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Moved by Baroness Hamwee
3: The Schedule, page 4, line 38, at end insert—“( ) Regulations made under subsection (7)(a) shall designate no more than one territory.”Member’s explanatory statementThis amendment would require regulations which add, vary or remove a reference to a territory under Schedule A1 to contain no more than one territory. This will allow Parliament to reject a particular territory.
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, has added his name to Amendment 3, as the noble Lords, Lord Kennedy and Lord Anderson, did to a similar amendment at an earlier stage. I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Ludford, who dealt with the matter on our behalf on Report, when, with the leave of the Minister, it was agreed that it be taken at Third Reading.
We often hear from the mover of an amendment: “This is a simple amendment.” Often, it is not quite that simple, but I believe this one is straightforward. When the Secretary of State lays regulations under new Section 74B(7)
“to add, vary or remove a reference to a territory”— it is the addition that is the issue here—those regulations should apply only to a single territory. What I hope makes this simple to noble Lords is that there is nothing to prevent several instruments, each relating to one territory, being laid at the same time so that several territories can be specified within a matter of minutes of each other. But the crux is that Parliament should be able to reject one territory while happily accepting others.
In Committee, I used the examples of the Netherlands, a country which we respect, and Turkey, whose human rights record has regressed. I will use another pair today. I couple them only to distinguish between them: Sweden is a country we admire; Venezuela is one we do not, in this regard. If Parliament is presented with the choice of rejecting Sweden from the system because it wants to reject Venezuela, or accepting Venezuela because it wants to accept Sweden, how can Parliament possibly do the job we are all here to do when faced with an SI which is not amendable? The Minister has said previously that she would not present an SI that includes a country whose extradition requests we could not have confidence in due to their human rights record and would risk Parliament refusing extradition arrangements with a country that respects the rule of law. What the noble Baroness as an individual Minister might do is not the issue. I do not for a moment challenge her as an individual. This is a matter of system and procedure, not for an individual.
The previous amendment, which has just been agreed, referred to political motivation, and we must all be aware of the different criteria that different countries apply to the decisions they take as a state. Given the issues around relationships with countries regarding arms sales, for instance, is it any wonder that noble Lords are concerned about extradition to a country whose values, including valuing human life, are not our values?
The shortcomings and difficulties in procedures for dealing with secondary legislation are not a new point, but the fact that no amendments are possible is the most relevant one today. But, for once, we have a solution, which is to deal with these proposals one country at a time. I cannot understand an objection which seems to amount to no more than “It wasn’t invented here” or “not common practice”, to use the phrase used in Committee.
I need say no more, as I know that other noble Lords will contribute to the debate. Unless the Minister concedes, which I do not expect, I will test the opinion of the House, but for the moment I beg to move.
My noble friend Lady Hamwee has covered the strong case for this amendment and, to be quite frank, I cannot see on what grounds the Government can resist it. There is no good argument on administrative, parliamentary or human rights grounds not to have one territory per SI, so that Parliament can carefully discriminate between those territories where we are happy to have a law enforcement relationship and those that are, quite honestly, unreliable.
The way that the Government have resisted this improvement throughout the passage of the Bill in your Lordships’ House raises some concerns. Those are not linked, as my noble friend said, to the person of the Minister, but to any and every Government. We know that there will be pressures on this country, which has chosen—wrongly, in my opinion—to exit from the EU and make itself vulnerable to pressures in the context of seeking trade agreements. Those pressures are being discussed in a lively way, as they were last Wednesday in our Second Reading of the Agriculture Bill, when we discussed chlorinated chicken, hormone-treated beef and so on, and one can foresee similar kinds of pressures when countries seek favours from the United Kingdom in order to give us a trade concession. It would be all too tempting for a current or future Government to throw in a favour in a completely different area, such as law enforcement co-operation, in order to win a point for one economic sector or another in a trade deal.
In order to stop any such development in its tracks, it is completely reasonable to ask the Government simply to let Parliament decide on a country-by-country basis whether we want to add them to this system of provisional arrest. The onus is really on the Government to convince this House why it is reasonable to lump them together and not allow us to decide territory by territory, which is the obvious way to proceed.
We need a sensible extradition regime, and at the moment we have one. I strongly support it and nobody can think of a single reason why we should not work in a mutually acceptable way with territories, as the Act calls them—or countries, as ordinary people call them—that we trust: those we trust, those we trust to trust each other and those who we are confident will abide by the ordinary rules when seeking extradition of British citizens and vice versa. We all work together.
