Clause 27 - Court's powers on appeal under section 26

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 14th January 2003.

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Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 10:15 am, 14th January 2003

The hon. Gentleman must be in a really good mood this morning. I do not know what happened to him earlier, but he has certainly toned down his allegations about habeas corpus. His only demand now is that it should be in the Bill, whereas previously he said that the Bill in effect removes it. It is a move in the right direction that he is not making that allegation today. I certainly hope that he will not make it again, because there is no justification for it. It is simply wrong. The common law right of habeas corpus goes back many centuries, and there is nothing in the Bill that affects it.

If the amendment were adopted the courts could allow an appeal if they decided that the principle of habeas corpus had not been applied properly at first instance. The principle of habeas corpus is well known. It is a cherished part of English law. Indeed, many see it as a defining principle. The amendments are unnecessary and misguided. It is always open to a fugitive to raise habeas corpus issues. At every stage, the district judge is required to consider whether remanding in custody or granting bail is appropriate, and to ensure that custody issues are properly taken into account. The Bill makes it clear that the designated authority must be satisfied that the requesting authority is legitimate. After arrest, the suspect must be brought before a judge as soon as practicable, and the judge must establish that the person appearing in front of him is the person named on the warrant. If he is not satisfied, the person must be released.

The hon. Gentleman has put around the idea that the Bill in some way seriously damages habeas corpus, so I want to put on record the statements of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. In its report on the draft Bill, it concluded that

''the provision for hearings before the district judge would be likely to be held to satisfy the right to take proceedings to test the lawfulness of the detention''.

It also noted:

''Judicial review and habeas corpus are important safeguards for human rights, although ECHR Article 5 and the Human Rights Act 1998 now give even stronger . . . protection.''

It is clear that the Joint Committee on Human Rights believes that the Bill in no way detracts from the ancient common law right of habeas corpus. There is no need for amendment No. 166.