Clause 21 - Human rights

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:00 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 10:00, 14 Ionawr 2003

The clause is unambiguous that extradition cannot take place if it is incompatible with a fugitive's rights under the Human Rights Act. As the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon rightly said, we debated the issue on clause 13. Surely neither he nor I would want someone, whatever they are accused of, to be prevented from arguing that their extradition to a particular country would breach their human rights. Does the hon. Gentleman really want that? Surely what we both want to prevent is the possibility of doing so repeatedly for months, or sometimes years. The hon. Gentleman has referred to the relevant cases.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights believed that it was right to have clause 20 in the Bill. I have sometimes heard Opposition Members put the reverse argument to their current one in other Committees—I recall the Liberal Democrats in the Proceeds of Crime Bill—that specific reference to the Human Rights Act should appear in every piece of legislation before Parliament. We are burnt or scalded. If we build the provision into the Bill, we are asked why it is necessary, and if we do not, we are asked why not. It is unambiguously set out in the Bill that people should not be prevented from alleging that their human rights would be breached and that they could not secure a fair trial in another jurisdiction. That is fine by me. Extradition will be barred if they can convince the district judge that that will be the outcome. We are trying to prevent exactly the sort of situation about which the hon. Gentleman complains: that is, people being able judicially to review many of the stages of the extradition procedure and spin the proceedings out, in some cases for many a long year. That is one of the main things that we are trying to do.

The amendment has tickled several people with whom I have had dealings. On Second Reading on 9 December, the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) said that he believed that the adversarial system employed by the United Kingdom is far superior to the continental system of investigating magistrates. However, he tabled an amendment that states that the judge must decide

''on the evidence before him and on the evidence of his own personal knowledge or based on his own enquiries''.

Here we have a Conservative party, supported, less surprisingly, by the Liberal Democrats, trying to introduce the European investigative system of magistrates into British law.