Baroness Scotland of Asthal (Minister of State, Home Office; Labour)
My Lords, your Lordships will not be surprised that I do not support these amendments. We have been very clear throughout about the purpose to which these provisions should be put. I can be telegraphic in responding to these amendments. I endorse absolutely the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, in his recitation of the succinct summation made by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, in Grand Committee. I join with the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, in his slight bemusement, but I understand the position in which the noble Baroness is placed.
The noble Baroness says that Part 1 should be restricted to terrorist offences. She knows that I disagree with the narrowing of the provision to terrorism, not least because of a real difficulty in separating pure terrorist acts from subsidiary terrorist acts. We know, regrettably, that many terrorists groups participate in other forms of criminal activity of a very serious nature. To differentiate between those two would be intolerable.
The amendments would lose the great benefits afforded to this country by the framework decision. We would lose the very real benefit of being able to seek the return of nationals from countries who currently refuse to extradite their own nationals. We would lose the benefit of being able to extradite those who commit fiscal offences. We would also lose the benefits of the efficient and effective extradition that the instrument would give us with our fellow member states.
I cannot accept the analyses of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson, the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, or my noble friend Lord Stoddart. My noble friend said that everything was being done in order to harmonise European law. In fact, this is the antithesis of harmonisation, because these revisions seek to respect the integrity of the internal system of each state and to apply the law on that basis. I hear what the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, says. He challenges me to go further than I did in Committee. I am afraid that I feel unable to give him greater satisfaction. We have said very clearly that the systems in Europe comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. We have dealt quite extensively with the provisions in Articles 6, 8 and others. That would benefit from further repetition.
Therefore, I disagree with the noble Baroness that the narrowing of the provision is proper or justified in any way. Furthermore, to seek to expunge the framework decision, which in effect is what the provisions seek to do—is fundamentally flawed and would be outwith what we agreed. Therefore, I ask the noble Baroness not to press the amendment. However, if pressed, I shall resist.