Clause 83 - Case where person has not been convicted

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 14th January 2003.

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Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:15 pm, 14th January 2003

A a district judge at Bow street magistrates court is bound to develop a method of operation to deal with part 2 countries in these cases. Is the hon. Gentleman really saying that he does not have confidence that a judge is capable of deciding what should be admitted as evidence, that he cannot be trusted in that respect and that there must be a bar on hearsay evidence and summaries of evidence being considered in prima facie cases? If that is not what the

hon. Gentleman is saying I ask him to intervene and put me right. I can understand that he wants to stay with the current, pure position: that whatever the jurisdiction, no matter how far away it might be, such as the northern territories of Canada, unless someone is prepared to turn up and give evidence in person, that evidence cannot be admitted in a prima facie hearing in London. If that is what the hon. Gentleman wants he can stick to the amendment, but if he wants to give the judge some discretion about what is acceptable, he should agree to the Bill as drafted.

There is some anxiety about the matter, but I hope we will have an open discussion so that people can see where we are coming from and the consequences of the measure. I ask the hon. Gentleman not to press the amendment at this stage. I shall continue to reflect on what has been said in the debate, and I shall be prepared to field questions further down the line. I hope that members of the Committee will reflect on the logistical problems that may arise in some circumstances. The Bill enables us to tackle some of those problems and to have faith in the judge's ability to decide what he can and cannot do without putting the principles of justice at risk.