Clause 29 - Court's powers on appeal under section 28

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

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 10:15, 14 January 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 115, in

clause 29, page 12, line 6, at end insert—

'(c) and the circumstances of the case are exceptional.'.

I can be brief. We felt that it would be helpful to add an exceptional circumstances provision. At the moment, subsection (3) simply says:

''The conditions are that—

(a) the judge ought to have decided the relevant question differently;

(b) if he had decided the question in the way he ought to have done, he would not have been required to order the person's discharge.''

The amendment would add:

''(c) and the circumstances of the case are exceptional.''

The amendment goes in a slightly different direction from some of our other amendments, and in some ways it could be seen as a toughening-up measure. We are simply probing at this stage, and it will be interesting to hear the Minister's comments. Once again we are not saying that our wording is absolutely perfect; we are just interested to test whether the Minister feels that it would be helpful to add the phrase.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 10:30, 14 January 2003

If we accepted the amendment, there would be some dangers and unintended consequences, which the hon. Gentleman admitted in principle. He said that the amendment was about toughening up the Bill, but it would change the powers of the court on appeals by the requesting state against the decision to discharge a fugitive. I do not think that it toughens up the Bill, as he suggests. It would provide

that such an appeal could be successful only if the circumstances of the case were exceptional.

In practice, all those cases might be exceptional, but who will decide whether that is so? Such a stipulation would open up a whole new area of legal argument and potential delay. Moreover, imagine the circumstances in which a court decided that, on balance at appeal, the requesting state's request should be upheld, but also concluded that there was nothing exceptional about the case. Despite the fact that the court believed that the appeal should be upheld and that the person should be extradited, it would be unable to extradite that person because there were no exceptional circumstances.

The Court of Appeal has the powers that it needs to hear appeals from the defendant and from the requesting state, and to decide whether the right decision has been taken. The amendment would not add anything to the Bill, but would introduce a real complication.

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

In the light of what the Minister said, I do not seek to press the amendment. I wished to probe the matter, because I believed that it might be helpful to include provision for exceptional circumstances. The Minister has set out reasons why such a provision might have unintended consequences, and I accept those reasons. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 29 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 30 to 38 ordered to stand part of the Bill.