My Lords, before I turn to the Commons amendments, I will take a moment to remind us all what the Bill does. It gives our law enforcement officers the power to arrest individuals wanted by particular countries for serious crimes when they come across them at the border or on the streets of the United Kingdom. So, when the police come across an individual who they understand, on performing a simple database check, is wanted for a serious offence overseas, they can arrest them immediately without first applying to a judge for a UK arrest warrant. I know that noble Lords already agree that this is a sensible and necessary piece of legislation. I hope that we are now at the final stage of its passage.
Motion on Amendments 1 and 2
1: Clause 2, page 1, line 16, at end insert “, but paragraph 3A of the Schedule may not be commenced so as to come into force in relation to a territory before that territory is a category 2 territory for the purposes of the Extradition Act 2003.”
2: Schedule, page 3, line 22, leave out from beginning to end of line 24 and insert— “(3A)
The “designated authority” is the National Crime Agency.
(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this section so as to change the meaning of “designated authority”.”
My Lords, if noble Lords are amenable, I will address Amendments 1, 2 and 5.
First, I reiterate that the Bill is designed to bring a wanted person into their extradition proceedings as soon as the police come across them without changing in any way the likelihood of their successful extradition to any country. Ongoing extradition proceedings remain the preserve of the UK’s independent courts and all the safeguards that currently exist will continue to apply. The judicial oversight afforded to every person who goes through extradition proceedings remains unchanged.
I wrote to noble Lords on 21 September. I repeat what I said then:
“a UK court has no obligation to extradite a suspect who has been arrested using this or any power and the protections for every person who faces extradition in the UK remain in place within the Extradition Act 2003. This Bill does not make any individual extradition any more or less likely. The Bill allows UK law enforcement officers to better protect the British public and get potentially dangerous offenders off UK streets. It does not provide any advantage for the countries that are listed in the Bill and, as now, it is a UK court who will determine whether the fugitive should be extradited, not a court overseas.”
Amendments 1 and 5 are a contingency to keep an important protection for the UK public in place after the end of the transition period, whatever the outcome of the current negotiations. As noble Lords are aware, the negotiated outcome that we seek with the EU would create a warrant-based system based on the EU’s surrender agreement with Norway and Iceland.
The purpose of amending the Bill in this way and at this time is to ensure the continuation of relevant arrest powers should it prove necessary; it will be commenced only if it is needed. If an agreement is reached, it will not need to come into effect. It is a contingency. Similarly, it provides a contingency in the event that we do not agree new extradition arrangements with Norway and Iceland to maintain the arrest power currently available by virtue of the EU’s Norway-Iceland surrender agreement.
Our current warrant-based extradition arrangements, in the form of the European arrest warrant, and the ones we seek to negotiate based on the agreement with Norway and Iceland, both allow for the immediate arrest of a fugitive wanted by a party to the agreement to take place. We are of course seeking to agree arrangements to keep our power of immediate arrest and retain an end-to-end extradition system with EU countries, Norway and Iceland. The Bill cannot and does not provide an end-to-end system, as is being discussed in the negotiations, but it would none the less maintain an important existing law-enforcement capability in respect of persons wanted by EU countries, Norway and Iceland. There is no alternative in UK law or within the European Convention on Extradition.
So, in the absence of the power being available, this important protection for UK citizens from potentially dangerous criminals wanted across Europe would be lost. Last year, nearly 1,100 wanted persons were arrested in the UK based on a European arrest warrant. Between 60% and 70% of these were as a result of chance encounters. It is these arrests that this amendment provides the contingency for. The Bill is about ensuring that UK law-enforcement officers can continue to arrest dangerous criminals in the UK as they do now. It has nothing to do with whether any UK extradition requests from other countries are successful.
If we fail to legislate in this way and do not secure new extradition arrangements with the EU, Norway and Iceland, if a UK police officer were to encounter a dangerous criminal that they knew to be wanted by the police in an EU member state, they would not have the power to arrest them then and there. The police officer would need to let the individual go, secure a UK arrest warrant from the courts and then attempt to track down the fugitive, possibly days later and of course leaving open the possibility that they might reoffend.
I repeat: the amendment will be commenced only if no warrant-based system is in place at the end of the transition period. It will not be commenced if an agreement is reached with the EU or, in respect of Norway and Iceland, with those territories. The drafting allows for commencement only in relation to EU member states and not Norway/Iceland or vice versa to accommodate the different possible negotiation outcomes. Noble Lords will note that the provision also contains a sunset clause, such that it expires at the end of 2021 to the extent that it has not been commenced. I ask noble Lords to support the Government in this responsible and necessary contingency planning and to support Amendments 1 and 5.
Amendment 2 specifies that the National Crime Agency is to be the designated authority for this legislation and provides a power to change the designated authority by regulations in the future. The designated authority is the agency that will have the task of “certifying” the international arrest alerts that conform to the criteria for carrying out the new power of provisional arrest. We have taken this approach as a direct alternative to using secondary legislation on this occasion. The amendment therefore represents a change of process, not policy, and noble Lords will recognise that it is being made in response to pressures on parliamentary time.
Throughout the passage of this Bill, the NCA, as the UK’s National Central Bureau for Interpol, has been identified as the designated authority and has the need for a regulation-making power to change that, if necessary, in the future. This ensures flexibility for changing circumstances or alterations to the functions or titles of law-enforcement bodies in the UK, such as the NCA in this context.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, who laid a very similar amendment to this in Committee, for his contribution to the scrutiny of this Bill. I hope that noble Lords will agree that this ensures the best use of parliamentary time, and the future-proofing of this legislation. I ask noble Lords to support the Motion on Amendments 1 and 2, and the Motion on Amendment 5.
My Lord, I welcome Commons Amendment 2, designating the NCA in statute for essentially the reasons that the Minister has just given. On Commons Amendments 1 and 5, as a practitioner with a particular interest in terrorism, I know how slow and imperfect the old extradition arrangements were within Europe and how much better things became with the advent of the European arrest warrant, not least by taking the sting out of our sometimes politically fraught extradition relationship with Ireland. That ship has sailed, so it seems that the best we can hope for now is an arrangement modelled on the Norway/Iceland relationship with the EU. These amendments acknowledge that even this modest goal may not be achievable. Their purpose, as I understand it from the Minister, is to offer a marginal improvement to the third-best solution with which we would then be left. So it is depressing that these amendments have been thought necessary, but prudent in the circumstances that they have been put forward. For that reason, not without sadness, I support them.
My Lords, I shall first acknowledge that the noble Baroness the Minister has a script that she is obliged to follow. As the Minister has said in her introduction, this Bill gives the police the power to arrest somebody who is wanted in another country, without the need to apply to a court for a domestic warrant before the arrest can be made, provided that it is a trusted country and the National Crime Agency has verified that the foreign request to make the arrest is necessary and proportionate.
Throughout the passage of this Bill, the Minister has maintained that it is not a replacement for the European arrest warrant, and I agree—but only to the extent that the Bill does not change the extradition process once the accused is before a court. This power to arrest those wanted by a foreign country without a domestic warrant is, of course, part of the European arrest warrant regime. If someone is wanted under an EAW, they could be arrested by the police in the UK without a domestic warrant. Despite what the Minister has said, there is every indication that the UK will no longer be part of the European arrest warrant at the end of the transition period, not least because the constitutions of some countries, such as Germany, do not allow their own nationals to be extradited to a non-EU country. The noble Baroness prayed in aid the EU agreement with Norway and Iceland, but that agreement took more than a decade to agree and implement, and it excludes the extradition of a country’s own nationals.
We were suspicious that this Bill was a replacement, or at least a partial replacement, for the European arrest warrant—and, indeed, we were at a loss if it was not. At Second Reading, the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, asked:
“Could the Minister explain why the existing powers of urgent arrest under Sections 73 and 74 of the Extradition Act 2003, before an extradition request has been submitted or certified, are not considered sufficient? ... My understanding is that a request from the issuing state for the accused’s provisional arrest can already be the subject of a provisional warrant application by the CPS to the court—an application which, in urgent cases, can be made out of hours to the relevant duty judge, if necessary by email.”—[Official Report, 4/2/20; col. 1735.]
This sounds to me like a process that could be quicker than the one proposed by this Bill, where the NCA has to certify the request to make an arrest.
Also at Second Reading the Minister said:
“Several noble Lords have voiced concerns that this Bill is an attempt by the Government to replicate the capability of the EAW. As I hope I have explained, this is not the case.”—[Official Report, 4/2/20; col. 1757.]
This prompted the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, to ask:
“If it is not a replacement for the European arrest warrant, can the Minister confirm that the Government will not add the list of EU countries to the list we have already?”
The Minister replied:
“I said that it is not a replacement for the EAW, but of course the Government can make that request of Parliament.”—[Official Report, 4/2/20; col. 1760.]
And lo and behold, government Amendment 5 adds the list of EU countries, plus Norway and Iceland, which have their own versions of the European arrest warrant, to the list we already have.
Perhaps the noble Minister will now accept that, if the Bill is not a complete replacement for the EAW, it is at least a partial replacement for the EAW, in that it restores arrests without warrant in the UK for those wanted by EU countries—a power that will be lost, along with the rest of the European arrest warrant regime, at the end of the transition period.
As the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, just said, in effect, the fact remains that, even with the Bill, extradition of EU nationals will take longer and be more complex than under the European arrest warrant regime. There is no obligation on EU countries to reciprocate—that is, to immediately arrest and quickly extradite those wanted by the UK who are in EU countries —because the Bill is a partial but wholly inadequate replacement for the European arrest warrant. Perhaps this explains the Government’s sheepishness in trying to put distance between it and the EAW.
It is clear that we will all be less safe in the UK at the end of the transition period, when we lose access to the European arrest warrant, as a consequence of leaving the European Union. We do not oppose the government amendments in this group, but it would have been better if the Government had been more transparent from the outset.
My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, we do no oppose government Amendments 1, 2 and 5, as spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford. I am particularly pleased to see Amendment 2. I very much agree with the comments of both the noble Lords who have spoken so far.
It is regrettable that we had a whole debate on the Bill and, consequently, were assured or told that it was not a replacement for the European arrest warrant. At the last possible moment, Amendment 5 goes down, adding all the European Union countries, plus Norway and Iceland. The Government should be more transparent about these things. I find it quite frustrating; I just do not know why the Government act like this.
When the history books are written and people look at this period, I have no doubt they will see what has gone on here as absolute nonsense. As the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, says, we will be less safe. The only beneficiaries of this will be criminals, and that is a great regret. It is a bad place for us to be in. We had the Brexit referendum, fine, but I do not understand why the Government are pursuing this extreme version, so we end up with a situation like this. All we can do now is to agree these amendments, because they are the best we will get in the circumstances. As I said, we will support them, but with great regret. The only beneficiaries and the people laughing today are criminals.
I thank the noble Lords who spoke to this. I start with the analogy between this and the European arrest warrant, and the suggestion that this was our intention all along. The Bill is similar to the EAW only in so far as it provides an immediate power of arrest of those wanted by countries listed in the Bill. It does not change anything about the subsequent extradition hearing in court or consideration by the Home Secretary.
In the negotiations going forward, I reiterate that we will remain fully committed to reaching a balanced and reciprocal agreement with the EU on law enforcement and criminal justice. The safety and security of our citizens is our top priority, which is why we have said that the agreement with the EU should provide for a fast-track extradition arrangement, based on the EU’s arrangements with Norway and Iceland. An agreement with the EU that reflected either the UK or EU text would keep EU member states in Part 1 of the Act, where the power of immediate arrest already exists. The Bill is for specified Part 2 countries only, for which there is currently no power of immediate arrest.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, for his use of the word “prudent”. I know he is not entirely satisfied with this outcome and would have preferred the EAW, for all its shortcomings, but I hope that that explanation is reasonable to noble Lords, for now.
Motion on Amendment 3
3: Schedule, page 3, line 37, leave out from beginning to end of line 2 on page 4
My Lords, I now address Amendments 3 and 4, made in the other place, to remove amendments made here at Third Reading. Amendment 3 commits to Parliament having the same opportunities to scrutinise this issue as it does now in the specification of territories under the Extradition Act 2003. The addition or removal of any territory is by the affirmative procedure and, as I have emphasised throughout the passage of the Bill, any statutory instruments laid before Parliament are accompanied by Explanatory Memorandums, which set out both the legislative context and policy rationale.
Throughout this process, relevant officials are engaged in regular discussions with their counterparts in the devolved Administrations and law enforcement agencies, which operate across the UK to ensure the effectiveness of our extradition system. This system, which gives Parliament the opportunity to scrutinise such proposals and accept or reject them, has been in place for over 15 years and has proved effective and fit for purpose. The amendment ensures legislative consistency between the Bill and its parent Act, the Extradition Act 2003. There is no need for alternative provisions, and I hope noble Lords will support the amendment, which the other place considered in detail and decided, on balance, to comprehensively support.
I will now address Amendment 4, made in the other place, to remove the amendment made here. This provides that the removal or addition of a country will take place under the existing process in the Extradition Act 2003, where multiple countries may be added or removed at once. The Bill is consistent with that legislation and any Government seeking to add countries in the future can do so only with the consent of Parliament.
Unnecessarily burdensome legislation is an inappropriate use of parliamentary time and resources, and the Government are under a duty to use proportionate systems to legislate. Any additions are dictated by the will of Parliament and, if Parliament does not agree that a country should be specified, the relevant regulations will be voted down in the normal way.
The Government are well aware of the importance of parliamentary support to continue or commence any extradition arrangements with new countries. Our arrangements with Hong Kong are a good recent example, and amendments tabled to the Bill in the other place demonstrated the strength of parliamentary feeling on the matter. Our extradition arrangements with Hong Kong have been suspended indefinitely and these events exemplify that this kind of parliamentary scrutiny is already highly effective. As with the previous amendment, we do not think there is any need for this provision in the Bill. I therefore ask noble Lords to support these amendments and I beg to move.
My Lords, I add my regret about the position on the European arrest warrant. Our post-Brexit arrangements in the realm of security and policing seem precarious or, at best, a poor substitute for what we have now.
When noble Lords debated what went to the Commons as new Section 74B(8)—the subject of Amendment 3 —the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, said that the conditions were a “reasonable and proportionate” process. I say they are more important than a process; they are about consultation, assessing the abuse of the Interpol Red Notices system, and trust in the system. The Government gave assurances then that they would not include countries likely to abuse the system and that the amendment would not conflict with how the Government plan to deal with the regulations.
I will focus on what was our amendment, which is currently the new Section 74B(9), which the Government seek to remove by Amendment 4. That provides for regulations to Schedule A1 that can add specified category 2 territories. That is jargon for something quite important.
The amendment has an impeccable pedigree. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and the noble Lords, Lord Anderson of Ipswich and Lord Kennedy, supported it at previous stages—I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, will be speaking on it shortly. I can think of no reason for the Government resisting this provision other than “It is not how we do things”, or possibly “It was not invented here”. I took comfort that I was not on the wrong track by the support that I received from Cross-Benchers, eminent lawyers whose perspective could not be thought to be distorted by party-political considerations, although I do not think that this issue is party-political.
The provision that the Government seek to remove allows regulations to designate only one country at a time. There is a simple reason for that: to enable Parliament to play its proper part. We all know that such instruments cannot be amended, so if we are presented with a list of countries including one bad apple, in human rights terms, could we expect Parliament to agree to the bad apple to avoid losing the arrangements with all the others, or to reject them all when only one is an issue? I used the examples of an order applying to both the Netherlands and Turkey, or to Sweden and Venezuela. No two countries are quite alike. I could extend the first pairing to a trio, as someone said to me yesterday: France is quite different from Turkey, and Turkey is quite different from Syria.
At previous stages, noble Lords explained their concern that the Government’s judgment could be swayed by factors unconnected with the assessment of a country’s human rights record. Favours for trade concessions were mentioned. That has happened. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, put it neatly, saying that the time may come when another Government seek a favour from this country or we seek a favour from them. He gave an example: “Do you really want our safety equipment? Do you really want our artificial intelligence? Let’s have a mutual extradition arrangement.” He could also envision the possibility—not immediately, but not remotely either—of the Government of the day wishing to associate themselves with a country that shared their political views but was nevertheless not a desirable country with which to have these arrangements. The noble Lord, Lord Anderson, described the provision as meeting the problem of a non-amendable instrument without insuperable difficulties for the Government.
The Government have argued that countries can be added in multiples under the parent Act and so there is no need to make a change, but should we not always be on the lookout for better ways of doing our job of scrutiny? They also said that the courts would throw it out if a country did not respect rule of law. However, the courts can only consider applications from individuals, case by case. They can only consider what the Government put in the regulations when those regulations are applied and the individual affected challenges the action.
The Minister has told the House that she would not present an SI that she knew would run into trouble. I say this so often that the Minister must think that I have got it in for her—I really have not, not personally—but we must depersonalise these things. She may be the Minister for longer than I am here, but she will not always be the Minister. There may be a Government whose judgment she questions. She says that the House could vote down an instrument. The House is responsible and would not want to because of one bad apple.
At Second Reading in the Commons, the Minister said that the Bill was not concerned with the UK’s extradition relationship with other countries, but it is. He said that when a fugitive is wanted for a serious offence by a trusted country, he is brought before a UK court, but that is not the issue. The Commons were told that the amendment is not required and is unnecessarily burdensome. It had not occurred to me but, as a Member put it, considering the Government’s vocal support for the Magnitsky Act to deter human rights abuses, it would be hypocritical to oppose an amendment that has the same purpose.
In Committee in the other place, the Minister, James Brokenshire, said:
“Any additions will be dictated by the will of Parliament”—
that is what this provision would put in place—
“not by an unusual process such that this would impose. If a country is proposed that Parliament does not agree should be specified, then the regulations will be voted down in the normal way. We judge that that remains the rightful process.”—[Official Report, Commons, 8/9/20; col. 567.]
It may be an unusual process, but why is the process invariable? Voting down regulations listing 10 or 20 countries would cause a lot more nuisance for the Government than voting down regulations relating to a single country and there would be very little pressure on parliamentary time.
We are not challenging the premise of the Bill, but we are defending the sovereignty of Parliament, as distinct from the Executive. I still do not understand the technical, practical or political arguments. We would deal with a bundle of instruments, one after the other, which is a bit tedious, but does that matter? There is no delay, just a sensible opportunity for each House properly to give or withhold approval. I fail to see why the Government feel threatened by such a common-sense proposal. When the moment comes, I will seek the opinion of the House.
My Lords, the following Member in the Chamber has indicated their desire to speak, so I call the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford.
My Lords, I add my regrets to those expressed by other noble Lords on the loss to this country of the European arrest warrant. I was in the European Parliament when it was born, nearly two decades ago, and my last initiative as an MEP was to write a report on reform of the European arrest warrant, in which the former Home Secretary, Theresa May, expressed great interest before making some unilateral UK amendments about its implementation. It is not a perfect instrument, but it is a lot better than the alternatives, particularly the 1957 extradition convention.
I am focusing on Amendments 4 and 4A. In Committee, the Minister told us:
“The Government have no intention of specifying countries likely to abuse the system to political ends.”—[Official Report, 5/3/20; col. GC 364.]
First, Governments can, and sometimes do, change. Secondly, intentions, however sincere when made, do not always survive unscathed. Presumably the Government intended to act in good faith in respecting the EU withdrawal agreement that they negotiated, signed and recommended to Parliament and the country, but now they want to give themselves the power to override a key part of it. They no doubt intended to keep their promise to uphold high standards of food safety and animal welfare. If they reach a trade agreement with the United States, imports from there will not comply with those standards and our own farmers will become uncompetitive, putting pressure for deregulation here.
As my noble friend Lady Hamwee mentioned, there is also apprehension about what pressure might be exerted by potential trade partners. Outside the EU, the UK is more vulnerable because it is only one country. As part of a bloc of 28, we could say: “Sorry, we’re bound by EU law, we can’t give you an individual concession, so there is nothing we can do, chaps.” We are much more exposed to that pressure if trying to reach a bilateral trade agreement with a single country.
Those are the reasons of principle why we need individual statutory instruments, country by country. There are also practical reasons. By insisting that this House takes an all-or-nothing approach, the risk is that the House feels compelled to vote down an SI that contains some perfectly respectable countries and one dodgy one—my noble friend gave some examples. This would waste more time than if the Government had the good sense to take them one by one. It is quite puzzling why they are being obstinate in refusing to see the good sense of that. It would be far more efficient, effective and respectful of human rights and the transparency of parliamentary scrutiny to allow Parliament to focus on one country at a time. That need not slow down the process at all; it could possibly streamline it.
