Clause 2 - Part 1 warrant and certificate

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 9th January 2003.

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Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 10:00 am, 9th January 2003

I was remiss earlier in not welcoming you to the Chair, Miss Begg. I know that this is the first Standing Committee that you have chaired, and I am certain that your skills of chairmanship will equal the other skills that you have brought to the rest of your involvement in the House of Commons.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to present the Government amendments to the Committee. I know that some people, in the House and elsewhere, were concerned that clause 2 lacked detail about the

information to be contained in the warrant. That information would always be provided as part of the warrant, and the framework decision requires that. However, we thought that it would be sensible to summarise the key contents of the warrant in our domestic legislation, and the amendments have been drafted for that purpose.

Amendment No. 91, although tabled by the Opposition, appears to have been drafted to achieve the same aim. I will explain why I believe that amendment to be deficient. If I explain the reasoning behind the Government amendments, that should clarify why I believe that the Opposition amendment does not go as far as it should.

The substance of the group of amendments can be found in amendments Nos. 103 to 106, which clearly list the information that a warrant must contain to be accepted as the basis of a person's arrest. Amendment No. 103 deals with cases where a person is wanted for prosecution and amendment No. 106 applies when a person has been convicted, but is yet to be sentenced, or when a sentence has been imposed, but not yet served. It will not have escaped the Opposition's notice that amendment No. 91 does not deal with the latter scenario, addressing only accusation cases.

The Committee will agree that amendment No. 103 examines these cases in a more comprehensive and rational manner than the alternative. It is designed to seek the details of any other warrant that may have been issued in the requesting country for the extradition offence: amendment No. 91 does not. The amendment would also secure details of the potential sentence that could be imposed in the event of a conviction: again, the alternative amendment does not.

In the case of a convicted person whose extradition is sought so that he can be sentenced or serve a sentence, amendment No. 106 is clear in its effect. It requires not only details of identity, the conviction and other warrants, but information about the sentence that has been or could be imposed.

I am confident that these Government amendments go a long way towards meeting the concerns that have been expressed. The information would be a required part of the warrant, as set out in the Bill, making it clear to everyone exactly which person is sought, for what reason and what is likely to happen in the event of a conviction or sentence. These measures will ensure that the British courts can make the appropriate assessment of the relevant details without having to second-guess or prejudice the proper role of the judiciary in the requesting country. I commend amendments Nos. 100 to 108, and I invite the hon. Member for Surrey Heath to withdraw amendment No. 91.