Clause 73 - Person arrested under a provisional warrant

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 14 January 2003.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 3:00, 14 January 2003

I understand what the Minister says and I am grateful that he has been more serious about this issue. I am particularly grateful for his acknowledgement that, at first sight, 40 days seems a long time. I understand his point about treaty obligations; I am sure that none of us wishes to force this or any Government to tear up their treaty obligations.

Unlike the Minister and his advisers, I have not studied individual treaties, and I am slightly surprised that they do not provide for flexibility or for 40 days to be a maximum. I wonder whether he might talk to his officials again, or whether it might still be possible, without tearing up all the treaties, to substitute a slightly shorter period of 28 days. The Minister acknowledged that, while advancing my case for seven days, I referred to 14 or 28 days as possible alternatives, as did the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland.

I hope that the Minister will at least consider that point, because this is an opportunity to change extradition law if it needs changing, and to look afresh at some of the issues. Again, it was right of the Law Society of England and Wales to draw our attention to that point, because this may be the only opportunity for a decade or longer to reconsider what should happen in extradition cases.

If an arrest is under a provisional warrant, there should be some obligation on those who are putting the paperwork together to get a move on, in fairness to the potential subject of the extradition request and the lawyers representing him. The amendment tries to be fair to that person and to give his legal representatives an opportunity to prepare the case without unfairly hampering the interests of the state. There is balance to be struck. I am glad to see the Minister nodding in agreement. I hope that the Minister will reconsider this matter and will keep it under review, because the other place may need to discuss it. It is a point of detail, but not an insignificant one.

Having alerted the Minister to the concerns and having heard his reasonable response, I am happy not to pursue the matter at this stage. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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