Clause 20 - Case where person has been convicted

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 14th January 2003.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 9:45 am, 14th January 2003

I understand the Minister saying that some of the wording in the amendments is not absolutely accurate and may go too far, and in moving the amendment, I said that I was not wedded to any particular form of wording. However, our job in Parliament is to protect our citizens, and we do not share the Minister's faith that our citizens are always protected in foreign courts. As my hon. Friends the Members for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maples) and for Henley (Mr. Johnson) have made clear in this Committee and in European Scrutiny Committee debates on the European arrest warrant, we have seen our citizens treated improperly in courts in existing EU partner countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy.

When we are writing UK legislation that affects our citizens, we should include what we think that a retrial should involve. That would not be to rewrite other countries' legal systems for them, as the Minister put it in an overblown way; it would be to ensure safeguards so that British subjects who come before a foreign court have minimum guarantees of their civil liberties. It is not simply a case of saying that if the district judge

is not satisfied, he will not grant extradition. We want to see guarantees included in the Bill, because that is our job in Parliament.

I will not press the amendments to a vote because, as the Minister said, their wording, which was suggested by the Law Society of England and Wales, may not be on point. However, the Minister should be in no doubt but that we will continually return to the issue, because of our experience of what happens under the current system to our citizens in foreign courts. It is not enough for the Minister to say that it is all right because we are dealing with mutual recognition and the UK Government have introduced some safeguards. We will return to the issue on Report and in another place, unless the Government take the matters more seriously and introduce their own amendments to include protections in the Bill.