Clause 147 - Extradition offences

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 16th January 2003.

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Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 9:25 am, 16th January 2003

I sought to engage with the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon in debating the principle of whether, having set a 12-month threshold, we should seek extradition requests for offences falling below that threshold. We could produce a list of offences with terms falling between one and three years, but let us first debate the principle. Our principle is that for trivial offences it is not administratively sensible to seek to return someone from a jurisdiction abroad, but if the offences are serious enough, we should go through that process in the interests of justice. That means framing our laws at a threshold that will allow it.

The hon. Member for Surrey Heath has been clear about his threshold, particularly for part 1—terrorism alone. He faces many definitional problems, as we sought to explain. It is extraordinary that outside the context of this debate the Conservatives want much tighter arrangements—we are supposedly letting down the British public at a time of serious threats to the nation—but in the context of our extradition arrangements they want to impose a completely unworkable threshold. They want part 1 provisions to apply only to terrorist offences and not to other serious offences, but we highlighted the need to establish the motives behind a crime in order to do so. The principle of our threshold is clear. For offences of a trivial nature, it is not worth going through the administrative rigmarole of returning a person from abroad. If the crime is serious enough, we should do so. I would like to hear a detailed explanation of what other principle we should be applying.