Arrangements to Colonies

Prayers – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 16th June 1988.

Alert me about debates like this

`(1) Upon the making of an Order in Council under section 2 above, the provisions of this Act specified in subsection (2) below shall, unless the Order otherwise provides, extend to every colony, as regards the extradition arrangements to which the Order refers, but subject—

  1. (a) to the modifications set out in subsections (3) to (6) below;
  2. (b) to any further modifications as to procedure prescribed by the law of the colony; and
  3. (c) to the limitations, restrictions, exceptions and qualifications, if any, contained in the Order.

(2) the provisions of this Act mentioned in subsection (1) above are—

  1. (a) section 1(1) to (8);
  2. (b) sections 3 to 10;
  3. (c) sections 12 to 18; and
  4. (d) this section.

(3) A reference to the colony shall be substituted for any reference to the United Kingdom or Great Britain.

(4) An extradition request may be made to the governor and the governor may exercise the powers of the Secretary of State.

(5) A reference to a consular representative recognised by the governor shall be substituted for the reference in section 4(1) above to a diplomatic representative recognised by the Secretary of State.

(6) Any reference to a magistrate, judge or court shall be construed as a reference to such judicial authority as the law of the colony may provide.

(7) Her Majesty may by Order in Council direct that in any colony specified in the Order—

  1. (a) the Extradition Act 1870 shall have effect with the amendments made by this Act; and
  2. (b) the Fugitive Offenders Act 1967 shall have effect with the amendments and repeals so made.'. —[Mr. John Patten.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

With this it will be convenient to take Government new clause 78 and Government amendments Nos. 40 and 41.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

New clause 77 ensures that the substantive law contained in the Bill can have effect with appropriate modifications in a dependent territory or dependent territories generally. It thereby ensures that new extradition arrangements made by the United Kingdom can apply to a dependent territory or dependent territories. The new clause has been introduced at this stage because, after consideration, it was thought that the earlier version, clause 20, could be improved and made clearer. A number of the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington caused us to check carefully that we had got the drafting exactly right.

New clause 78 allows the ad hoc extradition procedures which are being introduced into United Kingdom law by clause 11 to be made available in the colonies by Order in Council. Its terms follow exactly the provisions of clause 11 but with some modifications so that the wording is appropriate for the colonies. The modifications reflect those already made in new clause 77 in respect of the application of general extradition arrangements to the colonies. For example, references to the United Kingdom or Great Britain will become references to the colony or colonies, and so on.

The two related amendments are entirely consequential on the new clauses.

Photo of Mr Tony Worthington Mr Tony Worthington , Clydebank and Milngavie

It seems strange that at this late stage in this elderly Bill we should still be having these changes. We wonder what pressure has come from the colonies It would be useful if the Minister could remind us what the colonies are. I hope that this will be dealt with because during the hours that I have sat on this Bench I have found it extremely difficult to remember where the colonies are and to which territories the new clause may apply.

Colonies have two characteristics. They are underdeveloped in one or more respects, which includes a deficient legal system. Frequently, colonies are disputed territories, with other states laying claim to them. I am making a probing point to find out how the Minister's new proposals will operate. Two areas which might count as colonies or dependent territories are the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar. They are not seen as having full independent status. What would be the arrangements—the Minister gave cursory attention to this point—if states laying claim to those territories requested the return of their nationals? I am sure that the Minister has the answer to hand.

In Committee, the Minister referred to the wisdom that he had received from the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) and said that note had been taken of it. I remember the hon. Member for Orpington having a profound objection to the word "colony", yet it is enshrined in the Bill.

Photo of Mr Tony Worthington Mr Tony Worthington , Clydebank and Milngavie

The hon. Gentleman reveals that he does not have an objection to the word "colony". In Committee, the hon. Gentleman said—I realise that I must paraphrase and not quote directly—that the word "colony" was unfashionable and that people living in one did not like to be described as living in a colony. He said that they did not mind the description "British dependent territories" or "dependent territories". After receiving the hon. Gentleman's wisdom., the Minister undertook to ascertain whether there could be unification of the terms used in the Bill and, in particular, whether it was possible to get rid of the term "colony", if that were acceptable under the Fugitive Offenders Act 1967.

Photo of Mr John Wheeler Mr John Wheeler , Westminster North

The hon. Gentleman suggests that the inhabitants of those few remaining possessions might object to the use of "colony" —or "Crown colony", to give the correct description. Surely that does not apply in the Crown colony of Gibraltar, where the people demand the right to remain a Crown colony. The Crown colony of Montserrat will not take independence, although it has been offered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, because it prefers to be a Crown colony. The Falkland Islands issue is well understood.

