HL Deb 05 March 1984 vol 449 cc7-19

2.54 p.m.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Elton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Issue of warrant for transfer]:

Lord Mishcon moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 13, leave out ("under") and insert ("in accordance with")

The noble Lord said: In the unforeseen absence of the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, as I have my name to this amendment, may I beg to move it. The combined effect of Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 to which I speak, with the leave of the Committee, is to ensure that the terms of the warrant issued by the Secretary of State form part of the material agreed upon by both states before transfer.

Amendment No. 2: Page 1. line 13, after ("arrangements") insert ("and the terms of the warrant to be issued hereunder")

This should ensure the elimination of mistakes regarding the terms of the warrant, which obviously is a matter of great importance to the prisoner and to the furtherance of diplomatic considerations. I beg to move.

Lord Elton

Our difficulty with these amendments is that they would introduce an unnecessary and possibly harmful complication into the repatriation arrangements. The point is that the information required by a state for the purpose of agreeing to a transfer is likely to vary to some extent from state to state. Moreover, it will be for each state to satisfy itself that it has all the information it needs in a particular case. This will vary according to whether the transfer is inward or outward. The information required will generally coincide only in part with the details contained in a warrant for transfer to the United Kingdom and will not include the kind of detail contained in a warrant for transfer from the United Kingdom. Warrants for inward transfer would provide, for example, the authority for custody of the prisoner in the course of transfer to the United Kingdom, for the delivery of the prisoner to a place of custody in the United Kingdom and for the sentence to be served in the United Kingdom.

Of these matters, the other state would probably be concerned to agree specifically only the sentence to be served in the United Kingdom. It would, of course, require a good deal more information which would not be contained in the warrant. This might vary according to the terms of the arrangements negotiated with different countries and in the light of the circumstances of any particular case. Generally, however, it would include authoritative confirmation that the prisoner was a British citizen, information about the type of custodial regime in which the prisoner would be detained and details of the remission and parole conditions which would apply to the sentence.

Warrants for outward transfer, on the other hand, would simply authorise the handing over of the prisoner into the custody of the authorities of the other state. This would probably not be part of the information which the other state would require. The information which would generally be needed would include full personal details of the prisoner, details of the offence committed, and of the nature and length of the sentence imposed and of the time already served, and confirmation of any remission already earned. In neither case, therefore—inward or outward transfer— would the information required by the other state be confined to, or necessarily even include, the details contained in the United Kingdom warrant.

In our view, other states might well be reluctant to record their formal agreement to matters which are of no particular concern to them. It is accordingly not only unnecessary for the United Kingdom legislation to make the agreement of the other state to the terms of the warrant a precondition of the issue of a warrant; it would in fact be quite inappropriate and could jeopardise the chances of agreement to a particular transfer. It could even affect the negotiation of an agreement if another state felt particularly strongly about being expected to agree to matters in which it had no real interest at all.

Lord Mishcon

I am most grateful to the noble Lord the Minister for the explanation that he has given of the procedure. I can well understand some of the difficulties involved. However, the fact is that there could well be an error in the warrant, or an error relating to the matters contained in the warrant. Therefore, I should like to have an opportunity to read very carefully what the noble Lord the Minister has said. In the meantime—

Lord Melchett

I am sorry to interrupt my noble friend, but if he is about to withdraw the amendment, perhaps I may intervene before he does so.

Lord Mishcon

I now withdraw in favour of my noble friend Lord Melchett.

Lord Melchett

I am very grateful to my noble friend for withdrawing in favour of me and for not withdrawing the amendment just yet. Perhaps we may press the Minister a little harder on this amendment now. I listened very carefully to what he said and was not entirely clear that he answered the principal worry in my mind when putting my name to this amendment. That worry was, that should there be a mistake of some kind in the warrant, very real problems could arise. This amendment seeks to overcome those problems together with Amendment No. 2, with which it should be taken.

