Clause 13 - Extraneous considerations

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:00 pm ar 9 Ionawr 2003.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath 5:00, 9 Ionawr 2003

I approve of what my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon has said. He made his points far better than I could have done. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) raised the point on Second Reading that there is a mismatch between the framework directive, which includes the wide and undefined crime of ''xenophobia'', and clause 13, which sets out the political defence.

My right hon. Friend referred to suggestions made by some commentators that the British Government's bombing of Kosovo might have been against international law, and therefore that someone might at some stage accuse Ministers in the British Government of a xenophobic, or even racist, action. Our suggestion is that the Government may have been so concerned about the possibility of a judicial authority or junior magistrate in another country making the same sort of allegations against serving Ministers that were made against Senator Pinochet that they have included the political defence in clause 13.

However, there is a mismatch. As my hon. Friend said, serious offenders might slip through the loophole. Even someone who had committed a serious criminal offence such as a bank robbery could say that it was done to raise funds for a political cause. It opens up a loophole, but does not match what is in the framework directive, so it does

not make sense. The Minister should explain exactly how clause 13 links in with the section on xenophobia and racism in the framework directive and deal with the other valuable points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon.