HL Deb 16 July 2004 vol 663 cc1547-9

Lord Bassam of Brighton rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 17 June be approved [23rd Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said

My Lords, I can be brief, as I believe that these orders do not contain anything difficult or contentious. The Extradition Act 2003 received Royal Assent on 20 November last year. It underwent pretty intense scrutiny in your Lordships' House and in another place, so I sincerely hope that we can avoid going over arguments of principle again today. We are concerned with the further secondary legislation required, now that the Extradition Act 1989 is no longer in force and to amend the Extradition Act 2003 (Designation of Part 1 Territories) Order 2003 and Extradition Act 2003 (Designation of Part 2 Territories) Order 2003 to include the member states who have now implemented the framework decision on the European arrest warrant.

The first of these orders is concerned with repealing provisions that are contained within the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 and the Criminal Justice Act 2003 that refer to the old legislation, the Extradition Act 1989. Those provisions are no longer required, as the Extradition Act 1989 was repealed by Schedule 4 to the Extradition Act 2003.

As your Lordships will see, the order cannot be considered to be contentious, and the repeals have been agreed with the Parliamentary Counsel Office. I therefore hope that we do not need to take up too much time discussing this order.

The second order amends the previous designation orders so that the member states that have now implemented the framework decision on the European arrest warrant can be redesignated as category 1 countries. Only then can we act upon the European arrest warrants received from those countries.

As your Lordships can see, it contains only 11 names, rather than the 17 that might be expected. These are the 11 countries that have recently confirmed that they have implemented the necessary legislation to allow them to operate the EAW. Germany, Greece, Estonia and Slovakia have very recently confirmed that the necessary domestic legislation is in place. Unfortunately, they were too late to be included in the order, but will be the subject of a further order in the following months. The only remaining member states will then be the Czech Republic, which hopes to complete its implementation soon, and Italy. The latter is not able to confirm when it may be ready to implement the framework decision.

The United Kingdom has operated the EAW since 1 January with the seven other member states which had also implemented the Council framework decision on the European arrest warrant. The new procedure has worked very well. The first EAW was received from the Republic of Ireland on 16 January and led to the arrest of the person on 22 January. He consented to his extradition and was surrendered to the Irish authorities on 30 January. The entire process was completed in a record 14 days.

There is another encouraging example. A person was arrested in Belgravia for shoplifting and, following PNC checks, it was discovered that he was wanted in Portugal for murder and robbery. He was extradited to Portugal for those offences only one month later.

The order also amends the time limit regarding Chile to 95 days. This relates to the time limit in which relevant documents have to be received by the judge when a person is arrested under a provisional warrant, and was erroneously listed as 90 days in the original order. These time limits are derived from the old 19th-century treaties. In view of what I have said and the clear indication that the process is now working well, I invite your Lordships to approve the orders. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 17 June be approved [23rd Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

1.45 p.m.

Viscount Bridgeman

My Lords, as the House will be aware, we opposed the passage of the extradition warrant during the passage of the Bill. However, it has become law, and the provisions of the two orders make logical sense in implementing the Bill. We are grateful to the Minister for giving the two examples, which are important. We do not object to the order.

Baroness Harris of Richmond

My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the Minister for giving the examples, and we approve the draft orders.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

My Lords, it remains only for me to thank both opposition Benches for their constructive approach.

On Question, Motion agreed to.