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Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, am I right in saying that no other country has yet implemented this agreement in their domestic law? Is that still the situation? If so, then what the Minister has said must be wrong.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, my understanding from our deliberations in Committee is that we explained that all member states are in the process of implementing the framework document. I believe it is the case that Spain is more advanced than
I apologise for having spoken at some length, but I respect the fact that this is an issue of concern. However, I think that we are right to insist on our approach, creating simpler and more clear-cut procedures. That is widely understood to be the best way forward.
Obviously the noble Baroness has given a great deal of thought to her revised amendments, but while she has attempted to improve their quality, we take the points made in particular by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, during this debate; that is, that the amendments are confused in their extent and purpose. I turn once more to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Carlisle. It is the case that all countries will implement this process by 1st January 2004. I shall correct what I said a moment ago and explain that both Spain and Denmark have already done so. We are on track and working together with our European partners. Having listened to my response, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, perhaps it would be more courteous if I begin by addressing the questions quite rightly put to me by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe. One of the difficulties of debate on Report is that one is not able to respond immediately, as is the case in Grand Committee.
The noble Viscount directed me to respond to two important questions. The first concerned the determination of the interests of justice and how that might be obtained. He asked whether the court would follow the procedure that it does now with the full process of bringing evidence, asking questions and so forth. My answer to that is yes, and it is obvious that the Minister assumed that in his response when he appeared to accuse me of wanting to prolong proceedings, but not to prolong them for long enoughI have not allowed for quite as many appeal procedures as he would consider consistent with my argument.
What we are seeking to make clear here is that in the Government's drafting of the Bill there does not appear to be sufficient scrutiny of the reasons why someone is to be packed off overseas. We are not trying to prevent extradition, but we want to ensure that it takes place in the right way. The noble Viscount will appreciate that this amendment is one of many that seek to put into the Bill safeguards which in themselves may appear, when considered individually, sometimes a little defective. When they are taken together, however, we think that they would provide a valuable service.
The noble Viscount also asked how much consideration would the court give. This is one of the difficulties of the Government's own drafting and, taking into account their responses to our questions put in Grand Committee, we do not feel that we have been given a sufficient explanation of exactly how the court is expected to gather the relevant information. Much has been left unsatisfied in that regard.
The second matter directed to me by the noble Viscount concerned the proper question of whether to specify the judge. At present the job is done by specialists. He will appreciate that the district judges sitting at Bow Street court have particular expertise in this area. Magistrates consider these matters on a daily basis. Although there is no specialist training as such, they train one another within a system of continuous training. I imagine that it would be very difficult for other judges to take on such work.
While I take the noble Viscount's point entirely, I would answer it by saying that the Government have not specified which judges in England shall hear these cases. Indeed, I understand that they intend to roll out extradition and the specialist expertise required to other parts of the country beyond Bow Street; I tabled amendments in Grand Committee on that point.
Finally, I see that the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, is in his place on the Liberal Democrat Front Bench. As a Scot he will appreciate that, in this case, the Bill is kinder to Scotland than it is to England. That is because in Scotland, the specific judge who will hear these casesthe office holderis identified later in the Bill.
Those are my responses to the noble Viscount. While of course I understand the explanation given by the Minister, I would argue that we are trying to put into the Bill an essential element of safeguard to which my noble friend Lord Carlisle of Bucklow has spoken. I endorse entirely his arguments. I wish to test the opinion of the House.
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
Viscount Bledisloe: My Lords, perhaps I may suggest to the noble Lord on the Woolsack that one vote should be deducted from those who were Not-Content on the ground that the Minister casting that vote was plainly out of order, as every person in the Chamber noticed.
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