With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 19, in
clause 4, page 3, line 2, leave out 'the appropriate' and insert 'a High Court'.
No. 22, in
clause 7, page 3, line 32, leave out 'the appropriate' and insert 'a High Court'.
No. 25, in
clause 7, page 4, line 5, leave out subsection (5).
No. 26, in
clause 7, page 4, line 8, leave out subsection (6).
No. 27, in
clause 7, page 4, line 14, leave out subsection (7).
No. 30, in
clause 9, page 5, line 7, leave out subsections (1), (2) and (3) and insert—
'( ) The judge shall have all the powers of a High Court judge in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the powers of an equivalent judge in Scotland.'
No. 31, in
clause 10, page 5, line 24, leave out 'the appropriate' and insert 'a High Court'.
No. 38, in
clause 27, page 11, line 12, leave out 'appropriate' and insert 'High Court'.
No. 39, in
clause 27, page 11, line 19, leave out 'appropriate' and insert 'High Court'.
No. 46, in
clause 35, page 15, line 24, leave out 'appropriate' and insert 'High Court'.
No. 47, in
clause 35, page 15, line 35, leave out 'appropriate' and insert 'High Court'.
No. 48, in
clause 37, page 17, line 1, leave out 'appropriate' and insert 'High Court'.
No. 51, in
clause 43, page 20, line 17, leave out 'appropriate' and insert 'High Court'.
No. 53, in
clause 44, page 21, line 14, leave out 'appropriate' and insert 'High Court'.
No. 55, in
clause 51, page 24, line 10, leave out 'appropriate' and insert 'High Court'.
No. 58, in
clause 54, page 25, line 27, leave out 'appropriate' and insert 'High Court'.
No. 62, in
clause 57, page 27, line 1, leave out 'the appropriate' and insert 'a High Court'.
No. 66, in
clause 60, page 28, line 37, leave out paragraph (a).
No. 67, in
clause 60, page 28, line 41, leave out subsection (3).
We are talking about only a small number of cases, which we discussed in the previous debate on clause 3. We believe that there should be senior judicial scrutiny and intervention, and so tabled amendments Nos. 18 and 19. We also tabled consequential amendments to a raft of other clauses, which I do not need to go through as they are all to the same effect. We hope that the Government will at least consider the amendment. We suspect that others might make a similar point in another place, as those with senior judicial experience may have views about the matter, and we believe that there may be several concerns about the way in which the powers are to be used by the ''appropriate'' judge. The appropriate person should be a High Court judge; I need say no more than that.
It falls to me again to make the picky Scottish point. A judge of the High Court is a very different thing in Scotland than he or she is south of the border. The High Court of Justiciary, as it is properly known, is usually referred to in criminal legislation as a court of criminal jurisdiction, whereas I am told that a High Court judge in England and Wales
is a civil court judge. In any event, my recollection from Second Reading, although I cannot lay my hands on the exact section, is that the hearings in Scotland are to be held before the sheriff of Lothian and Borders sitting in Edinburgh, who is not a judge of the High Court or indeed the High Court of Justiciary. The matters are complex, but I doubt it is necessary to take the time of one of the judges of the High Court of Justiciary of which there are only 22 or 23 in Scotland. While I appreciate the point made by the hon. Member for Surrey Heath point, I do not think it is helpful if these provisions are to be laid, as indeed they must be laid, as a piece of United Kingdom legislation.
We have simplified the process and yet the Opposition want to elevate the matter, right from the start, to the High Court. They would even have a High Court judge deciding whether the person brought before them was the right one. It gets even more absurd. Currently about 30 per cent. of fugitives consent to their extradition. The Opposition amendments want to make it certain that they can do that only in front of a High Court judge, taking up High Court time even when there is no dispute.
The Bill makes it clear what the judge must consider before he consents to extradition. If the request falls foul of any of the bars to extradition, it must be refused. If the judge decides that there is a risk that the person's human rights could be breached, extradition must be refused. The criteria to be considered are clear and would be the same whether a High Court judge or district judge were considering them.
Terrorist crimes are obviously serious matters but district judges at Bow street magistrates court have dealt with them for a long time. I am confident that they will be able to continue to do so. Their decisions can be challenged in the High Court and, with permission, in the House of Lords.
As I said, there are flaws in the current extradition system but I do not believe that the seniority of the judges that deal with them is as big an issue or that there is any justification for the amendments. I ask the Committee to reject them.
I did not expect the Minister suddenly to agree to our proposals, but I remind him that we are talking about a new kind of procedure. The European arrest warrant is a major departure. We are talking about a small number of requests each year. It seems appropriate, particularly when some of the problems of extradition cases have taken up the time of the superior courts—we talked this morning about the Pinochet case having to go up to the House of Lords not once but twice—and when we are talking about a massive extension in the law and erosion of our civil liberties, that a High Court judge should consider these matters.
I accept entirely the strictures of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland about Scotland, but it would be difficult for me to draft detailed amendments about the difference between the High Court and the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland because I do not have the knowledge. I am glad that there is something called a High Court judge who would be one of 26 or 27 who could consider this. Given that we would be talking
about criminal cases, perhaps it would be appropriate for a High Court of Justiciary criminal judge to consider them north of the border.
Because of the seriousness of the proposed extension of the powers, we felt it important to provide that a High Court judge should examine these cases. We remain of that view and I want to put the matter to a vote.
Question put, That the amendment be made:—
The Committee divided: Ayes 3, Noes 11.