HC Deb 30 May 1963 vol 678 cc1524-5
24. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in the consultations taking place about amendment of the Fugitive Offenders Act, 1881, in the light of its relationship to the future pattern of the Commonwealth; and if he will bring forward proposals to amend the Fugitive Offenders Act, 1881, so as to ensure that in future Commonwealth citizens will be in no worse position than aliens in respect of the right of political asylum in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Brooke

I am in consultation with my right hon. Friends on the future of this Act. I cannot anticipate the result of the review of the Act, in which other members of the Commonwealth are closely concerned also.

Mr. Swingler

Can the Home Secretary say that the Government, within a definite period, will bring forward an amendment to the Act whatever the results of the consultations? Was it not a fact that in our discussions over the case of Chief Enahoro practically everybody agreed on the necessity of reforming the Act? Is not the least that the Home Secretary can do to remove some of the discredit arising from the treatment of Chief Enahoro to speed up an amendment of the Act?

Mr. Brooke

While not accepting the implications at the end of that supplementary question, I can certainly say that the Government intend to carry out a review of this Act in conjunction with our partners in the Commonwealth. Quite obviously, I cannot anticipate what the result of that will be.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

Would my right hon. Friend agree that a solution of this problem would be assisted if it were found possible to institute a Commonwealth Court of Appeal to exercise on a wider and more comprehensive basis the jurisdiction traditionally associated with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council? Will my right hon. Friend make representation to his colleagues to initiate discussions with the Commonwealth in this regard?

Mr. Brooke

I will certainly take note of what my right hon. and learned Friend has said and bring it to the notice of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations.

Mr. Fletcher

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance, in view of his unhappy experience in the case of Chief Enahoro, that the Government will take the earliest possible steps to have the Fugitive Offenders Act amended?

Mr. Brooke

I will certainly give an assurance to the House that the Government are pressing forward with their review of this Act, but we cannot amend it unilaterally. We must do it in conjunction with our Commonwealth partners.

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