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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I repeat that the countries which may be considered are those with established democracies and where the rule of law operates. Noble Lords will know that the difference between EU countries in Part 1 and other countries in Part 2 is that we are in comity with the EU countrieswe share similar values and traditions and we have made certain binding agreements with them in partnership. It is, if you like, the family of Europe. We will be looking carefully at the matter. The Government would not seek to suggest that any country with which we did not have
Viscount Bledisloe: My Lords, I fully understand what the Minister is saying about similar values and ties. My question was: will we insist that they have reciprocal arrangements so that we can get people back here for trial as easily under an equivalent Part 1 system rather under an old-fashioned system requiring much more? It seems wrong that we should allow other people easy extradition if they do not give us easy extradition.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I understand what the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, is saying. The whole point of Part 1 is that we have total reciprocity. I can only anticipate that anyone who wants to participate in Part 1 must participate on the same terms as all the others. I cannot bind the Government on that, but it would be my reasonable expectation. There is a difference between Parts 1 and 2 because, as the noble Viscount knows, there are those with whom we do not have parity of treatment.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 3, with the leave of the House I shall speak to the very large number of amendments grouped with it. To save time for the House later when speaking to the group headed by Amendment No. 6, which would delete the whole of Part 1, I shall try to amalgamate the arguments so far as is reasonably possible.
The amendments in this group have one straightforward objective. They would confine the use of the European arrest warrant to terrorism offences alone. We have argued consistently in both Houses that we believe that Part 2 does enough to fulfil the Government's objectivesthat is, to speed up our extradition procedures and to remove the ability of criminals to evade justice by unnecessary and convoluted appeals.
We welcome now, as we always have done, the streamlining of our extradition procedures. We recognise that a reform of our extradition law is necessary and we welcome the Government's commitment that cases which currently take 18 months or more will, under Part 2 of the Bill, in future be dealt with in about six months. That seems to us to be right as an objective. We agree that the current delays in extradition impede the delivery of justice and that they are an unwarranted burden on the victims of the offences for which extradition is sought.
Therefore, why do we try to restrict Part 1 of the Bill to terrorism alone? The answer is that we do not agree with the Minister on the essential focus of Part 1. The noble Lord, Lord Filkin, told us in Grand Committee:
Of course, it is true that the measure will achieve speedier decision-makingthe Government are right about that. They say that it will reduce decision-making to three months. However, we believe that for the sake of three monthsthat is, six months in Part 2 and three months in Part 1we are giving up too many freedoms for our citizens. This is not about siding with the criminals as opposed to the victims; it is about fundamental, basic rights, which, at present, our judicial system provides for our citizens, and about whether we feel that those should be compromised by accepting Part 1 in its current form.
I hope that, thus far, I have justified both these amendments and those that will follow in the group headed by Amendment No. 6. Therefore, when we come to the later amendments, I shall not repeat what I have said.
It is unfortunate that, because of the way in which, quite rightly, we deal with amendments, I have to invite the House to consider our second preference firstthat is, to confine the Part 1 operation to terrorism offences onlybefore we can then go on to consider our first preference, which is to delete Part 1 from the Bill altogether.
We recognise that terrorism is, indeed, a unique threat. The Government argue that benefit in relation to other serious crimes will be gained from Part 1 procedures and that it makes no sense to differentiate between terrorism and other offences. I believe otherwise. First, other serious crimes can be dealt with by Part 2 procedures, which may take just three months longer but should ultimately deliver justice of the same quality. Secondly, in this country terrorist activities are officially recognised as being of a different nature from ordinary criminal activities.
Therefore, as a whole, this group of amendments would remove all references to an extradition offence in Part 1 of the Bill and all references to offences outlined in the European framework list with regard to the broad issue of offences. It will narrow them down and replace them with a definition of a terrorist offence. If the Government are determined to resist our request in the next group of amendments to excise Part 1 from the Bill, then of course we shall decide now that we believe Part 1 should be for terrorist offences only. This is the second best option: we have saved the best till last. I beg to move.
Ten minutes after telling us that we should say that the Bill is intended to give effect to the Council framework decision, the noble Baroness moved an amendment designed to ensure that it does not give effect to about 75 per cent of that framework decision. I am never surprised by inconsistency among politicians, but this takes even me somewhat aback.
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, we cannot support the amendments in this group, which would restrict the European arrest warrant to terrorist offences. I listened with great care to what the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, said. Our position remains the same as we spelt out in Grand Committee. I shall repeat the words of my noble friend Lord Goodhart, who, as was mentioned, is not present as he is on important business abroad. He said:
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, as to my noble friend's consistency, I have to say, in her support, that her first amendment was not carried by the House. Had it been, she certainly would not have moved this amendment. One sometimes has to have failsafe amendments. Indeed, if the removal of Part 1 were voted for by the House, she would not be moving this amendment. Therefore, the noble Viscount should
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