Clause 193 - National security

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 21st January 2003.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Henley 10:30 am, 21st January 2003

I am grateful for the chance to speak in this debate and apologise for my earlier absence. I want to say how much I agree with

my hon. Friends the Members for Surrey Heath and for Stratford-on-Avon, as well as with the Liberal Democrats, on their lucid exposition of the differences between our judicial system and the Italian system. I plant my flag firmly on all the arguments about Pinochet and the risk to Ministers. I do not know why the hon. Member for Knowsley, North and Sefton, East (Mr. Howarth) underestimates the chances of the Minister acceding to some great office of state in which he might be vulnerable to future prosecution. After all, not only Pinochet but Ariel Sharon and many others have been sought by European magistrates.

All hon. Members on this side of the argument are making fundamentally the same point: the Bill raises difficult questions about what constitutes a crime in this country and abroad and makes conflicting assumptions about what constitutes a fair trial in this country and abroad, in category 1 countries. The Government's answer is that all the problems will be miraculously resolved by adopting the principle of mutual recognition. I want to mount a four-square attack on the use of that phrase in this context, because I do not believe that it can logically be applied to the criminal justice system, and I propose to explain why.

Let us suppose that this side of the Committee is Britain and the other side is Belgium or, as I do not want to be xenophobic, let us suppose that this side of the Committee is Greece and the other side is Germany.