Clause 15 - Death penalty

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 9th January 2003.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 5:00 pm, 9th January 2003

I shall deal first with amendment No. 32, which would have a different effect. It would ensure that there was parliamentary responsibility by saying that any assurances should be given by the Secretary of State. I hope that, even if the Minister cannot accept the amendment today, he might accept that there is a strong case for parliamentary scrutiny in this regard. The Home Secretary would be the

appropriate person to give assurances to the courts on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. Simply referring to a written assurance to a judge is not adequate; the Secretary of State should be specified. We are talking about only a few cases, so that would not place a huge extra burden on any Home Secretary.

That is separate from the death penalty issue. Some members of the Committee will know that I have always supported reintroducing capital punishment for a small number of crimes. That has always been a free vote issue, so in saying that my views have not changed I am not in any way expressing Opposition policy, but it would be inconsistent of me to talk about the Liberal Democrats' amendment when I do not share their views about the death penalty.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) and I have expressed views in a previous Parliament on a free vote seeking to reintroduce capital punishment for the murder of a police officer in the carrying out of his duty. If that became UK law in future, I would not want to prevent us from extraditing back here people who had committed crimes. As I said, it is a free vote issue, but I thought that I should state on the record that my views had not changed in any way, shape or form, so that people knew where I stood. I simply restrict our amendment No. 32 to the one small category and will listen with interest to what the Minister has to say on the wider issues.