HC Deb 25 March 2003 vol 402 cc162-84

'After section 24 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (bail and bail conditions) insert— 24A Bail: extradition proceedings

  1. (1) In the application of the provisions of this Part by virtue of section 9(2) or 76(2) of the Extradition Act 2003 (judge's powers at extradition hearing), those provisions apply with the modifications that—
    1. (a) references to the prosecutor are to be read as references to a person acting on behalf of the territory to which extradition is sought;
    2. (b) the right of the Lord Advocate mentioned in section 24(2) of this Act applies to a person subject to extradition proceedings as it applies to a person charged with any crime or offence;
    3. (c) the following do not apply—
      1. (i) paragraph (b) of section 24(3); and
      2. (ii) subsection (3) of section 30; and
    4. (d) sections 28(1) and 33 apply to a person subject to extradition proceedings as they apply to an accused.
  2. (2) Section 32 of this Act applies in relation to a refusal of bail, the amount of bail or a decision to allow bail or ordain appearance in proceedings under this Part as the Part applies by virtue of the sections of that Act of 2003 mentioned in subsection (1) above.
  3. (3) The Scottish Ministers may, by order, for the purposes of section 9(2) or 76(2) of the Extradition Act 2003 make such amendments to this Part as they consider necessary or expedient.
  4. (4) The order making power in subsection (3) above shall be exercisable by statutory instrument subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of the Scottish Parliament.".'.
[Mr. Bob Ainsworth.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

12.43 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department(Mr. Bob Ainsworth)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Government new clause 12—Undertaking in relation to person serving sentence.

Government new clause 13—Extradition following deferral for competing claim.

Government new clause 14—Person charged with offence in United Kingdom.

Government new clause 15—Person serving sentence in United Kingdom.

Government new clause 17—Appeal against grant of bail.

Government new clause 18—Remand to local authority accommodation. Amendment No. 20, in clause 2, page 1, line 17, at end insert— '(c) The statement referred to in subsections (3) and (5) shall conform with the provisions of the model warrant annexed to the framework decision.'. Amendment No. 18, in page 2, line 6, at end insert— '(c) the terms "accused" in paragraph (a) above, and "for the purpose of being prosecuted for the offence" in paragraph (b) above, are understood to mean:

  1. (i) that sufficient evidence has already been gathered to bring a prosecution and to commit to trial the person in respect of whom the warrant is issued; and
  2. (ii) the extradition sought by the requesting state must be only for the purpose of putting the person on trial, and not: for the purpose of interrogation or evidence gathering; and
  3. (iii) that if, after the extradition has been granted, it emerges that the requesting country. in the opinion of the judge granting the extradition, has not fulfilled these conditions, the person shall be returned to the United Kingdom, upon an order from the appropriate judge.'.
Government amendments Nos. 35 to 37, 43 and 44.

Amendment No. 4, in page 18, line 30, leave out clause 39.

Government amendment No. 50.

Amendment No. 92, in clause 65, page 33, line 44, at end insert— ', as provided for in section 2(7)'. Government amendments Nos. 53 to 56, 59, 32, 62, 33, 63 and 65.

Amendment No. 93, in clause 83, page 42, leave out lines 9 to 11.

Government amendment No. 66.

Amendment No. 94, in clause 85, page 43, leave out lines 16 to 18.

Government amendments Nos. 14, 67 to 73, 6, 76, 77, 11 to 13, 83, 84 and 87.

Mr. Ainsworth

This is a large group of new clauses and amendments. I shall begin with new clauses 10, 17 and 18 and amendments Nos. 32, 33, 83, 84 and 87, which are concerned with bail provisions in extradition proceedings, especially the right of the requesting state to appeal against bail granted to a fugitive.

New clause 18 covers the position of juveniles who are subject to an extradition request. New clause 10 and amendments Nos. 32, 33 and 84 take account of the slightly different bail rules that apply in Scotland.

During extradition proceedings, the fugitive can either be held on remand or granted bail, at the discretion of the judge. For the first time, we are creating a presumption in favour of bail in ex tradition cases. The fugitive will have the right of appeal against a decision to remand him. However, as currently drafted, the Bill does not provide a similar right to the requesting state to appeal against a decision to grant bail, even though the prosecution has that right in normal domestic cases. We believe that it would be desirable to keep extradition bail law as closely as possible in line with normal bail provisions, so we want to rectify that omission, which is what this set of amendments will do.

I shall try to be brief. This is a very extensive group of amendments, and I do not want to waste the House's time on the relatively non-controversial or technical amendments, so I shall try to move as quickly as I can through my speaking notes to allow the maximum time to consider those issues of substance that remain to be discussed.

On Government amendments Nos. 32 and 33, the police in Scotland, unlike in England and Wales, have no power to grant bail. However, the Lord Advocate has the power to grant bail to any person charged with any crime or offence. Proposed new section 24A(1)(b) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 will make it clear that the Lord Advocate should mirror the provisions in relation to a person subject to extradition proceedings that apply in England and Wales. Government amendment No. 84 is purely a drafting change that makes no difference of substance.

Government new clauses 12 and 13 are purely technical. The Bill contains provisions that will allow us to seek undertakings when we send a serving prisoner abroad to stand trial. The Bill also covers situations where extradition is halted while a competing claim is considered, but a decision is taken to proceed with the original request. Both those provisions need to be slightly modified in cases where the fugitive consents to extradition, and those new clauses will achieve that.

Government new clauses 14 and 15 deal with the situation where a person who is subject to an extradition request in the United Kingdom is charged with an offence in the UK or is serving a sentence of detention here. As currently drafted, part 1 will require a judge to adjourn the extradition if at any time he is informed that the fugitive has been charged with a domestic UK offence. Similarly, if a person is serving a sentence of detention in the UK, the judge has the power to adjourn until such time as the sentence has been served.

However, under part 2, in the same circumstances and even though the judge is fully aware of the charge or the sentence, he must allow the case to run its full course and then refer it to the Secretary of State. Under part 2, the power to adjourn proceedings rests with the Secretary of State and can be exercised only when the case has reached him. Government new clauses 14 and 15 are necessary to bring part 2 into line with part 1, to ensure that we have a standard approach, so that such part 2 extradition cases can be adjourned, thus not wasting the court's time or the taxpayer's money.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

With reference to Government new clause 14(4) and the exercise of judicial power, is there an entitlement to appeal?

