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 George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley North and Sefton East 5:00 pm, 9th January 2003

I agree with the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland. The Conservative amendment No. 32 would take matters too far into the political arena. I recall being a junior Home Office Minister when the then Home Secretary had to determine the Pinochet extradition warrant, which had been received from a prosecuting magistrate in Spain. I do not want to go into too much detail about that, as it would be inappropriate for me to do so, but the extent to which a cordon sanitaire had to be created around the Home Secretary to allow him to make the decision free from any political considerations—as I believe that he did—was such that I am convinced that to bring a Secretary of State into the equation would be a mistake.

I do not share the views of the hon. Member for Surrey Heath on the use of the death penalty, but I think that it is necessary to include the provision in the Bill. It is possible that one of the listed territories may, God forbid, elect a far-right Government who would simply ignore EU regulations and obligations and go ahead and use the death penalty. In those circumstances, it would be perfectly legitimate for that to be taken into account.