Clause 3 - Arrest under certified Part 1 warrant

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 9th January 2003.

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Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:15 pm, 9th January 2003

In many cases, where a warrant has been issued and communicated to the British authorities and the person's whereabouts are known,

someone will go out, armed with that warrant, and the person will be shown the warrant at the point of arrest. However, Opposition Members must understand that, as in domestic legislation, there will be circumstances in which police officers will come across people in the normal course of their duties, and will have reasons to phone through to check their whereabouts or the bona fides of the individual concerned because of some other incident that has arisen. While carrying out those checks, they may come across the existence of a domestic warrant and, via the police national computer, the existence of a European arrest warrant.

To ask that every police constable throughout the United Kingdom should carry every European arrest warrant with him at all times is nonsensical. If that is not what is being suggested, effectively we are saying that people who have been accused of serious international crime will be allowed to go free and to disappear. I hope that there is no one in the Committee who would support that. There is little else that needs to be said about the amendment, because that is the effect that it would have.

I am aware that, with regard to the argument advanced by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland about whether we could say that this procedure should mirror domestic legislation, I am arguing what I argued earlier the other way around. For the purposes of clarity, the Bill spells out the procedures, and the procedures mirror the domestic arrangements. He says that we should refer to the domestic provisions, and I argue that things are a lot clearer this way round. I am aware of what I said in an earlier debate, but the hon. Gentleman has reversed his position too. The policy is clear and it is clearly drafted. The circumstances are exactly the same. The procedures are sensible, logical and easy to understand. We are following the same procedures with regard to domestic warrants and it is reasonable to act in that way. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw his amendment, because it is nonsensical and detracts from our ability to tackle crime.

I turn now to the proposed amendments to clause 4 and the identical amendments to part 2. There is a requirement that a person be shown the warrant if he so requests as soon as possible after his arrest. We must bear in mind that that does not apply where he was shown the warrant at the time of his arrest. If having not seen the warrant on arrest and having been denied the right to see it after requesting it, the person would be entitled to be released. Amendments Nos. 17, 92, 130, 155 and 156 would place the onus of responsibility on the police to show the person the warrant, rather than the person having to ask to see it. That would be a departure from the current arrangements. We do not want extradition practice to be out of line with domestic provision, not least because any inadvertent failure to show the person the warrant would inevitably lead to his discharge.