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

All right; the hon. Gentleman can be Spanish. Let us suppose that the other side of the Committee is Spain. There is an ancient law on this side of the Committee, in Greece, that water should be served to Members gently carbonated. An ancient law in Spain provided that water should be served to members still. The principle of mutual recognition, which those hon. Members who have studied the European Community will know well, is that we will recognise their still water if they recognise our fizzy water. There should be free circulation of both types of water within the great area of this Committee Room. I hope that I am making myself clear.

That is the principle of mutual recognition established by Cassis de Dijon, the famous European court physician in 1971. It is an important law, but we cannot readily transpose that doctrine to the criminal justice system. Nor should we; it would be a manifest absurdity. The Minister wants us to accept that mutual recognition should mean our accepting the Spanish law on xenophobia, but he neglects the corollary, as it is generally understood in the European Union, which is the duty of the Spanish to recognise our law on xenophobia. If we say that something is not criminal, the Spanish should accept it, just as we have to accept it when Spain says that it is criminal. That produces a singularity and a contradiction. Both assertions cannot be simultaneously true. It cannot be true that mutual recognition requires criminality to exist in this country and in Spain at the same time. Mutual recognition cannot therefore be readily transposed to the criminal justice system.

Mutual recognition means that if there are two standards on the same question, both must be accepted—that if the German Government say that something is a vegetable and I say that it is chocolate, then we must both be right. That is the principle of mutual recognition. However, if someone says that something is criminal and I say that it is not criminal, we cannot both be right. It is not possible for both standards to operate throughout the territory of the EU. I hope that my purpose is clear.