Both amendments would ensure that the terms of the warrant issued by the Secretary of State form part of the material which has to be agreed by all the parties concerned before the transfer takes place. I accept what the noble Lord said concerning the difference between warrants for people coming into the country and warrants for people leaving the country. None the less, can he tell us what will happen to the prisoner in particular if there has been a mistake made in the warrant and there is an attempt subsequently to change it in some way which might be very detrimental to the prisoner concerned?

Lord Elton

The intention of the legislation is that there shall be an agreement between three parties—that is, the home Government, the foreign Government (whichever way around that might be) and the prisoner. My first observation is that the prisoner and the prisoner's advisers will be aware of what is in the warrant and will have agreed to that. The noble Lord is suggesting that a flaw might be revealed in the warrant at some unspecified later date. The amendment is addressed to the need to see as far as possible that that does not happen. Perhaps I may pause to welcome the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, to our discussions, which we have awaited with great eagerness.

I am not sure at what stage the flaw in a warrant might be discovered or by whom, because that is not apparent from anything that has yet been said. I would presume that since the change is putatively against the interests of the prisoner, it will not have been changed by the prisoner and that it will have been changed—or the mistake will have been discovered and addressed—by the Government issuing the warrant. I am not sure that I can get much further on this point with the noble Lord beyond undertaking to consider further the difficulty he has raised. It seems to me that there is provision in the Bill for approval by the prisoner and the prisoner's advisers; I doubt whether release would take place without the prisoner taking advice. It lies within his hands to detect anything unfavourable in the warrant.

I know that the noble Lord is positing the opposite discovery; that the warrant says the man shall be kept in for only three years when it should have been five years—I take it that is what he is after. But the terms of the sentence included in the warrant will of course be a matter of material interest to the country holding the foreign prisoner as well as to the country to which the foreign prisoner is returning. The basis of their agreement will be that the length of the sentence specified in the warrant satisfies the demands of their own justice. That is what makes me wonder whether there is a need for the precautions which the noble Lord seeks.

Lord Melchett

The reason why I must press the Minister, and why I believe it will be very helpful if he can reconsider this point, is that were we talking simply about a transfer between Rochester borstal and Maidstone gaol, then matters would be as the Minister envisages them. But in talking about the transfer of a prisoner from, let us say, the Far East—in Thailand, or somewhere else—the situation will not be like that at all. I very much doubt whether the prisoner will have access to any advice—and if he does do so, it may be bad advice and not good advice. Also, the prisoner may be very sick, and that may be one of the reasons why the transfer is being promoted.

A host of other factors enter into it—not least the difficulties of translation and of working in at least two different languages. There is the possibility of errors being present in the warrant—to which, certainly, the prisoner will have agreed—which are then subsequently discovered by, say, the country to which the prisoner has been transferred. That Government will then insist that Her Majesty's Government have made a mistake and must have known there was a mistake (in, for example, translation) which must be recognised by keeping the prisoner in jail an extra 10 years. As I understand it, as the warrant is not, so far as the Bill is concerned, clearly something that is included as part of the material to which everyone has agreed, there is a danger of that happening to the prisoner. The noble Lord the Minister may not be able to take this point very much further today but I hope he will consider it again and write to us before Report stage.

Lord Mishcon

I believe that it will be with the consent of even my noble friend Lord Melchett that at this stage I beg leave to withdraw the amendment. In doing so, I should like to emphasise the points he has made so clearly and which I was trying hard to make during the course of my few remarks. My noble friend, with his usual care, has made those points more clearly.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 2 not moved.]

3.7 p.m.

Lord Avebury moved Amendment No. 3: Page 1, line 14, leave out ("prisoner") and insert ("transferee").

The noble Lord said

I apologise to the Committee and to the noble Lord the Minister for having been a few minutes late and not being in my place for the last amendment. It seemed to me from what I heard the Minister say in response to the noble Lord. Lord Melchett, that he does understand the points which have been made and, if there is any need for correction, the Minister will take an opportunity to consider that point before Report stage.

