is to become embroiled in a discussion on semantics, but I have little space in this argument to do otherwise. I ask the Committee to consider how the approach might work. If I have reasonable grounds for believing that a warrant will be issued, then I have reason to believe that that will be the case. If I do not have reasonable grounds, I do not have reason to believe that it will be so. Although that reasoning may seem slightly facile, the point it illustrates is that, regardless of the exact formulation of words, the provisions would have the same effect with or without the amendment. That was the point that the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, made. I think that it is fair to say that I do not disagree with the sentiment of the amendment, but I suggest that it is unnecessary. There is already provision in the Bill that will have the same effect.
Amendment No. 149 touches on the issue of an arrest warrant in this country pursuant to a "full"that is to say, not provisionalextradition request under Part 2 of the Bill. Clause 70 currently provides for a warrant to be issued if it appears to the judge that extradition is requested in respect of an extradition offence and there is sufficient evidence and information to justify the issue of a warrant. The
Let us try to suspend reality and assume that I am judgeI am no longer Lord Bassam; I am Judge Bassam. I know that it is quite hard to conjure up different images of me wearing wigs and so on, but let us make that assumption. I will issue an arrest warrant only if it appears to me that the necessary conditions are met. The decision is for me, the judge, to take, based on the information before me. I can decide that the conditions appear to be met only if there is good reason for me to believe that to be true. If there were no reasonable grounds to believe that to be the case, it could not, by definition, appear to me to be true. Again, I am trying to demonstrate that, in spite of the different words, the Bill already does what the amendment seeks.
We are agreed on what we expect these provisions to achieve. I hope that Members of the Committee will accept the assurance that we can meet those expectations with the Bill as it is drafted. I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendments in the light of that explanation.
The Earl of Mar and Kellie: If the Minister were Sheriff Bassam, I believe that he would be very glad to have the aide memoire of the words that the sheriff must have reasonable grounds. He would know that he had to have reason and not just be swayed by an interesting argument.
Lord Wedderburn of Charlton: Perhaps the Minister will want to reflect again when he reads Hansard. There is a difference between having a reason to believe something and having reasonable grounds to believe something. I might believe that the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, is my cousin because, from the age of six months onwards, an aunt told me that his father was my father's brother. I find out that that is false. I would have thought that anyway, because my aunts were very curious people and I did not believe everything that they told me. It would not be reasonable, if it became a serious matter, just to believe what your aunt had told you from the age of six months onwards. It would be reasonable to make a little inquiry to find out more about the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, to see if he really
I cannot understand why the Minister resists the idea that the person committing the extremely serious step of provisionally arresting someone on the say-so of someone else abroad. I have been trying to jog my memory as to whether his argument has an undistributed middle or some rule about fallacious reasoning, but it is wrong. In my submission, surely that is wrong. A "reason to believe" is not the same as "reasonable grounds" to believe. When there is a provisional arrest, we should begin the notion of protection by saying that there must be "reasonable grounds". What is wrong with that?
Lord Lamont of Lerwick: "Reason to believe" implies any reason to believea slight reason as opposed to a significant reason. "Reasonable grounds" implies looking at something in the roundat all the evidence available and whether the conclusion is reasonable. To me, that is the difference between the two phrases. Respectfully, I do not agree with those who think that there is no difference. It is pretty clear what the difference is, as well exposed by the noble Lord, Lord Wedderburn.
I am puzzled by the provisional arrest requirement. The Minister said that the wording was not being altered. Will he clarify whether provisional arrest is already allowed for under the Extradition Act? He is consulting advisers, who are nodding, so perhaps we know the answer already. As said by the noble Lord, Lord Wedderburn, it seems very extraordinary to allow that. We are told all the time that it is for only very serious offences, yet we know that the provisions of the arrest warrant apply to offences that are not the most seriousnot only to murder and terrorism.
It is worth observing that there have been very large numbers of arrests in this country of people on terrorist offences in the past few months, but so far as I am aware only one of them has been charged. We have to bear in mind the rights of those arrested for terrorism as well. There has been a certain amount of trigger-happy locking-up of people in recent months, which has caused some disquiet.
If we are to have the provision, the Minister ought to say what sort of evidence would be relevant. Will it be simply the facts from a policeman in another country? Will there be any reference to a domestic warrant being in issue in that country already? Will the officer have to be senior? What sort of grounds are relevant? The Minister is again consulting his advisers, so perhaps we can hear about that.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page