Are there any other Members present who would like to contribute at this point? If not, we can move on. The next speaker is the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich.
I supported both the amendments to which the response of the Commons is considered in this grouping. Indeed, along with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, I put my name to the “one at a time” amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, which Commons Amendment 4 would remove.
I described that amendment at Report as a sensible and practical safety valve. Given the unamendable nature of statutory instruments, it would have made it possible, at least in theory, for your Lordships to vote down the proposed addition to Schedule A1 of an unacceptable country without jeopardising the desirable inclusion of other countries proposed at the same time. As such, it would have been a contribution—a tiny contribution, I acknowledge—to the solution of a much larger and increasingly pressing problem: the need for some sort of practical and meaningful parliamentary control over the content of statutory instruments laid before us.
The Minister is right to say that the issue raised by the amendment has been properly debated in the Commons; the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has, I am sure, borne that in mind, together with whatever prospect her amendment may have of succeeding today, in deciding to put it to the vote. If she persists in that course I shall, because I still support the principle of her amendment, vote for it.
My Lords, it is disappointing that the Government are not moving on either of the two issues on which this House agreed some time ago.
Looking first at Amendment 3, I hope the noble Baroness is right to say that the previous amendment, which is subsection (8) of the Bill at present, is unnecessary because the Government will consult widely with devolved institutions and other organisations before regulations come before Parliament. I know it is a different issue, but when we consider the Covid pandemic, we often hear representations from devolved institutions and the metro mayors about the lack of consultation, so there is concern more widely across government that the Government do not consult as much as they should. I hope we can accept what the noble Baroness is saying: that the Government would consult. Of course, no matter what the good intentions of the noble Baroness—I have a lot of respect for her—she will not always be the Home Office Minister in charge and this Government will not always be in place. People come and go over time, and we are setting down something that may be here for much longer. That is important to note.
There is also the issue of Interpol red notices, which certain countries abuse. I hope the Government will be firm on that and clear that they will not accept abuse of those notices.
The other issue we discussed was whether we should deal with a number of territories together or just singly. I put my name to and supported the decision to deal with them one by one, for very good reasons. There could be a number of countries with which everyone is very happy, but one that raises some concerns. Again, the noble Baroness has said, “We would never do that”. I am sure she would not but, as I said on the previous amendment, people change, Governments change and at a later date, a particular Government may want us to agree to a particular proposal. In that sense, it is disappointing to find ourselves in this position today.
I note that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, whom I respect very much, says that she is going to divide the House. We on these Benches take the view that we have pursued these issues as far as we can, so if she does divide the House, although I have great sympathy with what she is saying, we will not be supporting her.
My Lords, I start with the issue that has been mentioned by all noble Lords who have spoken: the specification of non-trusted countries. Speaking as a Minister, when we look at secondary legislation we always look to see where the risks are and where the opposition might lie. For a Minister to bring forward a statutory instrument that might contain a country to which the whole of Parliament would be opposed would be to absolutely guarantee that that instrument would be voted against. The addition of any country must be approved by both Houses of Parliament, and I trust that neither House would be content to approve the addition of a country about which it had any concerns.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, talked about politically motivated extradition requests. I certainly have sympathy with her point, but the power is not being afforded to countries known to issue politically motivated extradition requests, nor does it alter the ability of a UK judge to discharge such requests in the normal way. The independent courts are the proper forums for deciding which extradition requests should fail, so it would not be appropriate to make provision relating to politically motivated extradition requests through this Bill, which is about a power of arrest. The immediate power of arrest proposed by the Bill will apply only to requests from specific countries: currently, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and, if necessary, the EU member states. These countries are specified as we already have effective extradition relationships with them, and we have confidence in their use of Interpol and the international arrest alerts that they issue. The Government have no intention of specifying countries which are likely to abuse the system to political ends.
The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, talked about the abuse of Interpol channels. International organisations such as Interpol are critical to international law enforcement and provide a secure channel through which we exchange information on a police-to-police basis for action. The UK continues to work with Interpol to ensure that its rules are robust, effective and complied with. The former chief constable of Essex was recently made the Executive Director of Police Services for Interpol, which is the most senior operational role in that organisation. A UK Government lawyer has also been seconded to Interpol’s Notices and Diffusions Task Force to work with it to ensure that Interpol rules are properly robust and adhered to by Interpol member states.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, made a sensible point about consultation. Of course, extradition is a reserved matter, but we have worked very closely with the devolved Administrations regarding the contents of the Bill and will of course engage with them as a matter of good practice where any secondary legislation is to be introduced in relation to it.
Motion on Amendment 3 agreed.
Motion on Amendment 4
4: Schedule, page 4, leave out lines 3 and 4
Motion 4A (as an amendment to the Motion on Amendment 4)
Motion on Amendment 4
4: Schedule, page 4, leave out lines 3 and 4
Motion on Amendment 5
5: Schedule, page 7, line 2, at end insert—
“3A In Schedule A1 (as inserted by paragraph 3), at the appropriate places, insert—
3B Paragraph 3A is repealed at the end of 2021 if, or to the extent that, it has not been brought into force before the end of that year.”
Considered in Committee (Programme Order, 22 June)
[Mr Nigel Evans in the Chair]
Before I ask the Clerk to read the title of the Bill, I should explain that, in these exceptional circumstances, although the Chair of the Committee would normally sit in the Clerk’s Chair during Committee state, in order to comply with social distancing requirements I will remain in the Speaker’s Chair although I will be carrying out the role not of Deputy Speaker but of Chairman of the Committee. We should be addressed as Chairs of the Committee rather than as Deputy Speakers.
Power of Arrest for Extradition Purposes
I beg to move amendment 1, in page 1, line 6, at end insert—
‘( ) Nothing in this Act changes the effect of any rule of law or any enactment in force before the date on which this Act is passed in relation to extradition requests by or on behalf of—
(a) the People’s Republic of China, or
(b) the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.”
This amendment is intended to ensure the provisional arrest arrangements proposed under this Bill do not apply to extradition requests from China and/or Hong Kong.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
Amendment 2, in page 1, line 6, at end insert—
‘( ) The power to make further amendments under this Act may not be used to make any provision in relation to—
(a) the People’s Republic of China, or
(b) the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.”
This amendment would prevent the power to make amendments under this Bill being used in relation to China and/or Hong Kong.
Amendment 7, in clause 1, page 1, line 6, at end insert—
‘( ) The power to make further amendments under this Act may not be used to make any provision in relation to the United States of America.”
This amendment would prevent the power to make amendments under this Bill being used in relation to the USA.
Clause stand part.
Amendment 3, in clause 2, page 1, line 13, at end insert “except in relation to extradition requests by or on behalf of—
(a) the People’s Republic of China, or
(b) the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.”
This amendment would preclude the exercise in respect of China and /or Hong Kong of the powers under the Extradition Act 2003 in relation to British overseas territories, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, in relation to any changes made by this Bill.
Amendment 8, page 1, line 13, at end insert “except in relation to extradition requests by or on behalf of the United States of America.”
This amendment would preclude the exercise in respect of the USA of the powers under the Extradition Act 2003 in relation to British overseas territories, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, in relation to any changes made by this Bill.
Government amendment 11.
Clause 2 stand part.
New clause 1—Annual statement on provisional arrests—
‘(1) The Secretary of State must, at the end of the period of 12 months beginning on the day on which this Act is passed, lay before both Houses of Parliament a statement setting out how many individuals have been arrested under provisions within this Act.
(2) The statement must include a list of each incident broken down by protected characteristics of each person arrested, as defined in section 4 of the Equality Act 2010.
(3) The Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a report in similar terms covering each subsequent 12 month period, within six months of that period ending.”
This new clause would require the Secretary of State to lay a statement setting out how many individuals have been arrested under provisions within this Act, broken down by characteristics of each person arrested.
New clause 2—Review of the Act—
‘(1) The Secretary of State must appoint a person to review the operation of the provisions of the Extradition Act 2003 as amended by this Act
(2) That person may, from time to time, carry out a review of the provisions of this Act and must send a report on the outcome of such a review to the Secretary of State as soon as reasonably practicable after completing the review.
(3) A review under subsection (2) may, in particular, consider operational effectiveness
(4) The person appointed under subsection (1) must carry out and report on the first review before the end of the period of 12 months after the day on which this Act is passed.
(5) On receiving a report under this section, the Secretary of State must lay a copy of it before Parliament as soon as the Secretary of State is satisfied that doing so will not prejudice any criminal proceedings.”
This new clause requires the changes made by this Act to be kept under review, and the first review of the Act to be carried out within a year of its being passed.
Government amendment 12.
Amendment 16, page 3, leave out lines 22 to 24 and insert—
‘(4) The “designated authority” is the National Crime Agency.”
This amendment would define the “designated authority” as the National Crime Agency.
Amendment 4, page 3, line 36, at end insert—
‘( ) Regulations under subsection (7) may not add the People’s Republic of China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China as a specified category 2 territory.”
This amendment would preclude the exercise in respect of China and Hong Kong of the proposed power under section 75B(7) of the Extradition Act 2003 to add to the list of specified category 2 territories under Schedule A1 on whose authority a valid extradition request may be made.
Amendment 9, page 3, line 36, at end insert—
‘( ) Regulations under subsection (7) may not add the United States of America to the list in Schedule A1 of specified category 2 territories.”
This amendment would preclude the exercise in respect of the USA of the proposed power under section 75B(7) of the Extradition Act 2003 to add to the list of specified category 2 territories under Schedule A1 on whose authority a valid extradition request may be made.
Government amendments 13 and 14.
Amendment 17, page 6, line 42, leave out “Liechtenstein” and insert “All the Member States of the European Economic Area”
This amendment would allow for all EEA Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden) to be inserted into new Schedule A1.
Amendment 10, page 7, leave out line 2
This amendment would remove the USA from the proposed list of specified category 2 countries to which the provisions of this Bill will apply.
Government amendment 15.
Schedule stand part.
I rise to speak to amendment 1, but with it are a whole bunch of other amendments that I have tabled alongside my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Bob Seely) and the hon. Member for Rotherham (Sarah Champion). I had intended when I originally tabled them to speak on the basis that the Government needed to act, but since then they have acted—and that is never a bad thing. Although I, with my colleagues, may well have provoked the Government to act, I still want to speak, because things are happening at the moment which mean, I hope, that the Government will pay full attention to further action that may be required, stretching across extradition and into sanctions.
I thank the Government for finally agreeing to rule out the extradition arrangements with Hong Kong, but it is worth noting what has been going on since the imposition of the national security law, which is now making the lives of many in Hong Kong a misery. More than that, they now fear very much indeed not only for their lives but their liberty in a way that none of us here, I sometimes think, could possibly imagine—what it is like to live in such an environment.
We have a historical relationship with Hong Kong, and we have a legal right, under the Sino-British treaty, to have an opinion and view on what is happening in Hong Kong. No matter what the Chinese Government may say, that is our right in international law. The imposition of the national security law runs counter to that arrangement—that treaty. On that basis, the Government have acted correctly in cutting off any potential problem that may arise as a result of the use of the extradition agreement—but there is more, even now, as we speak. Quite recently, we have seen action against a number of people who have done nothing other than use the kind of rights that we would take for granted in this House. Jimmy Lai, the owner of the largest pro-democracy publication in the city, has been charged with undermining the state. There have been arrests of young activists, some of which we have seen on television, but others go on. There have been media posts and people holding blank pieces of paper at protests. People have been arrested in shopping malls for sedition. The targeting of Hong Kong activists overseas is going on apace and gathering pace, as is retrospectively applying the law to supposed crimes that took place before it even came into force, which I find remarkable—perhaps I should not, but I do.
There are then all the elements that the UK Government will find themselves having to deal with, and I believe all the devolved Administrations are united in this sense as well. The evidence around censorship is really quite astonishing. References to the Tiananmen Square massacre have now been removed from all textbooks and all materials that might say anything at all about it—they are simply blanked out. There is a new cultural revolution, with teachers and students being asked and encouraged to spy on each other. If somebody says the wrong thing, or something that is considered the wrong thing, or if someone is remembered to have said the wrong thing, all such talk invokes the use of the security law. There is a new national security centre in Shenzhen to re-educate those who do not comply. Benny Tai, the organiser of the yellow umbrella protest, which is a peaceful movement—I stress that these are all peaceful movements—was fired from his teaching post at a university simply because he was party to that movement. The censorship of university content is now gathering pace, as they are filleting out anything that references any concerns or issues around the nature of China, and even its historical nature.
The latest issue that should concern the Government completely is that we are now seeing problems for journalists from the free world. I say the free world because it is not just a western issue; it is an issue of all those who believe in rights and freedom around the world, whether they be in the far east or in the west. The New York Times has to relocate its staff, completely—lock, stock and barrel—to Seoul after the visa renewal of a senior journalist was rejected; the threat was clearly there that the rest would follow. A senior journalist at the Hong Kong Free Press had their visa rejected. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong described the trend as a weaponisation of visas by China. We even saw on the news the other day that the Australians are being heavily targeted—brutally targeted—and not only with sanctions; their journalists are now having to flee the country. In fact, two journalists who were due to leave were stopped from leaving and ended up in the consulate. They have now finally left, but the authorities wanted to question them for writing stuff of which they did not approve.
The whole point of this issue then comes into focus. It is the co-operation of the Chinese officials that I find perhaps the most galling. In the announcement by Chief Executive Carrie Lam that they were postponing the LegCo elections that were due to take place on Sunday 5 September—the weekend just gone—she cited covid cases as a reason for the delay. I have heard a few excuses in my time but that one really did take the biscuit, because so many other countries have had elections, both local and national, even during the covid saga. It is also worth pointing out that the Hong Kong rate of infection is lower than pretty much any of the countries that have held elections already. The idea that they can latch on to covid as some kind of excuse for cancelling elections had nothing to do with the reality; the reality was that they did not approve of the opposition and wanted to stop the election so that they had time to make sure they arrested the key elements so that they would never be able to stand. Many members of the opposition have fled here to the UK and I have met and seen them.
There are two points, really, that dismantle the whole process. I made the point earlier that a number of countries—dozens, I think—have held elections. It is part of the total crackdown and acquiescence with what is in essence an illegal process going on in Hong Kong. That brings me to the next phase. The Government are right to have reacted and to have ceased the extradition procedures, but yet more needs to be done. I like to think this is something that unites us all. The sanctions that come from the Magnitsky amendments need seriously to be deployed by the Government. When I was most recently in the Chamber for exchanges on this issue, the Foreign Secretary said that the Government would review other actions that need to be taken with regards to Hong Kong, and that they would take it as the situation develops. The situation has been developing. It has been developing at a pace which, if my right hon. Friend the Minister for Security will forgive my saying, is faster than the Government or the Foreign Office seem to be able to move. We have nothing to lose anymore by holding back. It is not as if the Chinese Government are going to turn around and thank us, because they already think that we have caused problems, so my answer is: let us get on with it.
The deterioration of the situation has accelerated over the summer, and the US Government have already sanctioned Hong Kong and Chinese officials responsible for the implementation of the new law and for human rights abuses. I urge my right hon. Friend and the Foreign Secretary, who is not here, to move on to that and listen to Nathan Law, who fled directly after the Hong Kong Government did not agree to him standing. Others have also had to flee, and they have all called for those sanctions to be applied. I hope that the Government will listen to people whose lives have been under threat and whose families are still in Hong Kong and yet are brave enough to call for such sanctions, knowing full well that that might bring further problems for them.
A related issue is the excessive and expensive visa fees under the present Government policy for BNO passport holders, which could be prohibitive for those who wish to get passports. We have been generous in opening up and saying that individuals with BNO status who wish to get passports will have the right to get them and to travel to the UK if necessary, but we have then put another problem in their way, and we do not make it easy for them. It is surely not right that potential British passport holders should have to face these fees. BNOs are allowed to serve in our armed forces but are not yet able to become British nationals without paying a large cost. I hope that the Government will think about suspending those fees, to encourage these people—particularly young ones—to take advantage of what is essentially a lifeline. Many of the people I have met who have fled Hong Kong have spoken of their difficulties in obtaining these passports. I know that this is not directly my right hon. Friend’s responsibility, but I hope he will raise it with the Foreign Office, so that it can give its blessing.
The last point I want to make is an important one. We know about all the businesses that have been kowtowing to the Chinese Government, many of them in a shameful way, apologising, excusing and saying that it is somehow all about restoring order, despite the terrible abuses taking place. I will not go through them all, but I want to raise one that has recently been discovered. It appears that Disney worked with the security services in Xinjiang region—the place where the Uyghurs have suffered the most appalling abuse. It is those very security services that have been responsible for the forced sterilisation of Uyghur women. It is those very security services that have been rounding up those who have not co-operated and sending them to re-education camps, which have turned into labour camps, because they are now giving what I would call slave labour to companies situated in China.
That is appalling, and it is an illustration of what has been going on in China. I am astonished that, no matter all the news there is at the moment, the broadcast news have been pretty quiet on this issue. It is high time that we made a fuss about it. We should be the leaders on this issue. This country has a responsibility to Hong Kong and has a right to speak out. It is shameful that those companies turn a blind eye and act as apologists for a regime that brooks no dissent, is intolerant and is now arresting people for the most minor new offences that have nothing to do with normal law.
The situation is deteriorating fast. This Government need to pick up the pace, after having agreed to the extradition procedures being lifted. I urge the Government with all my heart to put China right up there as a priority, no matter all our domestic rows and arguments, which are important. The freedom of people faced with the imposition of dictatorial regimes should always be our No. 1 cry. We should speak out when others are not able to have the freedoms that we take for granted in this House. If we do not speak out for them, who will?
Let me start by agreeing entirely with what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith); he has argued forcefully that we should not extradite to China and Hong Kong, giving powerful humanitarian and human rights reasons, and he is right on every count.
Our extradition arrangements with the United States are not anything like as divisive as those with China and Hong Kong, but they remain deeply imbalanced and can lead to serious miscarriages of justice. As it stands, the Bill would allow individuals in the United Kingdom who are to be extradited to a list of specified countries to be arrested without a warrant. My amendments 7, 8, 9 and 10 would remove the United States from that list of countries, and I shall speak to those amendments now.
The Government say that they need the powers in this Bill because of suspects getting away if they are “encountered by chance” and it is not possible to arrest them without applying to a judge for a warrant. For hundreds of years in this country we have woken judges and magistrates up in the middle of the night to do precisely that: to carry out a police action, be it a search or an arrest. We do not bypass normal legal protections when a domestic suspect might get away, so why is this necessary in respect of individuals facing extradition? The Home Office’s own impact assessment of these new powers says that, with or without them,
“suspects are highly likely to be before the court in any event when the requesting state confirms that the suspect is at large in the UK.”
So one has to wonder why the provision is needed at all.
The methodology used in the impact assessment supporting the Bill is both opaque and bogus. It is too long to go into here, but I recommend that if Members want a confusing way to go to sleep, they should read it—it is completely useless. Even so, it asserts that the proposed change would result annually in just
“6 individuals entering the CJS more quickly than would otherwise have been the case.”
That is just six individuals a year in the criminal justice system, out of the more than 100,000 criminals we deal with in this country every year, and for that we are giving away a fundamental legal protection for the innocent, as well as for anybody else.
The Bill’s explanatory notes try to justify the legislation on the basis that it is similar to powers introduced by our European neighbours, such as Spain. Let me give the House one example of that in operation. Members will know the name of Bill Browder, who campaigned on behalf of Sergei Magnitsky, the man who died in Russian imprisonment; in effect, he was killed by the Russian state. The Russians put out a red notice through Interpol for Mr Browder, and the Spanish Government executed it. Right enough, a judge subsequently released him, but I ask the House to think how Mr Browder would have felt, sitting in a Spanish prison considering the prospect of being extradited to be imprisoned in Russia and put into the hands of the people who had killed Magnitsky. These things are not without price.
As for other European countries, a number of them have absolute embargoes on extraditing their own citizens to anybody outside the EU, for reasons that I will come to in a second, but which in essence relate to a lack of trust in other countries’ justice systems.
The Bill’s impact assessment states:
“Under the proposed new power, the police could arrest a suspect who was wanted for extradition by a trusted partner country”.