Amendment No. 3 and the rather large number of other amendments which depend upon it arises from a point I made towards the end of my remarks at Second Reading. I said then that the Government may want to consider whether the use of the word "prisoner" used throughout this Bill was altogether appropriate, given that the Bill applies not only to prisoners but also to persons detained in other institutions. They may, for example, be patients detained in special hospitals; that is the principal example that springs to mind. I suggested during the course of my remarks on Second Reading that the phrase "sentenced persons", which is used in the treaty, might be incorporated into the Bill.

When I came to look at this point again, I found that the word "prisoner" occurred in no fewer than 61 other places. I thought that it would perhaps be rather cumbersome to substitute the words "sentenced person" for the word "prisoner" wherever it occurred. With some diffidence. I therefore propose that we use the term "transferee". It is not a word that I like very much but I believe the meaning should be clearer and embrace not just prisoners but also other categories of persons—principally, patients—who will be covered by transfers under the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Elton

I almost left a pause for the noble Lord to mention the list of amendments to which he was speaking with Amendment No. 3, but no doubt we can take them as read, because they are legion.

I appreciate the feelings of those of your Lordships who do not want the word "prisoner" to apply to certain patients in mental hospitals. I am particularly sensitive to this consideration because I recall very clearly indeed the importance attached to nomenclature when we were dealing with the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill, as it was, which I took through your Lordships' House a year or two ago. The Committee does therefore have my sympathetic concern in this matter—but I believe we ought first to recognise what is involved.

The task to which the noble Lords who have drafted this impressive array of amendments have addressed themselves is, as I expect they have discovered, very far from being an easy one. What they are looking for is a term that is easily understood, which embraces all the classes of persons appropriate to the effect of this Act, which is neither offensive nor misleading, and which therefore is not in common use to convey a different meaning.

Almost all the people who might benefit from this Bill are accurately and unmistakably described by the word at present used for that purpose in the Bill—which is the word "prisoner". They are prisoners and have no good reason to object to being called as much.

A few noble Lords believe—and in this belief they had the support at Second Reading of my noble friend Lady Macleod of Borve—that some could have reason to object to that description. The people to whom I refer are persons detained in a mental hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983 because they are subject to a hospital order or are treated as subject to one; that is, persons who have been found unfit to be tried or, in Scotland, found insane in bar of trial, or not guilty by reason of insanity. I do not include, however, patients who can legitimately be described as prisoners who are transferred to hospital from prison under the provisions of Section 47 of the Mental Health Act 1983. I believe that draws up the parameters of the people we are talking about.

At this stage, I ought to repeat that the numbers of such people are likely to be few. By "few" I mean very few—so few that there are, so far as we are aware, none whatever at the present time to whom the Bill might apply. So, while I understand the anxiety of the noble Lords, I hope that they will understand why I am not anxious to take into the Bill such a very impressive array of amendments unless it will result in something that does not actually detract from it in some other way.

That brings me back to the chosen word: the word that is to substitute for "prisoner" almost everywhere that it appears in the Bill. I say "almost" because I think the noble Lord's count of 62 is not quite complete. What does matter is the fact that we are looking for, and have to find, a word that is not in common use to convey a different meaning. Sadly, "transferee" is not such a word. The word "transferee" is already in extensive use in English law and in that use it has a very specific meaning. That meaning is not "a transferred person". nor a person whose transfer has been agreed. It is fairly plainly and frequently "a person to whom property has been transferred". Therefore, I am afraid that the use that the noble Lords propose for this word, which seems to me to be merely a trifle quaint, would seem to others better versed in the law to be something of a malapropism. Given the very rare occasions on which it might be used in circumstances that could give offence, therefore. I do not think that its presence throughout the entire text of the Bill would be altogether welcome.