Mr. Ainsworth

There is entitlement to appeal against all decisions taken under part 1 and part 2. However, in part 1 countries—our European Union partners under the European arrest warrant procedures—a strict time limit is applied to how long can be taken to deal with those appeals. We are attempting to introduce a streamlined extradition system—particularly streamlined in relation to our EU partners—and to prevent to the maximum possible degree the lengthy proceedings that take place under our current, totally unacceptable extradition arrangements. That is the purpose of new clauses 14 and 15: to bring part 2 into line with part 1, so that the cases can be adjourned, and so that there is not the unnecessary requirement to continue to the end knowing that the proceedings will have to be stopped in the final analysis.

Having looked at the new clauses and some of the associated amendments in this group, I shall now deal with amendments Nos. 20 and 18, tabled by Conservative Members, which refer to clause 2. I do not believe that there is much difference between the Government's position and that of the Opposition. That was reflected in the constructive discussion that we had on these issues in Committee. I said that I would go away and consider some of the points raised in Committee, and having done so, I am pleased to have the opportunity to set out the conclusions that we have reached.

With regard to accusation cases, both sides of the House are agreed that extradition should only be possible for the purpose of putting a person on trial. It should not be possible for the purpose of interrogation or for the purposes of evidence gathering. Similarly, in conviction cases, the purpose of extradition should be that a person serves the sentence that has been imposed, or, if he has escaped before the sentencing process, that he can be sentenced. If Opposition Members examine the Bill, they will see that it already achieves that. A part 1 warrant is an arrest warrant that contains two key elements: the statement and the information. The contents of the statement and the information vary slightly depending on whether it is an accusation or conviction case. The information includes such details as the particulars of the person's identity or any other warrant, the circumstances of the offence, the particulars of the sentence that would be available to the court, or, in a conviction case, the sentence that has already been imposed.

Of more importance for present purposes, however, is what is contained in the statement. If hon. Members look at clause 2(3), they will see that what is required, first, with conviction cases, is that not only must a person be accused of an offence in a requesting state, but the warrant must have been issued with a view to his arrest and extradition to the category 1 territory for the purpose of being prosecuted for the offence. That is unambiguous language: it is not about interrogation, and it does not allow extradition for the purpose of evidence gathering or fishing expeditions; it is about putting a person on trial. No other meaning can be attached to those words.

I know that that position is supported by the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maples), who said in Committee: I would be happy to use the words in the framework document, which are 'for the purpose of conducting a criminal prosecution'."—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 9 January 2003; c. 53.] I would suggest that the words,

for the purpose of being prosecuted for the offence are significantly close to for the purpose of conducting a criminal prosecution". The amendment would make absolutely no difference.

Similarly, in conviction cases, the Bill provides that the statement must say that the warrant is issued with a view to his arrest and extradition to the category 1 territory for the purpose of being sentenced for the offence or of serving a sentence of imprisonment or another form of detention imposed in respect of the offence. Again, the position is unambiguous: if the statement does not contain the relevant information, the UK designated authority will be unable to certify it, and no further action could be taken on the extradition request.

Having set out why I believe that the Bill in its present form achieves what we want, I shall say a few words about the Opposition amendments.

Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North and Sefton, East)

Having checked clause 2(3), I can see that it is in fairly unambiguous language. I wonder whether my hon. Friend could clarify one matter. In some systems, for example in Spain and Italy, where there are investigating magistrates, the process between arrest, investigation and standing trial is not as clear as in our system. How would the provision apply in those circumstances?

Mr. Ainsworth

We already extradite people, and have done so for a long tame, to those jurisdictions. We do so for the purposes of their being put on trial. and not for the purposes of investigation taking place. A clear statement will be required in the warrant, the exact wording of which I have just read out, and the judicial authority that makes that request will have had to sign up to that statement. The National Criminal Intelligence Service, which will be the designated authority that will look at those incoming requests, will examine that statement, and if it is not in compliance with that requirement, it will say so, and will effectively stop the extradition proceedings before they even commence. We have a record in this area: although there are many other problems in relation to extradition, I have yet to hear of a situation in which the arrangements for requests from states that are our regular extradition partners have caused problems in the past, and I do not expect the system to change or problems to be caused in the future.

Having said what the Bill clearly requires and prevents, let me turn to amendment No. 20, which requires that any warrant should conform to the model warrant attached to the framework decision. The simple point to make is that that will happen already. The requirements of the Bill mean that all the information included in the model warrant has to be supplied if extradition is to take place.

I consider amendment No. 18 unnecessary, but we should not let it pass without comment. It states that if a court abroad has not acted in accordance with the wishes of a British judge, a fugitive held abroad shall be released and returned to Britain on the order of a British judge. I do not know whether Conservative Members can imagine that operating in reverse, and how we would we feel about a German or French judge being able to order the release of somebody who was in front of a court in the UK. I find it astonishing: it harks back to empire days when we sent a gunboat round to ensure that people did things in the British way. I am not sure that it is in any way workable, and it is certainly not needed. In the light of that explanation of how the Bill will work with its current wording, I ask Conservative Members not to press the amendments to a Division.

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I trust that all hon. Members will welcome Government amendments Nos. 35 to 37. They should be appreciated by Conservative and Liberal Democrat Members because they respond to a point raised by representatives of both parties in Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) and other members of the Select Committee on Home Affairs should also welcome them because they raised the same concern. The amendments will make a European arrest warrant acceptable only if it is issued by a judicial authority in a requesting state. If the warrant came from any other source, the UK designated authority would be unable to certify it and no further action could be taken on it. The stipulation that the warrant must be issued by a judicial authority is already in the framework document, so the amendments will make little difference in practice. Nevertheless, we thought it right to respond to the wishes of those who raised the issue and to make the guarantee explicit in the Bill.

Government amendment No. 37 will create a power to disapply the judicial requirement in respect of requests from certain countries that were issued before January 2004, which is when the European arrest warrant regime is due to come into effect. It is a transitional measure to enable the UK to deal with requests that are already on the Schengen information system when the UK becomes a party to the system in 2004. Pre-existing requests require a judicial authority to issue a domestic arrest warrant and a judge's permission would normally be required before requests were placed on the Schengen information system. However, some countries might put information on the system at the instigation of a police officer. In such circumstances, a person for whom extradition is sought may try to delay proceedings by claiming that the request did not come from a judicial authority. Given that a judicial authority must have backed the warrant in the first place, such arguments may well not succeed but we want to pre-empt attempts to delay and frustrate the extradition process. The problem will not arise after countries begin to operate a system of European arrest warrants, so we require only a limited short-term measure.