In this particular situation, as the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, just said, we have a Government who would produce a list of countries or territories with which we would all be happy, and, bingo, the affirmative resolution is passed and we all go away happy, and for myself I cannot imagine that a Government led by Sir Keir Starmer would be any different. But the future is long, and the problem is that, undoubtedly, the time may come—I am not saying that it will, and I hope that it never does—when a Government seek a favour from this country or we seek a favour from them. An example might be, “Do you really want our safety equipment? Do you really want our artificial intelligence? Let’s have a mutual extradition arrangement.” I can also envision the possibility, not immediately but not so remotely either, of a Government of the day wishing to associate themselves with a country that shared that Government’s political views but was nevertheless not a desirable country with which to have these arrangements.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has just explained, we have this ridiculous situation where affirmative resolutions cannot be amended—you either take the package or you lose it. Parliament could be faced with this situation: there could be a list of a number of countries with which it was entirely desirable and sensible to have a mutual arrangement plus one other, with which it would be extremely undesirable to have such an arrangement. What would happen then? Do we reject the territory and country that we think it would be totally inappropriate to have such arrangements with and therefore lose similar arrangements with all the desirable countries, or do we simply keep all the countries we think it would be a good idea to have and include the other one, although it is undesirable? That is a ridiculous situation, and the amendment is designed to avoid such an absurdity. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has already said, and I emphasise, the amendment proposes an utterly simple, totally uncomplicated system. It may cost the department a few more pages of paper, but not that many, and it may take a fraction more time, but it would be time valuably used. Statutory instruments should always be limited to one country.
The second reason I support the amendment has already been touched on. Through the passage of this legislation, from the beginning to where we are today, this House has raised this issue time and again. We have never yet been given a single good reason why the proposal in this amendment is unacceptable, would create difficulties for the extradition regime or would be unworkable. The Minister has not invented any spurious reason for that, for which we are of course grateful and unsurprised, but there are no reasons. No reason has yet been given. As a matter of common sense, as well as on a sound constitutional basis, the amendment has never been contradicted by a reasonable argument and should find favour with the House.
My Lords, I speak in support of the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lady Hamwee, and I agree completely with the comments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. The trouble with an amendment of this simplicity is that all one can do is repeat the arguments in a slightly different way.
It makes complete sense that Parliament should have the ability to consider each country on its merits in this case, as it is so obviously open to abuse, and the regulations that allow additions are not amendable. Echoing the views of my noble friend Lady Ludford, I think that, our having left the European Union, future Governments will be keener than ever to secure trade deals with other countries, for example. It may be that those other countries demand, quid pro quo, that we accede to their extradition requests, even though there may be reservations about a country’s criminal justice process. This amendment is necessary, and I support it.
My Lords, in Committee, my noble and learned friend Lord Hope of Craighead said of this amendment that it meets the problem of the non-amendable instrument, without at the same time creating an insuperable difficulty for the Government, and that it enables a debate to take place that would have a real point to it. The fact that there may be precedents in other Acts of Parliament for lumping countries together in statutory instruments seems to be neither here nor there.
This amendment ought really to be welcomed by the Government. It removes the possibility that acceptable countries will be excluded because they have been yoked together with a country that Parliament finds unacceptable. The amendment is a sensible and practical safety valve, which is why I put my name to a previous edition. If the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, decides to test the opinion of the House, I shall vote for the amendment.
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, said, the simpler the amendment, the more repetitious we become. But I want to go back to 2003, which was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, in the debate on the previous amendment, and to the Act that I piloted through, with the support of an excellent Home Office team. The noble Baroness called it a “mighty beast”, which it was; it was extremely difficult, as were other mighty beasts of that year, including the Criminal Justice Act, the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Sexual Offences Act, and the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act. When I look back on those days, I wonder when any of us slept. We were, quite rightly, taken to task: we leaned on legislation too quickly.
However, in a simple amendment such as this one, we have clarity of thinking, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, indicated, and as the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, reinforced. There is a simple, clear reason why, 17 years on from the original Extradition Act, we should take this sensible step, which avoids the Government not being able to carry an order for countries with which we would be extremely pleased to have extradition arrangements because another country listed is unacceptable to us. Turning it on its head, on the danger of agreeing a country that we do not wish to have an extradition agreement with, and being unable to get Parliament to agree to an order that it would otherwise want to go along with, it makes absolute sense for the Government simply to concede.
I repeat what I said last week: I have a great deal of respect for the Minister. I hope that, even at this late stage, texts might be going from her staff to the Home Secretary to say, “Please give permission to concede on this, because we oppose it for no good reason whatever”.
My Lords, I support Amendment 3, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. As noble Lords have heard, this issue has been considered by the House as the Bill has made its progress through the various stages. What is proposed here today is simple, effective and, I contend, good government.
Surely it must be right that when we are designating countries that we wish to form an extradition agreement with, after the detailed work has taken place, Parliament should have the opportunity to accept or reject the designation for an individual territory. Parliament generally, and this House in particular, does not often vote down regulations. We may pass Motions to Regret or debate the merits of what is proposed, and many may express deep reservations, but fatal Motions are very rare.
This amendment is important; it is good practice and what good government should be all about. It guards against this or any future Government, of whatever political persuasion, seeking to group together a number of countries and push them through en bloc where, for example, nine of the 10 countries proposed have good reputations, a good track record and respect for the rule of law, do not persecute dissidents, do not abuse human rights and do not abuse Interpol red notices, but the remaining country has a more questionable record on one, or a number of, the issues I have raised. In such a case, it would be wrong for the Government to try to force through an agreement under the cover of Parliament not wanting to reject the other territories, and would give the country about which questions have been asked some form of protection that it does not deserve, making the approval a fait accompli. Parliament should, in all circumstances, guard against that.
