Clause 5 - Provisional arrest

Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 9th January 2003.

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Question proposed, That clause 5 stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath

I want to make only a brief comment about a concern that we share with others, including Leolin Price QC. Clause 5 provides for an arrest even when a European arrest warrant has not been issued. Like Leolin Price, we question why there should be a power to arrest because the arresting person ''has reason to believe'' that an arrest warrant ''has been or will be'' issued in another member state. The phrase ''or will be'' causes particular mischief because it is extraordinary that such draconian powers should be based on an arresting person's belief, however reasonable, of something that does not exist. The person exposed to arrest in such circumstances will not be able to judge whether the arresting person has reason to believe, and the arresting person will be unable to inform the arrested person of the European arrest warrant or its contents because there will not be one. As we said earlier, article 11 of the framework decision clearly refers to all the circumstances of the warrant being set out to the arrested person. Clearly, that cannot happen if an arrest warrant does not exist.

Once again, the proposal seems to be a massive and unjustified extension of the powers of the state. As Leolin Price puts it, it is

''an astonishingly novel procedure: arrest for deportation, without ordinary extradition protections, for investigation and trial of an alleged offence in a foreign country under an alien and unfamiliar system of law. Clause 5 can properly be categorised as outrageous.''

The Conservatives say, ''Hear, hear'' to that. It is absolutely outrageous. I had thought about tabling amendments to delete the words ''or will be'', but clause 5 is such an anathema as it is drafted that our only sensible course of action is to vote against it.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 4:00 pm, 9th January 2003

The Liberal Democrats take exactly the same view, and I thoroughly resist any suggestion that we just did not get round to drafting an amendment. We must regard the clause in the full context of what has preceded it. It is difficult to imagine circumstances in which a constable or appropriate person might be aware that someone in another jurisdiction was going to issue an arrest warrant. What would happen if that person were arrested but, for whatever reason, the warrant was subsequently not issued or it was found out that it had not been appropriate for the warrant to be certified? As the hon. Member for Surrey Heath said, the clause goes too far, and I adopt his outrage without reservation.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Would it be in order for me to ask whether the Leo Price who has been continually quoted is the same Leo Price who is trying to raise money to challenge the legality of our membership of the European Union? How much has he managed to raise, and how much has the hon. Member for Surrey Heath contributed to his campaign? I feel certain, having listened to the extensive quotations, that it is the same person.

Provisional arrest is needed in some circumstances, and I do not think that they are difficult to imagine. They are provided for in the Extradition Act 1989—introduced when the party of the hon. Member for Surrey Heath was in power—and the circumstances are straightforward. I will not use a terrorist as an example, because it seems that the hon. Member for Surrey Heath does not mind what we do to terrorists. Let us say that a mass murderer jumps on an aeroplane and is heading for Heathrow, and that the aeroplane will arrive before the warrant. The hon. Gentleman is effectively suggesting that that person should go free, that a mass murderer should be allowed to walk around the streets of Britain. That is nonsense, and is a departure from our current extradition arrangements. He should be ashamed of himself for raising it.

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 9, Noes 4.

Division number 11 Adults Abused in Childhood — Clause 5 - Provisional arrest

Aye: 9 MPs

No: 4 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.