HC Deb 11 February 1994 vol 237 cc532-3W
Mrs. Golding

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for legislation to make it possible to prosecute British nationals who commit paedophilic acts overseas when they return to Britain.

Mr. Maclean

The Government deplore sexual offences against children wherever they occur. Our own law against such abuse is rightly severe. However, our courts' jurisdiction is territorially based rather than nationally based and we have no plans to extend their jurisdiction over paedophile offences committed by British citizens abroad. We believe that such jurisdiction would be largely unenforceable in practice and that where such offences have been committed abroad it is right for the country concerned to enforce its own law.

Unlike some countries which do claim a wide extra-territorial criminal jurisdiction over their nationals, the United Kingdom is willing to extradite its own nationals to stand trial for these offences abroad, subject to the usual safeguards. We are also willing to give legal assistance to other countries under the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990.

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