Your Lordships will forgive me if I continue for a moment. although I suspect that others will intervene and perhaps I would be wiser to retain something further to say when they have done so, because people are never satisfied before they have said their piece and they are left with the difficulty of not knowing what to do if they have been persuaded by what has been said before. I hope I have explained why I do not much care for the word chosen by the noble Lords. If I have not made it clear. I must do so now. While I do not want to discourage the search for something to do the trick, I think it unlikely that it will succeed since we combed the field ourselves and found nothing. Nonetheless, they may be successful and wish to put something else before your Lordships.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

Would the noble Lord consider "detainee"? Is there anything wrong with that word? I think there probably is, but I do not immediately see what.

Lord Elton

"Detainees" are usually detained in detention centres.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge


Lord Elton

The noble Lord says "No", but in common parlance a "detainee" is a person who is detained in a detention centre and a "prisoner" is a person who is kept in a prison. Perhaps this is just a matter of jargon. However, I do not want to exclude possibilities and I will certainly look at "detainees" and at anything else. What I do want to be certain of is that what we decide upon actually works better than what we have now.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

With respect, I think, that in ordinary English the word "detainee" means someone detained and has no reference to where. The reference to a detention centre, to many people in this country, would be meaningless because they do not know what a detention centre is.

Lord Elton

I am perfectly willing to accept that and I was perhaps rash to leap to a conclusion when the noble Lord made that suggestion. It does seem to me improbable that there was not an objection given that we have already looked at the lexicon, as it were, but we will go on looking.

Lord Somers

Without wishing to make a nuisance of myself, may I suggest that it would be possible in the list of definitions at the end of the Bill to say that "prisoner" includes, possibly, mental health patients or otherwise. No doubt the noble Lord can think of appropriate wording.

Lord Elton

It is not for me to argue the case for those noble Lords who are moving this amendment, but I think their purpose is to separate the term "prisoner" in the public mind from the people whose reputations they wish to preserve—few though they may be. If that can only be achieved by the general public reading the definition clause in the Bill I do not think that would be achieved.

I have another point, if noble Lords are to return to this, which I ought to put on record because of the implications raised by the major and longer amendment towards the end of the group. In removing subsections 4 and 5 of Clause 1 and using their phraseology in the definition of "transferee" the amendment combines two concepts which the draftsmen took care to separate in the Bill. Subsections 4 and 5 of Clause I define the categories of person who may be the subject of transfer arrangements between the United Kingdom and other countries and do not use the term "prisoner". Subsection 1(b) of Clause 1, however, defines as the prisoner a particular person whose transfer has been agreed. The effect of the amendment is to give "transferee" the general meaning: a person who is, for the time being, detained in a prison, a hospital or other institution as well as the specific meaning in subsection 1(b) of the person whose transfer had been agreed. If noble Lords are returning to the charge perhaps they will look at that because I think they could alter their amendment so that it did not have that disadvantage.

I am reminded that the objection to "detainee" is that it covers people who are detained for trial but not yet sentenced and who are not, in fact, embraced by the Bill.

Lord Avebury

I think the trouble is that probably any word we chose would have had some other meaning in statute. With respect to the noble Lord, however that does not necessarily rule it out for all times, because there are cases where the same term has different meanings in different Acts. One that I always think of is "ordinary resident", which has a completely different meaning for the purposes of the income tax Acts than for the purpose of the immigration Acts, as the noble Lord will be aware because it crops up many times in the Home Office. The fact that the term "transferee" has a meaning in the law of property does not, ipso facto, rule it out for use in this context, particularly as the noble Lord has taken the trouble to go as far as Amendment No. 75 and sees that there is a definition of "transferee" which operates for the purposes of this Bill and does not attempt to extend it into any other area.

Therefore, I do not think there is likely to be any confusion by someone who is construing this Bill for the purpose of deciding who is to be transferred from Diyarbakir prison in Turkey to Long Lartin, with someone who is trying to buy a cottage in the village of Long Lartin. The two purposes are so very different and unlikely to overlap that the lawyers who have to deal with Acts of Parliament are not likely to suffer any disadvantage as a result.

