Clause 193 - National security

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 21st January 2003.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 11:00 am, 21st January 2003

I am grateful that the Minister said that he will continue to consider the point, because I agree with what my hon. Friend just said and want to add one point. The Minister quoted an Act from 1998 in his first response. The Pinochet case post-dates that, and we should consider how the Bill works in relation to war crimes, which as my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon pointed out are widely defined. The way in which the Law Lords examined the international conventions has to bear on both the Bill's drafting and effects and how the 1998 Act was thought to protect people pre-Pinochet.

We know that the Government do not intend to weaken the protection, but they have included provisions that, as my hon. Friend noted, might cause a problem in the light of the Law Lords' wide interpretations in the Pinochet case. I am glad that the Minister has said that he will examine the point seriously, because we think that it is important. We are not suggesting that the Government intend to weaken the position, but that they might do so inadvertently unless the national interest safeguard with the Secretary of State's discretion is included in the Bill. Even if we might be wrong, the fact that we might be right is a good reason for including it for the avoidance of doubt. I hope that the Minister will consider that.