Photo of Mr Tony Worthington Mr Tony Worthington , Clydebank and Milngavie

I am grateful for that intervention because it enables me to make it clear that I did not object to the term "colony" but that the hon. Member for Orpington thought the word should be stamped out. I accept the advice of the hon. Member for Westminster, North (Mr. Wheeler) about the feelings of the citizenry of Gibraltar.

I should like the Minister to explain what are the colonies and what pressure has come from them to extend the legislation, especially with regard to those areas of the globe that are disputed territories, where there may be hostility between a colony and its neighbouring states. What is the implication of a request from a neighbouring state for extradition?

That leads me to the other imperfections in the Bill. The Opposition agree that the major imperfection is the abandonment of the prima facie rule. A fundamental principle of our system of justice—whether the English and Welsh or the Scottish system—is that a formal case should be made which is seen to have some substance, and that it should be brought before a court and deliberated upon in a judicial rather than political way before a decision is taken to extradite.

7.45 pm

If the Bill is passed, it is necessary only that a technically correct submission be put before the appropriate authorities. A case does not have to be made that a substantial act of illegality was committed so as to justify extradition. The Opposition are still uneasy about the prima facie rule being dropped, especially for colonies. I remain to be convinced by the Minister, but it is likely that the system of justice in a colony may not be as advanced as in this country. Our views are shared by eminent bodies such as the National Council for Civil Liberties, Justice and the Criminal Bar Association. In Committee, we frequently asked the Minister to give a much more substantial illustration of the extent to which Britain was a "problem" in sometimes being regarded as a haven for criminals. The Government have failed to do that, so we must take the opportunity presented by the new clause to ask for elaboration.

We are profoundly uneasy, especially after the vote a few weeks ago, about the idea that it is possible for an individual to be extradited to a country that still practises capital punishment. That issue has not been put right in the new clause. I should like to register our unease about extradition from this country and from the colonies to countries that still practise capital punishment.

Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Orpington

The hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) has confused me somewhat, and I do not know whether he has confused my hon. Friends. May we have from my hon. Friend the Minister confirmation that the Government have made up their mind about dependent territories and that there is to be standardisation of terminology, in that all dependent territories are now colonies, and that that applies to the wording of the Fugitive Offenders Act 1967 as well as to the revised arrangements for the amended Extradition Act 1870?

I apologise for being somewhat mischievous in this debate and in Standing Committee in referring to other species of dependent territories which might include protectorates and condominiums, which we do not have but could acquire. I am sure that it would be helpful to the state and to me if my hon. Friend were to tell us that all the territories coming under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom are to be known henceforth as colonies, whether self-governing or not, and that the term "dependent territory" will not be used.

Photo of Mr Gerry Bermingham Mr Gerry Bermingham , St Helens South

I understand that in due course the Minister will give us a list of the colonies dealt with in new clauses 77 and 78. I shall wait with fascination to hear what, if anything, we have left. I see that the civil servants are all writing away. The Minister has his classroom pals at work. Be that as it may, new clauses 77 and 78 extend the mischief that clause 8 and others seek to achieve.

There was considerable debate in Committee about the manner of extradition and the abandonment by the United Kingdom of the tried and tested formula of a prima facie case. In the old days, one had to produce a prima facie case to an English court before someone could be extradited. That caused a little embarrassment to Spain and other countries that could never meet our tests. The test is very simple: there is a case to answer.

In the new European love affair that we have had over the past few years, the Government have obviously listened to new members of the Community as well as to existing members. They have obviously decided that the time has come to make it easier for countries that have a different system of jurisdiction to secure the extradition of people from the United Kingdom. Even if one uses the other system, which is inquisitorial rather than adversarial, it is still quite simple to build up and maintain a prima facie case that will secure extradition. We do not need to change the rules.

As if that were not bad enough, new clause 78 extends what I consider to be one of the most dangerous parts of the Bill—the simplified procedure in clause 10 of the Bill as originally drafted. Clause 11 provides for special extradition arrangements. Clause 11 says: Where special extradition arrangements have been made in respect of a person, extradition procedures shall be available in the case of that person, as between the United Kingdom and the foreign state with whom the arrangements have been made, subject to the limitations, restrictions, exceptions and qualifications, if any, contained in the arrangements. Effectively, that means that special arrangements can apply in respect of John Smith or John Doe or some other politician whom a country does not like. The country might rather like him back. He may have been naughty. He may have been in opposition, for example. A private little arrangement can be entered into with that country in respect of that one person. That stinks.

