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The noble Lord said: I do not propose to repeat what I said earlier. I am most grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Culville of Culross, for his support and am interested to hear that it is possible to read the rules. I had been under the impression that one reason
We were tempted to press the matter to a Division, but I have heard what the Minister said and await with interestand within the next two weekshis further response that will make absolutely clear what is the Government's position on the issue. It is only with that in mind that, for the moment, I shall not move the amendment.
Some Members of the Committee may be unaware that in parallel with the Bill the Government are pushing through a new Extradition Bill. In its way, it is as long and complex a piece of legislation as the Bill before us: witness the fact that we have spent nine days in Grand Committee discussing its details.
We have been extremely grateful: first, to the noble Lord, Lord Filkin; and latterly, to the noble Baroness, for the courtesy and attention that they have given to the many amendments tabled. I hope that, in the same spirit, they will forgive me when I say that my noble friend Lady Anelay and I were somewhat horrified to be told that the Government are now to table 158 amendments to the Extradition Bill between now and the end of the week for Report, which begins next Wednesday. If this House is to carry out its proper role of revising and consultation, that is a jolly short period in which to deal with 158 amendments. However, we shall let the matter lie for the moment.
It is important, in the interests of public confidence and clarity of intention, that the Criminal Justice Bill and the Extradition Bill march in step. The objective of my amendment is to help to achieve that cohesion.
The Extradition Bill proposes wholesale revision of our extradition laws. It is argued that the present legislative framework gives too many opportunities for the wrongdoer unfairly to delay his extradition. The force of that argument is accepted on all sides of the Committee. But the Extradition Bill makes a further significant step. It divides the countries with which we have extradition arrangements into two categories, each being afforded completely different
Under the European arrest warrant, individuals who commit one of 32 groups of offences carrying a custodial sentence of more than 12 months are, on the say so of a "judicial authority"any category 1 territory, not a judicial authority in the United Kingdomwhisked away without any effective protection from the United Kingdom's judicial system. Some of those offences are curiously ill-defined, such as computer-related crime, and others are not crimes in the United Kingdom in any case.
We can argue about whether that is the right policy to pursue. Indeed, we did so at length in Grand Committee. Concerns were expressed about the absence of habeas corpus in many continental European jurisdictions, and that pursuant to the investigative judicial system prevalent on the Continent, as opposed to the adversarial one in this country, there is a risk that the warrant may be used for fishing expeditions as opposed to the prosecution of crime. Concerns were also expressed about the judicial integrity of some of the countries that will shortly join the European Union.
We could argue about those issues, but they are not the point of my amendment. The new extradition system for category 1 territories does not correspond in any way to the meaning of the word "extradition" as understood by the man in the street. To him, extradition means a judicial process involving home and overseas judicial authorities, with appropriate checks and balances. Under this proposal there are no checks and balances. But perhaps we should not be surprised, because the European arrest warrant is contained in a Council framework decision in which paragraph 5 of the preamble reads:
The Government propose surrender, not extradition. They should now make that clear in the Criminal Justice Bill. That is why my amendment seeks to insert the words "and surrender" into Clause 234. My amendment is about honesty and clarity with the public. It is proposed in a spirit of helpfulness to the Government. The Prime Minister has said that he now wishes to get away from spin and to focus on reality. Here is a chance for his Government to begin to do so. I beg to move.
Lord Filkin: I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, for taking us back to old, familiar territory. Several Members of the Committee, including the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, and the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, worked on the Extradition Bill, on which there was a good Committee process. I am slightly surprised that we are having a warm-up act today for issues that no doubtif what the noble Lord advertises is truewill be a substantial process during further consideration of the Bill in your Lordships' House. For those reasons, such a debate would be better saved until that point.
I shall respond to the central thrust of the noble Lord's argument. Amendment No. 203 seeks to add reference to "surrender procedures" to the provisions concerning the existing legislation on extradition. Although I accept that the Opposition may not be wedded to the exact wording of the amendment, it is worth pointing out that, as drafted, it has an adverse effect on the provisions. Paragraph (a) should be read in conjunction with the definition of "extradition arrangements" at the end of subsection (3). If those extra words were inserted, that would no longer make sense, as "extradition and surrender arrangements" is not a term given meaning to by Section 3 of the Extradition Act 1989.
That leads us to the wider point that "surrender" is not a term used in legislation in this context. The 1989 Act talks only of "extradition", as does the Extradition Bill currently being considered by Parliament. I recognise the Opposition's contention, which we have discussed previously, that the Extradition Bill, and specifically Part 1, which implements the European arrest warrant, is concerned with surrender rather than extradition.
I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, has previously pointed to the use of the word "surrender" in the framework decision on the European arrest warrant. However, I repeat the Government's explanation that it is the Extradition Bill and not the framework decision that will govern the law in the UK.
It is the existing extradition legislation, as listed in the clause, that governs our procedure now and uses the phrase "extradition arrangements". If, as we hope, the Extradition Bill is passed into law, that legislation will apply, with references to extradition and not surrender. I assure Members of the Committee that, regardless of which Bill receives Royal Assent first, as we hope both will, we will ensure that they are compatible and that any cross-references are correct.
The clause will apply to extradited prisoners in the future, including those extradited by virtue of the European arrest warrant system, in the same way that it would apply under our existing extradition law.
Having had the pleasure of debating the issues previously with the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, I am not so optimistic to think that on this occasion, by some happy coincidence, I will necessarily have persuaded him. But I invite him to think that there will be a better opportunity to discuss the issues when we come to the Extradition Bill, rather than now. For that reason, without asking the noble Lord to spike his future thunder, it might be a good time to debate them then.
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