Clause 126 - Consent to other offences being dealt with

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 14th January 2003.

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Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Criminal Justice System IT) 3:30 pm, 14th January 2003

My moment arrives. I do not know whether it is too late to welcome you to the Chair, Mr. O'Hara, but may I do so if it is not?

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath for raising that point. I understand that he wants greater clarity, which I am happy to give. When we send someone to a category 1 territory that then seeks permission to charge him or her with an offence other than the one for which he or she was extradited, clause 52 requires the district judge to consider all the bars to extradition to see whether any of them apply to the additional offence. By contrast, under clause 126, the Secretary of State is obliged to consider only whether the crime is an extradition offence and if there are death penalty considerations. He or she is not required to consider all the other bars to extradition.

The nub of the hon. Gentleman's amendment concerns the difference. The answer is simple. If hon. Members care to read clause 52(6), they will see that in part 1, where none of the bars apply, the district judge must give his or her consent to the specialty waiver. By contrast, clause 126(7) provides that the Secretary of State may give his or her consent in non-death penalty cases. In other words, consent is currently entirely discretionary. The Secretary of State is never obliged to give consent and would withhold it if there were good grounds for believing that it would be unjust to give it. He or she could also take into account any representations that the fugitive, or his or her legal representatives, might care to submit.

I shall spell out more clearly the safeguards that are implied. First, as the Committee will be well aware, most part 2 countries—indeed, all those that are not in the Council of Europe—have to supply prima facie

evidence to accompany their extradition requests. That can apply equally in cases involving a request to prosecute for additional offences. Secondly and crucially, any decision taken by a Minister in this context is judicially reviewable. A Minister who took a manifestly unreasonable decision could expect to lose a judicial review. Those circumstances would clearly apply if the Minister failed to consider any of the bars to extradition.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman has received enough comfort from my clarification of what is intended in the clause to feel able to withdraw his amendment.