Clause 2 - Part 1 warrant and certificate

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 9th January 2003.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 10:30 am, 9th January 2003

I echo what my hon. Friend has said, but would like to go a little further. It is extraordinary

that we, as parliamentarians, are listening to a Minister saying that there will never be a problem, and that we do not need to refer in the Bill to the framework document, but merely have to read the two documents in conjunction.

As I said in relation to the wider issues covered by the Bill during the debate on clause 1, the Minister's attitude is that this historic House of Parliament is now just a rubber stamp. We have to accept what Ministers of his or any other Government negotiate in Europe, and so there is no point in having a Parliament.

We are concerned, as Members of Parliament, to protect British citizens with British law. I accept the point made by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland that we must bear in mind that there are two systems of law in the UK. However, whether a constituent is from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England, our job as Members is to ensure that the legislation is right, and that only legislation that is proper should govern British citizens. The Opposition feel strongly that our job as Members is to ensure that UK legislation is right. That is the purpose of the Committee system, and that is why we scrutinise the detail of the legislation line by line, word by word and clause by clause.

It is not acceptable for the Minister to say that we must read the Bill in conjunction with the European framework document, nor is it acceptable for him to say that there have never been any problems with an extradition request or with the sort of person issuing it. Does the Minister not remember the acres of newsprint generated by the Pinochet case? One of the issues that the Law Lords had to consider, not once but several times, was the status of the Spanish magistrate—I think he was called Garzon. That magistrate was seeking to extradite someone, who was resident temporarily in this country to receive medical treatment, back to another country for offences committed in a third country that was nothing to do with the EU.

I feel passionately about that because my constituency in Surrey had to face the outrageous police costs that the then Home Secretary, who is now the Foreign Secretary, said on television would not fall on my constituents. Surrey police had to spend £1.2 million on the extra security for Pinochet while he was under house arrest, but the Government reimbursed them only to the tune of £600,000, so the cost of the Pinochet shambles fell on my constituents. For the Minister to say that there have never been issues in recent times about the issuing of extradition warrants or the status of the person seeking to issue them is an attempt to rewrite history in the most extraordinary way.