Police and Justice Bill
Baroness Scotland of Asthal (Minister of State, Home Office; Labour)
My Lords, many of them will be capable of being extradited but the noble Lord will remember—and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, was absolutely right—that it is a question of timing. I know the House does not need to be reminded that it used to take us about 22 months to go through the process of extradition, when the United States was returning people to us within five. Even with this new process we are still taking about eight months to its five. We wish, where appropriate, to be able to return people to them just as quickly.
The noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, raised the issue of Article 7. I listened carefully to what he said and I am not sure whether he was conflating its provisions with the Irish law. Noble Lords will know that the United Kingdom chose not to incorporate this safeguard into the legislation when it became a party to the ECE in 1991. No argument was advanced to alter the position when the Extradition Act 2003 was passed. There are full and proper safeguards in that Act, including human rights safeguards. Furthermore, this provision could result in a serious offender escaping justice anywhere. That cannot be in the interests of the victims of crime.
This House perhaps did this country a service in giving me that ammunition. I am grateful for all the compliments that I have been paid—none of them entirely deserved. I was able to deploy the arguments that were advanced in this House with full effect in the United States, and they were mortified that this House felt that they were not totally committed to making sure that we were extraditing people, one to another, in a way that was sound and that would inure to the benefit of our people. That desire to act in comity with us encouraged them and enabled them to move with such speed and expedition, at a time of real difficulty, to give us a clear answer that they were on our side.
For us to go back now and say, "Notwithstanding the fact that you have moved mountains to satisfy us, we are still not so satisfied" would be a day which would cause me—a very rare occasion—to feel that this House had not done itself a service. I ask noble Lords to reject the amendments in the names of the noble Lords opposite and to allow us now, with due speed and expedition, to ratify this treaty, which will inure to the benefit of all our people.