The Bill defines such a country as
“those who respect the international rules based system”—
broadly speaking, although not entirely, the United States does that—
“and whose Red Notices and Criminal Justice Systems the UK trusts”.
We like to think of the US justice system as similar to our own, but recent high-profile cases have highlighted just how wrong that is and how we cannot trust the system with the interests of British citizens.
When the 2003 extradition treaty and the associated Bill were introduced, they were sold to the House on the basis that they would be used principally for paedophiles, murderers and terrorists. I was shadow Home Secretary at the time and I remember it vividly. I remember the leader of the Conservative party at the time accepting it on those terms, because he thought it was in the interests of the country. But the people we are extraditing to the United States are mostly white collar businessmen who pose no danger to United Kingdom citizens, or indeed United States citizens.
My right hon. Friend is making a characteristically sensible and robust speech. Does he agree that at the moment the international rules-based system is under great pressure but matters hugely to all of us? Is the case of the United States not an example of a totally asymmetric approach to extradition and will that asymmetry not be seen by people in Britain as most unfair and as bringing the whole process into disrepute?
My right hon. Friend is right on several counts, and I will elaborate on the unfairness in a second, but he is right also to highlight something else, which is that international rules-based systems work only if everyone sees them treating all countries and their citizens identically. If they do not do that, they fall down. An American exceptionalist approach, therefore, destroys the systems we are trying to uphold. So there is an interesting philosophical point in his intervention, as well as the moral one that I will major on.
My right hon. Friend is exactly right, and I was one of those, although at that time I was not allowed to say so. It was not the first time I have been overruled by my boss, and it will not be the last.
Since 2007, the United Kingdom has surrendered 135 UK nationals to the United States, 99 of them for non-violent offences. Over the whole period of the Act, 80% of the offences have been non-violent. So much for terrorism, murder and paedophilia! To put it another way, there have been only three violent offences per year requiring extradition to the United States.
The US deliberately uses its extradition arrangements to cast a wide legal net around the business world, seeking to be judge, jury and executioner for global commercial deals and aims. The Home Affairs Select Committee’s 2012 reported concluded that the United States
“has the power to reach out around the world and—provided there is a very, very tenuous connection with the US—it generally has the power to prosecute.”
Or as the distinguished extradition lawyer, Robert Dougans, puts it:
“The Department of Justice effectively uses criminal extradition as a lever for US interests in commercial matters, which is not what it is for.”
This has been shown in case after case, such as those of Ian Norris, the chairman of Morgan Crucible; the NatWest three; Christopher Tappin; and a number of others, including, most recently, Dr Mike Lynch.
How does it work? Once a person extradited from the UK arrives in the US, they are treated as guilty from the moment they land. They face invasive strip searches—that is exactly how it sounds—and they are electronically tagged. They are kept in appalling conditions completely alien to the British justice system. They are shackled and perp-walked into and out of court in front of television cameras and paparazzi, so that the US Department of Justice can claim a PR victory at the expense of the presumption of innocence.
Some of the people extradited sit in court facing allegations dressed head to toe in orange prison garb. They are then faced with enormous pressure from the US authorities to agree to a plea bargain. They are told that if they plead innocent they will face decades in these appalling conditions but if they plead guilty they will face a much lighter sentence in an open prison, with possibly half of it served back here in the UK. As the case is held in America, very often witnesses from the UK will not appear, because they themselves fear incarceration. That has certainly happened in some current cases. A massive 97% of cases are settled by plea in the United States. For a foreigner, unprotected by the US constitution, that is not a justice system; it is a very effective but not at all fair prosecution system. It is not justice.
Much of this would be better if the accused were tried in Britain, completely sidelining the need to extradite at all. The NatWest three, for example, were British citizens and their alleged crime was in Britain against a British company; at worst, they should have been tried in front of a British court, but the British authorities did not see them as having a case to answer. However, the extradition treaty does not recognise this. Anyone caught in this system faces an asymmetric and unbalanced treaty process. Unlike in the US, a person in the UK has no right to insist on probable cause before being extradited. The 2011 Joint Committee on Human Rights report called this a lack of reciprocity in the treaty, and it has resulted in the US surrendering only 11 individuals to the United Kingdom since 2007, while 135 have gone the other way. Since the United States is roughly five times bigger than the UK, this is an effective disparity of 50 in risk of extradition.
It is not just a case of lack of reciprocity. The people in the NatWest case, which my right hon. Friend mentioned, had no case to answer according to the British authorities, yet in spite of that they were extradited. That is an appalling abuse of their human rights.
My right hon. Friend is exactly right. Interestingly, in their case human rights were not used as a defence mechanism, whereas in another case the only thing that stopped Gary McKinnon being extradited was the implementation of the human rights law. My right hon. Friend is right more generally, too; they did not have a case to answer in a normal justice system, but they gave in and confessed to guilt rather than face 30 years in a grim high-security Texan prison, never seeing their families again, which is what this would have amounted to. That illustrates where the disparity lies, and why it is so unfair.
The US Government also have much greater discretion in refusing extradition requests. Under the Extradition Act 2003, the Secretary of State “must”—the word is “must”—issue a certificate for extradition. The equivalent US code states that the Secretary of State “may” order the person to be tried. Of course, there is no stronger demonstration of this than the case of Anne Sacoolas, the person responsible for the tragic death of Harry Dunn. In Ms Sacoolas’s case the US Secretary of State used this discretion—I think in the view of most in this House, wrongly—to prevent her extradition. The Dunn family may now have to settle for a wholly unsatisfactory virtual trial of Anne Sacoolas, because our extradition arrangements have failed to give them proper justice.
That is just the latest example of how the completely lopsided treaty allows US citizens to evade justice while exposing United Kingdom citizens to miscarriages of justice. The Prime Minister himself has recognised this imbalance. At Prime Minister’s questions on 12 February he said:
“I do think that elements of that relationship are unbalanced, and it is certainly worth looking at”.—[Official Report, 12 February 2020; Vol. 671, c. 846.]
Due to the scope of the Bill, my amendments would not rebalance the extradition arrangements with the US, but they would prevent, in a very small way, further facilitation of further miscarriages of justice. It would be a tiny improvement in a system that requires an entirely radical rewrite, so I am only moving them as probing amendments today.
The simple truth is—I make this point very firmly to my right hon. and very old Friend the Minister for Security, who is sitting on the Treasury Bench—[Interruption.] He is older than you think. I say to the Minister that this really needs, in the words of the Prime Minister, a rethink. I do hope that the Government will rethink this treaty and ensure that in future when we extradite British citizens to any other justice system in the world, that justice system will work as it is supposed to, and give them what is in the title: justice.
This is an important Bill. We need an extradition system that ensures that UK law enforcement agencies are supported in apprehending dangerous criminals in order to keep the public safe, both in Britain and abroad. This Bill helps facilitate the extradition of those who have committed serious crimes abroad, and all of us in this House can support that.
However, it is vital that this Bill includes the necessary safeguards. The amendments, both from the other place and those put before the House today, share common themes of transparency, fairness and support for parliamentary scrutiny; these are values that every Member should hold. It is right that the Bill compels the Government to consult with the devolved Administrations and non-governmental organisations before adding or removing a territory, as well as confirming to Parliament that the territory does not abuse Interpol red notices. That amendment promotes dialogue and discussion among relevant parties, respects the role of the devolved Administrations and ensures a level of transparency that is necessary in Government. It is difficult to see how any reasonable Government could object to that. Moreover, given the trouble that the Government have had with carrying out consultations before making major decisions, it is important that such a measure is included in the Bill. If any Member needs evidence of that, I refer them to the former Department for International Development.
The second amendment carried in the other place, which mandates that territories can only be added to the extradition process individually, is designed to increase both transparency and scrutiny. If we allow territories to be added when grouped together, there is a real risk that a country with a problematic human rights record could be included alongside countries that respect human rights. Considering the Government’s vocal support for a Magnitsky Act to deter human rights abuses, it would be somewhat hypocritical to oppose an amendment that has the same purpose.
Furthermore, by considering whether to add a territory on its own merits, we are not only ensuring that those countries do not abuse Interpol red notices, we are also adding a further layer of parliamentary scrutiny to the process. The House should seek to support additional scrutiny, not limit it. It is therefore disappointing, if not surprising, that the Government seem set on opposing these common-sense safeguards. As well as the amendments passed in the other place, it is important that this House further strengthens the Bill. Given that the legislation includes increased law enforcement powers with the purpose of keeping the public safe, it is right that the House should be able to see the effectiveness of those measures. Compelling the Secretary of State to update the House annually on the number of arrests made would help to achieve that. For the same reason, it is important that the Act is kept under regular review by this House. Again, that would strengthen Parliament’s role while ensuring the measures are working as intended.
Finally, although the Bill rightfully updates our extradition process with territories such as New Zealand and Canada, it is clearly wrong that there is still uncertainty regarding our justice and security arrangements with members of the European Union. Many of those states are some of our closest allies, while a potential lack of access to the real-time European criminal databases will undoubtedly affect the ability of UK law enforcement agencies to protect the public. It is concerning that the Government have yet to adequately address that point.
While the Bill should be supported by the House, it is not perfect and there are gaps and uncertainties that still exist within it. The Opposition amendments seek to fill and strengthen the Bill and ensure that it is fully effective, while also aiming to increase transparency and co-operation. I urge Members to support the Opposition amendments today and to protect the amendments agreed to in the other place.
Two very important principles should be in all our thoughts when framing extradition legislation. First, there is the imperative to make sure that where someone has committed a serious and violent crime, such as a terrorist offence or murder or some other such crime, in the United Kingdom and has escaped abroad, we have arrangements so that we can pursue justice against them through co-operation with countries around the world. We should also have very much in our mind the issues that my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) drew to the attention of the House. We should be very concerned about innocent people in our country who may be the object of extradition requests or demands from countries abroad to take them into justice systems that are not up to the standards of our own, or not the kind of thing we would want an innocent person, particularly, to have to approach, only to see justice not done in those countries if we have undertaken such extradition matters. I echo my right hon. Friend’s request that we need to look again at how the US relationship is working. This was sold to the House some years ago on the basis that it would be targeted on those criminals we could all agree about—the terrorists, rapists and murderers who were committing violent crime—and it is of concern for us to discover that that has not been its main use at all.
I hope the Minister will share with the House his thoughts on what arrangements we will move towards with the other European countries now we have left the European Union. There may be a move to put all European Union, or European economic area, countries under these provisions, but we should definitely look at the different standards of justice system in those countries. While many of our European friends have excellent justice systems that we would be very happy with, there are very variable standards throughout the European continent. Given that we are rethinking our foreign policy and our position in the world generally, this is a good opportunity to look at them one by one and to ask whether some of them are below the standards we would expect and whether they have not made good use in the past of the very widespread powers granted to them under the European arrest warrant.
When I was preparing for this debate, one set of figures I saw in a commentary was for the period from 2010 to 2018. It said that over that period, continental countries had used the European arrest warrant eight times as often as we had used it for criminals, or alleged criminals, that we needed to undertake it for in our courts, so it has been asymmetric. In part, that is because there are many more people on the continent than there are in the United Kingdom, but it also tells us something about the seriousness of the offences that they are interested in for extradition.
I am pleased to see that there is some recognition in the legislation that extradition should be reserved for more serious offences. One does not want a complex and expensive system such as this to be used for a lot of minor offences. The Government have chosen to define it as something that is an offence in the United Kingdom and which would command a prison sentence of three years or more in the event of somebody being found guilty. I think that is a good start, because one of the features of the European arrest warrant that many people did not like was that somebody could be extradited under it from the United Kingdom for something that was not actually an offence in the United Kingdom. That did not seem a very fair system or proposal.
I hope the Minister will share with us some of his thoughts on what would be an appropriate list of European countries and whether they should just slot into the proposals that we are debating today. I think I am happy with the list of countries that we are being asked to endorse, with the caveat that we need to look at the American relationship in the way that my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden suggested. I fully understand that now is not the afternoon to try to make dramatic changes to that and why he has tabled only a probing amendment. We are asking the Government about that, but there are big issues here that we would like them to review.
It is a pleasure to speak on a Bill that is so crucial to the security of our country and the safety of our citizens. The extradition Bill plugs the capability gap that currently exists whereby the police become aware of a person who is wanted by a non-EU territory but are unable to arrest them without obtaining a warrant from a court first. Due to the delay, the suspect may abscond to avoid justice or to commit further crimes, this time in the UK. It is not a point of debate that we all want to see those who perpetrate such serious crimes brought to justice, wherever they may be. Furthermore, the people of Rother Valley do not want foreign criminals exploiting loopholes in our system to commit further crime in our communities. This Bill enables British police to quickly and efficiently arrest suspects without warrant for the purpose of extradition. It is similar to the powers that already exist under the European arrest warrant and will apply to a small number of countries with legal systems that are equally as rigorous and robust as ours.
Much has already been said about the aim and substance of the Bill, so I wish to turn the Committee’s attention to the amendments tabled for our consideration. Amendment 15, tabled by the Minister for Security, my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire), allows for the territories listed in new paragraph 3A to be inserted into new schedule A1. Those territories are for the most part member states of the European Union. As we heard in the other place, the Bill is not a move to replace the European arrest warrant or to second guess the Brexit negotiations. It does, however, seem prudent to list the territories in new schedule A1, just in case we do lose access to the EAW. If other arrangements are made, the paragraph will be repealed at the end of 2021, which is a good thing. I certainly support such a measure and I follow with interest the Norway or Iceland-style fast-track extradition security partnership that the Government are currently considering to replace the EAW.
The sole aim of the Bill is to enable the arrest of a suspect wanted by a trusted non-EU country. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are models of good judicial practice and fairness, but also will be some of our key partners going forward. In addition, the highly respected National Crime Agency must be satisfied that a valid request has been made, that such a warrant or conviction exists and that the offence is a serious one.
Given that, I note with concern the Opposition’s new clauses 1 and 2, which would require the Secretary of State to lay a report before Parliament giving a breakdown of extraditions. That would be required every 12 months, and the new clauses demand a list of each incident broken down by the protected characteristics of each person, as per section 4 of the Equality Act 2010. There is no reason to think that extraditions under the Bill would be any different from those under the European arrest warrant, not least because of the high confidence we have in the legal systems of the category 2 territories. The new clauses tabled by the Opposition are needlessly bureaucratic and would place an onerous burden on the Secretary of State for little benefit.
I am interested in exploring the amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) that would prevent the application of the Bill to the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong. I am pleased that the Government are supporting such an amendment. After the PRC’s interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs and Beijing’s undermining of Hong Kong’s common law system, we should not consider extradition requests from those territories.
Conversely, while recognising the valid points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), I fundamentally disagree with excluding the United States from the list of permitted territories. The US for all its flaws, is our greatest friend and ally. It values liberty and due process above all else. To exclude the United States would be manifestly wrong and would send the wrong message to its Government.
I support the Bill and the Government’s amendments. In the words of Max Hill QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions:
“this Bill strikes the right balance between ensuring sufficient human rights safeguards and delivering the capabilities that the police and CPS require in order to safeguard the public”.
That is exactly what the people of Rother Valley and the United Kingdom want us to do.
First, I thank the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) for setting the scene so very well. When he referred to the persecution of the Uyghur Muslims, I was tempted to intervene on him to put on record my concerns about the brutality, violence and outright criminality that the Chinese Government are committing against their own people. It abhors everything that is decent, and it underlines the fact that we cannot do it on our own. The right hon. Gentleman knows that, but we can do it in conjunction with other countries as well. That goes part of the way to setting the scene, but we have to recognise that we must work with others to make things happen.
It is nice to see the Minister of State in his place again. He is doing double-duty in this Chamber. He did it last night, and he is back again for more. My goodness, he is some Minister. It is very pleasant to see him in his place.
I welcome the opportunity to make some comments. The UK has extradition arrangements with more than 100 territories around the world. That partnership is essential not only to ensure that criminals are properly processed, but also to ensure our need to extradite, and that the ability to do so is subsequently reciprocated. However, it is right and proper that the Secretary of State announced in July an end to the Hong Kong extradition treaty in the light of the imposition of the new security law in Hong Kong by Beijing that is a serious violation of the country’s international obligations. I welcome the statements that the Secretary of State has made in this House on the matter.
I am not sure whether Members have had the chance to check today’s press, but it contains the story of a 12-year-old child who was arrested in Hong Kong by three burly police officers, if I can say they that are burly—ever mindful of their size; they were certainly in excess of five times the strength of the child. The child was out getting paints for her school classes, but was perceived to be a protester. The actions of the Hong Kong police were totally outrageous, as they have been with everyone, but that event in particular concerns and rankles me greatly.
I declare an interest as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on international freedom of religion or belief. I am aware of and very disturbed by the treatment of those who do not fit the mould of how the Chinese believe things should be done. The treatment of Uyghur Muslims in particular has been in the news of late. I have spoken about the issue before and the APPG has been reporting on it for some time. The thought that the extradition treaty with the Hong Kong Government could mean the inhumane treatment of many people extradited to China after a pause in Hong Kong is quite simply frightening, and it is absolutely right that the Secretary of State took the steps that he did.
It is not only the persecution of the Uyghur Muslims; there is also persecution of Christians, who have had their churches desecrated and attacked, and their right to worship monitored and restricted. In addition, people of the Falun Gong belief have been systematically used for organ transplants, sometimes on a commercial scale. China has been guilty of all the worst crimes in the world against those who do not fit the form that it wants them to. I wholeheartedly agree with the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green and unfortunately do not see enough steps on human rights in the legislation, although I am quite sure that the Minister will give us some reassurance on that.
It is essential that we get this legislation right and fulfil our moral obligations. The right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) referred to moral obligations, which I think we all have. There are duties that we have the capacity to alter and change as is necessary. I fully condemn any Government who carry out any human rights abuses or the persecution of religious minorities and ethnic groups. I am concerned about the lack of human rights safeguards in this legislation. The background information from the Library refers to the discussion of the Bill in the other place, referring to the lack of human rights safeguards as well as
“the use of wide regulation-making and Henry VIII powers; the lack of specific criteria or safeguards to be applied when adding Category 2 territories to the specified list in the future…the integrity of the Interpol red notice system; the impact of losing access to the EAW, and what other measures might be necessary to mitigate against those risks”.
Perhaps the Minister will give us some clarification on those matters.
I am all for trade deals and for working in partnership, but not at the expense of lives. As furious as those who are removed from our treaty list may be, doing the right thing may mean doing the difficult thing. Sometimes the difficult thing is the moral and right thing to do, and this legislation must be given the freedom to do those things. I welcome the Government’s commitment to legislate to change, and we will all support the introduction of the Magnitsky Bill that the Secretary of State has mentioned.
I am a great admirer of America, and not just because I go there on holiday every two or three years. I love the American people. I love the escapism that America has and I am proud of my Ulster Scots foundation, history and tradition. I am pleased to say for the record that 18 Presidents of the United States of America have Ulster Scots ancestry, which tells us something about the part of Northern Ireland that I come from—that we can produce 18 Presidents of the United States of America. It tells us that they were fine presidents, by the way, and that the history of the United States comes from here and other countries in the world.
I am aware that our extradition policies may not be equally reciprocated, and when it comes to our dealings with the USA, that should be taken into account. Therefore, when I saw the amendments tabled by the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden that highlight the US situation—others Members have spoken on this—they gave me pause and should give the Committee great pause for thought about what they do. We all know the cases—I do not need to say them again; other hon. Members have referred to them—that are in my mind and in the media spotlight, and are therefore important.
There have been various examples. Indeed, this year, our Prime Minister was open enough to admit that it might be appropriate to characterise our relationship on extradition as lopsided; I think that tells us all about the position between the UK and the USA. It has been well argued that the current legislation and the 2003 treaty require the UK to meet a higher evidential threshold—I understand that—than the US before extradition will be ordered. It is abundantly clear that we must take steps to rectify that in the Bill and I am pleased that that seems to be the case. Again, however, perhaps the Minister will give us some clarification on that.
I also ask the Minister about contact with the local Administrations—the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly—to which the hon. Member for City of Durham (Mary Kelly Foy) referred. Will the Minister confirm that those talks and discussions have taken place and that the regions’ full input is part of the deal?
It seems that there are certain nations that allow us to give but do not reciprocate at the same level. The National Crime Agency must have the ability, under the authority of this legislation and the Secretary of State, to make changes to ensure that if we are at pains to help others to bring home criminals to be accountable for their crimes, we get at least the same level of help when it comes to our own criminals.
