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Viscount Bledisloe: My Lords, I give some support to Amendment No. 1, although I certainly would not support Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 if the noble Lord pressed them. However, I should make plain that, in supporting the amendment, I do not in any way associate myself with what the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, said about the approach of the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, to this matter. I consider her approach to have been exemplary. She has taken the greatest care and trouble to listen and, where possible, to give way to the amendments moved, as demonstrated by the considerable number of amendments that appear in her name on the Marshalled List today.
If the interpretation of those words was solely a matter for the English courts, I should suspect, perhaps with the benefit of considering what the Minister said according to the ruling in Pepper v Hart, that that rule would probably prevail, but that is not the way that the measure is to be used. The warrant must contain a statement made by the foreign authority that that is the purpose for which the warrant is issued.
Foreign authorities may well be used to arresting people with a view to their being questioned and will obviously be keen to fill in the form of words required in order to obtain an individual's extradition if that can be squared with their conscience. It seems to me desirable that the wording should be as explicit and as unambiguous as possible so as to make it as difficult as possible for foreign authorities to bend or adapt the rules to fit their view of life and to fill in the form saying, "Of course, this is done with a view to his prosecution. We don't question anyone unless it is with a view to his prosecution. But whether we shall be able to have him prosecuted will depend on the answers that we get to our questions".
Therefore, I believe that, in those circumstances, there is something to be said for making the words 150 per cent explicit. I ask the Minister to give way on that point, which, he said, makes no difference because, on any basis, the wording is already included in the Bill.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, perhaps I may raise a question with the Minister. It was debated at some length in the House of Commons but, so far as I know, it has not been debated in our proceedings on this Bill. No doubt the noble Lord will put me straight if I am wrong.
The meaning of the Bill and the amendment depends largely on the language that we use. What does the language that we use mean and, more importantly, what does it mean in other EU countries with whom we shall be working on extradition in futureparticularly Italy? I believe it is acknowledged that Italy has more people languishing in its gaols without the prospect of trial than almost any other European nation. I declare an interest in that I speak Italian, and have done for some time. Therefore, I particularly wish the Minister to bring his mind to bear upon the vital Italian word "prova". In Italian, "prova" means "trial". It also means "proof" or "testing". I understand that in the legal profession in Italy the word "prova" also means "the testing of legal evidence".
It would be helpful if the Minister could tell the House the Government's understanding of what the word "prova" will mean in Italy as regards the Bill. What will be the meaning of the Bill in Italy? What will be in the Italian magistrate's mind when he extradites someone from this country for prova in Italia? Does it mean what the noble Lord says it means? Will that person go straight for trial or for the well-known process of investigation by a visiting magistrate in Italy, when one might add the words, "God help him" in any case? However, so far as concerns the Bill, the Minister's answer may be useful, even at this stage.
If there is a killinga homicideand someone is found in the same house with a blood-stained knife, it is almost certain that he will be taken into custody and arrested. So the question arises: why is he being arrested? One can take refuge in the formula that he has been arrested to assist police with their inquiries. One could say that he has been arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the homicide. But in ordinary parlance, surely, what one says is that he has been arrested because he is accused of the homicide. Whether the police go on to charge him within the four days allowed is a different matter but that he is being accused I should have thought was clear.
Stupidly, I had not anticipated this point. I believe it may have arisen on the Criminal Justice Bill yesterday where we were extending the period during which someone can be detained without being charged if a terrorist offence is involved. How does one decide whether a terrorist offence is involved unless the man is accused of it? We should not assume that accused means charged. I think it means "in custody in connection with".
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I shall not detain the House, except to say that my noble friend Lord Pearson made an important point. The whole question of language, interpretation of language and the way various member states use certain words in the law is very much a consideration of this point. Quite frequently in the European Union, when it comes to the crucial point in discussion at which legislation is being worded there are problems of language. Our precision of language and the very large vocabulary of English makes us particularly sensitive to this point. Like French, Italian is a flexible language with a smaller vocabulary, so it is more often the fact than in English that one word can have several meanings. I believe that is the point made by my noble friend.
In deciding this issue the House must not forget that we are discussing a measure which takes away the last moment of protection, the final stage protection, by the Home Secretary of a citizen of this country whose extradition is demanded. It is crucial to justice for our own citizens, as for other citizens in the European Union, that the wording of the Bill is in no way ambiguous. It is ambiguous and I am sure the Government should change it. I hope that the Minister will be more successful in persuading his colleagues than the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland. I am sure she tried and that she understood the argument very well. I hope that he will tryperhaps he has triedas it is a very important measure. I support Amendment No. 1.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I, too, support Amendment No. 1. The noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, was correct. To get this right, we should be 150 per cent certain that the accused, or whoever it isthe criminalwill receive fair treatment. I would have thought that that was an amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, would be very happy to accept, which would then satisfy everyone.
However, another point I should like to raise arises from the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, regarding the Italians. Apparently, they are not very happy about this extradition warrant. Only today I read the EUobserver on-line and noted a report which stated that the European arrest warrant has caused splits within Italy's coalition. They became apparent yesterday as Justice Minister, Roberto Castelli, from the right-wing Northern League, exposed rifts between himself and the premier, Silvio Berlusconi over the European arrest warrant.
It appears that the Justice Minister, Mr Castelli, did not approve of the European arrest warrant. It was only approved against his will by Signor Berlusconi. So, there are differences about the European arrest warrant within Italy and the Italian Government. Mr Castelli is concerned that the arrest warrant does not contain guarantees for the defence of the suspect. If the Italians of all people are concerned that the proper guarantees do not exist for the defence of the suspect, why on earth are we agreeing the European arrest warrant?
We must also bear in mind that this legislation is due to come into effect on 1st January. I do not know how it can with two senior Italian Ministers quarrelling among themselves. Only three countries have so far approved the European arrest warrant. If the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, wants additional reasons for accepting the amendment, I hope that I have now provided them.
Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I start by associating myself with the comments of the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, about the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, who handled the Bill in earlier proceedings in a wholly exemplary way.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, and with all other speakers so far that it is clearly necessary that extradition should be used only for the purpose of a prosecution and not for the purpose of an investigation which might or might not lead to a prosecution. Where I find difficulty is in seeing how Amendment No. 1 achieves that purpose.