§ 3.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Paget
I beg to ask leave, Mr. Speaker, to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely,the proposed deportation of Chief Enahoro in breach of the undertaking given to this House by the Prime Minister on 26th March last.I am told that the intention is to deport Chief Enahoro tonight, so nothing could be more urgent than that.
In my submission, the question of public importance is well settled. This House has always considered the liberty and life of an individual as a matter of importance. When the Prime Minister's honour is concerned, and the reliance that can be placed upon his undertaking, the question of importance does not, I submit, require argument.
As for a third point, that where the matter has previously been discussed upon the Adjournment it cannot be discussed again, I would remind you, Mr. Speaker, that this case was first discussed in the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill and then on a substantive Motion, so that it has not been discussed upon the Adjournment and it does not fall within that rule.
The Prime Minister's undertaking is set out in the OFFICIAL REPORT on 27th March, and is in the following terms:The Chief will not be returned to Nigeria until there is a definite undertaking from the Nigerian Government that this charge, if it carries the death penalty, is withdrawn and that no other charge that could carry the death penalty is substituted, or until the interpretation placed on this point by the right hon. Gentleman is shown by lawyers to be incorrect. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th March, 1963; Vol. 674, c. 1286.]The important words are,that no other charge that could carry the death penalty is substituted.The Prime Minister returned to that point in the next debate, and said that it was unthinkable that such a charge could be preferred. Since then the Lord Chief Justice, in the Divisional Court, has 1328 decided—and this was also the view taken in another place this morning—that this case being dealt with not under the Extradition Act, but under the Fugitive Offenders Act, there was no restriction whatever upon the propriety of the Nigerian Government's preferring additional charges, including charges carrying the death penalty.
The Lord Chief Justice said:It was also said that there were affidavits on the way from Nigeria containing evidence to show that other charges"—which could carry the death penalty—would be preferred against the applicant and he asked for an adjournment so that he might prepare his arguments and have the further evidence before the Court. Before granting an adjournment, the Court had to know why it was needed and whether it would be of any avail. As far as this Court was concerned, the Nigerian Government were fully entitled to prefer what charges they liked. This was not a case under the Extradition Act, where the Court only granted extradition for the purposes of the charges actually preferred. The fact that in the present case other charges were being preferred could not affect the matter.That is the position as far as the courts are concerned. The undertaking given by the Prime Minister to the House is the vital question. I am informed that evidence is on the way from Nigeria—although, as to the undertaking, I do not know that it is necessary even to say this—that additional charges which do carry the death penalty are being preferred, and will be preferred on the Chief's return. In those circumstances, in my submission the undertaking is clear, the breach is clear, and it is also clear that under the Fugitive Offenders Act there is a continuing discretion, and that it is within the power of the Home Secretary either to deport or not to deport this man.
In my submission, therefore, this case falls within the rule.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House pursuant to Standing Order No. 9 for the purpose of considering a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely,the proposed deportation of Chief Enahoro in breach of an undertaking given to this House by the Prime Minister on 26th March last.To show how my mind is running, I wish to indicate that I am not for the 1329 moment concerned with the alleged undertaking, or with what its meaning is. I am concerned with the hon. and learned Member's assertion that he has information that it is the intention of the Nigerian Government to prefer charges which would carry the death penalty. I should give an opportunity to whatever Government representatives are present to express their views on that proposition, if any.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir John Hobson)
I have no information at all that there is any such intention on the part of the Nigerian Government to prefer any such charges. No such evidence has been drawn to the attention of myself or to the court in the very protracted proceedings that have taken place.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am greatly obliged to the hon. and learned Member. In the circumstances of the time permissible to me in this case, and in view of that which amounts to reasons clearly understandable, that the assertion of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton is not denied, I think that the right course is to ask whether the hon. and learned Member has the leave of the House.
§ The pleasure of the House having been signified, the Motion stood over, under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on definite matter of urgent public importance), until Seven o'clock this evening.