I accept the point made by the Minister that in an ideal world it would be better if we could find a term not used in any other statutes. We will certainly continue to search between now and Report. We take on board the drafting point made by the Minister that we should have a way of referring to the particular individual who is to he transferred as distinct from the general body of people to whom the Bill might apply. We will give the matter further thought and hope to come hack on Report with a solution that is more acceptable to the Government. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 4 not moved.]

Lord Mishcon moved Amendment No. 5: Page 1, line 16, after ("given") insert ("in accordance with subsection (5) below").

The noble Lord said: I wonder whether with this amendment I can conveniently take Amendment No. 25.

Amendment No. 25: Page 2, line 33, leave out subsection (5) and insert— ("(5) The Secretary of State shall use his best endeavours to ensure that prior to the prisoner giving his consent pursuant to subsection (1)(c) above, he is informed in writing in his native language of—

  1. (a) the terms of the international arrangement in accordance with which the transfer is to take place;
  2. (b) the meaning of the terms referred to in paragraph (a) above;
  3. (c) the terms of the proposed warrant;
  4. (d) the meaning of the said warrant including the longest period of imprisonment to which he is liable thereunder and the provisions governing remission and parole in respect thereof;
  5. (e) the nature of any actual or possible further charges against him in the country to which he is to be transferred and the possible penalties; and
  6. (f) the terms and meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.").

I should like to open my remarks with this observation. In my judgment, and in the judgment of those who have added their names to it, this is a very important amendment indeed. This Bill was introduced by the noble Lord the Minister in order to have proper arrangements for repatriation where the consent of the prisoner is a very vital factor.

At column 753 of the Official Report of this place for 21st December the Minister said: The consent of the prisoner is another fundamental requirement recommended by the working party and based on Canadian and American experience. It is an important feature of the Council of Europe Convention. Moreover, the Government's aim in introducing the legislation is purely humanitarian, and we therefore see the prisoner's consent to his transfer as essential".

I have quoted that as the background of the amendment. Your Lordships will see from it that in the Bill itself—which I imagine will be made the basis of any international agreement—we are asking that there should be firmly written in requisite conditions in order to see that the prisoner is in receipt of very proper information before he consents to repatriation.

I repeat that this proposal goes both ways. I am sure that we shall have in mind not only the question of prisoners transferred from here to the country of which they are normally subjects but also the question of our subjects, or people very much connected with this country, being transferred to this country.

There may be many in this country who are the subjects of another country and who, before giving their consent (obviously having been interviewed, probably in a language that is foreign to them), would require to know very much what they are doing if they are to be transferred back to their home country. That may be even more so, the Committee may think, in a case where the prisoner abroad is a British subject and is again interviewed by those who would speak to him in a foreign language. It would be imperative that he should know his position precisely.

I turn at once to Amendment No. 25. Your Lordships will see that the Secretary of State is asked to: use his best endeavours to ensure that prior to the prisoner giving his consent … he is informed in writing in his native language of', the following six items. The first of them is: the terms of the international arrangement in accordance with which the transfer is to take place".

That is obviously a provision for him to know what the arrangement is only in broad terms. The second item is: the meaning of the terms referred to in the previous paragraph; namely, roughly what the whole question of the agreement to transfer means. The third item is: the terms of the proposed warrant".

That is essential from the prisoner's point of view. Item four is: the meaning of the … warrant including the longest period of imprisonment to which he is liable thereunder and the provisions governing remission and parole in respect thereof".

That is a very material matter before he gives his consent. Next: the nature of any actual or possible further charges against him in the country to which he is to be transferred and the possible penalties".

In other words, will he be worse off as a result of that transfer because of other charges that are known and are to be preferred against him? Lastly: the terms and meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974".

Your Lordships will obviously see the relevance of that provision from a British prisoner's point of view. The whole issue before us in this amendment is purely and simply to see that "consent" means consent.

