Clause 147 - Extradition offences

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 16th January 2003.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 9:45 am, 16th January 2003

When he has not been cheeky, he has been courteous and helpful in providing things that genuinely help the Committee on serious issues. I know that the Minister recognises that we have serious concerns, which are shared by others, but we do not want to water down the Bill. Had we wanted to water it down, we would have tabled amendments. In opening the clause stand part debate, I made it clear—I hope in a moderate way—that we had not

tabled amendments because we did not want to water down the Bill, but rather to explore the issue and check that the current law specifies four months, and the Minister has reassured us.

I made it clear that we did not want to make it more difficult for our courts to extradite people back to this country. However, there are differences to debate. We must consider our citizens being at risk from a foreign jurisdiction. Many of my hon. Friends and I, and many people and organisations outside the House, do not have as much faith in some courts and justice systems in other countries. My hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon has concerns about the courts of Italy, and I have raised concerns about the courts of Greece, Spain and, potentially, Turkey and the Czech Republic.

We have provided a lot of evidence for our position, but that is a different point. At the moment, we are talking about getting people back to face our courts, with all the protections that our courts provide, and it is entirely appropriate that there should be an easier and quicker way for people to be extradited back to this country to face justice here.

There are differences, and one does not necessarily say that absolutely everything has to match. That is part of the discussion about principle, because we are talking about the protections given by our courts. Nevertheless, the Government have decided that the two sides should match as closely as possible. Unless there are very good reasons why they should not match, I can understand that there is at least a logic to that, although we do not necessarily accept it. I have referred to some of the Select Committee's concerns about the threshold.

Whatever party political points the Minister feels that he needs to make, he knows in his heart of hearts that these are serious issues and that he cannot simply say, ''The Opposition this, the Opposition that.'' He must consider the concerns expressed by the Select Committee, which has a huge Labour majority.

This has been a useful debate, and I am grateful that the Minister will send us the relevant list. We can then return to the issue on Report and in another place, and even those who are non-lawyers will know exactly what we are talking about. It will be useful to hon. Members here on Report, and those in another place, to have the list. I therefore reinforce the concern expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon: we should certainly have the list from the Minister before Report and preferably 48 hours before.

I should be grateful if the Minister would intervene to say that he will at least use his best endeavours to ensure that we have the list at the earliest possible opportunity. He is indicating that he will do that, for which I am grateful. Having had this useful debate, I need not pursue the matter further under clause stand part.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 147 ordered to stand part of the Bill.