Hailing as I do from Northern Ireland, as other hon. Members will remember—I have said it in the past but I want to put it on the record—it was disheartening to see men and women who carried out terrorist activities and left people with unspeakable loss, pain, injury, hurt and lives that would never be the same wandering about in the Republic and living their lives in defiant freedom. Some of those who carried out some of the worst atrocities have walked around the Republic of Ireland in comparative safety and sanctuary for some time.
Those who killed my cousin Kenneth Smyth and his friend Daniel McCormick on 10 December 1971 escaped across the border and have never been held accountable for their crimes, so hon. Members can understand how, 49 years later, I feel quite concerned. I have lived my life knowing that murdered criminals unrepentantly live their lives in freedom just miles across the border from their dreadful deeds, and it is something that I would wish on no one.
The basic principle of our extradition treaty must be that we will help others to get criminals off the streets, but the underlying pin that holds it together must be that the moral duty, to which the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden referred and to which I believe we all adhere, and the duty to human rights are premium. The Bill is our opportunity to get that right.
I welcome some of the tidying up that has been done by Committee members, whose input and commitment I also welcome. A lot of work has taken place to get us this far, but again, I ask for the Minister’s assurance that he believes that our human rights obligations are fully enshrined in this legislation, not simply for today’s globe, but future-proofed for our ever-changing world.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak briefly in this afternoon’s important debate. There have been some excellent contributions from hon. and right hon. Members, and it is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon). Many Members have rightly highlighted the positives in the Bill, but they have also drawn attention to some of the perceived negatives. I echo the comments of the hon. Gentleman when he said that we have a strong history of doing the right thing and doing the lawful thing, even when there is perhaps an imbalance in relationships, which we occasionally see. However, I wish to approach the Bill from a slightly different perspective.
I do not expect my right hon. Friend the Minister for Security to comment in detail on the issues that I raise; it would be extremely unfair to expect him to do so, but in every extradition case, whether the person is a criminal or not, at heart there is an individual, whose human rights must be protected. In that vein, I draw to the Minister’s attention the case of my constituent, Jonathan Taylor, who is fighting extradition on an Interpol red notice, because his case highlights some of the issues and examples that have caused my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) to express so passionately his fears as to what could happen to individuals who, at the end of the day, are British citizens and our constituents.
I do not expect the Minister to comment in detail, but Mr Taylor is currently on bail in Croatia, where he is fighting an extradition notice from Monaco. I note that Monaco is not included in any of the changes made to the Bill, and I do not seek to bring in anything that might be considered out of scope, but I wonder whether the Minister might be tempted to comment on the reasoning behind that.
I have quite correctly, as Mr Taylor’s constituency MP, raised his case with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I know that Members from all parts of the House have highlighted that case, because Mr Taylor is a whistleblower. I seek reassurances from my right hon. Friend the Minister for Security this afternoon that in cases where whistleblowing is involved, the individual who has done the right thing and provided evidence to jurisdictions as far-flung as the United States, Brazil and the Netherlands should not find themselves caught up in a Kafkaesque nightmare where it is they who are held responsible and find themselves fighting extradition to foreign countries when they have done nothing wrong.
In this case, the whistleblower is being pursued by Monaco, which leaves him in an extremely vulnerable position. That is causing great anxiety to himself and to his family—hence the need to raise these concerns with reference to the Bill as it comes before the House today.
In this country, we seek to protect whistleblowers. Legislation laid down in 1998 and in 2013 does exactly that. I seek reassurance from the Minister that nothing in the Bill will undermine those protections for British citizens who find themselves caught up in such a situation. I acknowledge that Mr Taylor’s case is not strictly applicable to the Bill, but it is pertinent, and it would have been remiss of me not to use this opportunity today. So I have done so; I have highlighted a very real situation that is of massive concern not only to my constituent but to other British citizens. Many others will be in similar situations. They are seeking to oppose their extradition to countries that are giving every appearance of pursuing a political rather than a judicial agenda.
I rise to give my party’s support to the amendments in the names of the right hon. Members for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) and for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis). I should also say that the Scottish National party supports the official Opposition’s new clauses 1 and 2, which seem eminently sensible.
The Scottish National party fully supports reasonable measures to keep our citizens safe from those who have committed serious crimes furth of this country, and we fully support working with international frameworks to do so. Indeed, that is one of the reasons why we, and the majority of people in Scotland, were so keen on the security and justice co-operation afforded through our membership of the European Union, and why we voted for its continuance repeatedly and are so sad to see it go.
To return to the amendments, it is important to remember that, in addition to a duty to protect the safety of our citizens, this Government and this Parliament have a duty to uphold international human rights standards. We should be loth, therefore, to do anything to permit extradition to regimes that do not uphold the right to a fair trial, free speech or freedom of expression. Many of our constituents are extremely concerned about human rights abuses in China, particularly in respect of the Uyghur Muslims. These and other human rights abuses are indicative of a regime that is very far indeed from putting the same store by human rights as we do. Many of our constituents have watched with horror as the situation in Hong Kong has unfolded and as the brutal suppression of pro-democracy activists continues. The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) referred to the footage of a 12-year-old girl being subject to a violent arrest at a pro-democracy protest—I am sure we are all very grateful to those brave enough to film that footage and get it out to the rest of us. I very much want to associate myself with the comments of those who are very keen to impress on the Minister—I am sure he is alive to this—the importance of not making it any easier for human rights-denying regimes to get their hands on their citizens who have sought refuge in these islands.
Let me turn now to amendments 7 to 10 in the name of the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden. I share his concerns about the unbalanced extradition arrangements that we have with the United States of America. There is a lot that could be said about those today, but I will not go into it in detail because it is beyond the scope of this Bill to redress that imbalance. None the less, I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for raising it, and I wish to impress on the Government as we move forward, particularly given the nature of the current President of the United States of America, that we should be looking afresh at these unbalanced extradition arrangements, particularly when we see the outcome of a number of high-profile cases at the moment.
I want to turn now to the Government amendments. I am keen to know from the Minister—I realise that we have received a letter from him in the past hour or so, but I have not had time to digest its contents properly—just exactly why Government amendment 15 is now seeking to include EEA countries in proposed new schedule A1. Is this the start of our growing and perhaps inevitable recognition that, when we leave the transition period at the end of this year, there will not be any replacement for the European arrest warrant? If that is so, it is a most regrettable state of affairs, and one that is of great concern to my colleagues in government in Edinburgh and also to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Scotland and to Police Scotland. An update on exactly what is going on here would be very much appreciated, particularly as the Solicitor General told us on Second Reading that this Bill was not about the European arrest warrant. If that has changed, we really deserve a full explanation of why it has changed and where we are in the negotiations in that respect.
I wish to oppose Government amendments 13 and 14. Government amendment 13 removes a provision that was inserted in the other place imposing certain conditions about a consultation assessment and requiring reports on the making of regulations under section 74B(7) of the Extradition Act 2003. I very much regret that the Government are attempting to remove these additional safeguards. I regret in particular the Government’s determination to remove the obligation to consult the devolved Governments before adding, removing or varying reference to a territory. I very much fear that this deletion is indicative of the Government’s lack of good will towards the other Governments of these islands. It will come as little surprise to viewers in Scotland that the Government will do anything they can to get out of any obligation to take account of public opinion in Scotland or the views of Scotland’s elected representatives. In that respect, I urge them to think again, because, as was said in the other place, the devolved institutions can be a source of “valuable information” relevant to changes that might be proposed in relation to individual territories. Although extradition is a reserved matter, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament have responsibility for justice, policing and prisons, and their views ought to be considered. Furthermore, many members of the Scottish Government and Parliament have expertise in relation to human rights and a particular interest in human rights aspects of territories that the British Government might seek to add.
That brings me to the deletion of any obligation to consult non-governmental organisations. I have already spoken about how central human rights must be to our decision as to whether to add any territories to these provisions. NGOs will have direct experience or information in relation to the human rights position on the ground of a particular country or territory, which can only aid Government decision making and, importantly, parliamentary scrutiny.
Finally, I support what the hon. Member for City of Durham (Mary Kelly Foy) said about the unfortunate deletion of the obligation to do this territory by territory, with one statutory instrument per territory, rather than rolling up a number of them into one. As was said in the other place, by exiting the European Union, we have made ourselves as a state “vulnerable to pressures” in the context of seeking trade agreements. If we have one statutory instrument per territory, it is much more likely to be identified on the Floor of the House where such undue pressure has been brought to bear. I will leave it at that for now.
It is always a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Dame Rosie, and to follow the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry), with whom I have shared many assignments on the Floor of the House and in Committee on these matters. I rise to speak to new clauses 1 and 2 and amendments 16 and 17, in my name and those of the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Home Secretary.
There is a slight irony in the fact that we are discussing a Government Bill designed to strengthen international law just a matter of hours after we heard from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland at the Dispatch Box that the Government intend to break international law in relation to the withdrawal agreement. I want to put on record how good it is to see the Minister for Security in his place. I thank him for the co-operative and courteous way in which he has worked with me over the last number of months since I was appointed. I would expect no less from a person of his calibre, but it is very much appreciated.
We have heard a serious tone in the debate. As a relatively new Front Bencher, it is quite daunting to follow the speeches of such distinguished and senior parliamentarians as the right hon. Members for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith), for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and for Wokingham (John Redwood). We also heard from the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Alexander Stafford) and the esteemed Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, the right hon. Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes), as well as my hon. Friend the Member for City of Durham (Mary Kelly Foy), who shows that there are still a few reds left in the red wall, thankfully. We also heard characteristically dignified words from my friend, the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon).
This Bill seeks to fill a gap—notably, the situation where UK law enforcement becomes aware of someone wanted by a non-EU territory but is unable to arrest them without first seeking a warrant. The risk that the Bill seeks to address is that a wanted person may abscond or even reoffend before they can be detained. We acknowledge the context, the arguments and the safeguards set out by the Government on Second Reading, and we have carefully considered the comments made by the Director of Public Prosecutions and others. We also believe that the scrutiny and refinement of the Bill during its passage in the other place has significantly improved and strengthened it.
We have approached the Bill in a constructive spirit, with a determination to work across the House to get important legislation right for the protection of all our citizens. It is critical to ensure that serious criminals—some of whom, let us not forget, are wanted abroad for the most heinous crimes—are arrested and swiftly brought to justice before the opportunity arises for them to reoffend or abscond. We fully accept that, in a world where criminals increasingly respect no national borders or boundaries, we must work to achieve our overriding priority to keep the British public safe in collaboration with our international partners. However, important amendments have been tabled, and I hope that the Government will listen carefully to the points raised on both sides of the House, to ensure that we build the strongest, most robust and fairest legislative framework for our extradition process.
New clause 1 would require the Secretary of State to lay a statement setting out how many individuals have been arrested under provisions in the Act, broken down by the characteristics of each person arrested as set out in section 4 of the Equality Act 2010. This would ensure that Parliament receives the information and facts to enable us to fulfil our duty in scrutinising the effectiveness and impact of this Bill, and in particular to know to whom it is being applied. First, it is important to understand how many people this is applied to, which will enable us to understand the breadth and reach of the provisions in this Act and to compare its effectiveness with current provisions, and secondly, it is equally important that we understand to whom it is being applied.
The purpose of the Equality Act was to protect people from discrimination on the basis of nine protected characteristics. In a situation such as requests for extradition, when we are responding to requests from other jurisdictions, we do not have any way of recognising whether these requests are forming any patterns or disproportionately affecting any group of persons. If our own equalities legislation is to have any meaning or to be effective, it is vital that we at least have the evidence and the data before this House to analyse the effect of these extradition provisions on protected groups. We therefore request that this information is published to enable this analysis so we can more effectively understand the impact of the Bill.
New clause 2, in my name and that of my right hon. and hon. colleagues, requires a change made by this Act to be kept under review and the first review of the Act to be carried out within a year of its being passed. Again, this is an important part of making the legislation better, because we live in a permanently changing world, where both international relations and the issues of crime and security are fluid and constantly evolving.
Moreover, there remain concerns from many areas about the approach of several countries to the use of Interpol red notices, as we have already heard. In February last year, the European Parliament published a study that examined abuse by some states of Interpol’s notice system to persecute human rights defenders, civil society activists and journalists in violation of international standards of human rights. The study acknowledged that the reforms implemented in 2015 have improved the situation. However, abuses of the Interpol system against individuals, including journalists, continue because there is still a lack of established rules and procedures to govern the vetting process and adherence to Interpol’s constitution.
It is of the utmost importance that we in this House have the opportunity to finesse or refine this legislation in respect of extradition, so that weaknesses in existing systems are not exacerbated by any vague legislation coming from this House. It is important that this is regularly evaluated. As in our new clause 1, it is only through comprehensive access to good information and evidence that we can truly understand the impact and effectiveness of this important legislation.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention, and I will come to the European arrest warrant and that point very shortly.
I hope the Minister recognises the importance of these new clauses to the effectiveness of the Bill, and responds accordingly.
On Government amendments 12 and 16, which define the designated authority as the National Crime Agency, we recognise that and are pleased to see that the Government have tabled an amendment to that effect. I have no doubt that this will give an important sense of clarity and purpose to those brave men and women working in the National Crime Agency and their operational partners, whose efforts, let us not forget—right at this moment, in fact—do a great deal to keep the public safe and secure. The role of the designated authority is fundamental to the success of the legislation, given that it will be carrying out the functions of certifying requests. However, can I ask the Minister to confirm to the House that powers of redesignation, if ever necessary, will be open to scrutiny by both Houses of Parliament, because I think he will appreciate that that is an important issue for future oversight?
We feel that Government amendment 13 seeks to undo the valuable amendment made in the other place by my hon. Friend the noble Lord Kennedy of Southwark. It received support from all sides in the other place, and it requires certain key conditions to be satisfied before the Secretary of State can add, remove or vary reference to a territory. That amendment was reasonable, proportionate and practical, and it should present no problem for the Government, so I am not quite clear why the Minister is seeking to undo the good work done by the noble Lords in the other place.
Nothing in the Lords amendment stops the Government doing what they want to do; it simply ensures a proper process of consultation and assessment, which any major changes to a framework of this significance should undergo. Where the proposal is to add a territory, it requires a statement confirming that the territory does not abuse the Interpol red notice system. The first part of the amendment places a requirement on the Secretary of State to consult on the merit of the change, and there are two groups in the consultation proposed here: first, the devolved institutions; and secondly, NGOs and civic society. As the Bill currently stands, after consultation an assessment has to be laid before Parliament outlining the risks of the proposed changes and confirming that where the proposal is to add a territory, it does not abuse the Interpol red notice system. It is my contention that that should remain in the Bill.
In a similar vein, we will also be defending the amendment made in the other place by Baroness Hamwee, which the Government are attempting to remove by means of their amendment 14. The Bill as it now stands requires each order to add, vary or remove a territory under new schedule A1 to contain no more than one territory. There is of course nothing to prevent the Government from laying several instruments, each relating to one territory, at the same time, so there should not be any delay to process. Each country will have differing characteristics and varying degrees of compliance, so grouping them could result in the waving through of some territories with questionable human rights records purely because to fail to do so would jeopardise a potentially urgent extradition agreement with another country. Each country will have varying levels of compliance and different approaches to issues of human rights and criminal justice, and this is important because while we agree with legislating on the basis of those currently specified as trusted partners in this Bill, we should not leave the door open. We intend to defend the inclusion of this clause as a safeguard for the effective application of this legislation.
We have tabled amendment 17 to allow all European economic area member states to be inserted in new schedule A1, and we note that the Minister has made a similar proposal in Government amendment 15, but, frankly, the lack of progress on the justice and security talks with the European Union gives us a great deal of concern, and 31 December is approaching with no positive signs of agreement on these hugely important issues. I ask the Minister: is he concerned about our losing access to the capabilities afforded by the European arrest warrant? We on this side of the House are clear that any loss of capability, regardless of whether it is mutual, would have disastrous implications for UK law enforcement’s ability to identify and question suspected criminals and thus keep our country secure.
I refer the Minister to comments made in February 2019 by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin, the UK law enforcement lead for Brexit and international criminality, in relation to the loss of the European arrest warrant and the Schengen Information System, and the potential implications for policing of no deal. He said:
“Every fallback we have is more bureaucratic, it is slower”.
He said that while policing was “not going to stop” and would still meet the threat,
“we will be much more limited than we currently are”.
He went on to say:
“If something takes two or three times as long as when you were doing it before, that’s probably another couple of hours maybe you are not back on the streets”
and not being visible doing your core role. Such an outcome would be not only undesirable but unacceptable.
Specifically on extradition, we know that the UK and EU falling back on prior arrangements in the 1957 Council of Europe convention would complicate proceedings and add needless delay. That is not my assessment but that of the previous Conservative Government and their former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May). We entirely accept that the Bill’s scope relates solely to the powers conferred on UK law enforcement, so I would like to ask the Minister exactly what the Government are doing to ensure adequate levels of reciprocity in future extradition arrangements, particularly if we lose the powers we presently enjoy under the European arrest warrant and other such mechanisms.
I will turn briefly to the amendments tabled in the names of the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green and other colleagues. I listened carefully to the powerful speech the right hon. Gentleman made today about the admirable work he has been doing on this issue over previous months, which is wholeheartedly supported by those of us on this side of the House. We welcomed the Government’s decision to suspend the extradition treaty with Hong Kong, which will offer much needed assurance to the Hong Kong diaspora and pro-democracy activists. It is important that the UK works with democratic partners around the world to ensure a co-ordinated international response that enables holders of the British national overseas passport, pro-democracy activists and the people of Hong Kong to travel without fear of arrest and extradition. The Government must not waver in their commitment to the people of Hong Kong, and we will support them in their endeavours if that is the case. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s assurances.
I also acknowledge the work of the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden and his amendments. I stressed before that we acknowledge that the Bill’s scope relates predominantly to powers of arrest conferred on UK law enforcement, not the extradition process itself, but we need to do all we can to ensure levels of reciprocity when it comes to our extradition agreements, not least with our most trusted partners. It is not acceptable that we are not able to bring those wanted for serious offences to justice here in the UK because they are elsewhere when the reverse would be perfectly possible. That is all too often the case, because for an extradition agreement to have any value—this goes to the heart of the right hon. Gentleman’s point—British citizens must believe that their Government will support and stand up for them and uphold the integrity and equivalence of any agreement. I hope the Minister will take those arguments seriously.
In conclusion, we have, as always, sought to be a constructive Opposition during the progress of this Bill, and our amendments today serve only to strengthen and improve the legislation, building on the cross-party work done in the other place.
It is a privilege and pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dame Rosie. I thank all right hon. and hon. Members across the House for their contributions during the course of this thoughtful debate, and I recognise and appreciate the support for the principles that are enunciated within a short Bill with a defined purpose.
I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith), and I will come to his amendments and his important points in relation to Hong Kong. I will also address the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis)—my long-standing friend—on extradition. Indeed, he and I have debated such points over many years, and he will remember the changes that were brought about on things such as forum bars and where the right forum actually is. I can certainly say to him that we will always keep our extradition arrangements under review.
I thank the hon. Member for City of Durham (Mary Kelly Foy) for her challenges, and I will come to them during my contribution. Turning to my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (John Redwood), there are obviously issues around the EU and how we negotiate and how we use the freedoms that we now hold as an independent state. I hope to explain further the negotiations in relation to the EU, which are very much extant. I also thank my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Alexander Stafford) for his support and for so clearly setting out the purpose of the Bill.
The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) made several wide-ranging points, underlining why we have extradition to hold up our justice system and to ensure that those who need to be brought to justice are, including in significant cases that touch so many of our constituents. On that note, I appreciate the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes). We are clearly aware of the constituency case she highlighted, and we are working with our colleagues at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in connection with the case. It is important in that context to highlight how we approach such matters, ensuring that appropriate standards are met and applied, and she sought to underline certain issues. I will not comment on the detail of the individual case she raises on behalf of her constituent Jonathan Taylor, but I say to her that this Bill does not change the role of the court or the Secretary of State in relation to a person’s extradition or any of the existing safeguards in the Extradition Act 2003. No individual will be extradited if the request is politically motivated—that touches on the broader point she was seeking to highlight, and I can give her that assurance.
