HC Deb 29 November 1989 vol 162 cc703-4
6. Mr. Stanbrook

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress achieved towards adopting a European Communitywide simplified system of extradition.

Mr. Maude

The recent agreement between EC member states has so far been signed by nine member states. United Kingdom implementation of this measure, which we support, will require some further revision of our extradition laws.

Mr. Stanbrook

In view of the need for harmonisation to meet the threat of international crime, including drug trafficking, does my hon. Friend agree that our extradition arrangements with the member states of the European Community are in a terrible mess? The Extradition Act 1989, which is a consolidation measure, does not include the Republic of Ireland or the Suppression of Terrorism Act 1978. That measure was supposed to provide for us to accede to the European convention on extradition, but progress has been slow. In fact, no real progress has been made. We are still negotiating an old-style treaty of extradition with Italy, and have been doing so for about 15 years. Is it not time that we got down to the problem, instituted a backing-of-warrants system applying to the entire Community, and trusted the judicial systems of our fellow member states to implement it?

Mr. Maude

My hon. Friend is a formidable expert on these matters but I think that useful progress has been made. It would have been unusual for a consolidation measure such as the Extradition Act 1989 to include substantive amendments to extradition law. We shall bring into force when we can the useful but relatively narrow changes that the recent agreement embodies.

Mr. Hood

Does the Minister know that last night five hon. Members were extradited from Downing street as a result of their protest about the visit of the South Korean president? Why are we condoning the presence of such cut-throats in the Chamber and in Downing street?

Mr. Maude

I can take no responsibility for the hon. Gentleman's behaviour last night.

Mr. Gale

Will my hon. Friend pay especial attention to the report of the Select Committee on Home Affairs on drug trafficking, when it is published? Does he recognise that an extradition treaty throughout the countries of the Council of Europe, as well as throughout the European Community, is vital if we are to win the war against drug trafficking?

Mr. Maude

It is essential that there should be good extradition arrangements which work in practical terms in an effective and expeditious way. These are essentially matters for my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, and I shall ensure that my hon. Friend's useful remarks are brought to his attention.

Mr. Mallon

Will the Minister give an assurance that in the event of a European extradition arrangement being adhered to by all countries, the British Government will not take the first opportunity to derogate from it as they have done on 37 occasions in relation to judgments of the European Court and European regulations?

Mr. Maude

The hon. Gentleman's point is not related to extradition treaties. It is important to make extradition work in a practical and effective way and we shall continue to work towards that end.

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