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 Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath 11:15, 14 Ionawr 2003

I will also be brief, because I want to give the Minister a chance to respond to the concerns that have been expressed, particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon.

As the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland said, our amendments go wider than his. We feel passionately that we should have the three-year protection that the framework decision sets out. The Minister says that previous UK law includes the 12-month limit, and we have debated the point before. However, this proposal is far reaching, which is why we strongly agree with the Home Affairs Committee. Given that the Committee is dominated by Government Members and chaired by a recent former Labour Minister, its attack on the Bill uses extraordinarily strong wording. Recommendation 51 says:

''We can see no justification for eroding the basic level of protection provided by the framework decision and we are dismayed that the Home Office is seeking to do so. We recommend that the three-year limit specified in the framework decision should be retained in UK domestic law.''

It cannot be put more baldly.

I also strongly agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon said about widening the Home Secretary's discretion. We should have parliamentary scrutiny of that discretion, but that will happen only if the Home Secretary, who is responsible to Parliament, has a wider discretion. As my hon. Friend said, we will return to that issue.

I sought to draft amendments to reflect exactly what the Home Affairs Committee says in its recommendation 51. However, my ingenuity was insufficient to table amendments that could be debated at this stage in our proceedings. I may try again to see whether we can probe the issue in a different way. We may have to debate it in another stand part debate. We strongly agree with the Select Committee that the Home Secretary, who is responsible to Parliament, should take a separate decision on whether to extradite in cases where the alleged offence is not a crime in the United Kingdom.

We have only a few minutes left to debate the clause on stand part, but I cannot stress too strongly how

unhappy we are that the list of 32 offences in the framework decision includes such vague offences. I repeat that it is entirely inappropriate for all these powers to apply to such a vague list of offences, some of which are not crimes in the UK. It is unacceptable, and we hope that the Government will reconsider them. They may be forced to reconsider in another place.