Schedule - Power of arrest for extradition purposes

Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 8th September 2020.

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Votes in this debate

  • Division number 87
    A majority of MPs voted not to require consultations and assessments prior to amending a power for UK constables to arrest people on the basis of an approved request from an authority in another country.
  • Division number 88
    A majority of MPs voted not to only allow the addition of one new country at a time to the list of countries from which requests for arrests for the purposes of extradition for serious offences are considered.

Amendment made: 12, page 3, line 22, leave out from beginning to end of line 24 and insert—

‘(3A) The “designated authority” is the National Crime Agency.

(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this section so as to change the meaning of “designated authority”.’—(James Brokenshire.)

The Bill currently provides for the Secretary of State to designate the “designated authority” in regulations. This amendment instead provides, on the face of the Bill, that the National Crime Agency is the designated authority and confers a power on the Secretary of State to amend new section 74B to designate a different authority.

Amendment proposed: 13, page 3, line 37, leave out from beginning to end of line 2 on page 4.—(James Brokenshire.)

This amendment leaves out a provision inserted in the Lords imposing certain conditions relating to consultation, assessments and reports on the making of regulations under new section 74B(7).

Division number 87 Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill — Schedule — Consultation and Assessment Prior to Amending Power of Arrest on Basis of Request from Another Country

A majority of MPs voted not to require consultations and assessments prior to amending a power for UK constables to arrest people on the basis of an approved request from an authority in another country.

Aye: 333 MPs

No: 239 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Absent: 74 MPs

Absents: A-Z by last name

The Committee divided: Ayes 333, Noes 241.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Government amendment 13 agreed to.

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.

Amendment proposed: 14, page 4, leave out lines 3 and 4.—(James Brokenshire.)

This amendment leaves out a provision inserted in the Lords preventing regulations under new section 74B(7) adding more than one territory at a time to the list of territories in new Schedule A1.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division number 88 Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill — Clause 2 — Addition of Countries From Which Requests for Arrests for the Purposes of Extradition for Serious Offences Are Considered

A majority of MPs voted not to only allow the addition of one new country at a time to the list of countries from which requests for arrests for the purposes of extradition for serious offences are considered.

Aye: 333 MPs

No: 240 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Absent: 73 MPs

Absents: A-Z by last name

The Committee divided: Ayes 333, Noes 244.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Government amendment 14 agreed to.

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.

Amendment made: 15, in schedule, page 7, line 2, at end insert—

‘3A In Schedule A1 (as inserted by paragraph 3), at the appropriate places, insert

“Austria”;
“Belgium”;
“Bulgaria”;
“Croatia”;
“Cyprus”;
“Czech Republic”;
“Denmark”;
“Estonia”;
“Finland”;
“France”;
“Germany”;
“Greece”;
“Hungary”;
“Iceland”;
“Ireland”;
“Italy”;
“Latvia”;
“Lithuania”;
“Luxembourg”;
“Malta”;
“The Netherlands”;
“Norway”;
“Poland”;
“Portugal”;
“Romania”;
“Slovakia”;
“Slovenia”;
“Spain”;
“Sweden”.

3B Paragraph 3A is repealed at the end of 2021 if, or to the extent that, it has not been brought into force before the end of that year.’—(James Brokenshire.)

This amendment would allow for the territories listed in new paragraph 3A to be inserted into new Schedule A1. If or to the extent that new paragraph 3A is not brought into force before the end of 2021, new paragraph 3B provides for new paragraph 3A to be repealed at the end of that year.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Bill, as amended, reported.

Bill, as amended in the Committee, considered.

Third Reading

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Minister of State, Home Department 5:25 pm, 8th September 2020

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I thank hon. and right hon. Members from all parts of the House for their scrutiny of the Bill, and I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to the debate in Committee today and on Second Reading before the recess. Bills that relate to extradition are not always the easiest, and I thank all Members for their really informed and stimulating interventions and amendments that have helped to shape and inform the Bill.

There is no doubt that important contributions were made by many and, as ever, the scrutiny that this House provides continues to test and improve the legislative programme that the Government seek to pass into law. All of us on these Benches benefit from the work of officials from the Home Office. I also pay tribute to the officials in the Public Bill Office and all those who have supported the Bill’s passage.

The Bill is designed to bring a wanted person into extradition proceedings in an expedited way without in any way changing the likelihood of successful extradition or the legal process itself. It is about ensuring that our police have the right powers to keep the public safe and bring those who may flee justice before justice as appropriate. The extension of police powers in limited circumstances specifically to protect the public does not in any way interfere with the ensuing extradition process. It is about how suspects enter that process and minimising the risk that a wanted person evades justice. There are powerful public policy reasons and benefits to ensuring that those wanted for extradition for serious criminal offences enter the extradition process as quickly as possible, and that UK laws do not create the possibility of impunity for those accused or convicted of such offences.

