Clause 53

Policing and Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee on 24th February 2009.

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Amendment proposed (this day): 253, in clause 53, page 65, line 27, at end insert

‘save that time during which the person was outside the United Kingdom shall be disregarded for the purposes of consideration for parole or early release in any event.’.—(James Brokenshire.)

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

I remind the Committee that with this amendment, we are considering amendment 254, in clause 54, page 66, line 32, at end insert

‘save that time during which the person was outside the United Kingdom shall be disregarded for the purposes of consideration for parole or early release in any event.’.

As my co-Chairman Hugh Bayley no doubt said to the Committee this morning, may I welcome you back from a short half-term recess? I spent most of the time in Namibia, which was previously German South-West Africa. It was a most enjoyable Commonwealth Parliamentary Association visit and I am reinvigorated to preside over the remaining stages—all except for one—of this Public Bill Committee. I hope that all members of the Committee had a very restful and enjoyable recess; I am sure that Ministers did and I express the same hope for members of the Opposition parties.

I gather that the Minister was responding to a debate on amendment 253 and, according to those who advise me, I believe that he was expressing the hope that the Opposition spokesman might consider withdrawing his amendment. Therefore, I ask the Minister of State, Vernon Coaker, to complete his remarks.

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Crime & Security)

I have some further information that may be of benefit to the hon. Members for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris) and for Hornchurch (James Brokenshire), in answer to the questions that they put earlier on our debate on amendment 253.

First, I want to thank the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon—no doubt, he will intervene if I do not fully answer the comments that he made—for highlighting the error in clause 48(6)(a), which refers to

“the Council Decision on the establishment, operation and use of the second generation Schengen Information System of 12 December 2006”.

We have looked into the issue and we will amend subsection 6(a), so that it refers to the Council Decision on the establishment, operation and use of the second generation Schengen information system of 12 June 2007. That change can be made by way of printing, so I am advised by parliamentary counsel that there is no need for an amendment.

At the end of the previous sitting, I was responding to the hon. Member for Hornchurch, who raised a particularly important point that we must clarify; I thank him again for the helpful points that he made. I was explaining that, where someone has been extradited to an EU member state before the end of their UK sentence, clause 53 makes it clear that time spent in custody overseas will only fall to be deducted from the relevant UK sentence where the person in question has been extradited to face trial and has then been acquitted of all charges.

However, where time falls to be deducted from a UK sentence, as the hon. Member for Hornchurch rightly pointed out, it is possible for someone who was extradited at a time when they were serving the custodial period of any sentence to return to the UK after the date on which they would ordinarily have been released on licence. The reassurance that I think the hon. Member for Hornchurch is seeking in tabling this amendment is that, where this situation arises, a person returning to the UK would not be automatically released into the community without proper consideration being given to the terms of their release. I am pleased to be able to reassure him that that certainly will not be the case. Proposed new section 59(6)(b), which would be inserted into the Extradition Act 2003 by clause 53, makes it clear that where a person who has been extradited while in custody returns to the UK and is entitled to be released on licence, they are

“liable to be detained...by a constable or immigration officer” so that they can then be formally released.

The purpose of this limited period of detention is to meet the need that the hon. Member for Hornchurch has flagged up; that is, to ensure that all the usual procedures that must be carefully followed before someone is released on licence are followed where a person who has been extradited returns to the UK. Crucially, that will allow the authorities to ensure that the conditions of the licence fit the offender and that all the relevant bodies charged with dealing with offenders after release are aware of the situation. While clause 53 would allow someone to be detained in order for them to be released on licence, detention would only be for as long as was strictly necessary in order for the person to be released.

That was raised by Liberty in the public evidence sessions, and I want to make it absolutely clear that the purpose of detention here is solely in order for the person to have their licence imposed or for them to be released. However, this is an important point and I will consider whether we need to do something further. Effectively, we are detaining someone who has come back and who, had they been serving their sentence in the UK, would already have been released on licence. Clearly, detaining someone in that situation meets the public policy need of ensuring that the conditions of a licence are put in place. There is an issue about making sure that any detention needed to fulfil those licence conditions is as short as possible. While that is implicit in the Bill, and I have made it explicit in my remarks in  Committee, the question is whether it should be explicit in the Bill. I think I need to reflect on that further as the Bill makes progress. I hope those remarks have helped the hon. Member for Hornchurch and that he will consider withdrawing his amendment.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

I thank the Minister for his helpful response. He has highlighted the application of new section 59(6)(b), and he has made some points which clarify and explain the intent behind that provision and how it interacts with other provisions, including the need to consider any public protection issues and whether a licence is appropriate, and the need to ensure that such periods of detention are expressly for that purpose.

That is an important clarification and I am grateful to the Minister for putting that on the record. Equally, it would be helpful to have some express clarification for a court or anyone else seeking to interpret the Bill, and I accept what he said about reflecting on that. We look forward to seeing what appears on Report. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Crime & Security)

I beg to move amendment 224, in clause 53, page 66, line 6, leave out ‘or section 28 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997’.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

With this it will be convenient to consider Government amendments 225 to 229.

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Crime & Security)

I shall be brief. Essentially, tackling international and transnational crime is a key priority for all of us. One consequence of the increasingly transnational nature of modern crime is that cases may arise in which an individual whose extradition is requested by one country is, as we have just discussed, serving a prison sentence or facing criminal proceedings in the country to which a request for extradition is made. Situations also arise where a country will only extradite its own national on the express undertaking of the UK that the person will be returned to serve any sentence imposed in the UK in the extraditing country.

Clauses 53, 54 and 55 set out an efficient and effective framework for dealing with cases of this kind. As the Committee will no doubt appreciate, it is vital that this framework is fully compliant with sentencing legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland. To achieve that, these six amendments introduce two minor changes which are replicated for each of the three clauses. That will ensure that the provisions are fully effective in both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Amendment 224 agreed to.

Amendment made: 225, in clause 53, page 66, line 11, at end insert—

‘(c) a duty to release the person under section 1, 1AA or 7(1) of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 or section 5, 11(2), 13, 19 or 23 of the Custodial Sentences and Weapons (Scotland) Act 2007, or

(d) a duty to release the person under section 1 of the Northern Ireland (Remission of Sentences‘) Act 1995, Article 26 of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 or Article 17 or 18(8) of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2008.’.—(Mr. Coaker.)

Clause 53, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.