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Baroness Amos: My Lords, first, I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, that given the history, we need to be sure that Unionists and others in Northern Ireland are clear that there is a substantial act of decommissioning. I entirely agree with him on that. However, I remind him that, when the system of decommissioning was established, it was considered necessary to have the confidentiality clause, because it was felt that decommissioning would not happen at all with out it. The confidentiality requirement is set out in the decommissioning scheme, which is based on Sections 3(1)(c) and (d) of the Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act 1997. It has been in place for some time.

On the question that the noble Lord raised with respect to inclusivity, I repeat what I said in relation to earlier questions. The suspension occurred because of a lack of confidence and trust between two parties, which have been engaged in discussions to enable us to work towards restoring, or beginning to establish, that confidence and trust. That is why the focus has been on those two parties. Having said that, there have been meetings with other parties. Indeed, in the past two weeks there were two meetings between my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and the SDLP.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, like most old hands, the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, and I might be tempted to say that this high-wire act, like many before it, is in very real danger of collapsing after five years. However, I want to be positive.

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I do not expect a reply today, because the Minister has not had notice of the question. Will Her Majesty's Government consider a plan for administrative devolution designed by a former government, endorsed in 1979 by the entire United Kingdom electorate, but sabotaged by the Foreign Office and its allies on the grounds that—to use their own words—"It was not enough"? The problem with "not enough" is that it usually means that you get nothing; I have said that before. But surely the time has come to revise that modest plan after a vacuum of 22 years, and this time build it on really solid foundations.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for making it clear that he does not require an answer to that question today. It is something that we must go away and consider, and I will of course write to him.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, should we not reflect on the years that preceded the Good Friday agreement and the deaths, violence, carnage and hatred in the two intractably opposed communities in Northern Ireland? We should reiterate and welcome the progress that we have made since then, and not least pay some credit to the leadership of David Trimble. In very difficult circumstances, he has persevered against all the odds, both inside and outside his party and across the communities in Northern Ireland. Many of us admire the courage that he has shown.

Although the process may today be in some disarray, the fact that there is a process at all is something that we should welcome, and be optimistic and strong about. Over the summer, such a personal relationship has developed between David Trimble and Gerry Adams; that could never have happened before the Good Friday process. There may be stumbles and a faltering approach, but this is the way in which we will see normality in Northern Ireland, the entrenching of democratic institutions and the proper way towards peace. The Government should be congratulated on facilitating those things and helping the process along.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Alton, first for reminding us of some of the recent history and, in particular, of the situation before the Good Friday agreement. We have had the quietest summer in Northern Ireland for some 30 years. The noble Lord is quite right.

We should pay tribute to the collective efforts of all the parties in Northern Ireland for their courage and commitment. For example, without the SDLP's commitment to the policing process several years ago, we would be much less far forward than we are now. The noble Lord referred to the courage and bravery of David Trimble. Others too numerous to mention have been engaged in the process and have stuck with it because the ultimate prize is peace.

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Extradition Bill

3.45 p.m.

Report received.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 1:

    Before Clause 1, insert the following new clause—

The purpose of this Act is to make provision about extradition and to give effect to the Council Framework Decision of 13th June 2002, on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, after nine days in Grand Committee, this important Bill now reaches the Floor of the House. I welcome the fact that the Government have listened to some of the arguments put in Grand Committee and have tabled a total of 158 amendments to the Bill. I give advance notice that some of the government amendments on the significant issues will need to be further amended. That reflects the fact that the Government listened to some of the arguments put in Grand Committee, but also, sadly, that they have set their face against the argument of principle that we pressed on the issue of the European arrest warrant. Today, therefore, we have ahead of us some important amendments.

The objective of Amendment No. 1 is to set out clearly the purpose that underpins this legislation, and ensure that a reference is made to surrender procedures right at the start. We had a substantial debate on the amendment in Grand Committee, and my noble friend Lord Hodgson raised the issue briefly in a debate on the Criminal Justice Bill earlier this month. I shall therefore abide by the guidance on the Report stage and try to be as brief as possible.

The Long Title of the Bill states that it is a Bill to make, "provision about extradition". We believe that that is misleading. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, pointed out in Grand Committee that Parts 1 and 2 of the Bill serve different purposes and are based on distinctly different procedures. Another of the Minister's many noble friends, the noble Lord, Lord Wedderburn, made the same point, when he said that,

    "while the Bill concerns extradition, Part 1 especially seeks to give effect to the framework decision about the European arrest warrant and surrender procedures which are explicitly stated in that decision to be the object of the Union".—[Official Report, 3/6/03; col. GC 122.]

The new extradition system for category 1 countries does not correspond in any way to the meaning of the word "extradition" as understood by the public. To them, extradition means a fully judicial process involving home and overseas judicial authorities, with appropriate checks and balances. Under this proposal, in Part 1, those checks and balances are too few.

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Perhaps we should not be surprised, because the European arrest warrant is contained in a Council framework decision in paragraph 5, of which the preamble reads:

    "The objective set for the Union to become an area of freedom, security and justice leads to abolishing extradition"—

I emphasise "abolishing"—

    "between member states and replacing it by a system of surrender between judicial authorities".

A sample of the warrant to be used is included later in the document. Paragraph (i) of the warrant refers to:

    "contact details of the person to contact to make necessary practical arrangements for the surrender".

We propose nothing more sinister than clarity in stating that the purpose of the Bill is not straightforward extradition but, in Part 1, surrender as well. I beg to move.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, the main issue before us today is an attempt to remove Part 1, which concerns the European arrest warrant, or to restrict it to terrorist offences. I make clear that if that is the main aim, we shall certainly support the Government on the matter.

The noble Baroness talked about the European arrest warrant. We simply want to ensure that it will simplify and speed up extradition procedures. In particular, it will be unnecessary to provide prima facie evidence in support of an application for extradition. However, that is not a major change in the law, because all European Union member states are already party to the Council of Europe Convention on Extradition, which dispenses with the need to provide prima facie evidence.

The argument is likely to be based mainly on the restriction of dual criminality, to which we shall come later, and which is a rule that forbids extradition unless the relevant offence is a crime under the laws of both the territory requesting extradition and the territory receiving the request. Under the framework decision setting up the European arrest warrant, Article 2.2, concerning EU members, states that dual criminality must not be applied for the 32 categories of offences listed in the article if the minimum sentence for that offence in the requesting territory is at least two years.

We accept that on the ground that people are required to observe the law of the territory in which they are present and, in the case of serious offences, should not be able to escape extradition on the technical ground that the offence with which they are charged does not correspond to a specific offence under UK law.

Later, we shall debate large groups of amendments led by Amendments Nos. 3 and 6. I am dealing with the matter now because I do not want to pop up on every amendment in those groups simply to say that we will not support them.

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