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Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: I am grateful to the Minister for this explanation. We appreciate the problems that may occur during the transitional period in relation to pre-existing alerts on the SIS system. We also appreciate that, as with any new system, it is important to have special arrangements during the transitional period until all outstanding requests from the old system have been dealt with.

I hope, however, that the Minister does not think that we have actually dealt with commencement in this amendment. There are more issues to be dealt with, and we will come to those in Amendment No. 257, which will be spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart. With that proviso, we are happy that this is a short-term measure to provide some meshing between the old and the new system, and we are content.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts moved Amendment No. 255:

    After Clause 200, insert the following new clause—

The Secretary of State shall certify that the provisions of this Act are compatible with the provisions of the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003."

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 255 inserts a new clause concerning compatibility with the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003. It is designed to ensure that there is compatibility between the provisions of that legislation, which is being debated in another place, and the Extradition Bill, which we are debating here today.

My noble friend Lady Anelay already raised the issue when debating the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill in your Lordships' House earlier this year. There was an extensive debate on the 3rd February in col. 41 of Hansard. At that time, my noble friend tried to delay the commencement of the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill until the Extradition Bill had come into effect. In answer, the Minister suggested that delaying commencement was not the right way to go about things since the two Bills dealt with,

    "entirely different circumstances and powers"".—[Official Report, 3/2/03; col. GC41.]

The same point was raised on the 21st January in another place during a Committee debate on an amendment to the Extradition Bill. We have used the same wording of that amendment in our Amendment No. 255. The wording meets the Government's point about not imposing linked commencement dates for either Act but requires the Secretary of State to certify that the two are compatible.

I share the unease of my noble friend Lady Anelay at the response of the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, that the powers in the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill and the Extradition Bill are unconnected. We are agreed, I think, that only British law enforcement personnel can make an arrest following a European arrest warrant. The Minister has been adamant on this point on several occasions during our debate, although we have at times been less convinced that the actual drafting of the Bill reflected this intention. However, that is an issue we have been over before and to which we will no doubt return.

As I understand it, the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill is concerned only with surveillance by foreign police for up to five hours when following a suspect across a border in hot pursuit. It is this that gives rise to concerns about the compatibility of these two pieces of legislation. The two sets of provisions are slightly at cross purposes in their interaction. For example, presumably French police can pursue a suspect for surveillance purposes for up to five hours, but if at that point they feel they have sufficient grounds for an arrest for the purposes of prosecuting the suspect, they presumably have to withdraw, and the process for issuing a European arrest warrant to the UK must then be started. That might take some time and then must presumably be handed over

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entirely to British police to enforce. Perhaps the Minister could explain to the Committee if this is how he sees the two pieces of legislation meshing together and operating.

In answer to the amendment put forward in another place, the Minister, Mr. Ainsworth, said that both Bills were in Parliament at the same time. He said that the Government had obligations that they had entered into that they must try to enact in a reasonable period of time. However, they wanted to ensure that both Bills went into Parliament at the same time so that nothing would be hidden.

Of course I accept that this was the Minister's intention, but it is probably confusing rather than enlightening for both Bills to be debated before two Houses of Parliament at the same time because both parts of the machinery are moving around and being changed. In the interests of clarity, it would have been helpful to have included a positive obligation on the Secretary of State to ensure compatibility.

I have no doubt that the Minister will, in his courteous way, dismiss the amendment, as was done in another place, and give us an assurance on the record as to the compatibility, which he will deem to be a sufficient guarantee. Both Bills are about foreign jurisdictions pursuing suspects who have fled to our country. One is about surveillance by foreign officers for a limited period; the other about the arrest of suspects by our officers. I believe it is important to have this debate at this stage of the Bill; we would all benefit from a more detailed clarification about the interaction of the two Bills. I beg to move.

[The Sitting was suspended for a Division in the House from 5.55 to 6.6 p.m.]

Lord Davies of Oldham: I am grateful for the way in which the noble Lord presented the case before the adjournment, and I hope that I can give him some reassurance about the matter. He referred to the debate in another place, where the focus was on an anxiety about foreign police officers coming to this country to make arrests using European arrest warrants. I am glad to say that a government amendment on Report assuaged those anxieties.

It remains the case that we have never intended to extend any coercive powers such as the power of arrest to anyone other than those who already enforce the law in this country. I am pleased to say that this aspect of the matter ought therefore not to trouble the Committee today. I would like to add my gratitude to the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, for her acknowledgement of that, putting the question beyond any doubt. I am glad that we have been able to make progress in Committee on that understanding.

Given that it is understood in Committee that the two Bills, when read in tandem, do not and cannot represent that thin end of the wedge that would see foreign police officers arresting people on these shores, I am a little puzzled as to why the amendment has been moved. After all, Acts of Parliament are necessarily compatible with each other. Any later legislation would amend that which preceded it, were there to be any incompatibility.

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Of course, as the noble Lord indicated, I cannot say at this stage which Bill will receive Royal Assent first. Those questions are matters for the business managers as the two Bills proceed through both Houses of Parliament. I can say that, whatever way round it is, the two Acts will indeed be compatible. Such are the burdens on parliamentary time that we all have to deal with various pieces of legislation that are being processed through these buildings at one and the same time. Nevertheless, the Government are mindful of that and the need to ensure that no Bill contradicts or counteracts another. That does not mean that every Bill in any way connected to another debated during the same Session contains a clause such as that sought in the amendment. That clearly would be excessive. We believe that it is superfluous in the Bill. If it were necessary here, we would have to put it into a number of Acts where consideration was carrying on in parallel in any parliamentary Session.

I assure the Committee that provisions of the two Bills will be compatible, as will all other Bills that have been passed or are passing through Parliament this Session. We do not believe that there is any need to set a precedent here by asserting that fact in the Bill. I recognise the anxieties. However, the Committee has made progress on the recognition of the broad intent of the Government behind the measures and the fact that we are not seeking to extend coercive powers. I hope that the noble Lord will recognise that it would not be appropriate for us to make the amendment to the Bill. With those assurances, I hope that he will feel able to withdraw it.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: Of course Bills have to be compatible, and my noble friend was merely trying to make sure that that was the case. However, can the Government assure us that there is no circumstance in which a person could use the powers in one Bill for the purposes of the other? That seems the question that really has to be asked. Having taken part in debates on both Bills, one realises that they are in a sense about the same subject. I cannot give an example, but that is my anxiety, because we are dealing with concepts unfamiliar to us and taking into account the various international arrangements.

Lord Davies of Oldham: I would not have made my earlier remarks if they did not give the obvious intent that that assurance should be able to be given. The noble Baroness has asked quite specifically for it, but I am not really in the right position. We will reflect on that representation and look very carefully at the matter. We have time, with regard to the Bill, and will be able to respond. She will recognise that my request that the amendment be withdrawn is against the background that such an assurance could be given.

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