Government amendments Nos. 43 and 63 respond to a concern raised in Committee. A person's identity is an important aspect of the extradition process and no hon. Member would want the Bill to allow the extradition of a person other than a person for whom extradition was sought. The Bill provides that, at the initial hearing that is held almost immediately after a person is arrested, the judge must decide whether the person before him is the person for whom the extradition request has been made. That process is not to determine whether extradition should occur and still less about determining whether a person is guilty of the crime for which his extradition is sought, but to ensure that the right person has been caught.

The question of identity might be disputed in several cases. The Bill's current drafting requires the judge at the initial hearing to be satisfied that the person in court is the person for whom the warrant was issued. If the judge is not satisfied of that, the person must be discharged. It was suggested in Committee that the Bill should specify the standard of proof that would be required to determine that. That is a sensible suggestion and the amendments introduce the civil test of the balance of probabilities.

There are several reasons why we opted for the civil test rather than the criminal test. Extradition is not a prosecution and thus there is no need to apply the criminal test slavishly. However, it is an important fact that people who are subject to extradition requests are usually serious criminals, including terrorists, and such people are often adept at making their identity ambiguous or having multiple identities. If we had decided to use the criminal standard of proof beyond all reasonable doubt, we might be unable to be certain of people's identity, which would allow them to walk free irrespective of the seriousness of the crime of which they were accused. The civil test, which is regularly used in, and understood by, British courts, is an appropriate way to ensure that a judge may reach a reasonable decision about a person's identity.

Government amendments Nos. 44, 59 and 62 relate to an issue that was discussed at length in Committee. They will require the judge at the initial hearing to make the requested person aware of the contents of the warrant for arrest and extradition. The fugitive will already be aware of the contents of the warrant in the vast majority of cases because the police will generally show such people the contents of the warrant at the time of arrest or shortly after. In addition, the amendments will allow a fugitive or his legal representative to demand to see the warrant at any time. The new provisions make little difference in practice, but we hope that they represent a useful additional safeguard and that Opposition Members will welcome them.

Amendment No. 4 has been tabled by the Conservative party, and we have tried long and hard to work out its rationale. Clause 39 provides that no person who has claimed asylum shall be extradited until a decision has been reached on that claim. The Government are all too aware that the asylum system has been subject to abuse and has been used to delay and frustrate the extradition process. That is why we included provisions to address that difficult situation and spurious asylum claims and appeals. If it is considered that an asylum claim is clearly unfounded, it can be certified as such by the Secretary of State when he refuses the claim. That certificate will mean that a person will be able to appeal against the asylum refusal only after extradition. The amendment would delete the entire clause and undo our attempt to provide a solution to such potential abuse.

I hope that the Opposition will welcome Government amendments Nos. 50 and 67 to 69. The right to representation at a trial and the right to legal aid remain the cornerstones of our judicial system. We tabled the amendments to ensure that the right to legal aid that is enshrined in the Access to Justice Act 1999 applies to the issue of consenting to extradition. They provide that, before a judge accepts a fugitive's consent to extradition, he must check that that person had the opportunity to receive independent legal advice. In some cases, the fugitive would have declined to apply for legal aid after he had been advised that he was entitled to it. The underlying principle is that nobody should consent to extradition unless the opportunity for legal advice has been made available to them.

Although amendment No. 92 is well intentioned, it is not needed and does not add anything to the safeguards in the Bill. Under clause 2, the UK's designated authority—which will be the National Criminal Intelligence Service or the Crown Office in Scotland—can certify an incoming European arrest warrant only if it believes that the request has come from an appropriate judicial authority. Clauses 63 to 65 deal with what constitutes an extradition offence in order for the dual criminality requirement not to apply. I cannot therefore see what purpose would be served by trying to link clauses 2 and 65, as the amendment would. The definition is already identical, so the point is fully covered.

Government amendments Nos. 53 to 56 and 70 to 73 are purely drafting amendments. Unless somebody insists that I go into them, I shall not detain the House.

I turn to amendments Nos. 93 and 94 and Government amendments Nos. 65 and 66, which were tabled in response to concerns that have been raised. I hope that the House agrees that the Government amendments are a constructive answer. Requests from part 2 countries will often need to be accompanied by prima facie evidence. The amendments are concerned with the provisions that allow for documentary or summary evidence to be admitted in court. At present, evidence in those forms is not generally admissible. That might mean that we have to require, for example, a foreign witness to give evidence in person rather than accepting a police officer's account of what the witness had told him. That is particularly wasteful and cumbersome in cases where evidence is uncontested. Accordingly, the Bill provides for hearsay evidence to be admitted.

There were concerns raised in Committee surrounding a case where the judge did not have the discretion to refuse to accept documentary or summary evidence if he had reason to believe that the evidence was faulty or flawed. We have listened to those arguments and given the district judge much greater discretion not to accept such evidence if he so chooses. I should add the reassurance that the Bill does not oblige the person whose extradition is sought to give evidence in summary; nor will it prevent the person from challenging any evidence that is given in summary or on behalf of the requesting state. I know that that was a particular concern of my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, North (Mr. Hughes). I hope that it is clear that those circumstances do not apply. There is no way that the defendant in such cases will be prevented from giving evidence in person.

Government amendments Nos. 14 and 6 clarify the role of Scottish Ministers to order the extradition or discharge of a person arrested under part 2. Amendment No. 6 makes it clear that Scottish Ministers will be able to make a deferral order only when they are considering competing requests.

The House may know that the Bill deals with a situation where two or more competing requests are received in respect of the same person. It provides that proceedings are deferred until a decision is taken on which should be given priority. It also provides for matters to be picked up again once that decision has been taken. Government amendments Nos. 76, 77 and 11 rectify an omission by specifying the appropriate judge in the deferred case.

1.15 pm

Government amendments Nos. 12 and 13 are purely

technical adaptations that are required for the Scottish jurisdiction. Amendment No. 12 makes it clear that all the rules of court to be made under this legislation will be made by act of adjournal in Scotland. Amendment No. 13 reflects the different terminology used in Scotland, where appeals are "abandoned" rather than "discontinued".

I am sorry that this has taken so long, but the group of amendments is extensive. I commend the Government amendments to the House and ask the Opposition to consider withdrawing amendments Nos. 20, 18, 4, 92, 93 and 94.

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath)

As the Minister has said, this is a detailed group of amendments. We on the Front Benches hope that our colleagues will bear with us as we wrestle with the complexities and technicalities of extradition law and procedure.