It may be said that, while it is very easy for us to be able to legislate for what we can do in this country, it is extremely difficult to try to provide for what maybe done in a foreign country with which we have an international agreement. The European Convention is quite clear about that. It deals with the obvious possibility of consular representatives being able to fulfil these requirements. Quite naturally there should be no difficulty in seeing that our consular representative attends upon a British prisoner and explains to him exactly what these conditions and terms are before he signifies his consent, especially as the noble Lord the Minister has made very plain to us that these cases are rare.

I do not think that I can say any more, except that we regard this as being a vital provision and hope that the noble Lord the Minister will see his way clear to accepting the amendment. I beg to move.

3.26 p.m.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

I should certainly like to support this amendment. It is not clear from the Bill how much trouble will be taken to explain to the prisoner at either end. That is what the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, is trying to provide for. We are often told that it is not necessary to put things in a Bill because they are implied, but in this case I do not think that implication is good enough. I do not think that I really need say very much more.

The difficulty of language is acute. We know that from dealing with prisoners in this country who are short of English. There is the difficulty of getting accurate translations. Secondly, there is room for confusion. A European Convention is one thing, but we visualise a situation where people who are not signatories will have bilateral agreements, which will be different. The prisoner may become confused over that. I think a very strong case has been made for the amendment. I hope very much that without further elaboration from us the noble Lord the Minister will think it right to do something about this matter.

Lord Elton

We agree that a provision in the Bill relating to the prisoner being provided with information in writing in his own language would be reasonable. We have it in mind that in practice certain information should generally be provided to assist the prisoner to decide about transfer. The amendment proposed faces us with some difficulties. They are as much difficulties of practice as of principle, but they are real enough. I realise that what noble Lords are after is a principle and that it is not entirely fair to challenge an amendment in detail at the Committee stage. However, in order to put what I am about to say in perspective, I think that I ought to draw some of the difficulties to your Lordships' attention.

I think that the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, was good enough to point out that we are dealing with transfers in either direction, as it were. The words are, on the second line of page 2, into or out of the United Kingdom". It would be very difficult, for example, to put together information in the prisoner's own language on the terms and meaning of the very complex Rehabilitation of Offenders Act if he was from Thailand. Perhaps that is not the best example, but if the prisoner came from a country which has a difficult language. That information is not in any case very relevant to the basic decision.

It would also be a considerable task to go into all the details of the relevant agreement. Moreover, it is far from clear how the Secretary of State, from the records at his disposal, could possibly forecast every conceivable further criminal charge against the person concerned. Furthermore, the references to the terms of the warrant suggest that the amendment is to apply only to transfers to the United Kingdom, whereas we think it is just as important to provide information for prisoners eligible for transfer from the United Kingdom. We would not wish them ignorantly to put themselves into some peril of which we could have informed them.

That said, we recognise the justice of the principle behind this amendment, and, what is more, we sympathise with it. As the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, said, trouble should be taken to inform prisoners of the true situation. What I can hope to achieve will perhaps be of a slightly narrower scope than what is now before us for the reasons I have given. But if noble Lords would be kind enough to withdraw their amendment, I shall undertake to see whether we can prepare something which could be rather more easily achieved than what they now propose and which we could reasonably incorporate in the Bill to their satisfaction. If by any chance the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, or any of his noble friends, already has a view of what the essential elements are of the information to be given within the parameters which they have already drawn, or indeed outside them, that would be a helpful beginning. We have our own views but I shall be interested in theirs, either in the House or possibly in writing.

