Charges of and Penalty for Conspiracy to Defraud

Part of Orders of the Day — Criminal Justice Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:30 pm on 14th May 1987.

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Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Orpington 4:30 pm, 14th May 1987

I wish to express my opposition to amendments Nos. 120 to 137 and amendment No. 180 which have the effect of deleting clauses 96 to 133 and schedule 9. I oppose the amendments because the clauses and the schedule cover amendments to the law of extradition that the Government were wise enough to propose in the original Bill. That was almost an heroic proposal on their part, because the extradition law in this country in the form in which we are debating it today derives from an 1870 Act. Therefore, it has taken a long time to bring forward amendments to bring the law up to date. Over the past 10 years Governments have promised reforms, but have never gone about it until, happily, this Government did. It is a great shame that the proposal before us is that we should abandon again this attempt at reforming the law of extradition to bring it up to date.

Broadly speaking, there are three sets of beneficial proposals in the clauses. There is a proposal for summary procedure in our extradition law, and that would have been very useful in cases where there was little opposition. There would have been conditions with regard to restrictions of extradition to Commonwealth states, which apply in the updated law—that is, the Fugitive Offenders Act 1967. The relevant clauses would have applied to the Extradition Act 1870, or the new extradition law proposed by the Bill. it is important to bring such matters up to date.

There would have been simplified rules of evidence. We all know how much difficulty the courts have run into because of the tortuous rules of evidence which apply to the original extradition law. Those clauses represent a very useful reform. In Committee, there was scarcely any opposition to them, so I am somewhat puzzled as to why the Government have chosen to agree with the Lords proposal that we should drop them. The matters were debated and I cannot recall any outright opposition or a single Division being called on any of part IX of the Bill.

I ask my hon. and learned Friend—I am glad that he is now officially a learned Friend—whether it was necessary, after all these years when we tried to bring extradition law up to date, to abandon the reforms attempted by the Government.