Clause 192 - Extradition for more than one offence

Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 16th January 2003.

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

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath

I do not know what issue the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon will raise, but I would like brief clarification from the Minister. The explanatory notes provide only three lines on the

clause. We are dealing with another Secretary of State's order-making power, though we do not know how wide it will be. Part 1 warrants are relevant, but I shall not go back over our general concerns about the operation of part 1.

How will the Secretary of State use the order-making power? We may be talking about extremely serious cases. All matters resulting in extradition will be fairly serious. As with another matter that the Minister and I debated earlier, if there is more than one extraditable offence, it could be an extremely serious case. I hope that the Minister can provide a little more clarification.

Photo of Mr John Burnett Mr John Burnett Liberal Democrat, Torridge and West Devon

The clause relates in part to the important principle of speciality. I remind the Committee of the wise words of the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Coventry, North-East, which were quoted in the excellent Home Affair Select Committee report. He said:

''We're retaining the principle that fugitives will only stand trial for the crime they were extradited for.''

The clause relates to extradition for more than one offence. Given the importance of the principle of speciality, we do not believe that these modifications should be introduced in any other form than by affirmative resolution of both Houses. I look forward to hearing the Minister's views on the matter.

Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Criminal Justice System IT)

Our proposal is that this process should take place by the negative resolution procedure However, we are always happy to listen to strong and detailed arguments for changing our mind on this issue. So far, both hon. Gentlemen have been admirably brief. I am unpersuaded of the need to change our proposal. I am happy to give way if either of them wants to go into more detail.

Photo of Mr John Burnett Mr John Burnett Liberal Democrat, Torridge and West Devon

May I ask the Minister a few questions? First, does he believe that the doctrine of speciality is important? Secondly, if there are to be specified modifications to decide which offence or offences a person will be extradited for, does he not think the order should have the fullest debate and consultation? It will have that consideration if it is pursued by affirmative resolution, rather than through the back door by negative resolution.

Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Criminal Justice System IT)

I am slightly baffled. Affirmative resolutions are for where proposals may be controversial and require a great deal of scrutiny. This is not the case here. The clause simply allows the Secretary of State to modify the provisions of the Bill in cases where there is more than one offence for which extradition is requested. That clearly must be sensible, just in terms of the expeditious dispatch of business.

The extradition procedure will be exactly the same as is set out in the Bill. That is what we are discussing at great length in Committee. That should be reassurance for all members of the Committee. I am baffled as to why there is an urge to subject this process to the affirmative resolution procedure, but we are always happy to listen to good arguments. There has to be a process for accommodating multiple requests. We are simply suggesting that that will be set out in an order and will be subject to a negative

resolution. It is a purely administrative measure to deal with the expeditious despatch of business.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath

The Minister may be able to reassure me to some extent. Rather like the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon, I should like to ask the Minister two questions. First, does he envisage that there will probably be only one order? Was there simply not time to put all the details for multiple requests into the Bill?

The clause provides a one-off occasion for the Secretary of State to make an order so that repeated modifications will not be brought before the House of Commons. Does the Minister recognise that, because of the greater political sensitivity of part 1—a matter to which we shall undoubtedly refer again next Tuesday, but also on Report and in another place—we have had four Committee sittings on part 1 and one sitting or less on each remaining part of the Bill; and therefore anything relating to part 1 should be subject to the scrutiny of the House?

It is the reference to part 1 that makes the clause different. If, as on an earlier clause that we discussed with the Minister's colleague, a matter were subject to the affirmative resolution procedure under another part of the Bill, that would be less significant. That is not to say that the affirmative resolution procedure would be unnecessary in that case. We were happy that our debate led the Government to say that the matter would be subject to affirmative resolution. However, anything to do with part 1 is potentially more controversial and for that reason, as the time that we have spent on part 1 shows, it should be subject to the scrutiny of the House of Commons under the affirmative resolution procedure.

Photo of Mr John Burnett Mr John Burnett Liberal Democrat, Torridge and West Devon

I wish to elaborate. As was conceded by the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for

Coventry, North-East, it is possible that because of the loss of the doctrine of dual criminality, extradition might be sought on two offences, one committed in this country and one committed elsewhere. I presume that such sensitive matters will be dealt with in the modifications, and that additionally some reference will be made to the notorious annex in the framework decision listing the 32 offences.

I hope that the Minister will put on his thinking cap. In the space of a few minutes we have been able to give one or two compelling reasons why these modifications are important and should be widely consulted on, and why they should receive the most detailed scrutiny in the House of Commons. I hope that the Minister will agree that the affirmative resolution procedure is right.

Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Criminal Justice System IT)

I do not want to labour the point, but I want to answer the specific questions. The first was whether there would be one order—the answer is yes, it will not come back over and over again. Secondly, the clause will not affect specialty. If someone is wanted for several offences, clause 192 allows all the offences to be covered, so specialty protection is not affected. We are trying to provide a procedure to deal with the matter. Of course we will consider what hon. Members have said, but at the moment I remain unpersuaded of the need to change the procedure we propose to adopt.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 192 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Derek Twigg.]

Adjourned accordingly at twenty-eight minutes past Four o'clock till Tuesday 21 January at twenty-five minutes past Nine o'clock.