Lord Melchett

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Elton. What he said is extremely welcome. As my noble friend said, this is really a very important point. The fact that the Government are prepared to meet at least some of it is a very welcome move. It does seem to me that it might be possible to specify rather more detailed information being given to people who are transferring to this country and who we would reasonably therefore expect to understand English and to whom the various things listed in the amendment, and in particular details of our domestic legislation, will be especially relevant. It seems to me not unreasonable for the Government to accept a rather more onerous duty in those circumstances than they would for example in explaining the domestic penal legislation in Thailand to a Thai citizen who is transferring from this country back to his own country. I wonder whether when the Minister is looking at this, he could consider that point, because although it would be in some ways undesirable to discriminate between people who we were transferring from this country and those coming here, I think it would be reasonable for the Government to take on rather more in terms of people who are coming to this country and indeed it would be quite practicable for them to do so. That seems to me to be something which will enable the noble Lord to go further to meet the details of the amendment than he might have thought up until now.

Lord Elton

I am grateful to the noble Lord both for his welcome for what I have said and for his helpful suggestion. I attempted to draw out the difficulties that would relate to outward transfers because I do not see how the Secretary of State can be expected to know the detailed implications of the criminal law of every other country which may subscribe to a convention or make unilateral arrangements. On the other hand, he can be expected to have a reasonable working knowledge of the criminal law of this country and to recognise an obligation to see that it is brought to the attention—in so far as that lies within his hand of a prisoner in a foreign country whom it is proposed to transfer inwards. I think I have got your Lordships' intentions clear in my mind. As I say, if there are detailed points which occur to your Lordships in the next day or two I should be very interested to hear them; but we will address our minds to this matter.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

Although the noble Lord, Lord Elton, has indicated that the desirability—indeed the necessity—that the consent should be an informed consent, I confess that I am a little worried about the provisions in Amendment No. 25, paragraph (e); The nature of any actual or possible further charges against him in the country to which he is to be transferred and the possible penalties". I was thinking—perhaps not in a very clear way—of the difference between what is proposed here and the basis of extradition transfers, where there is of course a positive obligation on the country seeking the extradition not to impose upon the extraditee—if that horrid word is permitted—any penalties or risks of punishment over and above that which he already suffers. That is a key element in extradition cases: once he gets home, the person extradited must not suddenly find himself the subject of many more charges. So I do not at the moment feel very happy about paragraph (e). Perhaps that aspect needs rather more thought. There is need for more information to be given in order to identify and establish the need for the consent to be informed. The Minister has conceded that fundamental point and I too will await with interest and perhaps my noble friends on all sides will conspire to provide appropriate words between now and the next stage.

Lord Elton

; I hope "conspiracy" will not be necessary in any conference. But as regards the substance of what the noble and learned Lord has said, of course I take it very much on board. I just wanted to sound a word of caution on close parallels between extradition and transfer. In particular, may I remind the noble and learned Lord and others who would have taken part in the conspiracy or the confabulation, that we are to some extent bound by the convention. In other words, we cannot offer to your Lordships anything which would fall outside the convention for fear of losing what we are trying to gain.

Lord Mishcon

There is one firm principle that one learns when dealing with a Committee stage in your Lordships' House, and that is that if a principle which one regards as an important principle is admitted by the Government, and there is an undertaking from so responsible a Minister as the noble Lord, Lord Elton, not only to look into it but even to come forward with something which is acceptable to the Government, then one immediately withdraws the amendment. The only thing I say in addition to that, if I may, is that I welcomed the noble Lord's very courteous offer to have an exchange of views in regard to this. I—and I am sure I am speaking for other noble Lords who have been associated with this amendment—would be very happy, if he thought that it was an appropriate course, to hold a meeting on this matter in the hope that something could come out of that meeting which might take rather less time than correspondence. In these circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Elton

May I just say that I have not actually taken on board the thought of a full-blown meeting with a sort of sub-committee of the Committee, as it were; but the offer is kindly taken. Whether it is accepted or whether we would rather deal with the matter by post, I hope the noble Lord will not think me discourteous if I take leave just to think about that. It may well be that he puts things on paper that we should like to discuss; but if I have something on paper first, this would be very helpful.

Lord Mishcon

I accept that completely.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)

I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.