HC Deb 09 April 1963 vol 675 cc1087-8
Q3. Mr. D. Smith

asked the Prime Minister if he will now make a statement about the future of Chief Enahoro, following the pledge given by him on behalf of Her Majesty's Government regarding the circumstances under which he would not be returned to Nigeria.

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend will no doubt now be willing to await the debate on this case which will be resumed tomorrow.

Mr. Smith

I appreciate the complexities and difficulties of this issue, but may I ask whether my right hon. Friend can confirm that the Home Secretary has absolute discretion in such cases? As the Fugitive Offenders Act is now admitted to be out of date, will my right hon. Friend encourage the Home Secretary to exercise that discretion humanely?

The Prime Minister

The Home Secretary has sole discretion and Ministerial responsibility. What the House has to debate is the circumstances in which he exercised that discretion. It would be better to debate the matter tomorrow.

Mr. Wade

As the Prime Minister gave a very far-reaching undertaking on 26th March, may I ask a question which may not be dealt with by the Attorney-General when he deals with the legal point? May we take it that the Prime Minister was laying down the general principle that when a Commonwealth citizen is genuinely seeking political asylum, the powers under the Fugitive Offenders Act to send him back to the place where he has been charged will not be used in any circumstances when the charge involves, or might involve, the death penalty?

The Prime Minister

I did not think that I said that and I will study in detail what I did say. This was dealing with a case in which there had arisen the possibility of the death penalty. The Nigerian Government had assured us that the charges did not involve that penalty. A legal question was raised and I dealt with that situation.