I should stress at the outset that we welcome some of the provisions in the Bill. They are a welcome improvement and will help our police to extradite back to the United Kingdom people who are wanted here for serious offences. We welcome the fact that not only in this group of amendments but in subsequent ones, the Government have made several concessions in response to points that we made in Committee. However, they have not addressed all our concerns—not least the very big issue, as the Minister is well aware, of the European arrest warrant and the consequences of it. The Government have signed up to offences in the framework decision list, many of which are vague and some of which are not offences in UK law. There is a danger that British subjects will be shipped abroad without a British court being able to analyse or challenge the basis of a warrant issued by a foreign court.

We repeatedly raised in Committee the example of the British plane spotters in the Kalamata court in Greece. That was a dire warning, which we discussed extensively. Since proceedings in Committee were concluded, we have had a further dire warning of the risk to UK citizens as a result of paperwork sent from one country to another demanding someone's arrest. The British pensioner Derek Bond was held for weeks in South Africa because the American authorities mistakenly thought that he was a wanted man. We shall deal later with the detail of why we feel that the draconian powers in part 1 should apply only to terrorist offences, as my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) said on Second Reading.

We welcome Government new clauses 10, 17 and 18 and Government amendments Nos. 32, 33. 83, 84 and 87. They are a response by the Government to concerns we raised in Committee. A foreign requesting country will now have the right to appeal against the granting of bail. I raised in Committee and on other occasions the fact that bail is too readily available in a wide variety of criminal proceedings in such courts. In UK courts, the granting of bail certainly ought to be reviewable in extradition cases, so we welcome what the Government have done.

Government new clause 18 deals with juveniles going to local authority secure accommodation if they are not granted bail. Related amendments, as the Minister said, deal with the slightly different bail arrangements in Scotland. We accept entirely that the Government are once again responding to concerns that we and others have raised. However, in passing, will the Minister note that we still have great concerns about the limited quantity and poor quality of local authority secure accommodation? There may be relatively few cases in which that will be needed in an extradition context, but we will no doubt return to the issue in other legislation and other debates.

Government new clauses 12 and 13 are technical, as the Minister said, and we are happy to accept what the Government are suggesting. Government new clauses 14 and 15 address a mismatch between part 2 and part 1. It is good that the Government now accept that part 2 proceedings should be brought into line with part 1 on the issue of adjournment if a judge is informed that the fugitive has been charged with a UK offence or is a serving UK prisoner. We appreciate the need for consistency, but given the Secretary of State's recent mauling on many issues at the hands of British judges, it is perhaps a little surprising that he is abandoning his decision-making power and giving it back to the judges.

Our amendments Nos. 20 and 18 go together to some extent. We intend to ask the House to divide on amendment No. 20, although I am advised by the expert Clerks that the vote will not take place at the end of the debate on this group of amendments, but later in our proceedings. We have made it clear that we are not comfortable with the concept of the European arrest warrant. We said in Committee that legislation introduced in the House should be honest and complete, and that all UK citizens should be able to see clearly what they are being made subject to by the Government. As a result, the proposed warrant ought to be included in the Bill—that is what our amendment No. 20 seeks to do, and we see no good reason why the wording of the warrant should not be included in the legislation. That must help honesty, clarity and—a word Ministers are fond of—transparency.

If time had permitted, we might have sought a vote on amendment No. 18, but we do not want to detain the House in too many Divisions this afternoon and this evening. It may well be that the matter is revisited in another place, but the amendment expresses our concern that the Bill threatens the freedom of all UK citizens. Our concerns are widely shared across the political spectrum by organisations like Justice and Liberty, traditionally perceived as being on the left, and the Democracy Movement and the Freedom Association, traditionally thought of as on the right. Once again, I urge the Government to think about exactly what they are doing.

I know that it would be embarrassing for the Government to do that because they have already signed up to the framework decision, but in the Labour-dominated Select Committee on Home Affairs many concerns were expressed about the way in which justice systems operate, not only in current EU countries such as Italy, Spain and Greece, but—this was raised in particular by my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maples), a distinguished former shadow Foreign Secretary and shadow Defence Secretary—in future EU countries such as, perhaps, Turkey and ex-Warsaw pact countries. Distinguished jurists such as

Leo Price QC and Torquil Dick Ericson have written extensively about those concerns, as have many specialist extradition lawyers practising in the UK who deal with the sharp end of extradition cases. We referred to a number of those concerns in Committee. We need the protections that we are suggesting, and I stress again that we will not withdraw amendment No. 20, but will press it to a Division.

Mr. George Howarth

The hon. Gentleman said that he wants to include the European arrest warrant in the Bill, and that that is the purpose of amendment No. 20 in particular. However, does he accept that clause 2(3)(b) states that the Part 1 warrant is issued with a view to his arrest and extradition to the category 1 territory for the purpose of being prosecuted for the offence"? The key word is "prosecuted". In view of that and the assurance that my hon. Friend the Minister gave me, does the hon. Gentleman not think that his concern has been covered?

Mr. Hawkins

I do not accept that. Almost exactly the same words as those that the hon. Gentleman has just read out were used by the Minister in a letter to me about the issues that we raised in Committee. We feel that it would be much better and clearer if the specific wording that we suggest were included in the Bill.

Government amendments Nos. 35 and 36, as the Minister said, represent a significant concession made in response to concerns that we have raised, along with members of his own party and the Home Affairs Committee. We stressed that any warrants should be issued only by judicial authorities overseas. We are rather concerned that in Government amendment No. 37, the Government want a transitional right to disapply the concession if a country has already used the so-called Schengen information system for requests before 1 January 2004. We are not comfortable with the disapplication—the restriction to a judicial authority should apply to all requests whenever they are made. We do not have much faith in bureaucratic European administrative systems of justice, about which we have expressed concerns before. I do not want to be churlish—we recognise that the main thrust of the Government amendments is to make a concession in response to concerns expressed by the Home Affairs Committee and us—but there is an element of giving with one hand then snatching a little bit back with the other.

