Clause 193 - National security

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 21st January 2003.

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Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley North and Sefton East 10:15 am, 21st January 2003

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's point. I was merely saying that some cases—certainly the case that he cites—were never the subject of extradition applications because the whole process has taken place abroad. I am coming to his general point. The hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon made a similar point some sittings ago. I believe that Kevan Sloan is innocent, that he should never have been convicted, and that the legal proceedings on which he was convicted were flawed. To that extent, I go along entirely with the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon and others.

However, we live in the 21st century. I do not want to quote it at any length, but does anyone remember from O-level history the Don Pacifico case in which Palmerston, as Foreign Secretary, was involved? In those days, as an imperial power, if we did not like the legal proceedings in another country, we felt quite at liberty to exercise all our imperial might and to defend the rights of British citizens abroad, sometimes with gun boats. Even at the time of the Don Pacifico affair, other members of the Government of the day were a little unhappy about the lengths to which Palmerston went. Surely, hon. Members of today's official Opposition and Liberal Democrats are not arguing that it is up to us in every case to make judgments about the proper legal proceedings.

When the hon. Gentleman and I had an exchange a few sittings ago, I made the point that while we might not like the legal proceedings in another European country—Spain has been quoted repeatedly—we accept that if somebody has been tried and convicted, there is nothing that this country can do, apart from making representations through our consular services. I wish that we could do more in the case of Kevan Sloan. The hon. Gentleman accepted the point that, if somebody is apprehended, charged, tried and convicted, they should serve their sentence. That principle is correct, even if I do not like the legal system in another European country. Once one accepts that principle, one must therefore accept that there ought to be reasonable grounds on which extradition can take place. The arguments of Opposition Members seem to imply that, although they accept one principle, they refuse to accept the other.