The fact that in the Bill we are putting our names to such behaviour makes me want to ask some fundamental questions about what the Minister has been doing for the long months since we began considering the Bill. The Minister has taken on board some of the points made in Committee both by Conservative Members and by the Opposition. I do not mean to be unkind: to be fair, when he thinks about a point he sometimes sees that there is worth and merit in it, and many of the proposals made in Committee have gone into the Bill.

It was different when it came to extradition. The Government have a theory—and the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) lives by the theory—that extradition law needs to be changed because it is out of date. To be fair to the hon. Member for Orpington, he was saying that long before the Bill ever reached the House. Although, as he knows, I fundamentally disagree with him, at one stage even I was convinced that the prime facie rule must go. In Committee I confessed the error of my ways. Between March 1987, when we first discussed the matter in Committee, and February 1988, when we discussed it again, I took time to think the matter through. My open admission that I had got it wrong is there in Hansard.

The test is simple. If somebody comes for trial in this country, the Crown must show a case before the defence is called upon to answer. In the vast number of cases it is not very hard to meet that test. What is the difference between a foreign national in this country and an ordinary citizen of this country appearing before a British court? The same test ought to apply. That is the fundamental argument.

I had hoped that, like me, the Minister would have thought again and perhaps had the courage, like me, to realise that he was wrong and that the Criminal Bar Association and the chief metropolitan stipendiary magistrate, who has considerable experience in these matters, and many other eminent bodies, are right in saying that the test in any English court must be the same. The Bill and the new clauses, which extend its provisions to the long-forgotten colonies, wherever they may be, change the ground rules.

Let us consider the simple example of two successive cases before an English court. The first is an application for extradition to Spain, whether by special procedure or ordinary method, to be heard at 10·30 am before the chief metropolitan stipendiary magistrate in London. Let us suppose that that case finishes at 12 midday. The case to be heard in the afternoon is a section 6(1) committal for trial at the same court. In those two cases the tests of the standard of proof required on the part of the prosecution will be different. For the first time in this country we shall be applying different fundamental tests in the same court and perhaps even on the same day. That is bad for British justice. It is an appalling precedent and I hope that the House will reject the new clauses.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

As a proud member of the executive of the British branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association—at any rate until next Wednesday—I must protest most strongly at the implication by the hon. Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Bermingham) that we forget our colonies, our dependencies, or any part of the Commonwealth. We do no such thing in the House. There is very strong competition to join the executive of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which proves that we do not forget our colonies, our dependencies or the Commonwealth.

Photo of Mr Tony Worthington Mr Tony Worthington , Clydebank and Milngavie

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman name the colonies?

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

I shall leave that to my hon. Friend the Minister, who is about to reply.

Will my hon. Friend tell this simple soul what we are changing in the law by the new clauses? I was under the impression that section 14(1)(b) of the Fugitive Offenders Act 1967, applied the criminal offences jurisdiction to our dependencies. If I heard him correctly, my hon. Friend said that that was the purpose of the new clauses. I should be most grateful if he would set me right.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

The hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) ought to be ashamed of himself for not being able to tell the House what colonies we have. It is a monstrous admission, and I shall now put him right: Anguilla, Bahamas, Bermuda, the British Antarctic Territory, the British Indian Ocean Territory, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, St. Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Virgin Islands. For the sake of completion I should draw the attention of the House to the fact that technically the South Sandwich Islands and South Georgia are now separate from the Falkland Islands. They used to be the Falkland Islands and dependencies.

8 pm

The Opposition Front Bench asked why it was necessary at this stage to introduce the new clause and these amendments. It is my fault. The main difficulty with clause 20, which I spotted only recently, is that the effect of section 17 of the Extradition Act 1870 was that an Order in Council under section 2 of that Act, unless it provided otherwise, applied automatically to every British possession—that is the substantive provisions of the 1870 Act with modifications and the terms of the relevant treaty as incorporated in the Order in Council. Clause 20 would enable us to extend the substantive provisions of the Bill to a colony, but it makes no corresponding provision for the incorporation of the relevant treaty into the law of the colony. Therefore, the new clause is necessary.

The hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie and my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) rightly asked about the use of the word "colony". The hon. Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Bermingham) related his remarks to colonies, and I can tell him that the unfortunate person whom he saw in Bow street at 10·30 am is protected by the full rigour of all the protections built into clause 75, and ultimately by the discretion of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Photo of Mr Gerry Bermingham Mr Gerry Bermingham , St Helens South

Does the Minister agree that if, ultimately, it all boils down to ministerial discretion, this becomes a lottery because it depends in many ways on how much pressure is brought to bear on whether that person is or is not a political refugee? Surely there should be certainty, rather than uncertainty, in the law.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman has fully forgotten all the other provisions introduced into the Bill by clause 75. I am sure the House will want to know that "colony" is used rather than "dependent territory" because it is defined in the Interpretation Act 1978 as: Any part of Her Majesty's dominions outside the British Islands except—

  1. (a) countries having fully responsible status within the Commonwealth;
  2. (b) territories for whose external relations a country other than the United Kingdom is responsible;
  3. (c) associated states",
and there are no more associated states. All that will be beautifully crystal clear to the House when the second edition of that important and valuable volume "Stanbrook on Extradition" is published, and we are looking forward to it.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 159, Noes 70.