Government amendment No. 43 and the linked Government amendment No. 63 deal with the need to define the standard of proof to be used when determining the fugitive's identity at the initial hearing. I understand from a letter that the Minister wrote to me that there was particular concern following the tragic and appalling murder of Detective Constable Oake in Manchester. When the defendant appeared in court, the Crown Prosecution Service said that it could not be certain that the information that it had on the defendant's identity was correct. In the light of that tragic and appalling case, which once again demonstrated how much we owe to the brave police officers who are dealing with those matters at the sharp end, we have to bear in mind the standard of proof used to determine identity. The Government have chosen the civil balance of probabilities test. There was quite a bit of discussion about what was the appropriate test in Committee, and we accept the Government's concern about terrorists and other serious criminals who may seek actively to destroy any documents from which they could be identified. However, we also need to look at the case of the blameless British pensioner Derek Bond, who was arrested in South Africa on the request of the FBI. What would a balance of probabilities test of identity have led to if a European requesting state were using a European arrest warrant to arrest somebody?

Mr. Bercow

I am not a lawyer—I say that as a matter of pride, although I have never held it against my hon. Friend that he is. With reference to the extensive and as yet unamended scope of the European arrest warrant, what assessment has he made of the compatibility of the Government's intended policy with the content of the subsidiarity and proportionality protocol of the treaty of Amsterdam?

Mr. Hawkins

We have many concerns about the European arrest warrant. We do not think that it is proportional, and the Government were wrong to sign up to the framework decision before these matters were debated in Parliament. My hon. Friend is therefore on to something. However, we have to recognise—I hope that the Minister will bear this serious point in mind—that when talking about what should be the appropriate standard of proof we are talking about the lesser of two evils. I am sure that in another place those who are very learned in the law will return to this point, but I accept the choice that the Government made for the reasons set out by the Minister today, in Committee and in correspondence. However, he, in turn, will accept that this is a serious matter and that there can be two different views on which is the lesser of two evils. I therefore hope that he and those who work with him will keep that under review when the Bill goes to another place.

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Government amendments Nos. 42, 59 and 62, which are linked, represent a welcome concession to a point that we raised in Committee—it was also raised by the Select Committee on Home Affairs—that the district judge should ensure that the person arrested is shown the warrant that is the basis for that person's arrest.

Amendment No. 4 seeks to leave out clause 39. I stress to the Minister, who was expressing some puzzlement about where we were coming from, that we wanted to probe to ensure that we would be able on Report to examine the problem of someone who may claim to be seeking asylum. The Minister has said that he wants there to be a fall-back position where the Secretary of State can say, "This is clearly a bogus claim." We were saying that always, in every case, the matter of whether someone should be extradited—we are talking in many cases about potential terrorists and serious criminals—should be gone through first, and that no delays should be injected into the system by way of somebody submitting an asylum case.

Colleagues who served in Committee, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon, were extremely concerned about the delays that the pre- existing system has injected. We know that one of the ways in which so many people who might properly be extradited have delayed the process in the past has been by claiming asylum. I see the Minister nodding his assent to that. That is what we were getting at. I hope that the Minister will keep this serious issue under review. All Members of all parties in the House know that there is great concern throughout the United Kingdom about bogus asylum seekers and about the number who disappear into the black economy, where the Government have no way of finding them, or deporting those who may be a threat to our security and have no right to be here.

We do not want another category being created of those who should be deported because they should be extradited to face charges elsewhere delaying matters by claiming asylum. The misuse of our legal system by a man called Rachid Ramda was referred to extensively by my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon. The French authorities wanted him extradited from the UK to face very serious charges to do with the bombing of the Paris metro. I have heard what the Minister has said, but I hope in responding to the debate he will confirm that he and those who advise him will keep this serious matter under review.

I hope that by tabling the amendment we will avoid the tendency of the Minister, the Home Secretary and, indeed, the Prime Minister to misdescribe the Opposition's position, wrongly accusing us of being soft or stopping the Government being tough when we have raised concerns about their legislation. It is clear that we are trying to persuade the Government to toughen up their proposals and to close loopholes. We hope that they will understand our point of view and where we are coming from, and will not seek to misrepresent our position in future debates or in another place.

Government amendments Nos. 50, 67 and 69, which are linked, are welcome concessions to points that we raised in Committee. It is vital that a person considering giving consent to extradition must have had an opportunity to obtain independent legal advice first before consenting. The Minister says that he has thought about that and is prepared to accept that we were correct on that matter in Committee. I am glad that the Government have listened to us and to concerns expressed from many other sources and have made the concessions.

Amendment No. 92 has been tabled by the Liberal Democrats. I agree with the Minister that it is perhaps a minor matter that does not add very much, but no doubt the Liberal Democrats will speak to their amendment.

Government amendments Nos. 53 to 56 and 70 to 73, which are linked, bring terminology in line with the Courts Bill. The Minister said that he would not spend much time on these amendments unless someone asked him to do so. However, when he responds to the debate, I would ask him to cover one particular point. The Courts Bill, of course, is not yet law. It has had what I think could accurately be described as a rocky passage in another place. I suspect that that passage will continue when the proposed legislation comes to this place. More and more Labour Back-Bench Members have been lobbied—I watched that happen as recently as last week—by angry lay magistrates, who are furious at the Government's broken promises over the Courts Bill.

I hope that the Government realise that they should not assume in trying to amend this Bill to fit in with the Courts Bill that the Courts Bill will get through Parliament in its current form. We drew attention in Committee to the Government's lack of joined-up government—a phrase that they often use—with yet another measure in their huge raft of Home Office Bills, which is the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill, which has also begun its passage in another place. We sought to put a line in that Bill and also in the Bill that is before us to suggest that the two measures needed to be co-ordinated. The Government resisted that approach in Committee and the issue was not selected for debate today. I hope that the Government, having said that the Bill needs to fit in with the Courts Bill, will not forget the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill.

Government amendments Nos. 65 and 66 are, again, a Government concession, dealing with evidence in summary form. They seek to deal with concerns that we and the Home Affairs Committee expressed. The Government are removing "must" in clause 83 and replacing it with "may", to make it clear that a judge does not have to accept evidence where the provenance or credibility of that evidence is in doubt. We welcome that concession to the important points that we made in Committee.

Liberal Democrat amendments Nos. 93 and 94 are on the same point. They seek to delete parts of clauses 83 and 85, and also go to the issue of "must".

Government amendments Nos. 14 and 6, which are linked, are technical Scottish amendments. They make it clear that Scottish Ministers exercise functions only when the fugitive is in Scotland.

Government amendments Nos. 76, 77 and 11 are technical amendments that relate to who the appropriate judge is when a case is deferred after a competing request has been submitted. We have no problem with that.

Government amendments Nos. 12 and 13 deal with Scottish legal terminology. I remember the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael) telling us in Committee about acts of adjournal, and about appeals being abandoned, not discontinued, in Scotland. We are glad that the Government have listened to Scots lawyers on these points. There are further Scottish issues that we will come to when dealing with another group of amendments. Having put forward the amendments on which we feel strongly, that is all that I need to say about this group of amendments.