The purpose of the Bill is to create an immediate power of arrest for UK law enforcement when it first encounters extradition fugitives in certain circumstances. It introduces a new power of arrest by amendment to part 2 of the Extradition Act 2003, makes necessary consequential amendments and provides a power to make further consequential amendments by regulation. I appreciate the warm and generous comments made by the hon. Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn) about the broad support for the Bill, and I thank him for his kind personal comments, too. I wish him well and look forward to many discussions in the future on a range of issues straddling security, organised crime and, more broadly, the extradition matters we are touching on today.
Currently, we do not have an equivalent power to arrest to that under the European arrest warrant for extradition purposes for those wanted by non-EU countries. Instead, our police have to apply to a UK court for an arrest warrant before they can arrest fugitives wanted by those countries. By creating the power to arrest certain suspects immediately, without obtaining a warrant first, we are ensuring that if the police come across an individual wanted by a specified country whose systems we trust, they can arrest them. That prevents any risk that such a person might pose to the public here in the UK if they are left on the streets and the risk that they may abscond and not be brought to justice. It is important to express it in these terms; this Bill is about the protection of our citizens in this country. It is a determination that we make that this is an important right and power for our police to have, bounded by appropriate safeguards, of course. We know that some fugitives wanted for extradition can sometimes come to the attention of the police through a chance encounter, which is why the ability to arrest a suspect immediately is an operational necessity. That power is created by this Bill.
My hon. Friend makes an important point about safeguards. He will see that the arrested individual will need to be before a judge as soon as practicable after arrest. That is one of the safeguards that I wanted to highlight, as it underpins this Bill. The new arrest power, in the prescribed circumstances, is the only change—this is another important point to stress—to current extradition law and practice that is introduced. It is designed to bring a wanted person into extradition proceedings under part 2 of the Extradition Act in an expedited way, without changing the likelihood of successful extradition. It does not change the current legislative framework, nor any of the process for the extradition proceedings themselves. The Bill is purely about shifting the point at which the police can intervene and arrest a wanted person. It in no way reduces the safeguards that must apply to any subsequent extradition proceedings considered by the court or the Home Secretary. Judicial oversight will continue as it does now after any arrest. The courts will continue to assess extradition requests as they do now, to determine, for example, whether extradition would be compatible with the individual’s human rights or whether the person would receive a fair trial. If they would not, extradition would be barred.
The Bill includes five main safeguards. It applies only to certain specified countries. Countries with a poor human rights record or those that have abused Interpol systems could not be considered suitable for this provision. The addition of any countries would require the consent of both Houses, and it only applies to sufficiently serious offences; the power will only be available in relation to offences that would be criminal in the UK for which an offender would receive a prison sentence of at least three years and which is a sufficiently serious form of that offence to justify arrest.
The designated authority must be satisfied that arrangements are in place to ensure that requests made by the country concerned are made on the basis of an underlying warrant or a conviction. Also, as I have indicated, the arrested individual will need to be brought before a judge as soon as practicable after arrest, and the power does not alter extradition proceedings in any other way and does not interfere with the court or the Secretary of State’s role in extradition proceedings.
I hope that that sets out quite clearly the importance of the safeguards. I know that some Members raised the issue of Interpol. I stress that the UK continues to work with Interpol to ensure that its rules are robust, effective and complied with. It is notable that the former chief constable of Essex was recently made the executive director of policing services for Interpol—the most senior operational role in that organisation—and a UK Government lawyer has also been seconded to Interpol’s notices and diffusion taskforce to work to ensure Interpol rules are properly and robustly adhered to by Interpol member states.
I turn to Government amendments 11 and 15, which provide a contingency to keep an important current law enforcement protection for the UK public in place after the end of the transition period, whatever the outcome of the current negotiations. As the House knows, the negotiated outcome we are seeking with the EU would create a warrant-based system based on the EU’s surrender agreement with Norway and Iceland. The purpose of amending the Bill in this way at this time is to ensure the continuation of relevant arrest powers, should that prove necessary. Amendment 11 is a consequential amendment that will ensure that amendment 15 will be commenced only if we do not have in place new extradition arrangements with the EU at the end of the transition period. If an agreement is reached, these provisions will not need to come into effect. This is simply a contingency, and the provisions also provide a contingency in the event that we do not agree new extradition arrangements with Norway and Iceland to maintain the arrest power currently available by virtue of the EU-Norway-Iceland surrender agreement.
Opposition amendment 17 covers similar ground, although framing it in EEA terms. I hope the hon. Member for St Helens North will appreciate that we should approve participants on a state-by-state basis, which he would probably acknowledge, and that is therefore why we think the better approach is to name countries individually.
On the progress of the negotiations on law enforcement and criminal justice, I think there is a good degree of convergence in what the UK and the EU are seeking to negotiate in terms of operational capabilities. We will keep working to bridge the gap where differences remain. There is still an agreement to be had and we will continue to work hard to achieve it.
Government amendment 12 specifies the National Crime Agency is to be the designated authority for this legislation. The designated authority is the agency that will have the task of certifying that the international arrest alerts conform to the right criteria for them to carry the new power of provisional arrest. The drafting is future-proofed, as it allows for the designated authority to be changed by regulation should the need arise. We have taken that approach as the direct alternative to using secondary legislation on this occasion, to ensure the best use of parliamentary time. The amendment therefore represents a change of process rather than policy and is reflected by Opposition amendment 16. I hope that the Opposition will recognise, because of the future-proofing arrangements, that this is an improvement to the technical approach they would take.
Government amendment 13 will overturn one of the two changes made in the other place. Statutory requirements are added for the Government to consult on the merits of adding, removing or varying a territory from the Bill with the devolved Administrations and relevant interested stakeholders. Throughout the passage of the Bill, we have been clear in our commitment to ensuring that Parliament can scrutinise any decision to bring a new country in scope of this power in exactly the same way as Parliament does in relation to the Extradition Act. To that end, the Bill mandates that the addition or removal of any territory is by the affirmative resolution procedure. This gives Parliament the right to scrutinise in detail such proposals and to accept them or, indeed, reject them.
It is important to stress that while extradition is a reserved matter, relevant officials are engaged in regular discussions with their counterparts in the devolved Administrations and law enforcement agencies who operate right across the UK to collaborate on operational policy and ensure the effectiveness of our extradition system. Indeed, such discussion and consultation has already taken place in relation to the Bill and the amendments. Of course, given that any countries being added would be subject to the affirmative procedure, there will be opportunities for Parliament to probe the extent to which the views of the devolved Administrations and other organisations have been sought. Therefore, we believe that there is no need to add this provision to the Bill.
Amendment 14 would overturn the second provision altered in the other place, which provides that the removal or addition of a country must use a single statutory instrument. Any additions will be dictated by the will of Parliament, not by an unusual process such that this would impose. If a country is proposed that Parliament does not agree should be specified, then the regulations will be voted down in the normal way. We judge that that remains the rightful process.
Turning to amendments 1 and 2 in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green, I am grateful to him for the way in which he has approached this and for the important points that he and other Members have made. It might be useful to set out the measures the Government have taken in dealing with the situation in Hong Kong since the amendments were tabled. As the Committee will be aware, because of the new national security legislation in Hong Kong, the Government have indefinitely suspended the 1998 UK-Hong Kong agreement on the surrender of fugitive offenders—our extradition treaty. As a result, the Government will not deal with extradition requests sent by Hong Kong to the UK under that treaty. We are also creating a new bespoke immigration route for citizens from Hong Kong to come to the UK, reflecting the unique and unprecedented circumstances in Hong Kong and the UK’s historical and moral commitment to British nationals overseas citizens.
I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend and Members across the House who have brought this issue to the House in ensuring that we stand with the people of Hong Kong. This Government have demonstrated our absolute commitment to the people of Hong Kong. Any changes to the Bill in the form of these amendments would not change our extradition relationship with Hong Kong, as I think my right hon. Friend has recognised. However, the points that he has made are very powerful, and I know that colleagues in the Foreign Office will equally have recognised them. We will certainly keep this issue under careful review.
In relation to the amendments tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden, I would reiterate that the purpose of this Bill is to rectify a policing capability gap, to better protect the public. I recognise that he perhaps makes his points within a broader purview and that his amendments were probing and there are other issues that he might like to return to on another day. The US is just one of the UK’s extradition partners, and the legal processes in each of those jurisdictions will be different. He has been a champion of the important liberties that this Government seek to protect in relation to each and every extradition case that goes to the UK courts. I recognise and respect the approach that he takes. While we take a different view on these issues of imbalance, he will recognise some of the previous reviews that have looked at these issues in seeing whether that imbalance does exist. As I have indicated, we keep all our extradition arrangements under review, and I look forward to continuing this conversation with him in the weeks and months ahead.
I am also grateful to my right hon. Friend for rightly drawing attention to the case of Anne Sacoolas. Harry Dunn’s death was a terrible tragedy. We have every sympathy with his family for their tragic loss and share their desire to ensure that justice is done—a point that the Prime Minister himself has reaffirmed in the last few days.
Finally, I turn to new clauses 1 and 2. Throughout the passage of the Bill, there has been considerable cross-party consensus on its aims and measures, alongside the robust scrutiny that I have come to rightly expect from this House. New clause 1 would require the publication of an annual statement on arrests. The National Crime Agency already keeps data and publishes statistics on arrest volumes in relation to part 1 of the Extradition Act. It does that without having been required to do so by primary legislation. We have no doubt that it will similarly do so in respect of arrests under this new arrest power, as this is sensible operational practice. While I have some sympathy for the new clause, I am not persuaded of the necessity of a statutory obligation at this time. I hope that we will be able to review this as that information is published.
I hear what the hon. Member for St Helens North said in relation to new clause 2, which I think has been tabled as a probing amendment, on the issue of a review. Again, we believe that there is sufficient transparency. This House will no doubt have the chance to assess the operation of the Bill, through the normal post-legislative scrutiny. For those reasons, we are not minded to accept the new clause, although we recognise the need for constant challenge through this House. I am grateful for the amendments that have been tabled and the informed debate that we have had.
I have listened carefully to my right hon. Friend and, given the nature of what the Government have already undertaken since the amendments were tabled by my right hon. Friends and I, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Extent, commencement and short title
Amendment made: 11, page 1, line 16, at end insert
‘, but paragraph 3A of the Schedule may not be commenced so as to come into force in relation to a territory before that territory is a category 2 territory for the purposes of the Extradition Act 2003.’—(James Brokenshire.)
This amendment is consequential on amendment 15 and provides that the amendments that are to be made by amendment 15 to Schedule A1 to the Extradition Act 2003 (inserted by paragraph 3 of the Schedule to the Bill) cannot be brought into force in relation to a territory before the territory is designated as a category 2 territory for the purposes of that Act.
Clause 2, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Power of arrest for extradition purposes
Amendment made: 12, page 3, line 22, leave out from beginning to end of line 24 and insert—
‘(3A) The “designated authority” is the National Crime Agency.
(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this section so as to change the meaning of “designated authority”.’—(James Brokenshire.)
The Bill currently provides for the Secretary of State to designate the “designated authority” in regulations. This amendment instead provides, on the face of the Bill, that the National Crime Agency is the designated authority and confers a power on the Secretary of State to amend new section 74B to designate a different authority.
Amendment proposed: 13, page 3, line 37, leave out from beginning to end of line 2 on page 4.—(James Brokenshire.)
This amendment leaves out a provision inserted in the Lords imposing certain conditions relating to consultation, assessments and reports on the making of regulations under new section 74B(7).
Government amendment 13 agreed to.
The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.
Amendment proposed: 14, page 4, leave out lines 3 and 4.—(James Brokenshire.)
This amendment leaves out a provision inserted in the Lords preventing regulations under new section 74B(7) adding more than one territory at a time to the list of territories in new Schedule A1.
Question put, That the amendment be made.
Government amendment 14 agreed to.
The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.
Amendment made: 15, in schedule, page 7, line 2, at end insert—
‘3A In Schedule A1 (as inserted by paragraph 3), at the appropriate places, insert
“Austria”;“Belgium”;“Bulgaria”;“Croatia”;“Cyprus”;“Czech Republic”;“Denmark”;“Estonia”;“Finland”;“France”;“Germany”;“Greece”;“Hungary”;“Iceland”;“Ireland”;“Italy”;“Latvia”;“Lithuania”;“Luxembourg”;“Malta”;“The Netherlands”;“Norway”;“Poland”;“Portugal”;“Romania”;“Slovakia”;“Slovenia”;“Spain”;“Sweden”.
3B Paragraph 3A is repealed at the end of 2021 if, or to the extent that, it has not been brought into force before the end of that year.’—(James Brokenshire.)
This amendment would allow for the territories listed in new paragraph 3A to be inserted into new Schedule A1. If or to the extent that new paragraph 3A is not brought into force before the end of 2021, new paragraph 3B provides for new paragraph 3A to be repealed at the end of that year.
Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.
Bill, as amended, reported.
Bill, as amended in the Committee, considered.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
I thank hon. and right hon. Members from all parts of the House for their scrutiny of the Bill, and I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to the debate in Committee today and on Second Reading before the recess. Bills that relate to extradition are not always the easiest, and I thank all Members for their really informed and stimulating interventions and amendments that have helped to shape and inform the Bill.
There is no doubt that important contributions were made by many and, as ever, the scrutiny that this House provides continues to test and improve the legislative programme that the Government seek to pass into law. All of us on these Benches benefit from the work of officials from the Home Office. I also pay tribute to the officials in the Public Bill Office and all those who have supported the Bill’s passage.
The Bill is designed to bring a wanted person into extradition proceedings in an expedited way without in any way changing the likelihood of successful extradition or the legal process itself. It is about ensuring that our police have the right powers to keep the public safe and bring those who may flee justice before justice as appropriate. The extension of police powers in limited circumstances specifically to protect the public does not in any way interfere with the ensuing extradition process. It is about how suspects enter that process and minimising the risk that a wanted person evades justice. There are powerful public policy reasons and benefits to ensuring that those wanted for extradition for serious criminal offences enter the extradition process as quickly as possible, and that UK laws do not create the possibility of impunity for those accused or convicted of such offences.
I thank Members from across the House for their support of the principles of this Bill today and for making amendments and proposals that will ensure that we can continue to keep UK citizens safe. Throughout its passage, the Bill has not lost sight of our ultimate aim, which is to provide UK police officers with the arrest powers that they need to keep up with the challenges of trans-national crime—crime that is often organised and that often has more than one victim in more than one country. This law will prevent fugitives responsible for such crime continuing to evade justice through an operational loophole, which puts the public at risk. This Bill closes that gap. I am pleased that we have been able to reach a position of broad consensus on all the Bill’s provisions, and I very much appreciate not only the support, but the scrutiny that has been applied through its passage today and previously, and therefore commend the Bill to the House and commend the positive effect that I believe it will have to protect the public.
I echo what the right hon. Gentleman said in thanking his departmental officials who, alongside the Minister himself, have been courteous and helpful in providing us with information and briefings throughout. I also thank the officials in the Public Bill Office for their diligent work and assistance in helping the official Opposition and our colleagues across the House to scrutinise the Bill.
I do not intend to detain the House long. We had a good and wide-ranging debate on Second Reading and the Bill has had good scrutiny in Committee on the Floor of the House today. We are disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that the Government did not accept our amendments, but we will not be opposing the Bill on Third Reading.
We have always said that we accept the need for comprehensive legislation to address the gap that currently exists for UK law enforcement prior to extradition proceedings. We hope that the Bill will assist in closing that and help to keep the British people safe. We are determined to ensure that serious criminals who make their way to our country or commit offences in other countries cannot rest easy on our streets and evade the full force of law, and we believe that the Bill will help to achieve that.
In conclusion, we discussed in Committee the need for an extradition agreement to have integrity and that for it to have value, British citizens must believe that their Government will support and stand up for them and uphold the said integrity of any agreement. We have talked a lot about reciprocity, but I also want to talk about credibility. I say gently to the Minister that the credibility around international agreements and international law is not given in isolation, and it ill behoves the Government, on something as sensitive as this, to talk about wilfully breaking international law. I hope that he and his colleagues will consider that in relation to other matters. However, on the substantive matter of this Bill, we will not divide the House this evening.
I was remiss earlier in not welcoming the Minister back to his place, and I thank him for his courtesy, as always, in keeping me apprised of his intentions in relation to this Bill. The Scottish National party supports the principles behind it and we support reasonable measures to assist in tackling transnational crime, provided the importance of protecting human rights is respected. As I said earlier, the SNP fully supports working with international frameworks to keep our citizens safe. That is one of the reasons why we and the majority of people in Scotland were so keen on the security and justice co-operation afforded through our membership of the European Union, why we voted for its continuance repeatedly, and why we have been so sad to see it go.
I will not divide the House on the Bill, but I regret the Government’s refusal to countenance an obligation to consult the devolveds when adding, removing or varying a provision in relation to a territory. The devolved Government in Scotland have a real interest here given the devolution of criminal justice, and as I said, I think it indicates the lack of respect from this Government about the impact of the devolved settlements on our constitution that no consultation has been forthcoming. It is also perhaps an indication of ignorance of the fact that Scotland’s separate legal system is protected not just by devolution, but by the Act of Union. I have recently expressed concerns about a potential breach of article 19 of the treaty of Union by the Government’s proposals in another field of law, in relation to judicial review. To pick up on what was said by the hon. Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn), who speaks for the official Opposition, it seems now that the treaty of Union is not the only international treaty that the Government are bent on breaching, and I add my voice to his.
It is extremely shocking to see a Government Minister stand at the Dispatch Box and confirm that the Government intend to breach international law. I am sure that as I speak, the Law Officers who advise the Government—the Attorney General, the Solicitor General and the Advocate General, the UK Government’s Law Officer in Scotland—will be very carefully considering their position, as will, I am sure, the Lord Chancellor, who is bound in terms of the constitution Act to respect the rule of law. I look forward over the coming days to seeing what the British Government’s Law Officers have to say about their and, indeed, the Lord Chancellor’s position in relation to a Government that promise on the Floor of this House to break an international agreement and international law.
This seems to be one of the many unfortunate consequences of our leaving the European Union and, as I said, it was notable that the Government sought to amend the Bill today to provide for the situation that there will be no replacement for the European arrest warrant when we exit the transition period at the end of the year. This is a most regrettable state of affairs. It seems that this Government intend to pilot the United Kingdom into a period of lawlessness. For those of us who wish to see Scotland take a different path and who are rather sick of being lectured about how inappropriate that is, this course of lawlessness is most to be regretted.
We had a good debate earlier today, but I hope the Minister will come back to this House erelong on a couple of important issues explored in the earlier debate. The first is the protection of British citizens who are the object of one of these extradition requirements once we have entered into these agreements. My right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) made a powerful speech about how we need to look carefully at the conditions offered to people when they are taken abroad on charges, particularly as they may be innocent and particularly when the most serious offences that most of us had in mind when these extradition regimes were drawn up may not be involved. We all wish to keep our country safe and we all understand that we need reciprocal agreements to do that. We wish such agreements to be used to pursue those who are violent and commit the most serious crimes, but we need to think about how this can be extended and how in certain jurisdictions where we have extradition agreements people may not be accorded the same decent treatment we would want to accord somebody who has been charged with a crime but who may, in the end, prove to be innocent.
We also need to come back to how we are going to handle our extradition arrangements with other European countries. We are still not sure how that might work out, and we fully understand that it is still the subject of various discussions and negotiations. It is entirely prudent to make some provision today. However, some of us think that if there is to be no European arrest warrant when we have completed our so-called “implementation period”, that could be an opportunity for us to have a better and more suitable system, because the European arrest warrant had features that were not to this country’s liking and there was an element of compromise in it, as there has to be. I hope that we will therefore have some greater guidance on what might materialise.
As two other speakers in this Third Reading debate have referred to a topical issue that goes a bit wider than this Bill, perhaps I may also be permitted briefly to do that. I have not heard or seen anything that implies that this Government wish to break the law or the international treaty. I have seen everything to say that this Government take very seriously section 38 of the European (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, which was the assertion of sovereignty, and it was a fundamental proposition of the political agreement and the withdrawal agreement, which the EU willingly entered into, that British sovereignty was going to be assured and central, just as it was central to that agreement that there would be a free trade agreement. If there can be a free trade agreement, the other legal issues fall away.
One did need to correct that wider point, but, in conclusion, this Bill is a necessary one. There are issues arising from it that could warrant further thought and treatment. I hope this Government will take the advantage of that thought which our leaving the EU can provide to look again at how in the longer term we have a good judicial relationship—a co-operative relationship—with the EU that is fair to both sides and to any innocent people in Britain who may have to stand trial abroad.
