Clause 62 - Documents sent by facsimile

Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 14th January 2003.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 11:00 am, 14th January 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 170, in

clause 62, page 29, line 36, at end insert—

'(2) The Secretary of State (or in Scotland the Scottish Ministers) may by regulations set out requirements to ensure the security of any documents sent under subsection (1) above.'.

I can be brief. The Law Society of Scotland suggested the amendment, which amounts to a clarification of the Bill's wording. I do not suggest that the amendment's wording is perfect, but I am interested to hear what the Minister has to say, and we wanted to probe this issue on behalf of the Law Society of Scotland.

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

I shall try to be equally brief. We envisage that, in most circumstances, the documentation, particularly the European arrest warrant itself, will be transmitted to the National Criminal Intelligence Service via a secure electronic link—the Schengen information system. However, most people would accept that material may not be available in electronic form or may need to be sent urgently. The amendment would involve the Secretary of State in setting out the procedure for the receipt of faxed material, and is therefore a little over the top.

I believe that we can rely on NCIS to be sure that the material that it receives is from a legitimate source. It will be able to ensure that the circumstances in which the material is received are genuine. For instance, if NCIS received a fax and felt it necessary, it would take the appropriate follow-up action, including on any subsequent material, to discover where it came from and to ensure that it had not come from an imposter or inappropriate organisation.

The amendment is unnecessary. This is fundamentally an administrative issue, and we can rely to some extent on the authorities to ensure that things are carried out properly.

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

It is valuable to get that on the record. However, it would have been helpful for the Secretary of State to be involved, because that would have given some opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny. As the Minister knows, the Opposition have consistently reiterated that there should be parliamentary accountability via the Secretary of State. However, having heard what the Minister said, I am content to leave it at that, and not to press the amendment to a vote. I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 62 ordered to stand part of the Bill.