Clause 201 - Commencement

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 21 January 2003.

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Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 2:45, 21 January 2003

That is helpful because the points made by the hon. Member for Surrey Heath will inevitably be raised on the debate on new clause 3. The matter raised by new clause 3 is of no small importance. I shall try to convince the Committee and the hon. Gentleman that it is not necessary to amend the Bill in this way. If he is going to go all the way in terms of retrospective application of the Bill to alleged criminal behaviour, I am not sure that he would want to make this amendment if he thought about it in detail.

New clause 3 would provide that the new powers under the Bill would apply only to conduct that takes place after Royal Assent. That might appear to make sense, but if it is followed through, the conclusion is far from logical. Let us say that a person commits a murder shortly before Royal Assent. Because the conduct occurred before the 2003 Act came into force, an extradition request for the offence could be made only under the former provisions. That might not be too bad if the request comes within a few months, but what if it comes five years from now, because the murder is only discovered five years from now? What about accusations of paedophilia, which by their nature are often made some years after the acts themselves?

If the new clause were accepted, the existing legislation would need to remain on the statute book in parallel with the new regime as long as it might be possible to extradite a person for an offence committed before Royal Assent. That could mean that we had two systems running in parallel for many years.