HL Deb 22 April 1971 vol 317 cc855-6

[No. 88]

Schedule 8, page 68, line 23, at end insert— ( ) In section 1 of the said Act (issue of summons or warrant of arrest at beginning of proceedings) at the end of subsection (2)(d) add', or (e) if the offence was committed outside England and Wales and where it is an offence exclusively punishable on summary conviction, if a magistrates' court for the county or borough would have jurisdiction to try the offence if the offender were before them '.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 88. This Amendment makes an important change in the law with regard to the issue of warrants for the arrest of a person who is accused of an offence not committed in this country but triable here—for instance, an offence committed on a British ship or aircraft. The immediate relevance of the Amendment, as your Lordships will doubtless perceive, is to deal with hijackers. As the law at present stands, there is no provision for the issue of a warrant for the arrest of a person unless he is in this country or normally resident here at the time. Thus, where an offence is committed on a British ship or aircraft and the offender does not come to this country, or is not normally resident here, there is no way in which a warrant can be issued. Since the issue of a warrant is, of course, the first stage in extradition procedure, this means that, as the law stands at present, the offender can escape entirely.

I hope your Lordships will agree that this change in the law should be made. It is achieved by an amendment to the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952. Any justice may now issue a warrant for the arrest of a person alleged to have committed an offence outside England and Wales which is triable on indictment here; and he may also issue a warrant in respect of a purely summary offence committed outside England and Wales, if that offence is triable by a magistrates' court for the county or borough for which he is a justice of the peace.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord could tell us, if he happens to have it in mind, how far this increases the number of cases in which we can be arrested and tried here for things, particularly small, summary things, which we have done abroad, other than those on a British ship or aircraft—which of course are a special case.


My Lords, I think that what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, is asking is what offences committed out of this country could be punished summarily and are covered by this Amendment. The only answer I can give is that, so far as I know, certain offences committed aboard British ships, under the provisions of Sections 685 to 687 of the famous Merchant Shipping Act 1894, and offences on board British aircraft, under the Tokyo Convention Act 1967, Section 1. So far as I know, the offences are limited to those cases.

On Question, Motion agreed to.