New Clause 4 - Compatability with Crime

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 21st January 2003.

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Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:45 pm, 21st January 2003

If the hon. Gentleman can expostulate on the centripetality of the issues, I can do what I like.

The Government have no plans to designate anyone other than a British law enforcement officer to execute warrants under the Bill. Arrests will be carried out

only by British police officers, by British law enforcement officers such as members of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, or by members of the services' police forces. My hon. Friends and I have made that clear repeatedly.

Unlike the corresponding powers enacted by the Conservative Government, we are giving Parliament the fullest possible say in the matter. No one other than a constable will be able to execute a European arrest warrant unless there has been a positive vote in both Houses of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman has no grounds for his suspicions.

Under clause 83 of the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 is amended with a new clause 76A. That new clause states:

''This section applies where—

(a) a foreign police or customs officer is carrying out relevant surveillance outside the UK which is lawful under the law of the country or territory in which it is being carried out;

(b) circumstances arise by virtue of which the surveillance can for the time being be carried out only in the United Kingdom; and

(c) it is not reasonably practicable in those circumstances to request a person in the United Kingdom to apply for an authorisation under Part 2, or the corresponding Scottish legislation, for the carrying out of surveillance.''

That is a clear statement, which concerns surveillance in very limited circumstances, and does not cover stop and search, seizure or arrest. The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends have tried repeatedly to raise a scare that this is the thin end of a wedge that will give powers to foreign police officers to operate within our country. All such powers, where they are sensible and operate at the margin, will be scrutinised by Parliament. If Parliament comes to the conclusion, in the case of the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill, that it is unreasonable to allow foreign surveillance to continue for a short period of time to affect a changeover, Parliament can strike that down. If Parliament chose to do that it would not have the support of the police, as they think these powers are eminently sensible and necessary. They enable them to pursue criminals who escape across jurisdictions and to co-operate with our European partners. They are limited powers. The Bill is before Parliament and available for scrutiny. Nothing has been hidden. The hon. Gentleman should not have suggested that it had.