Extradition (India)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11 March 1993.

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Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West 12:00, 11 March 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what were the names of those persons India has sought in recent years to extradite from the United Kingdom.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Secretary of State for the Home Department

There has been one extradition request from India in recent years. The application was withdrawn and it would not therefore be right to name the individual concerned.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

As the Indians have sought to extradite only one person in recent years, what is the justification for asking Parliament to approve an extradition treaty between Britain and India? Why is Parliament being asked to approve this wretched treaty, bearing in mind the appalling human rights violations that are being committed in India each and every day? Thousands of extrajudicial murders are being committed, including that of the leading lawyer Kulwant Singh; thousands of people are being held in detention without trial, including the Kashmiri leaders Shabir Shah and Yasin Malik and two Britons.

Will the Home Secretary agree to meet United Kingdom-based Indian organisations to discuss the human rights position in India and defer the orders asking Parliament to approve the treaty?

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I regret that the hon. Gentleman should choose to use his question to make a partisan and rather wild speech about Indian politics. The fact is that India is the largest working democracy in the world, has a legal system based on ours and is both a very close ally of this country and a leading member of the Commonwealth. It is plainly right that we should have up-to-date extradition arrangements between India and the United Kingdom. It is particularly important that the so-called political defence should not be cited in criminal charges that turn on terrorism, from which both our countries suffer. I will commend the orders to the House in due course.

Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Shadow Minister (Constitutional Affairs)

The Home Secretary may be aware of the problems surrounding extradition. Will he act now to end the difficulties highlighted in the immigration and nationality section of his Department which were exposed by the report of the Select Committee on Home Affairs? Does he agree with the Committee's conclusion that the delays are being used as an unauthorised and unofficial means of control? As the Conservative Government are seeking to hide behind the citizens charter, will he press for the charter to redress some of the appalling delays that are now evident in his Department?

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am glad to say that we are making satisfactory progress in reducing delays in both the immigration and nationality divisions. We shall continue to do so, by improving the management and control of the workload. We are also very near to completing parliamentary discussion of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Bill, which will enable us to handle many cases much more speedily, not just in the relevant areas but in many others. If the Opposition had not opposed the Bill and protracted discussion of it for so long, we would have made still more progress in reducing the delays about which the hon. Gentleman now has the nerve to complain.