Clause 17 - Speciality

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:25 am ar 14 Ionawr 2003.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr John Burnett Mr John Burnett Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, Torridge and West Devon 9:25, 14 Ionawr 2003

I join the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) in supporting amendments Nos. 95 and 94. I shall not dwell further on the Mahu case, or give another definition of what speciality involves, but that case

concerned an extremely important principle and an extremely important protection for individuals.

The provision proposes that extradition can be ordered with no obligation to inform the person or no positive obligation to give a person the opportunity to make representations. The procedure suggests an assumption that representations from one set of proceedings can be imported wholesale into new proceedings, and that a judge can safely make an order as if there were nothing further to add. The Liberal Democrats believe that the suspect must be informed, as the hon. Gentleman said, at every set of proceedings and be given an opportunity to address, or instruct a representative to address, the court on the matter before it.

On amendment No. 94, we have concerns, which the Law Society shares, that there can be charges in respect of offences that fall into this category without the protections contained in the extradition procedures. The community or financial penalty may be extremely burdensome.

I also wish to comment on taxation. The Inland Revenue does not have an enviable record of successful prosecutions, as the leading case of Inland Revenue Commissioners v. Dodd illustrates, but although it is always quite difficult to secure a successful prosecution for the Revenue, that does happen. One of the more nebulous of the 32 offences is swindling. Some countries, including, I believe, Spain, are not minded to extradite on the grounds of tax fraud. What discussions on tax fraud have taken place and with which countries, and what agreements or understandings are there?

Imposition may be a primary objective of the requesting state, so the procedure is open to abuse in the freezing of assets and the imposition of financial penalties. There is no mechanism or protection to guard against extradition only for proceedings in relation to extraneous considerations in clause 13. Unassociated proceedings may therefore last a considerable time and cause prolonged disruption to the suspect's life and career.

I look forward to the Minister's response.