I wish to make a few quick points. I said to the Minister in the Lobby what a pleasure it is to see him in his place and looking so well. I told him that I do not think I have seen him looking so healthy in a long time. He asked me how my constituency was and I told him that it is getting more beautiful every day—he knows that, as I do. I am pleased to see him back, just as I am pleased to see the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn). He and I have been good friends for a long time. We might have a difference of political opinion on some things, but we agree on a lot of important things in this House, on behalf of our constituents, and it is good to do that. The DUP supported the Bill and voted with the Government, and Bill has now been passed and moves on to its next stage. The Government and the Minister have given a commitment to speak up for those around the world. The right hon. Members for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) and for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), and indeed myself and others, spoke about human rights abuses around the world. The human rights angle of the Bill perhaps does not put in place everything we would like to see, but we are pleased to see things moving forward. Around the world, people are suppressed, persecuted and abused; hopefully, the Bill will make people accountable and we can use this law for that purpose.
Today, our Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland—I always love saying that, by the way, because we are better together; the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry) might have a slightly different opinion, but I do not think we disagree too much—have made it clear that if someone does something wrong, they will be caught, and that there is a moral obligation to speak up. The House has supported the Government and the legislation they have brought forward, but we also have a moral obligation. It is important that all of us in this House speak often about this important moral issue: people cannot just do something wrong and get away with it. Legally and morally, the House has made the right decision.
I would love to see, as I have said previously, the Chinese Government being held accountable in a court of law—under moral law and legal law around the world—for what they do to others. There are many other countries like them, but this country and our Government have acted correctly.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with amendments.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Just over three years ago a constituent, Mr Glynn Brown, came to my office to indicate that his son Aaron, an adult with special needs and a resident of Muckamore Abbey Hospital, had been assaulted. He was concerned not only that his son had been assaulted, but that it had taken two weeks for the medics on whom he relied for care to speak to Mr Brown. After contacting the Department of Health, I remember getting a chilling phone call one month later that indicated that the assault of Aaron Brown was not isolated and that it would take some time to uncover all that was going on at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.
In the intervening period, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has discovered 1,500 separate incidents of criminal abuse of adults who were under the care of our health trust. I raised this issue in the Chamber a number of times during the period when Stormont was not sitting. I have campaigned for a public inquiry alongside the families involved and their relatives. I wanted to make this point of order to put on record my gratitude at the fact that today a public inquiry has been granted. We will get the truth and families shall get justice for the most heinous abuse that their loved ones have faced under the care of our state.
I appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s point. He knows, as the Chamber does, that it is not a point of order for the Chair, but I fully understand why he wanted to take this opportunity to put that important piece of information on the record. He has had a very good reaction to it from those present in the Chamber.
My Lords, I shall begin by setting out how these proceedings will work. A participants’ list for today’s proceedings has been published and is in my brief, which Members should have received. I also have lists of Members who have put their names to the amendments, or expressed an interest in speaking, on each group. I will call Members to speak in the order listed. Their microphones will be muted by the broadcasters except when I call them to speak. Interventions during speeches, or at the end of speeches using the words “before the noble Lord sits down”, are not permitted, and uncalled speakers will not be heard.
Members other than the mover of an amendment or the Minister may speak only once on each group. Short questions for elucidation after the Minister’s response are permitted but discouraged. A Member wishing to ask such a question, including Members in the Chamber, must email the clerk.
Debate will take place on the lead amendment in each group only. The groupings are binding and it will not be possible to degroup an amendment for separate debate. A Member intending to press to a Division an amendment that has already debated should give notice of that in the debate. Leave should be given to withdraw amendments. When putting the Question, I will collect voices in the Chamber only. If a Member taking part remotely intends to trigger a Division, they should make that clear when speaking on the group. We will now begin.
The Schedule: Power of Arrest for Extradition Purposes
1: The Schedule, page 3, line 15, leave out from beginning to end of line 19 and insert—
“(3) The person must be brought as soon as practicable before the appropriate judge (see further, section 74D).”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment requires a person to be brought before the appropriate judge as soon as practicable after arrest. The Bill currently requires this to happen within 24 hours. The Minister’s other four amendments are consequential on this amendment.
My Lords, before I begin my speech on this amendment, I would like to note that this is a historic moment. This will be the first opportunity, in history, to vote remotely in the House of Lords.
The Government have tabled Amendment 1 regarding the 24-hour time limit for the arrested person to appear before a judge. Amendments 4 to 7 are consequential upon that main amendment. These amendments seek to replace the 24-hour time limit with “as soon as practicable”, which reflects current practice under Parts 1 and 2 of the Extradition Act 2003.
At Second Reading, in Committee and on Report, there was considered and stimulating debate in this House on the requirement under the Bill regarding the time limit within which a person arrested under this power should be put before a court. As noble Lords know, the courts to which all extradition suspects must be taken, whether arrested under Part 1 or Part 2 of the Extradition Act 2003 as currently written or as amended by the Bill, are Westminster Magistrates’ Court for England and Wales, Edinburgh Sheriff Court for Scotland, and Belfast magistrates’ court for Northern Ireland. Currently, a person arrested under the Act must generally be brought before the appropriate judge “as soon as practicable” following arrest. Under the new power of provisional arrest in this Bill, if this amendment is not made, that must occur “within 24 hours”.
The Bill was originally drafted in that way to strike a balance between getting arrested individuals before a court as quickly as possible and allowing the police sufficient time to gather supporting information. This mirrored, in a more stringent form, the approach to provisional arrest in Part 1 of the Extradition Act 2003, which requires an individual to be brought before the appropriate judge within 48 hours of arrest. However, I am conscious that this drafting departs from the general requirement that is currently imposed on the police after they make arrests under the other existing powers in the Extradition Act 2003.
I have listened carefully to the concerns raised at Second Reading and in Committee and have concluded that the new power of arrest in the Bill should be consistent in this respect with existing law and practice in relation to Part 2 of the 2003 Act, and that it should therefore mirror the wording “as soon as practicable”. That will ensure that individuals are not detained for any longer than is strictly necessary before being put before a judge. If, for example, an individual was arrested in central London, “as soon as practicable” would in all probability be considerably less than 24 hours. Our operational partners have already proved themselves very effective at producing wanted persons before courts within strict timeframes, and the three UK extradition courts have proved strict arbiters of police actions under the “as soon as practicable” requirement.
Additionally, if an individual is arrested and for legitimate reasons it is not possible to get them to court within 24 hours—for example, if they are arrested in a remote part of the UK or in an area affected by an extreme event—this change in wording will make the legislation operable across all parts of the UK in all circumstances.
Accordingly, I am introducing a government amendment to that effect to address the concerns expressed about this important issue both by noble Lords and by operational law enforcement partners. Although the language does not explicitly rule out production on weekends or bank holidays, these factors will of course be relevant to the practicability of bringing an individual before the appropriate judge. If public holidays or court opening times were to change in the future, the legislation would not need to be amended to take account of that. It remains the Government’s intention that the arrested person will be brought before a judge sitting in court, so court sitting times, which are determined by the judiciary, will be relevant to the concept of “as soon as practicable”.
There might of course be a multitude of other factors, such as geographical distance, natural disasters or illness of the arrested individual, that affect, in the individual case, the practicability of bringing an individual before a judge. Therefore, we continue to think that it is right that the judiciary are the arbiters, in the individual case, of whether this test of “as soon as practicable” is met, and they will be able to do so in determining any application for discharge under Section 74D(10).
I previously gave an undertaking to formally confirm that the Government intended to move this amendment today. It has the same overall purpose and effect as the one that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, tabled on Report. I hope that noble Lords will be able to join me supporting this amendment. I beg to move.
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for pursuing this issue. We raised it at the early stages of the Bill, and I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Ludford for continuing the argument on Report. I should also acknowledge today the critique of the Bill at Second Reading by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Clark of Calton—I know that she discussed it subsequently with the Minister. She said then:
“There is nothing provisional about the consequences of being arrested.”—[Official Report, 4/2/20; col. 1743.]
Her remarks prompted me to think about the provisions of new Section 74A, taking account of weekends, bank holidays and so on. It was that—the extension from 24 hours to over a weekend or, in the case of Easter, even four days —which caused me to pursue the matter in Committee. That Committee marked the first outing of the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay; I hope he feels some sense of achievement for his part in this. He explained that it was the Government’s intention to replicate the existing provisions of the Extradition Act. That, of course, drove me to the Act and to this amendment; the Minister, as she said, agreed to bring the matter forward at this stage.
I note that, in the papers for today’s proceedings, the Minister’s explanatory statement refers to the 24-hour period, which, if it had stood alone without the possibility of extension, could have been acceptable, but I agree with her that it is right to have consistency throughout the Act. I confess to a bit of continuing anxiety, and not just about consistency within the Act. I have to say I was fairly confused when I came to look at the Act; it is a mighty beast. The Minister explained on Report, and I mention it today, that the original drafting was to achieve a balance between getting the arrested individual before a judge as quickly as possible and allowing the police sufficient time to gather supporting information. It is the latter that concerns me. The police must have the information to make the arrest, so what more is needed? Can the Minister expand on that when she winds up?
I am also slightly anxious because, inevitably, a fixed time period is clearer—it is much more easily enforceable; but that is a concern about the 2003 Act more broadly. I was reassured at earlier stages by the two very eminent noble and learned Lords, with their experience as two of the most senior members of the judiciary, who spoke about the 24/7 availability of judges. What is practicable now—as the Minister has explained in talking about geography and so on—is much more than a few years ago. I am very happy from our Benches and virtual Benches to support the amendment.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, for explaining the purpose of the amendments in this group, all of which are in her name. I am content with the explanation she has given, which is clear; the intent is sensible, practical, proportionate and, as noble Lords have heard, consistent with wording used in similar relevant legislation. On that basis, I am happy to support the amendments today.
My Lords, I have a question to which others may know the answer; forgive me if it is widely known. The Minister said in relation to Scotland that the court applicable was Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Can she let us know why Edinburgh Sheriff Court in particular was chosen, and why only Edinburgh Sheriff Court? Scotland is a very large country stretching from the border with England right up to Shetland. I wondered whether there might not be some practical problems if only Edinburgh Sheriff Court was applicable. So, what was the criterion and why only Edinburgh?
Amendment 1 agreed.
We now come to the group consisting of Amendment 2. I remind noble Lords that Members other than the mover and the Minister may speak only once, and that short questions of elucidation are discouraged. Anyone wishing to press this amendment to Division should make that clear in the debate.
2: The Schedule, page 4, line 38, at end insert—
“( ) The Secretary of State may only make regulations under subsection (7) if the following conditions are first met—(a) the Secretary of State has consulted on the merits of the change with—(i) each devolved administration, and(ii) non-governmental organisations which, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, have a relevant interest,(b) the Secretary of State has laid an assessment before each House of Parliament on the risks of the change, and(c) if the regulations are to add a reference to a territory to Schedule A1, the Secretary of State has laid a statement before each House of Parliament confirming that the territory does not abuse the Interpol Red Notices system.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would create further requirements before adding, varying or removing a reference to a territory.
My Lords, Amendment 2 in my name would insert the new subsection as detailed in the Marshalled List. The amendment requires certain conditions to have been met before the Secretary of State can make a regulation under new subsection (7) to either add, remove or vary a reference to a territory. This proposal is both reasonable and proportionate and should present no problem to the Government. It should be accepted willingly today.
It is important to note that nothing in my amendment stops the Government doing what they want to do. It goes through a process; that is all—a process of consultation and assessment. Where the proposal is to add a territory, it requires a statement confirming that the territory does not abuse the Interpol red notice system. The first part of the amendment places a requirement on the Secretary of State to consult on the merits of the change. There are two groups in the consultation proposed here: first, the devolved institutions, which can be a source of valuable information relevant to changes being proposed, and, secondly, non-governmental organisations which in the opinion of the Secretary of State have a relevant interest. Discretion is given to the Secretary of State here but, equally, the Secretary of State has to act reasonably. They will not be able to get out of consulting appropriate organisations; they will get themselves into all sorts of difficulties if they attempt to do otherwise.
My amendment requires that, after the consultation, an assessment be laid before Parliament of the risks of the proposed changes and, finally, that where the proposal is to add at a territory, the territory does not abuse the Interpol red notice system. There is considerable evidence that some jurisdictions abuse that system. I hope that we would not want to deal with such countries on future extradition agreements. I know that a number of my noble friends will shortly speak specifically about abuse of the Interpol red notice system. I beg to move.
My Lords, I support Amendment 2 in the name of my noble friend Lord Kennedy of Southwark. The amendment would put in place a process to properly consider and then stop extraditions to countries that abuse human rights. It would require consultation, a risk assessment and a statement by the Home Secretary before any new or amended treaty was agreed.
Clearly there are times when treaties need to be, or indeed should be, amended. For example, in its current state the US/UK extradition treaty does not offer confidence to British citizens that they will not be surrendered to the US, when the British justice system is both qualified and able to try relevant cases here without prejudice. I hope the Minister will agree that this is an area in need of urgent reform. When the Government make reforms of this nature, as I hope they will in this case, consultation and parliamentary scrutiny, as outlined in the amendment, are therefore critical.
The amendment would also ensure consultation with the devolved Administrations. There is a strong case for this as there will be certain powers in these Administrations relating to justice, policing and prisons that need to be considered.
Respect for human rights must be a priority consideration when changing or entering into a new treaty. The NGOs have direct experience of the countries concerned. They understand better any issues that arise from individual territories, especially regarding human rights records. They need to be consulted, which is what the amendment seeks to do. It would open up the decision-making process. Being transparent about why decisions were taken about individual countries, and allowing proper parliamentary scrutiny of those decisions, will build trust and confidence in our extradition system.
I turn to red notices. Time and again, international organisations continue to report the widespread abuse by some states of red notices for political ends—for example, to persecute human rights activists, refugees or critical journalists. This violates international standards and human rights. The Government should therefore be mindful of those countries that abuse red notices. Through the guarantees given in the amendment, the Government would signal that they recognised that red notices from countries that abuse the system have no legal value, and would show that, as a country and as a Government, we will help to protect those individuals targeted by such countries that abuse the system. I hope the Government will agree to support the amendment.
I am very happy to support this excellent amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Kennedy. I hope that if the Government do not accept it, he will press it to a Division.
The first aspect of the amendment is, as my noble friend Lady Kennedy has just spoken about, consultation with the devolved Administrations, an issue that I will come to in a moment, but also, rightly, with NGOs, as my friend also said. I had a lot of dealings with human rights NGOs and those involved with press freedom when I was general rapporteur on media freedom and the safety of journalists for the Council of Europe, and I found them very helpful for knowing up-to-date information about each country that we dealt with.
As far as the devolved Administrations are concerned, there is—with no disrespect to the noble Baroness, Lady Williams—an awful lot of talk of consultation but very little real, meaningful consultation with the devolved authorities. For example, on Covid recently, the Prime Minister talks about consulting but for a month now he has not chaired a meeting of COBRA in which the First Ministers have been involved. That is not the consultation that could be taking place, so we have to write it into legislation. The Joint Ministerial Councils, which ought to be working, are not working effectively, while the European arrest warrant was abandoned by this Government in spite of objections from the Scottish Government and other devolved Administrations. Consultation must be written into this.
The second reason I strongly support my noble friend Lord Kennedy’s amendment relates to the red notice system. I want to mention the terribly tragic death of Harry Dunn at the age of 19, with his whole adult life ahead of him, in a hit-and-run accident. It was really terrible. The driver of the car, Anne Sacoolas, an American citizen, the wife of a diplomat, escaped justice by fleeing from the UK back to America. That was disgraceful. Her diplomatic immunity itself was very doubtful. Can the Minister confirm that an Interpol red notice has been issued in relation to Ms Sacoolas? I think the Prime Minister has said that she should return, but what are the Government doing to insist on that and take action?
For those two reasons, I strongly support the amendment. As I say, I hope my noble friend will take real courage in his hands and call a Division on this matter if the Government refuse to accept his very strong and persuasive arguments.
My Lords, in Committee on 5 March the Minister said:
“The Government have no intention of specifying countries likely to abuse the system to political ends”—
that is, the Interpol system. Obviously, that was an important pledge, but it does not conflict with the need for Amendment 2 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, with an assessment of the risks and a statement confirming that the territory does not abuse Interpol red notices.
I also agree that devolved Governments and NGOs should be consulted. Fair Trials International, of which I have been a patron for two decades, has long campaigned to ensure that Interpol does better at filtering out abuses of its system before information is sent out to police forces across the globe. When abusive “wanted person” alerts slip through the net, victims should have redress through an open and impartial process. There is no court in which to pursue an appeal. Fair Trials has highlighted shocking cases of injustice and the devastating impact that these alerts can have on those affected. Bill Browder has said that your life as a human being is over.
Fair Trials has helped dozens of people who have been subject to abusive Interpol alerts from countries including Russia, Belarus, Turkey, Venezuela, Egypt, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. FTI has also worked constructively with Interpol to develop realistic reform proposals. It held a positive meeting with Interpol’s secretary-general, Jürgen Stock, to discuss reforming the red notice system.
In the context of mounting political pressure for reform, changes were introduced in 2015, when Interpol announced that it had taken the first steps towards implementing reforms, including the introduction of a new refugee policy. Then, in 2017, Interpol introduced a number of further reforms, including greater independence, influence and expertise of the supervisory authority, the CCF; better transparency and respect for equality of arms; reasoned and public decisions on individual cases; and a working group to review red notice operations.
The Minister said, again on 5 March, that
“the UK is currently working with Interpol to ensure that its rules are robust, effective and complied with. The former chief constable of Essex was recently made the executive director of policing services for Interpol, the most senior operational role in that organisation. A UK government lawyer has also been seconded to the Interpol legal service to work with it to ensure that Interpol rules are properly robust and adhered to by Interpol member states.”—[Official Report, 5/3/20; col. 364GC.]
Can she tell us any more about what further changes and reforms have been introduced since 2017 to prevent abuse? Although that is essential, I still hope that she can tell us that she will accept Amendment 2.
My Lords, I cannot imagine that the Minister is going to tell us anything other than that the Government would consult the appropriate authorities before exercising the power under paragraph 7 of the Schedule, so the obvious question is: if the Government are committed to consulting, why will they not put it in the Bill, given the extent of the concerns that have been raised?
My Lords, I too support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, but with one reservation about where it can be strengthened in relation to NGOs. The noble Lord, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, has just spoken convincingly about their importance. In proposed new sub-paragraph (a), the amendment reads that the Secretary of State should consult
“on the merits of the change with … (ii) non-governmental organisations which, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, have a relevant interest.”
For me, this gives the Secretary of State carte blanche to consult or not, as he or she thinks fit. It might be better to add: “iii) those non-governmental organisations which have made representations to the Secretary of State.” That said, I still support the amendment.
My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord Kennedy’s amendment as it would add to the system of fairness and justice, since a further check and balance would be written into the Bill. It ensures that the territory in question would not abuse the Interpol red notices system. As noble Lords will know, a red notice is a request by Interpol on behalf of one member state to all other member states to locate a suspect or convicted person, and take steps to facilitate their surrender to the requesting state. Extradition proceedings then follow.
However, not every country treats red notices as a valid warrant and the legal effect therefore currently differs between states. In February 2019, the European Parliament published a study that examined abuse by some states of Interpol’s notice system to persecute national human rights defenders, civil society activists and critical journalists in violation of international standards of human rights. The study, entitled Misuse of Interpol’s Red Notices and Impact on Human Rights—Recent Developments was commissioned by the European Parliament’s sub-committee on human rights. The study acknowledged that the reforms implemented in 2015 have improved the situation. However, abuses of the Interpol system against individuals, including refugees, continue.
There is still a lack of established rules and procedures to govern the vetting process and adherence to Interpol’s constitution. It is therefore of utmost importance that we in this House have the opportunity to finesse and refine the statute so that weaknesses in established systems are not exacerbated by any vague legislation coming from this House. I therefore support my noble friend Lord Kennedy’s amendment.
My Lords, in this amendment the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, has successfully combined a number of issues raised during the passage of the Bill. As noble Lords know, it is very difficult to resist even an affirmative instrument. That is the reality of the system, so it is particularly important that the Government are transparent and inclusive.