I thank Members from across the House for their support of the principles of this Bill today and for making amendments and proposals that will ensure that we can continue to keep UK citizens safe. Throughout its passage, the Bill has not lost sight of our ultimate aim, which is to provide UK police officers with the arrest powers that they need to keep up with the challenges of trans-national crime—crime that is often organised and that often has more than one victim in more than one country. This law will prevent fugitives responsible for such crime continuing to evade justice through an operational loophole, which puts the public at risk. This Bill closes that gap. I am pleased that we have been able to reach a position of broad consensus on all the Bill’s provisions, and I very much appreciate not only the support, but the scrutiny that has been applied through its passage today and previously, and therefore commend the Bill to the House and commend the positive effect that I believe it will have to protect the public.

Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Shadow Minister (Home Office) 5:28 pm, 8th September 2020

I echo what the right hon. Gentleman said in thanking his departmental officials who, alongside the Minister himself, have been courteous and helpful in providing us with information and briefings throughout. I also thank the officials in the Public Bill Office for their diligent work and assistance in helping the official Opposition and our colleagues across the House to scrutinise the Bill.

I do not intend to detain the House long. We had a good and wide-ranging debate on Second Reading and the Bill has had good scrutiny in Committee on the Floor of the House today. We are disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that the Government did not accept our amendments, but we will not be opposing the Bill on Third Reading.

We have always said that we accept the need for comprehensive legislation to address the gap that currently exists for UK law enforcement prior to extradition proceedings. We hope that the Bill will assist in closing that and help to keep the British people safe. We are determined to ensure that serious criminals who make their way to our country or commit offences in other countries cannot rest easy on our streets and evade the full force of law, and we believe that the Bill will help to achieve that.

In conclusion, we discussed in Committee the need for an extradition agreement to have integrity and that for it to have value, British citizens must believe that their Government will support and stand up for them and uphold the said integrity of any agreement. We have talked a lot about reciprocity, but I also want to talk about credibility. I say gently to the Minister that the credibility around international agreements and international law is not given in isolation, and it ill behoves the Government, on something as sensitive as this, to talk about wilfully breaking international law. I hope that he and his colleagues will consider that in relation to other matters. However, on the substantive matter of this Bill, we will not divide the House this evening.

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 5:31 pm, 8th September 2020

I was remiss earlier in not welcoming the Minister back to his place, and I thank him for his courtesy, as always, in keeping me apprised of his intentions in relation to this Bill. The Scottish National party supports the principles behind it and we support reasonable measures to assist in tackling transnational crime, provided the importance of protecting human rights is respected. As I said earlier, the SNP fully supports working with international frameworks to keep our citizens safe. That is one of the reasons why we and the majority of people in Scotland were so keen on the security and justice co-operation afforded through our membership of the European Union, why we voted for its continuance repeatedly, and why we have been so sad to see it go.

I will not divide the House on the Bill, but I regret the Government’s refusal to countenance an obligation to consult the devolveds when adding, removing or varying a provision in relation to a territory. The devolved Government in Scotland have a real interest here given the devolution of criminal justice, and as I said, I think it indicates the lack of respect from this Government about the impact of the devolved settlements on our constitution that no consultation has been forthcoming. It is also perhaps an indication of ignorance of the fact that Scotland’s separate legal system is protected not just by devolution, but by the Act of Union. I have recently expressed concerns about a potential breach of article 19 of the treaty of Union by the Government’s proposals in another field of law, in relation to judicial review. To pick up on what was said by Conor McGinn, who speaks for the official Opposition, it seems now that the treaty of Union is not the only international treaty that the Government are bent on breaching, and I add my voice to his.

It is extremely shocking to see a Government Minister stand at the Dispatch Box and confirm that the Government intend to breach international law. I am sure that as I speak, the Law Officers who advise the Government—the Attorney General, the Solicitor General and the Advocate General, the UK Government’s Law Officer in Scotland—will be very carefully considering their position, as will, I am sure, the Lord Chancellor, who is bound in terms of the constitution Act to respect the rule of law. I look forward over the coming days to seeing what the British Government’s Law Officers have to say about their and, indeed, the Lord Chancellor’s position in relation to a Government that promise on the Floor of this House to break an international agreement and international law.

This seems to be one of the many unfortunate consequences of our leaving the European Union and, as I said, it was notable that the Government sought to amend the Bill today to provide for the situation that there will be no replacement for the European arrest warrant when we exit the transition period at the end of the year. This is a most regrettable state of affairs. It seems that this Government intend to pilot the United Kingdom into a period of lawlessness. For those of us who wish to see Scotland take a different path and who are rather sick of being lectured about how inappropriate that is, this course of lawlessness is most to be regretted.

Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham 5:34 pm, 8th September 2020

We had a good debate earlier today, but I hope the Minister will come back to this House erelong on a couple of important issues explored in the earlier debate. The first is the protection of British citizens who are the object of one of these extradition requirements once we have entered into these agreements. My right hon. Friend Mr Davis made a powerful speech about how we need to look carefully at the conditions offered to people when they are taken abroad on charges, particularly as they may be innocent and particularly when the most serious offences that most of us had in mind when these extradition regimes were drawn up may not be involved. We all wish to keep our country safe and we all understand that we need reciprocal agreements to do that. We wish such agreements to be used to pursue those who are violent and commit the most serious crimes, but we need to think about how this can be extended and how in certain jurisdictions where we have extradition agreements people may not be accorded the same decent treatment we would want to accord somebody who has been charged with a crime but who may, in the end, prove to be innocent.

We also need to come back to how we are going to handle our extradition arrangements with other European countries. We are still not sure how that might work out, and we fully understand that it is still the subject of various discussions and negotiations. It is entirely prudent to make some provision today. However, some of us think that if there is to be no European arrest warrant when we have completed our so-called “implementation period”, that could be an opportunity for us to have a better and more suitable system, because the European arrest warrant had features that were not to this country’s liking and there was an element of compromise in it, as there has to be. I hope that we will therefore have some greater guidance on what might materialise.

As two other speakers in this Third Reading debate have referred to a topical issue that goes a bit wider than this Bill, perhaps I may also be permitted briefly to do that. I have not heard or seen anything that implies that this Government wish to break the law or the international treaty. I have seen everything to say that this Government take very seriously section 38 of the European (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, which was the assertion of sovereignty, and it was a fundamental proposition of the political agreement and the withdrawal agreement, which the EU willingly entered into, that British sovereignty was going to be assured and central, just as it was central to that agreement that there would be a free trade agreement. If there can be a free trade agreement, the other legal issues fall away.

One did need to correct that wider point, but, in conclusion, this Bill is a necessary one. There are issues arising from it that could warrant further thought and treatment. I hope this Government will take the advantage of that thought which our leaving the EU can provide to look again at how in the longer term we have a good judicial relationship—a co-operative relationship—with the EU that is fair to both sides and to any innocent people in Britain who may have to stand trial abroad.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 5:38 pm, 8th September 2020

I wish to make a few quick points. I said to the Minister in the Lobby what a pleasure it is to see him in his place and looking so well. I told him that I do not think I have seen him looking so healthy in a long time. He asked me how my constituency was and I told him that it is getting more beautiful every day—he knows that, as I do. I am pleased to see him back, just as I am pleased to see the shadow Minister, Conor McGinn. He and I have been good friends for a long time. We might have a difference of political opinion on some things, but we agree on a lot of important things in this House, on behalf of our constituents, and it is good to do that. The DUP supported the Bill and voted with the Government, and Bill has now been passed and moves on to its next stage. The Government and the Minister have given a commitment to speak up for those around the world. The right hon. Members for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) and for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), and indeed myself and others, spoke about human rights abuses around the world. The human rights angle of the Bill perhaps does not put in place everything we would like to see, but we are pleased to see things moving forward. Around the world, people are suppressed, persecuted and abused; hopefully, the Bill will make people accountable and we can use this law for that purpose.

Today, our Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland—I always love saying that, by the way, because we are better together; Joanna Cherry might have a slightly different opinion, but I do not think we disagree too much—have made it clear that if someone does something wrong, they will be caught, and that there is a moral obligation to speak up. The House has supported the Government and the legislation they have brought forward, but we also have a moral obligation. It is important that all of us in this House speak often about this important moral issue: people cannot just do something wrong and get away with it. Legally and morally, the House has made the right decision.

I would love to see, as I have said previously, the Chinese Government being held accountable in a court of law—under moral law and legal law around the world—for what they do to others. There are many other countries like them, but this country and our Government have acted correctly.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with amendments.

Photo of Gavin Robinson Gavin Robinson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Defence) 5:41 pm, 8th September 2020

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Just over three years ago a constituent, Mr Glynn Brown, came to my office to indicate that his son Aaron, an adult with special needs and a resident of Muckamore Abbey Hospital, had been assaulted. He was concerned not only that his son had been assaulted, but that it had taken two weeks for the medics on whom he relied for care to speak to Mr Brown. After contacting the Department of Health, I remember getting a chilling phone call one month later that indicated that the assault of Aaron Brown was not isolated and that it would take some time to uncover all that was going on at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

In the intervening period, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has discovered 1,500 separate incidents of criminal abuse of adults who were under the care of our health trust. I raised this issue in the Chamber a number of times during the period when Stormont was not sitting. I have campaigned for a public inquiry alongside the families involved and their relatives. I wanted to make this point of order to put on record my gratitude at the fact that today a public inquiry has been granted. We will get the truth and families shall get justice for the most heinous abuse that their loved ones have faced under the care of our state.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s point. He knows, as the Chamber does, that it is not a point of order for the Chair, but I fully understand why he wanted to take this opportunity to put that important piece of information on the record. He has had a very good reaction to it from those present in the Chamber.