Clause 63 - Extradition offences: person not sentenced for offence

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:15 am ar 14 Ionawr 2003.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 11:15, 14 Ionawr 2003

First, I must place on the record that, from the start, we flagged up to the Opposition that the clause was fundamental, that they had fundamental objections to it, and that they could do whatever they wanted to do with the time allowed to the Committee. As late as last night, I pointed out to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath that we might have some difficulty in responding to objections to part 1. However, the Opposition had no desire to change the timetable for the Committee. We now have the clause, with which the Opposition fundamentally disagree, but I do not have the chance to reply. It is not the fault of the Government or the Government Whip. We warned against this happening and tried to ensure that it did not happen repeatedly.

We are content to apply the EAW to all serious crimes. Currently, that means crimes that attract a sentence of at least 12 months or more in prison. The level is high enough to preclude extradition where the effort and costs involved outweigh the interests of justice, but is low enough to catch relatively serious crime. It is worth pointing out that most of our EU partners have lower sentencing thresholds, so an offence that they consider falls within the one-to-three-year bracket will, in all probability, carry a maximum sentence of more than three years in the UK. To raise the threshold to three years, as the Liberal Democrats suggest, could prevent extradition for some offences where most people would believe it to be desirable. Let us be clear about what the amendments seek to do. They relate to cases where we do not intend to impose dual criminality as well as to the ones where we do. In those instances, too, the amendments seek to impose a three-year threshold in cases where we are quite prepared to extradite, as was the Conservative party throughout its period in government. In opposition, however, it is now saying that we should no longer be able to do so. That would be the effect of the amendments. They are not simply about the removal of dual criminality.

The Opposition's position is even more ludicrous on conviction cases. Let us assume that someone has been convicted and sentenced to two years—

It being twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock, The Chairman proceeded, pursuant to Sessional Order D [29 October 2002] and the Order of the Committee [7 January 2002], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 7.