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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I do not believe that there would be. I believe that the international law on this point remains the same. The European arrest warrant, as dealt with in the Bill, is separate and apart from that. If I am wrong about that, I shall certainly write to Members of the Committee and alert them to that. I shall also see if I can identify the specific case to which the noble Lord referred. It may be covered by Clause 63(5), which allows us to extradite, so there is no change in the position. Clause 63(5) states:
Lord Lamont of Lerwick: I am grateful to the Minister for taking this point seriously as it is a serious matter. I do not simply seek to make a point. There has been a series of attempted indictments in Belgium, one of which, I read in a newspaperI have no idea whether it was correctconcerned the Prime Minister among others and related to the recent action in Iraq. The Minister says that the position has not been changed post the General Pinochet case, which was what I thought was the case. But are the Government in no way concerned about the attempts by Belgian magistrates to claim universal jurisdiction in that way? It interacts with the Bill and could give rise to an extradition case. It seems to be a serious issue. The Belgian Government appear to be concerned about it, but I am not sure to what extent they have been able to take action against their own judiciary.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The noble Lord is probably right. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, has identified one of the problems. As I said earlier, we do not control international law, neither do we control what happens within another state and the way in which its judiciary behaves. It is interesting to note that the noble Lord says that the Belgian Government are seeking to address the issue so as to prevent Belgian magistrates from acting inappropriately. Of course, we shall continue to keep these matters under review, but I certainly cannot say that the British Government can do anything.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Belgians' attempt to extradite the Prime Minister would fail because he enjoys immunity under international law. In any event, we understand that Belgium is changing the law. I understand why the noble Lord may believe that it is good sport to harry us on this matter, but I can assure the Committee that in our relations with our Belgian colleagues and other colleagues in Europe we seek to ensure that we take a proportionate and an appropriate response. That will continue. I am sure that if the Belgian Government seek to change the law, that will be to the benefit of their citizens and indeed many others.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I always tremble when someone says that an amendment provides an unanswerable case. We have covered this territory in the past in some detail. The Committee may recall my noble friend Lord Wedderburn's amendment to remove the words "it believes" from Clause 2(7). That was in connection with the UK's designated authority's ability to certify a warrant if it has come from a judicial authority in the requesting state.
This amendment, which would remove the words "the appropriate judge believes", raises a very similar issue. The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, has phrased part of his argument similarly. When I responded to the arguments made by my noble friend Lord Wedderburn, I said that we understood the arguments on this issue. I recall that we undertook to consider the matter afresh to see whether there was any scope for improving the drafting of the Bill, without adding too many words, which is always to be avoided. If we do that in respect of Clause 2(7), it would be remiss of us not to do so for Clause 65(2). I am unsure whether that makes it an unanswerable case, but I am happy to
(a) is a judicial authority of that territory, and
1 Jul 2003 : Column GC231
Committee adjourned at a quarter past seven o'clock.
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