Mr. John Burnett (Torridge and West Devon)

As a lead into this group of amendments, we have always accepted for category 1 countries mutual recognition. We understand that. However, we do not believe that there should be mutual recognition without safeguards. It is imperative that there are safeguards.

I welcome some of the amendments that the Government have introduced, which have been referred to by both the Minister and the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins), which contain safeguards in relation to matters that especially concerned us. I refer particularly to specialty, and the new clause that relates to the death penalty. No country that still imposes the death penalty should be within category 1. That is clear from the Government's amendment.

I am glad that the Government have decided to make the appropriate Scottish amendments following the arguments that were advanced in Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael).

We had a great deal of help from the Select Committee on Home Affairs during consideration of the Bill in Committee. The Minister has made a number of concessions in relation to matters that were raised not only by the Home Affairs Committee but also by the Standing Committee. The Minister has said that he has made it clear that there was no intention to designate anyone other than United Kingdom enforcement personnel as an "appropriate person", and we welcome the clauses that make it clear that only constables, officers of Customs and Excise and armed forces police officers will be able to execute the European arrest warrant.

There were further important discussions on judicial authority and its definition. Government amendments Nos. 35 to 37 make it clear that the warrant will be acceptable only if it has been issued by judicial authority. The hon. Member for Surrey Heath mentioned his concerns about the transitional provisions, which I share. In the other place, there will be opportunities for further probing and discussion of those arrangements. Our amendments seek to tighten up the procedure, and I shall advert to them shortly.

In particular, I am pleased in connection with the definition of the standard proof in determining a fugitive's identity. That will also be considered in the other place, with regard to whether a balance of probabilities is the right basis for a judgment or whether the matter should be beyond all reasonable doubt. The Minister made the point that extradition is not prosecution, which I accept.

I should like now to deal with the Liberal Democrat amendments. We tabled amendment No. 92, which seeks to amend clause 65, because we believe that the designated authority must be satisfied that the authority issuing the warrant in the category 1 country has that function. That must be clear beyond all reasonable doubt. The warrant should not be issued by anybody other than that authority and the judge must be satisfied that that is the case. The amendment would provide an additional safeguard and I look forward to hearing the Minister's view about it.

Amendments Nos. 93 and 94 seek to amend clauses 83 and 85. They are similar amendments that seek to strike out subsections with exactly the same wording: A summary in a document of a statement made by a person must be treated as a statement made by the person in the document for the purposes of subsection (2). Although this matter might sound arcane, those are very important points. A summary is not good enough. A judge must see the evidence itself. A summary by someone other than the person in question is almost hearsay about hearsay. We must have what the person actually said and not what someone else believes they said. There is room for huge error and abuse in this matter. I believe that the Minister said that there was no way that a defendant could be prevented from giving evidence in person, but we must face the fact that the defendant will not be present to do so in all such cases.

As I said, we have made progress with the Bill and the Government have made concessions, which is welcome. Nevertheless, for reasons that we will explore later, not least the fact that we have not been satisfied about minimum standards of justice in all putative category 1 countries and about the nebulousness of the 32 offences set out in the Bill—a matter that we will have a chance to discuss later—we must have safeguards in the light of the shortcomings that exist. It is our job today, just as it will be the job of Members of the other place, to tighten up the Bill to ensure that there are no miscarriages of justice and that justice and fairness prevail in respect of our country.

Mr. Tom Harris (Glasgow, Cathcart)

I shall speak very briefly, because, like the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow), I am not a lawyer and a m rather proud of that fact. None the less, serving on the Standing Committee for a few sittings, which felt like many months, gave me a crash course in the law of England and Scotland, for which I am grateful.

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I should like to respond to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) with regard to Government amendment No. 43, which relates to the "balance of probabilities" in respect of a fugitive's identity. I understand why people are concerned about the case of Mr. Derek Bond, who was unjustly and unwisely held in South Africa for two weeks while the FBI carried out investigations, but I think that the public would be ill-served if we picked on that one specific and dramatic case as a reason for saying that the balance of probabilities should not be used in relation to the identity of a wanted person. The case was particularly unusual, and we as politicians must accept that, because of the intricate and sophisticated nature of intercontinental investigations, the identity of suspects occasionally cannot be verified and mistakes are made, but that does not necessarily mean that we will not pursue those investigations. We must remember that, in the case of Mr. Bond, to whom we all feel sympathetic, the true identity of the suspect was revealed after much investigation. I do not think that his case can be used as a reason for saying that we can give up on that specific type of inquiry by the FBI or any other international agencies.

On amendment No. 4, which is an Opposition amendment, asylum is a big issue in my constituency and those of many other hon. Members. If we accept the amendment, we will completely remove from the Bill all references to asylum. Contrary to what the hon. Member for Surrey Heath suggested, that does not mean that asylum would no longer be used as a way of delaying procedures. As I understand it, the deletion of clause 39 would ensure that there were no guidelines at all about whether and in what circumstances accused persons could apply for asylum. I have personal experience of people claiming asylum for all sorts of ill-chosen motives.

I would like to hear whether the hon. Gentleman accepts that the removal of clause 39 would create a far less specific and more vague asylum system. As the Bill would contain no specific reference to asylum, people on whom warrants were enforced would use every possible means, including asylum, to delay their extradition. Some people may accuse the Government of being a bit too harsh on asylum seekers by refusing to accept the amendment. I disagree. The Bill already contains a very specific measure that allows people to appeal against an asylum decision that goes against them, albeit that that appeal has to be made outside the country. I welcome that; in the circumstances, I think it is absolutely justified.

Amendment No. 18 is fantastic. I love it: only the Conservative party could have tabled an amendment saying that a British or English court can force these Johnny Foreigner courts to send someone home right away because we in this country do not think that they have met their obligations or that their legal system is quite up to the mark. When I read the amendment, I thought, "Only the Conservative party, God bless it, could come up with this sort of imperialist nonsense." The hon. Member for Surrey Heath mentioned that he had some reservations about the terrible bureaucracy in some foreign regimes. Once again—I would have laid money on this—he could not resist mentioning the plane spotters arrested in Greece, who were referred to many times every day in the Standing Committee. The idea that a British judge can decide that a foreign court is not quite up to speed and that we can demand that it sends a suspect back to Britain because we are not happy with its procedures is mind blowing. I hope that the Opposition will force that amendment to a vote, as it defines the philosophy of the modern Conservative party far more than many other things. It is the Ealing comedy amendment. Only in the late 1940s and early 1950s could people have taken such an amendment seriously.