I went back to look at the Delegated Powers memorandum and realised—I had not noticed this before—that we are told as part of the justification for taking the power that a
“response to changing circumstances”—
which I will come to—
“provides certainty and clarity as to the appropriate manner of request from amended or newly specified territories. For example, if the UK were not to have access to the European Arrest Warrant or a similar tool, with the effect that EU Member States become re-designated as category 2 territories, it is likely to be appropriate to specify some or all of them for the purposes of this legislation.”
We had quite a bit of debate at the beginning as to whether the Bill is really preparing for us not being part of the EAW system, so there will be some interesting debates to come as territories are added.
As a member of the EU Select Committee, I have had the opportunity of hearing the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster mention this on a number of occasions. He said that what is important is to preserve our sovereignty, matters of proportionality and the state’s readiness for trial. As I say, there will be quite a bit to discuss as we add other countries.
The delegated powers memorandum also says:
“in the unlikely event of a deterioration in the standards of the criminal justice system of a specified category 2 territory, it is likely to be appropriate to remove”
it; well, the United States has been mentioned already by the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of Cradley. I suppose the answer to that is in the question of deterioration, because there are plenty of concerns about its processes now.
The House will be aware of our enthusiasm for consultation. I know that they do not claim this, but the Government do not have the monopoly of wisdom. Like other noble Lords, I am often very impressed by the knowledge that NGOs have. My noble friend Lord Paddick raised this point. I hope the Minister can confirm that, in legislation-speak, the Secretary of State’s opinion must always be a reasonable opinion and can be challenged on the basis that it is not reasonable.
I tabled an amendment in Committee to the effect that the designated authority—in our case, the NCA—must be satisfied that the request is not politically motivated. The Minister responded carefully and in detail, and I was grateful for that. The Committee was then reminded that the Extradition Act has safeguards in respect of requests motivated by a person’s political views. I want to make a distinction between that amendment and the one in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, which is about the abuse of the red notice system. I think that is different; it is to do with the requesting territory’s approach on a wider basis. I hope that the House will accept that the narrower amendment has been disposed of, as it does not deal with the wider point. From our Benches, we support the amendment.
My Lords, I thank noble Lords who have spoken to this amendment. Amendment 2 deals with the proposed statutory requirements for a consultation, the laying of statements before Parliament setting out the risks of any amendment to add, vary or remove a territory to the Bill and, in the case of additions, confirming that a territory does not abuse the Interpol red notice system prior to laying any regulations which seek to amend the territories subject to the Bill.
The Government are committed to ensuring that Parliament has the ability to question and decide on whether any new territories should come within scope. Therefore, it is mandated in the Bill that any Government wishing to add a new territory should do so through the affirmative resolution procedure. Any statutory instrument laid before Parliament will, of course, be accompanied by an Explanatory Memorandum that will set out the legislative context and the policy reason for the instrument. This procedure will give Parliament the opportunity to scrutinise proposals and allow the House to reject any proposals to add, remove or vary any territory to, from or in the Bill. The reasoning put forward will need to satisfy Parliament that the territory in scope does not abuse Interpol red notices or create unacceptable risks.
While extradition is a reserved matter, relevant officials are engaged in regular discussions with their counterparts in the devolved Administrations about how it should operate in practice. They would of course engage with them as a matter of good practice were any secondary legislation to be introduced in relation to it. Similarly, several relevant NGOs and expert legal practitioners have been consulted by officials in the normal way; this answers the questions of the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford. All external stakeholders are able to make direct contact with parliamentarians so that their views are included in all debates connected with secondary legislation associated with the Bill, as they have done during its current passage by contacting several noble Lords in this House.
A number of noble Lords, including the noble Baronesses, Lady Hamwee and Lady Ludford, talked about the abuse of Interpol channels. I will expand on that a bit. In arguing that maybe a power should not be enacted, given previous abuse of Interpol channels by some hostile states, the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, cited the case of Bill Browder. International organisations like Interpol are critical to international law enforcement co-operation and are aligned with our vision of a global Britain. Interpol provides a secure channel through which we exchange information on a police-to-police basis for action. The UK continues to work with Interpol to ensure that its rules are robust, effective and complied with. The former chief constable of Essex was recently made the executive director of policing services for Interpol, which I was delighted about. It is the most senior operational role in that organisation. A UK government lawyer has also been seconded to the Interpol notices and diffusion task force, to work with it to ensure that Interpol rules are properly robust and adhered to by Interpol member states.
In terms of the specification of non-trusted countries, the power will be available only in relation to requests from the countries specified in the Bill—countries in whose criminal justice systems we have a high level of confidence, and that do not abuse Interpol systems. The Government will not specify any country that is not suitable. The addition of any country must be approved by both Houses, and I trust that neither House will be content to approve the addition of a country about which we have concern.
I will try to make it easy for the House, because we will now have our first ever virtual vote in the House of Lords. I understand that noble Lords would like to divide on this, and I hope that they will join me in resisting the amendment.
My Lords, this has been a good short debate. I thank my noble friends Lady Kennedy of Cradley, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, Lady Wilcox of Newport and Lord Adonis, as well as the noble Baronesses, Lady Ludford and Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for their support. All noble Lords carefully set out the need for this amendment in a most convincing way. I am not persuaded by the response of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, which I found disappointing. I will not disappoint her, and I will make it very clear that I certainly wish to test the opinion of the House in this first ever virtual vote.
3: The Schedule, page 4, line 38, at end insert—
“( ) Regulations made under subsection (7)(a) shall designate no more than one territory.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would require regulations which add, vary or remove a reference to a territory under Schedule A1 to contain no more than one territory. This will allow Parliament to reject a particular territory.
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, has added his name to Amendment 3, as the noble Lords, Lord Kennedy and Lord Anderson, did to a similar amendment at an earlier stage. I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Ludford, who dealt with the matter on our behalf on Report, when, with the leave of the Minister, it was agreed that it be taken at Third Reading.
We often hear from the mover of an amendment: “This is a simple amendment.” Often, it is not quite that simple, but I believe this one is straightforward. When the Secretary of State lays regulations under new Section 74B(7)
“to add, vary or remove a reference to a territory”—
it is the addition that is the issue here—those regulations should apply only to a single territory. What I hope makes this simple to noble Lords is that there is nothing to prevent several instruments, each relating to one territory, being laid at the same time so that several territories can be specified within a matter of minutes of each other. But the crux is that Parliament should be able to reject one territory while happily accepting others.
In Committee, I used the examples of the Netherlands, a country which we respect, and Turkey, whose human rights record has regressed. I will use another pair today. I couple them only to distinguish between them: Sweden is a country we admire; Venezuela is one we do not, in this regard. If Parliament is presented with the choice of rejecting Sweden from the system because it wants to reject Venezuela, or accepting Venezuela because it wants to accept Sweden, how can Parliament possibly do the job we are all here to do when faced with an SI which is not amendable? The Minister has said previously that she would not present an SI that includes a country whose extradition requests we could not have confidence in due to their human rights record and would risk Parliament refusing extradition arrangements with a country that respects the rule of law. What the noble Baroness as an individual Minister might do is not the issue. I do not for a moment challenge her as an individual. This is a matter of system and procedure, not for an individual.
The previous amendment, which has just been agreed, referred to political motivation, and we must all be aware of the different criteria that different countries apply to the decisions they take as a state. Given the issues around relationships with countries regarding arms sales, for instance, is it any wonder that noble Lords are concerned about extradition to a country whose values, including valuing human life, are not our values?
The shortcomings and difficulties in procedures for dealing with secondary legislation are not a new point, but the fact that no amendments are possible is the most relevant one today. But, for once, we have a solution, which is to deal with these proposals one country at a time. I cannot understand an objection which seems to amount to no more than “It wasn’t invented here” or “not common practice”, to use the phrase used in Committee.
I need say no more, as I know that other noble Lords will contribute to the debate. Unless the Minister concedes, which I do not expect, I will test the opinion of the House, but for the moment I beg to move.
My noble friend Lady Hamwee has covered the strong case for this amendment and, to be quite frank, I cannot see on what grounds the Government can resist it. There is no good argument on administrative, parliamentary or human rights grounds not to have one territory per SI, so that Parliament can carefully discriminate between those territories where we are happy to have a law enforcement relationship and those that are, quite honestly, unreliable.
The way that the Government have resisted this improvement throughout the passage of the Bill in your Lordships’ House raises some concerns. Those are not linked, as my noble friend said, to the person of the Minister, but to any and every Government. We know that there will be pressures on this country, which has chosen—wrongly, in my opinion—to exit from the EU and make itself vulnerable to pressures in the context of seeking trade agreements. Those pressures are being discussed in a lively way, as they were last Wednesday in our Second Reading of the Agriculture Bill, when we discussed chlorinated chicken, hormone-treated beef and so on, and one can foresee similar kinds of pressures when countries seek favours from the United Kingdom in order to give us a trade concession. It would be all too tempting for a current or future Government to throw in a favour in a completely different area, such as law enforcement co-operation, in order to win a point for one economic sector or another in a trade deal.
In order to stop any such development in its tracks, it is completely reasonable to ask the Government simply to let Parliament decide on a country-by-country basis whether we want to add them to this system of provisional arrest. The onus is really on the Government to convince this House why it is reasonable to lump them together and not allow us to decide territory by territory, which is the obvious way to proceed.
We need a sensible extradition regime, and at the moment we have one. I strongly support it and nobody can think of a single reason why we should not work in a mutually acceptable way with territories, as the Act calls them—or countries, as ordinary people call them—that we trust: those we trust, those we trust to trust each other and those who we are confident will abide by the ordinary rules when seeking extradition of British citizens and vice versa. We all work together.
In this particular situation, as the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, just said, we have a Government who would produce a list of countries or territories with which we would all be happy, and, bingo, the affirmative resolution is passed and we all go away happy, and for myself I cannot imagine that a Government led by Sir Keir Starmer would be any different. But the future is long, and the problem is that, undoubtedly, the time may come—I am not saying that it will, and I hope that it never does—when a Government seek a favour from this country or we seek a favour from them. An example might be, “Do you really want our safety equipment? Do you really want our artificial intelligence? Let’s have a mutual extradition arrangement.” I can also envision the possibility, not immediately but not so remotely either, of a Government of the day wishing to associate themselves with a country that shared that Government’s political views but was nevertheless not a desirable country with which to have these arrangements.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has just explained, we have this ridiculous situation where affirmative resolutions cannot be amended—you either take the package or you lose it. Parliament could be faced with this situation: there could be a list of a number of countries with which it was entirely desirable and sensible to have a mutual arrangement plus one other, with which it would be extremely undesirable to have such an arrangement. What would happen then? Do we reject the territory and country that we think it would be totally inappropriate to have such arrangements with and therefore lose similar arrangements with all the desirable countries, or do we simply keep all the countries we think it would be a good idea to have and include the other one, although it is undesirable? That is a ridiculous situation, and the amendment is designed to avoid such an absurdity. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has already said, and I emphasise, the amendment proposes an utterly simple, totally uncomplicated system. It may cost the department a few more pages of paper, but not that many, and it may take a fraction more time, but it would be time valuably used. Statutory instruments should always be limited to one country.
The second reason I support the amendment has already been touched on. Through the passage of this legislation, from the beginning to where we are today, this House has raised this issue time and again. We have never yet been given a single good reason why the proposal in this amendment is unacceptable, would create difficulties for the extradition regime or would be unworkable. The Minister has not invented any spurious reason for that, for which we are of course grateful and unsurprised, but there are no reasons. No reason has yet been given. As a matter of common sense, as well as on a sound constitutional basis, the amendment has never been contradicted by a reasonable argument and should find favour with the House.
My Lords, I speak in support of the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lady Hamwee, and I agree completely with the comments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. The trouble with an amendment of this simplicity is that all one can do is repeat the arguments in a slightly different way.
It makes complete sense that Parliament should have the ability to consider each country on its merits in this case, as it is so obviously open to abuse, and the regulations that allow additions are not amendable. Echoing the views of my noble friend Lady Ludford, I think that, our having left the European Union, future Governments will be keener than ever to secure trade deals with other countries, for example. It may be that those other countries demand, quid pro quo, that we accede to their extradition requests, even though there may be reservations about a country’s criminal justice process. This amendment is necessary, and I support it.
My Lords, in Committee, my noble and learned friend Lord Hope of Craighead said of this amendment that it meets the problem of the non-amendable instrument, without at the same time creating an insuperable difficulty for the Government, and that it enables a debate to take place that would have a real point to it. The fact that there may be precedents in other Acts of Parliament for lumping countries together in statutory instruments seems to be neither here nor there.
This amendment ought really to be welcomed by the Government. It removes the possibility that acceptable countries will be excluded because they have been yoked together with a country that Parliament finds unacceptable. The amendment is a sensible and practical safety valve, which is why I put my name to a previous edition. If the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, decides to test the opinion of the House, I shall vote for the amendment.
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, said, the simpler the amendment, the more repetitious we become. But I want to go back to 2003, which was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, in the debate on the previous amendment, and to the Act that I piloted through, with the support of an excellent Home Office team. The noble Baroness called it a “mighty beast”, which it was; it was extremely difficult, as were other mighty beasts of that year, including the Criminal Justice Act, the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Sexual Offences Act, and the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act. When I look back on those days, I wonder when any of us slept. We were, quite rightly, taken to task: we leaned on legislation too quickly.
However, in a simple amendment such as this one, we have clarity of thinking, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, indicated, and as the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, reinforced. There is a simple, clear reason why, 17 years on from the original Extradition Act, we should take this sensible step, which avoids the Government not being able to carry an order for countries with which we would be extremely pleased to have extradition arrangements because another country listed is unacceptable to us. Turning it on its head, on the danger of agreeing a country that we do not wish to have an extradition agreement with, and being unable to get Parliament to agree to an order that it would otherwise want to go along with, it makes absolute sense for the Government simply to concede.
I repeat what I said last week: I have a great deal of respect for the Minister. I hope that, even at this late stage, texts might be going from her staff to the Home Secretary to say, “Please give permission to concede on this, because we oppose it for no good reason whatever”.
My Lords, I support Amendment 3, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. As noble Lords have heard, this issue has been considered by the House as the Bill has made its progress through the various stages. What is proposed here today is simple, effective and, I contend, good government.
Surely it must be right that when we are designating countries that we wish to form an extradition agreement with, after the detailed work has taken place, Parliament should have the opportunity to accept or reject the designation for an individual territory. Parliament generally, and this House in particular, does not often vote down regulations. We may pass Motions to Regret or debate the merits of what is proposed, and many may express deep reservations, but fatal Motions are very rare.
This amendment is important; it is good practice and what good government should be all about. It guards against this or any future Government, of whatever political persuasion, seeking to group together a number of countries and push them through en bloc where, for example, nine of the 10 countries proposed have good reputations, a good track record and respect for the rule of law, do not persecute dissidents, do not abuse human rights and do not abuse Interpol red notices, but the remaining country has a more questionable record on one, or a number of, the issues I have raised. In such a case, it would be wrong for the Government to try to force through an agreement under the cover of Parliament not wanting to reject the other territories, and would give the country about which questions have been asked some form of protection that it does not deserve, making the approval a fait accompli. Parliament should, in all circumstances, guard against that.
If passed, this amendment would allow Parliament, on the rare occasion that it rejects regulations, to do so quite clearly on the record of the individual territory that the Government propose to sign an agreement with. That is right, proportionate and the sensible way to deal with this important part of public policy; no other agreement will be put at risk. It is good government, and I hope noble Lords will support the amendment if it is put to the vote.
My Lords, on previous occasions this House has spoken at length on the question of what constitutes appropriate parliamentary scrutiny, in the wider sense, in relation to the addition of any territory, and has just done so again on Amendment 2. I will now expand further in addressing Amendment 3, in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, which seeks to mandate that this be done by individual statutory instrument for each suggested country.
I was slightly dismayed to hear noble Lords talk about mutual extradition arrangements because, as I have clarified on several occasions, this has not, and never has been, about mutual extradition arrangements. We do not do this on behalf of other countries, and if, for example, we did it on behalf of Turkey, the courts would throw it out—even if the Government could get it through Parliament, the courts would throw it out.
When this issue was debated in Committee, it was pointed out that statutory instruments that seek to specify new territories are not amendable. Some feel that this may create a difficulty for this House if regulations were laid which sought to specify multiple countries. As I have said before, the process of potentially listing multiple countries already exists for adding territories to both parts of the Extradition Act 2003.
It was further pointed out that there are countries in the world which do not respect the rule of law and a concern was raised that a future Government may seek to add such countries to this legislation, countries that this House and the other place together may think it inappropriate to add. Again, even if the Government could get it through Parliament, the courts would throw it out.
It was put to me that somehow this House cannot really grapple with considering a country to which there are objections unless it appears in a statutory instrument alone. The answer to that concern is very simple. If a country is proposed by any Government, either now or in the future, that this House does not want to be specified under this Bill then the job of this House is to win that argument and vote down the relevant regulations.
To quote my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who as always put it very succinctly, being a former Lord Advocate and Lord Chancellor,
“a Minister putting forward a list would have to be mightily careful that the list was of all good, or at least equally good, countries. If there was a doubtful one it would have to be separate. That lesson should be taken to heart. It is very unwise to have a great big list where we are not sure about two or three countries, because we would just lose the whole lot. I suspect that we may be faced in due course with a fair group about which we have some knowledge already. I do not think that that has anything to do with the Bill, but it might be a consequence of granting this power. I imagine that any Minister contemplating this who wished to be successful would be very careful to leave a country out of a list of very good countries and have it in a separate list if he thought that it would risk the others.”—[Official Report, 5/3/20; col. GC 386.]
I have often made such considerations when considering statutory instruments. This House and the other place will have the ability to reject regulations which contain multiple countries, which will incentivise any Government to heed my noble and learned friend’s advice.
It was also suggested in Committee that having multiple instruments specifying a single territory would take just “a little longer”—a bit more typing and printing. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, alluded to that today. That is to rather belittle the potential impact of this amendment on parliamentary business. The description that this would not cause,
“much more than a few more pieces of paper—a little more typing and standing up and sitting down”—[Official Report, 5/3/20; col. GC 387.]
simply does not adequately describe the impact of unnecessary regulations. We are all in the middle of an abject lesson in the reality of entirely unexpected time having to be diverted for vital emergency parliamentary work for the good of the whole of the UK. Unnecessarily burdensome legislation is simply not consistent with the Government’s duty to have proportionate systems in place that afford regulations only the proper and necessary time and resources needed.
Despite the crisis that has engulfed normal and parliamentary life in the UK, we need to press on with this Bill because some of the horrors it seeks to mitigate are already present on our streets. I have said more than once that thousands of international arrest alerts are already circulated for fugitives by the countries in scope. UK police officers need the arrest powers not because of other countries but to keep our streets safe. This law will prevent fugitives responsible for such crime continuing to evade justice through an operational loophole which puts the public at risk.
From the tone of the speakers, I think there will be a desire to test the opinion of the House. I hope noble Lords will join me in resisting this amendment.
I will test the opinion of the House, but I will first respond a little to what has been said. I thank all noble Lords who have supported this amendment.
As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, said, we need a sensible extradition regime and I do not seek to subvert that. This is also not about mutual arrangements. I am flattered that the noble and learned Lord attributes to me an awareness of and sensitivity to the constitution and common sense. I hope this amendment achieves both. He gave examples of situations where the Government might be tempted down a route which was not perhaps the best because of other matters in play politically. It occurs to me that the topical discussion might be, “Do you want our vaccine? Do you want our PPE?” This amendment would let the Government, in advance, off the hook that they might create for themselves, giving them a way out of facing that unpleasant discussion.
We are proud of our values; this is a way of applying them. The Minister says that we might win the argument and vote down regulations because they included an “undesirable” country—I use the term as shorthand. However, in this example, that would not reflect the views of Parliament because it would not be able at that point to accept the desirable country.
We have had to adapt our procedures over the last few weeks. Great and very successful attempts have been made to ensure that procedure reflects good governance. We should extend that today. This is a proportionate response to the issue. The Minister says that the Government want to press on with the Bill; I have no doubt that they do. It will have to go to the Commons, and we know that it already contains a provision which the Government will not be very happy with. As I say, this amendment is proportionate, sensible and one that the House should accept. I would like to test the opinion of the House.
Amendments 4 to 7
4: The Schedule, page 7, line 2, leave out “within 24 hours of” and insert “as soon as practicable after”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment is consequential on the Minister's first amendment.
5: The Schedule, page 10, line 8, leave out sub-paragraph (2)
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment is consequential on the Minister's first amendment.