If passed, this amendment would allow Parliament, on the rare occasion that it rejects regulations, to do so quite clearly on the record of the individual territory that the Government propose to sign an agreement with. That is right, proportionate and the sensible way to deal with this important part of public policy; no other agreement will be put at risk. It is good government, and I hope noble Lords will support the amendment if it is put to the vote.
My Lords, on previous occasions this House has spoken at length on the question of what constitutes appropriate parliamentary scrutiny, in the wider sense, in relation to the addition of any territory, and has just done so again on Amendment 2. I will now expand further in addressing Amendment 3, in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, which seeks to mandate that this be done by individual statutory instrument for each suggested country.
I was slightly dismayed to hear noble Lords talk about mutual extradition arrangements because, as I have clarified on several occasions, this has not, and never has been, about mutual extradition arrangements. We do not do this on behalf of other countries, and if, for example, we did it on behalf of Turkey, the courts would throw it out—even if the Government could get it through Parliament, the courts would throw it out.
When this issue was debated in Committee, it was pointed out that statutory instruments that seek to specify new territories are not amendable. Some feel that this may create a difficulty for this House if regulations were laid which sought to specify multiple countries. As I have said before, the process of potentially listing multiple countries already exists for adding territories to both parts of the Extradition Act 2003.
It was further pointed out that there are countries in the world which do not respect the rule of law and a concern was raised that a future Government may seek to add such countries to this legislation, countries that this House and the other place together may think it inappropriate to add. Again, even if the Government could get it through Parliament, the courts would throw it out.
It was put to me that somehow this House cannot really grapple with considering a country to which there are objections unless it appears in a statutory instrument alone. The answer to that concern is very simple. If a country is proposed by any Government, either now or in the future, that this House does not want to be specified under this Bill then the job of this House is to win that argument and vote down the relevant regulations.
“a Minister putting forward a list would have to be mightily careful that the list was of all good, or at least equally good, countries. If there was a doubtful one it would have to be separate. That lesson should be taken to heart. It is very unwise to have a great big list where we are not sure about two or three countries, because we would just lose the whole lot. I suspect that we may be faced in due course with a fair group about which we have some knowledge already. I do not think that that has anything to do with the Bill, but it might be a consequence of granting this power. I imagine that any Minister contemplating this who wished to be successful would be very careful to leave a country out of a list of very good countries and have it in a separate list if he thought that it would risk the others.”—[
I have often made such considerations when considering statutory instruments. This House and the other place will have the ability to reject regulations which contain multiple countries, which will incentivise any Government to heed my noble and learned friend’s advice.
It was also suggested in Committee that having multiple instruments specifying a single territory would take just “a little longer”—a bit more typing and printing. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, alluded to that today. That is to rather belittle the potential impact of this amendment on parliamentary business. The description that this would not cause,
“much more than a few more pieces of paper—a little more typing and standing up and sitting down”—[
Despite the crisis that has engulfed normal and parliamentary life in the UK, we need to press on with this Bill because some of the horrors it seeks to mitigate are already present on our streets. I have said more than once that thousands of international arrest alerts are already circulated for fugitives by the countries in scope. UK police officers need the arrest powers not because of other countries but to keep our streets safe. This law will prevent fugitives responsible for such crime continuing to evade justice through an operational loophole which puts the public at risk.
From the tone of the speakers, I think there will be a desire to test the opinion of the House. I hope noble Lords will join me in resisting this amendment.
I will test the opinion of the House, but I will first respond a little to what has been said. I thank all noble Lords who have supported this amendment.
As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, said, we need a sensible extradition regime and I do not seek to subvert that. This is also not about mutual arrangements. I am flattered that the noble and learned Lord attributes to me an awareness of and sensitivity to the constitution and common sense. I hope this amendment achieves both. He gave examples of situations where the Government might be tempted down a route which was not perhaps the best because of other matters in play politically. It occurs to me that the topical discussion might be, “Do you want our vaccine? Do you want our PPE?” This amendment would let the Government, in advance, off the hook that they might create for themselves, giving them a way out of facing that unpleasant discussion.
We are proud of our values; this is a way of applying them. The Minister says that we might win the argument and vote down regulations because they included an “undesirable” country—I use the term as shorthand. However, in this example, that would not reflect the views of Parliament because it would not be able at that point to accept the desirable country.
We have had to adapt our procedures over the last few weeks. Great and very successful attempts have been made to ensure that procedure reflects good governance. We should extend that today. This is a proportionate response to the issue. The Minister says that the Government want to press on with the Bill; I have no doubt that they do. It will have to go to the Commons, and we know that it already contains a provision which the Government will not be very happy with. As I say, this amendment is proportionate, sensible and one that the House should accept. I would like to test the opinion of the House.
Ayes 314, Noes 230.