Division No. 361][8.03 pm
AYES
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelJanman, Tim
Allason, RupertJopling, Rt Hon Michael
Amess, DavidKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Amos, AlanKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Arbuthnot, JamesKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Ashby, DavidLamont, Rt Hon Norman
Atkinson, DavidLawrence, Ivan
Batiste, SpencerLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Beggs, RoyLightbown, David
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnLilley, Peter
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnLloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Boswell, TimLord, Michael
Bowis, JohnLyell, Sir Nicholas
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardMcCrindle, Robert
Brandon-Bravo, MartinMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Brazier, JulianMcNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Bright, GrahamMans, Keith
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonMaples, John
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Buck, Sir AntonyMaude, Hon Francis
Butterfill, JohnMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Miller, Sir Hal
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Mills, lain
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Carrington, MatthewMitchell, David (Hants NW)
Cash, WilliamMoate, Roger
Chapman, SydneyMonro, Sir Hector
Chope, ChristopherMorrison, Sir Charles
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Moss, Malcolm
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Neubert, Michael
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Couchman, JamesOnslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Cran, JamesOppenheim, Phillip
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Paice, James
Davis, David (Boothferry)Patten, Chris (Bath)
Devlin, TimPatten, John (Oxford W)
Dickens, GeoffreyPorter, David (Waveney)
Dorrell, StephenPortillo, Michael
Dunn, BobPowell, William (Corby)
Durant, TonyRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Evennett, DavidRedwood, John
Farr, Sir JohnRhodes James, Robert
Favell, TonySayeed, Jonathan
Fenner, Dame PeggyShaw, David (Dover)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Forman, NigelShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Shersby, Michael
Forth, EricSims, Roger
Fox, Sir MarcusSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Freeman, RogerSpeller, Tony
Gale, RogerSpicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Garel-Jones, TristanSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Gill, ChristopherSquire, Robin
Gorman, Mrs TeresaStanbrook, Ivor
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Stanley, Rt Hon John
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')Stern, Michael
Grylls, MichaelStevens, Lewis
Hampson, Dr KeithStewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Hanley, JeremyStradling Thomas, Sir John
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Harris, DavidTemple-Morris, Peter
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Hind, KennethThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Thornton, Malcolm
Howard, MichaelTownend, John (Bridlington)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Tracey, Richard
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Howells, GeraintWalden, George
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Warren, Kenneth
Hunter, AndrewWatts, John
Irvine, MichaelWells, Bowen
Jack, MichaelWheeler, John
Jackson, RobertWhitney, Ray
Widdecombe, Ann
Wilshire, DavidTellers for the Ayes:
Wood, TimothyMr. Richard Ryder and Mr. David Maclean.
Woodcock, Mike
Yeo, Tim
NOES
Anderson, DonaldLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterMcCartney, Ian
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Macdonald, Calum A.
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Barron, KevinMcNamara, Kevin
Battle, JohnMcWilliam, John
Beckett, MargaretMadden, Max
Bermingham, GeraldMahon, Mrs Alice
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Marek, Dr John
Buchan, NormanMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Buckley, George J.Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Mowlam, Marjorie
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Mullin, Chris
Cousins, JimNellist, Dave
Dewar, DonaldPendry, Tom
Dixon, DonPike, Peter L.
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs GwynethPrescott, John
Evans, John (St Helens N)Primarolo, Dawn
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Quin, Ms Joyce
Fisher, MarkRandall, Stuart
Flynn, PaulRees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Foster, DerekReid, Dr John
Fraser, JohnShort, Clare
Fyfe, MariaSkinner, Dennis
Galloway, GeorgeSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Godman, Dr Norman A.Soley, Clive
Golding, Mrs LlinSpearing, Nigel
Gordon, MildredTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Wall, Pat
Hardy, PeterWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyWise, Mrs Audrey
Henderson, DougWorthington, Tony
Hinchliffe, David
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)Tellers for the Noes:
Janner, GrevilleMr. Frank Haynes and Mr. Frank Cook.
Leighton, Ron

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.