Let us consider the serious point of reciprocity. Does the hon. Member for Surrey Heath believe that a French, German or Greek court should be allowed to tell a British court that its procedures are incorrect, and that it should send the relevant person back home for trial? I presume that the hon. Gentleman supports the principle of reciprocity and believes that that should be the effect of the amendment, in which case he would be more than happy with the consequences that I outlined. I salute him if that is his genuine conviction; the Conservative party would have turned a corner. However, the amendment is neither reasonable nor acceptable to the majority of people in this country.

My hon. Friend the Minister gave commitment after commitment in Committee, and made it clear that the Bill explicitly provides that no one will be extradited for anything other than a trial or a sentence. It was made clear many times that the Bill does not provide for extradition for investigation or interrogation. I therefore ask the hon. Member for Surrey Heath to accept my hon. Friend's sincerity. He made the point clear many times. We spent day after day in Committee, with no doubt about the terms of the Bill. I ask the Opposition to accept that there is no need for amendment No. 18, except for comic relief.

For the first time in British legislation, a Bill makes a specific, explicit commitment to protect people from extradition for anything other than serving a sentence or facing trial. The Extradition Act 1989, which was passed under the Conservative Government, made no such distinction or commitment. For the first time, therefore, a Government are committed not to extradite for any reason apart from serving a sentence or facing a trial. I partly hope that the Opposition will press amendment No. 18 to a vote because I would enjoy voting against it. I hope, though, that they will consider it inappropriate.

Mr. George Howarth

I congratulate the Minister on the extent to which he listened to the debate in Committee and made appropriate adjustments to the Bill. Everyone accepts that he is going a long way—in some cases, further than some of us wanted.

I understand from the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins), who opened the debate for the Opposition, that they intend to press amendment No. 20, but not amendment No. 18, to a vote. I am at a loss, because amendment No. 20 states: The statement referred to in subsections (3) and (5) shall conform with the provisions of the model warrant annexed to the framework decision. Clause 2(3)(b) appears to cover all the anxieties that the Opposition expressed in Committee and today. When I intervened on the hon. Gentleman to point that out, he dismissed my comment and said that the Opposition would press the amendment anyway.

I wonder why, given that the Bill covers the hon. Gentleman's anxieties, he wants to include an additional provision that would have the same effect. The obvious conclusion is that he believes that the amendment would circumvent the European arrest warrant. At least, the Opposition want an opportunity to vote against the European arrest warrant. They would probably be happy with it if it were called a "common arrest warrant" or an "arrest warrant for co-operation between states". However, the magic word "Europe" means that they feel obliged to reject it.

I have not made those comments to poke fun at the Opposition because, by Labour party standards, I am reasonably Eurosceptical. However, a gulf exists between me and most Opposition Members, who appear to feel an obligation to vote against anything European.

Annabelle Ewing (Perth)

As the hon. Gentleman said, it is not clear whether amendment No. 20 will be pressed to a vote, but does he believe that it would alter the text of the Bill? One could argue that it would introduce legal clarity because it refers to the model warrant annexed to the framework decision.

Mr. Howarth

If the hon. Lady wants greater clarification about what was in the minds of the Opposition, she should have intervened on the hon. Member for Surrey Heath. I have made it a firm principle in my political career never to answer for the Conservative party. I intend to stick to that rigidly.

The Opposition and the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr. Burnett) made serious points today and in Committee about specific cases. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Harris) made it clear a few moments ago that it is generally wise to legislate not on specific cases but on general categories. Many hon. Members who are lawyers and are better versed than I am in these things could testify to that.

I want to revert to an example that was used in Committee because it involves a constituent. Today, the hon. Member for Surrey Heath mentioned the case of Derek Bond, which was heard after our Committee proceedings. He also recounted the case of the plane spotters in Greece. However, in Committee, the case of my constituent Kevan Sloane, who is currently serving a three-and-a-half year sentence in Tenerife, was cited. None of the people in the three cases had to return to this country and subsequently be extradited to the country where the offence was committed. Since my constituent has been mentioned, I want to make his position clear.

Kevan Sloane was arrested approximately two years ago, initially on five charges of armed robbery. By the time the case got to court, he faced two charges of armed robbery and he was eventually convicted of one. The standard of evidence required to convict him was poor. Two aspects were highly questionable.

First, my constituent was picked out in an identity parade by a shop assistant who worked in the shop where he had allegedly committed armed robbery. However, the woman had been shown a photograph of him before the identity parade.

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The second piece of evidence given in court was that the perpetrator of the offence in question spoke colloquial Spanish. Apart from visiting his mother in Tenerife occasionally, my constituent has spent all his life in Kirby, and could hardly be thought capable of speaking colloquial Spanish. Nevertheless, despite that and despite the lack of any direct corroborative evidence, he was convicted.

The hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon said in Committee that that case proved the unreliability of foreign courts and the need for additional protections. I believe that my constituent was convicted on the basis of hopelessly flawed evidence, and the proceedings took place in Tenerife—and Madrid, where my constituent's appeal was turned down. I do not think, however, that the Bill would have made any difference, because my constituent was never in this country to be extradited in the first place.

Mr. Burnett

I know that that case causes the hon. Gentleman enormous concerns and that he is a doughty fighter for his constituent, for which I pay tribute to him, but I think that my point in Committee was valid. Before we pass the Bill, we should ensure that minimum standards apply, especially in category 1 countries. In Committee, I gave examples of countries where such standards certainly did not apply.

Mr. Howarth

The hon. Gentleman's whole argument hinges on the question of minimum standards, a phrase also used by the hon. Member for Surrey Heath. I accept the need for minimum standards, but all the countries involved signed the framework document and therefore, at least in principle, are "signed up to" minimum standards. I believe that there was a miscarriage of justice in my constituent's case, but to make a general case against the legal system in Spain and Tenerife is, in my view, to go a step too far.

Mr. Burnett

I do not want to repeat all that was said in Committee, but in some EU countries there is no legal aid; in some EU countries there is no provision for interpreters; in some EU countries judges are appointed at the age of 21, and are paid a derisory salary. People are concerned about that, and so they should be.

Mr. Howarth

I am concerned. My point is that commitment to the principle of minimum standards is evidenced by the fact that those countries signed the framework document. Unless the hon. Gentleman thinks it should never be recognised that a country is capable of signing up to a principle and delivering on that over time, he will surely agree that it is not the job of the House or of legislation passed here to redesign the legal systems of other countries, or to require the redesigning of those systems.

As my hon. Friend the Minister said, if we pursued such ideas to their logical conclusion we would find ourselves returning to the foreign policy of Palmerston, and to gunboat diplomacy. I do not intend to bore the House with a recital of the Don Pacifico affair, but surely the Opposition do not really want us to return to those days.

Mr. Burnett

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Howarth

I will give way once more, but I want to finish my speech soon.

Mr. Burnett

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way a third time. All we are saying is that before a fast-track procedure comes into play, minimum standards should apply in fast-track countries.

Mr. Howarth

I do not know how many times I can reply to the hon. Gentleman's question without repeating myself, which he is doing. Let me simply say that while I accept the need for minimum standards, all those countries signed the framework document and, in doing so, committed themselves to such standards. The fact that the standards do not always apply in specific cases does not alter the fact that the principle has been accepted. It is for the countries to decide, over time, how to implement it.

I end where I began. Although I do not suspect devious motives, I think the Opposition would rather vote against the whole of this part of the Bill than just vote for their amendment. If truth be told, they probably feel that they must make a stand, and are hanging their hat on amendment No. 20. I do not think amendment No. 20 is appropriate for the purpose; they should have been a little bolder, and voted against the whole section.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth

I shall try to be brief, and deal only with the most important points. Let me deal first with what was said by the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) and supported by the hon. Member for Torridge and North Devon.

Mr. Burnett

West Devon.

Mr. Ainsworth

It is disgraceful that Devon should be moved around like that—unforgivable, indeed. I mean the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr. Burnett).

Both Members suggested that the list was too vague, and that dropping dual criminality posed a risk to justice. What strikes me is that no one has been able to give even a bad example of how the arrest warrant proposals might have made a difference.

Opposition Members have majored on the Greek plane spotters case, which was not an extradition case. The plane spotters were accused of an offence that is also an offence in British law, so the dropping of dual criminality would have made no difference. Similarly, the constituent of my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, North and Sefton, East (Mr. Howarth) was accused of a crime that exists in British law. As for the Derek Bond case, in which the extradition to the United States of a person who was in South Africa was sought, nothing in the Bill would have affected that either.

No one will be subjected to a "vague list". The generic list is there to facilitate mutual recognition, and to end the requirement for dual criminality in cases covered by it. In the case of any and every request for extradition under the European arrest warrant procedures, the specific crime of which the person is accused will be spelt out on the warrant. It must be an offence in the requesting state: there is nothing vague about that. It must be an offence in French law, or in German law, but not in British law. We expect people who come to our country to abide by our laws and not their own, and the reverse must also be true. We have said that many times, but it needs to be said again.

The case of Derek Bond raises the issue of identity. The acceptance of the European arrest warrant in our courts, and the issue of identity that arises before extradition, will be dealt with by a British judge. Anyone who says "I am sorry, but I am not the person who is sought in this warrant" will be able to make that case before a British judge.

Mr. Oliver Letwin (West Dorset)

I am listening to the Minister with interest. If his argument is that the removal of the dual criminality test will have no practical effect, why is he removing it?

Mr. Ainsworth

That is not quite the argument that I was making, as the right hon. Gentleman knows. What I said was that the cases that have been prayed in aid against the proposals will not be affected by the proposals in any way. They occurred under current legislation and have nothing to do with dual criminality; indeed, the Greek plane spotters case had nothing to do with extradition. As I have said before, we have three choices. We live in a European Union in which we can all travel freely between our jurisdictions, and huge benefits flow from that, both economically and in terms of individual freedom. However, that point also applies to criminals. We can stand pat and hide behind arcane, cumbersome and extremely expensive extradition arrangements that are hard to operate, and say that that is the barrier against the rest of the world; we can seek to develop a European framework of justice; or we can enter into a method of mutual recognition that enables us to co-operate in an effective and modern way with our European partners.

Those are the three choices, but the Conservatives appear to have decided, despite the right hon. Gentleman's attempt to gloss over this issue, that they should stand aloof from the rest of the world and behave like a solitary little island, and to ignore the very real problems that would arise in respect of our ability to do justice to the victims of crimes committed in this country.

Mr. Letwin

We will be able to discuss the general points that the Minister is making, and which are wholly misconceived, on Third Reading, but the interesting question is this. Is he admitting that the removal of dual criminality will in fact have a range of practical effects, or is he arguing that it is otiose to remove it? I cannot understand how he can avoid telling the House which of those is the case.

Mr. Ainsworth

As I said in Committee—it was also said on Second Reading, and it continues to be our position—the removal of dual criminality is essential to putting in place a streamlined system; there is little doubt about that.

Mr. Letwin

Will it have a practical effect?

Mr. Ainsworth

Of course it will have a practical effect. While we are able to bring up issues of dual criminality, which repeatedly happens under current extradition regulations, people will be denied the opportunity to delay and to frustrate by using dual criminality arguments. That will be the practical effect, and that is why we are choosing to go down this road.

The hon. Member for Surrey Heath said that although he welcomed my efforts in respect of naming, through the Bill, those who can apply for a European arrest warrant as a judicial authority, he felt that I was taking back with one hand as I was giving with the other. He was joined in that view by the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon, who raised concerns about the transitional arrangements for the Schengen information system.

Mr. Burnett

All that I said is that the issue needs to be looked at again more thoroughly, and that it will be scrutinised in the other place.

Mr. Ainsworth

If the hon. Gentleman supports me, I will accept his support, but I am not sure that that is the situation.

I turn to the reason why we intended to include the term "judicial authority" from the start, other than the existing transitional problem. As I have said, all the warrants currently on the Schengen information system were originally backed by a domestic warrant, which was cleared by a judicial authority. In order to give the concession requested, and to make the permanent situation as clear as the hon. Member for Surrey Heath wants it to be, we need that transitional arrangement—unless we are to refuse to extradite where existing warrants apply, or to provide people with an opportunity to question their validity, despite their being backed initially by judicial decisions.

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I thank my hon. Friends for their support on these issues, and I thank Members of both Opposition parties for their general tone, and for their welcome for the concessions that have been made. I am not surprised that I have been unable entirely to satisfy them, given some of the views that have been expressed. Those views were exposed by my hon. Friends in discussing amendment No. 18, for example. I ask the House to support the Government's amendments, and to reject those moved by the Opposition parties.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

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