6: The Schedule, page 10, line 9, at end insert—
“( ) In subsection (7), for “or 74(3)” substitute “, 74(3) or 74A(3)”.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment is consequential on the Minister's first amendment.
7: The Schedule, page 10, line 10, leave out sub-paragraph (4)
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment is consequential on the Minister's first amendment.
Amendments 4 to 7 agreed.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lords who engaged very constructively with the Bill, particularly the noble Lords, Lord Kennedy and Lord Paddick, the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern. The Chief Whip’s beeper is going so I think he wants me to keep my comments short.
Extradition is not an easy subject, but this has been most interesting legislation, with very well-drafted and thoughtful amendments. Everyone will benefit from the work done on this. I particularly thank officials from the Home Office, who have supported me so brilliantly throughout. I beg to move.
My Lords, I echo the noble Baroness’s comments. I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in the proceedings on the Bill. I enjoyed working with everybody concerned. I think that we have made the Bill better. As always, the noble Baroness has been courteous and kind and always prepared to engage with me constructively. I also thank all her officials from the Home Office for the way they have worked with me during the Bill’s passage.
My Lords, I too thank everyone who has been involved with the Bill. As the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said, it is not an easy subject, although some of the amendments that we have had to consider have in fact been relatively straightforward. I suspect we will discuss extradition quite a lot over the next few months and years, so we will all get to know the subject even better. I congratulate her on seeing this through. I really appreciate the help of officials and staff. Who thought, when we started on the passage of the Bill, that we would have had such an extraordinary experience?
Bill passed and sent to the Commons.
Schedule: Power of arrest for extradition purposes
1: The Schedule, page 3, line 15, leave out from “judge” to end of line 19 and insert “as soon as practicable.”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment is to make the period within which a person must be brought before a judge consistent with other provisions of the Extradition Act 2003.
My Lords, my noble friend Lady Hamwee, who has led for the Liberal Democrat Benches until now, regrets that under the advice of the Government and the Lord Speaker she cannot be here today.
Amendment 1 addresses new Section 74A, which requires someone who is arrested to be brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest. However, no account is taken of weekends and bank holidays in calculating 24 hours—so, for example, someone could be arrested without judicial involvement on the Friday afternoon before a bank holiday until the following Tuesday. Concerns were expressed about this on Second Reading, and in Committee on 5 March in debate on my noble friend Lady Hamwee’s then Amendment 3. We have now reworded the amendment so that this Amendment 1 would add that someone should be brought before a judge “as soon as practicable”. The Government claim that wording other than that in the Bill is operationally unworkable because the courts do not sit at the weekend, but in Committee the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, who sadly also cannot be in his place today, said in support of changing the wording:
“Would you believe it, there is a judge on duty all weekend, every weekend, and all night”,
and that, if the provisional arrest happens over the weekend,
“it can be treated as urgent business.”
Both the noble and learned Lords, Lord Judge and Lord Mackay, took issue with what the phrase “brought before” means in 2020, with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, pointing out that:
“It is questionable whether the word ‘brought’ requires the physical presence of the judge and the particular person so that they should be facing each other directly. Nowadays we have all sorts of technology that enables people to encounter each other while not in one another’s physical presence.”
The noble Lord, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, said on behalf of the Government in Committee that it was
“the statutory intention that the person should be brought before a judge in person. It is an additional safeguard and a better situation for them to be seen in person before a judge.”
I am not really in a position to assess it, but I must admit that I am not convinced that is necessarily the case. We will of course see remote digital contacts in the justice system rolled out even more in present circumstances. In any case, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, responded:
“If that is the problem, we need to amend the legislation to make it clear that ‘brought before’ does not mean that there is a personal, direct, physical confrontation.”
He said he was very willing to talk to the Government about that.
On another angle, we were told in Committee that it was the Government’s
“intention to replicate the … provisions under the Extradition Act”,—[Official Report, 5/3/20; cols. GC 367-368.]
with the implication that new Section 74A did that. But the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, also explicitly acknowledged that the words in that Extradition Act 2003, in Sections 72(3) and 74(3) covering both an arrest under warrant and a provisional arrest in a Part 2 scenario, say:
“The person must be brought as soon as practicable before the appropriate judge.”
That is precisely the wording we want in Amendment 1. We on these Benches remain simply puzzled. If the Bill replicates or mirrors an existing provision—one we have not managed to find—can the Government explain precisely how? At the moment I cannot see how that is the case. In the absence of that explanation, we continue to believe that the Government need to change course. As far as we can see, it is Amendment 1, not the wording in the Bill, that mirrors that in the 2003 Act and aims for—and, we believe, achieves—clarity and consistency.
My Lords, the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, highlights the need for caution over any period of detention before an individual is brought before the judge. From the points just made, I think the House can agree that it is unclear why these detention periods are inconsistent in different cases. The efforts to draw the House’s attention to this certainly have the support of this side of the House. I hope the Minister can offer the House an explanation as to the reason behind this inconsistency between urgent cases under the 2003 Act’s category 1 and category 2.
I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, for her explanation and the noble Lord, Lord Wood. As noble Lords will know, the courts to which all extradition suspects must be taken, whether arrested under Part 1 or Part 2 of the Extradition Act 2003—as currently or as amended by this Bill—are Westminster Magistrates’ Court for England and Wales, Edinburgh Sheriff Court for Scotland and Belfast magistrates’ court for Northern Ireland. Currently, the person arrested under the Act must generally be brought before the appropriate judge “as soon as practicable” following arrest. Under the new power of provisional arrest in this Bill, it must occur “within 24 hours”.
The reason the Bill was originally drafted in this way was to strike a balance between getting arrested individuals before a judge as quickly as possible—the point the noble Lord, Lord Wood, makes—and allowing the police sufficient time to gather supporting information. This mirrored, in a more stringent form, the approach to provisional arrest in Part 1 of the Extradition Act 2003, which requires an individual to be brought before an appropriate judge within 48 hours of arrest. But I am conscious that the drafting departs from the general requirement currently imposed on the police after they make arrests under other existing powers in the Extradition Act 2003—the point that the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, makes.
I listened carefully at Second Reading and in Committee, and I have concluded that the new power of arrest in the Bill should be consistent in this respect with existing law and practice in relation to Part 2 of the 2003 Act and should therefore mirror the wording “as soon as practicable”. This will ensure that individuals are not detained for any longer than is strictly necessary. If, for example, an individual is arrested in central London, “as soon as practicable” would in all probability be within 24 hours. Our operational partners have already proved themselves effective at producing wanted persons before courts within strict timeframes, and the three UK extradition courts have proved strict arbiters of police actions under the “as soon as practicable” requirement.
Therefore, I intend to introduce a government amendment to this effect at Third Reading to address those concerns. The amendment will leave out the words “within 24 hours” and insert “as soon as practicable” in their place, as well as consequently deleting the express exclusion of weekends and bank holidays in the calculation of the 24-hour period. While the language will not explicitly rule out production on weekends or bank holidays, these factors will, of course, be relevant to the practicability of bringing an individual before an appropriate judge. If public holidays or court opening times were to change in future, the legislation would not need to be amended to take account of that. It remains the Government’s intention that the arrested person be brought before a judge sitting in court and so the concept of “as soon as practicable” will remain subject to court sitting times, which are determined by the judiciary. There may, of course, be a multitude of other factors which affect, in the individual case, the practicability of bringing an individual before a judge, such as distance, natural disasters or illness of the arrested individual. We continue to think it is right, therefore, that the judiciary is the arbiter, in the individual case, of whether this test of “as soon as practicable” is met, and it will be able to do so in determining any application for discharge under Section 74D(10).
I hope that the noble Baroness and the noble Lord are content with those intentions, which I will bring back at Third Reading and that the noble Baroness will be happy to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, I am very grateful to the Minister for having productively reflected on this. I can see the original attraction of a rigid time limit, and the Minister is right that there is inconsistency in the Extradition Act 2003, because there is a 48-hour limit for provisional arrest in Part 1. Perhaps that is what guided the drafting of the original Bill. As the Minister said, the experience of the relevant courts dealing with extradition in the different jurisdictions is that they are prompt and do not sit on these things. Therefore we can rely on the operations of the courts to make sure that “as soon as practicable” happens and that it is only some kind of force majeure that stops that being very soon, taking into account what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, said at Second Reading and in Committee about the ability of a judge to be available, certainly in the Westminster court, on a Saturday. I am very grateful and look forward to the amendment that the Minister intends to bring back at Third Reading.
Forgive me if, in all the turmoil at the moment, my knowledge of procedure has gone slightly AWOL: I think I still need to move the amendment. No? Okay, then I shall withdraw it. I am obviously not very good at this—that is why we need my noble friend Lady Hamwee here. I end by saying that on the basis of the assurances and promises of the Minister, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 1 withdrawn.
2: The Schedule, page 4, line 38, at end insert—
“( ) Regulations made under subsection (7)(a) shall designate no more than one territory.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would require regulations which add, vary or remove a reference to a territory under Schedule A1 to contain no more than one territory. This will allow Parliament to reject a particular territory.
My Lords, again I am moving this amendment on behalf of my noble friend Lady Hamwee. It is the same as Amendment 9 in Committee, though with a slight drafting change to refer to “regulations” rather than “orders”. We are pleased that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and the noble Lords, Lord Anderson and Lord Kennedy, have added their names and we understand why they are not able to be here today. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, would have added his name had there been space.
As my noble friend Lady Hamwee explained in Committee, it is essential to allow additions to the Schedule for only one territory at a time. We can envisage a scenario in which the Government wish to add a whole raft of states to the Schedule all at once. For the sake of argument, let us imagine that would consist of all EU and EEA states and that in the list there is a country that might be an EU associated country, such as Turkey, but one over which considerable human rights concerns exist. I seem to be quoting a lot from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, but he always says very wise things. In Committee, he said:
“We all know that there are countries in the world that do not respect the rule of law. I will not set about trying to give your Lordships a list because the list itself changes. Countries that respected the rule of law no longer do. Weimar Germany did; Hitler’s Germany did not. This is a moveable feast.”—[Official Report, 5/3/20; col. 378GC.]
That is a very good point. Turkey was making very good progress in democracy and human rights a decade ago, but it regressed, regrettably.
There is great concern that the Government want to give themselves wide powers for the Secretary of State to add countries to the list en bloc. I think it was in Committee that the Minister said that the Government had no intention of specifying countries likely to abuse the system to political ends. I utterly believe what she said, but I again quote the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, who raised at Second Reading the fear that
“in the real world we are surely not going to be so naive as to believe that all sorts of motives—a possible trade deal, a plea just to be good friends with us, political beliefs, sympathy with a tyrannical regime—may not lead”—[Official Report, 4/2/20; col. 1731.]
to an addition to the list in the Schedule, although he certainly excused our present Minister from falling prey to such motivation.
The non-governmental organisation Fair Trials International, for which I have been pleased to work for 20 years and of which I am a patron, has done excellent work on the abuse of Interpol red notices where countries use them against political opponents, human rights defenders and journalists living in exile. The journalist Bill Browder was famously the victim of one from Russia and wrote a book called Red Notice. There are numerous examples of such countries and one would not expect them to be added to the list—Azerbaijan, Venezuela, Egypt and many others where Interpol red notices have been used in a very questionable way. I do not think that the argument the Minister used in Committee—essentially that “one at a time is not how we do things”—is quite good enough. She said
“it is common practice to allow for multiple territories to be specified together for similar legislation.”—[Official Report, 5/3/20; col. 382GC.]
But I am not convinced that it needs to be invariable practice. It may have been common practice up to now, but we are not obliged to follow that. It is perfectly simple to do it one country at a time. This will not cause Whitehall to collapse in shock.
Our amendment could actually help the Government, as it would avoid Parliament rejecting the inclusion of a list that had good states as well as a bad state. We would not have to reject them all because of the inclusion of a single bad state, if I can use that shorthand. It would allow for the sensible, responsible outcome of bringing the respectable states into the provisional arrest arrangement while excluding a state that did not respect the rule of law and human rights.
Accepting this amendment would not lead to any delay as two or more sets of regulations, each relating to a single territory, could be tabled at the same time. We would not lose time. Ministers have been keen to stress that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC, supports the Bill, but I as I read his letter, he was supporting the general proposition, which is fair enough, but he was not commenting on this sort of detail, so will the Minister have a another look at this? We on these Benches would be happy to have a meeting to discuss it. We are keen to understand whether there is any substantive reason for rejecting the amendment, which, to be honest, we do not see at present.
In normal circumstances, we would be keen to test the opinion of the House on this, but since these are not normal times, will the Minister let us return to this matter at Third Reading, in the way that she has so helpfully promised that we could do on Amendment 1? We are firm on the substance of Amendment 2, in the same way as on Amendment 1, but we are flexible on the timing, so I hope that the Minister can respond in that vein. I beg to move.
I will speak to Amendment 2, and Amendment 3 in the name of my noble friend Lord Kennedy, who is unable to be here today. As we have just heard, Amendment 2 would require regulations that add, vary or remove a reference to a territory to contain no more than one territory. Allowing Parliament to reject a single territory would a create a valuable scrutiny mechanism for when either House has concerns to raise over a specific individual country that the Government intend to add because there will be occasions when the merits of adding individual territories are disputed. The amendment would create an important safeguard to exercise scrutiny in such circumstances and we support it.
In recognition of the powers in this Bill to add, remove or vary territories, Amendment 3 would create conditions for when the Government choose to exercise these powers. To this end, the amendment seeks to create a new process that means that the Government must take three further steps before adding and removing territories. The first condition for the Government to meet is to consult with the devolved Administrations and non-governmental organisations—the devolved Administrations because there will be certain powers relating to justice, policing and prisons that are devolved, and the non-governmental organisations to understand better any issues that arise from individual territories relating, for example, to the human rights records of the countries concerned.
The second condition is that the Government must produce an assessment of the risks of each change, which would put on record the Government’s rationale for signing the agreement, and allow for parliamentary scrutiny. The final condition is that if a new country is added, the Government must confirm that the country does not abuse the Interpol red notice system. That would make it clear that the Secretary of State responsible must not sign agreements with countries that have questionable records on human rights.
Although we fully accept the need to add further territories as treaties are negotiated, the Government must add only those that comply with our values. I am sure that all noble Lords would agree with that. While we fully accept that it may be necessary to remove or vary territories, it is important that the Government are transparent about their rationale and offer themselves to the scrutiny of Parliament. Will the Minister allay our concerns about the rationale and availability of scrutiny and about consulting with the devolved Administrations and NGOs by confirming that the Government already intend to consult and open themselves to scrutiny when they add or remove further territories?
My Lords, we on these Benches support Amendment 3 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy. We hope that the Government will confirm the involvement of the devolved Administrations and believe that there is a strong case to be made for consulting NGOs that have experience of the country concerned, however knowledgeable the Foreign and Commonwealth Office may be.
On the “risks” mentioned in paragraph (b) of the amendment, I imagine that the noble Lord means that he expects the Government to make an assessment of balance and proportionality in whatever conclusion they reach on the suitability of a country to be included.
Of course, we totally support his reference in paragraph (c) to the need to avoid the abuse of Interpol red notices, to which I referred in moving Amendment 1. I have said that I am a patron of Fair Trials International and I want to give it a plug: it has done sterling work on this issue in the past few years and can, I believe, take considerable credit for the reforms that have been made to Interpol red notices so far. They do not go far enough but reference has been made in previous stages of the Bill to the fact that some reform is going on at Interpol; that needs to improve because there is still the problem of abuse. Perhaps one day there will not be and we can look again, but, for the moment, Amendment 3 is very appropriate.
My Lords, I thank both noble Lords who have spoken. I was looking at the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, slightly strangely because it is unusual to speak twice on the same group of amendments. It really does not matter because these are very unusual times, so it is not a precedent.
I do not know whether noble Lords want me to go through the full arguments today or whether they want to return to them at Third Reading; I sense that that is the mood of the House. Noble Lords have made their arguments. For the reason that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, is not here and would like a further crack at this whip, I suggest that we let this lie for the moment and return to it at Third Reading, if that is okay with noble Lords.
I am sorry to interrupt. The sensibility behind the noble Baroness’s comment is that this a matter that we can come back to at Third Reading. Without wishing to be overly bureaucratic about it, following her helpful line in allowing issues on Report to be taken in a more relaxed way, a rule in the Companion is quite clear that it is with the leave of the Minister that matters can be raised again. Is she saying that, if these amendments are withdrawn, she will accept that they may be brought back for further debate and discussion? That would be sufficient for the clerks to be able to allow us to do that.
Amendment 2 withdrawn.
Amendment 3 not moved.
Committee (1st Day)
My Lords, if there is a Division in the Chamber while we are sitting, the Committee will adjourn as soon as the Division Bells are rung and resume after 10 minutes.
Clause 1 agreed.
1: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—
“Report on risk of abuse in Interpol Red Notices
(1) The Secretary of State must, before the end of the period of 12 months beginning on the day this Act is passed, lay before both Houses of Parliament an assessment of the reliability of Interpol Red Notices as a basis for arrest under this Act.(2) The report must include an assessment of the extent to which there is a risk of abuse by territories issuing notices.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would require the Secretary of State to prepare and publish a report on Interpol Red Notices.
My Lords, Amendment 1 in my name seeks to add a new clause to the Bill that would require the Secretary of State, within 12 months of the Bill becoming law, to lay before Parliament
“an assessment of the reliability of Interpol Red Notices as a basis for arrest”
under the Bill. That assessment must address the extent to which there is a risk of abuse of the red notice system. There are eight different types of Interpol notice, but most of the recent controversy has been over the red notices. My amendment seeks to shed some light on them to ensure that they are used properly; that, where we are complying with a request under a notice, we are more confident that we are working towards getting them to be more accurate; and that the risk of their being politically motivated is drawn out.
We have to recognise that some of Interpol’s member countries do not have as good a human rights record as others. There are allegations of corruption against some and some regimes have been accused of using red notices for political purposes to attempt to capture dissidents and people who oppose them. That is why I want to hear from the Minister how we will ensure that they are not abused.
Amendment 2 in my name, also in this group, is very straightforward. It would require the Secretary of State to report to Parliament, again, within 12 months and every 12 months after that, to provide us with a statement that ensures that what happens under the Act complies with Section 4 of the Equality Act 2010. I hope the Minister will be able to respond positively to both amendments, which are simple, straightforward and attempt to address issues of concern by providing information useful to government, policymakers and Parliament. I beg to move.
My Lords, red notices are indeed controversial because they are open to abuse by authoritarian regimes seeking the apprehension of dissidents or “criminals” whose crime is dissidence. The House has talked about abuse in the cases of Russia, China, Turkey and a number of other countries. I understand that there are also sometimes queries about red notices from Latin American and Middle Eastern states. Of course there is a risk of political abuse, corruption and malicious notices.
I had forgotten, but recalled when I was preparing for today, the case of the footballer granted refugee status and residence in Australia three years ago, after fleeing Bahrain. He was arrested on his honeymoon in Thailand and held in detention for a while until he got back to Australia. Questions were raised about Interpol’s neutrality. I appreciate that reforms have been introduced over the past five or so years, but controversies do and will continue over red notices and Interpol’s diffusions, which serve as an international alert mechanism.
It is important to have as much transparency and availability of information as possible on how the recipient of the notice treats its subject, which is why the involvement of the judiciary at a later stage has such importance, and on how the NCA or any other designated authority triages the information—we seem to have adopted that term.
The fact that there is a risk of abuse seems no reason not to proceed with the legislation and I acknowledge that the amendment does not propose that. In any event, I understand that the certificate, not the red notice, is the basis for arrest, which is an important distinction.
I wonder whether this is the moment to ask the Minister about the EU’s future relationship with other European countries. The document published last week on the future relationship refers to achieving extradition arrangements with
“appropriate further safeguards for individuals beyond those in the European Arrest Warrant.”
I am sorry that I did not think to warn the Minister that I would ask this, but I imagine that it is pretty much at the top of everybody’s minds. What are the “appropriate further safeguards”? In other words, what are the problems with European arrest warrants that led to that statement in the document?
I am a member of your Lordships’ EU Select Committee. We took evidence on Tuesday about the future relationship. I asked an academic who was giving evidence what he thought this was about. He said that it was probably about human rights concerns. Of course, the noble Baroness will understand that I will not object to human rights safeguards.
On the noble Lord’s second amendment, as I have said, transparency is important. However, I was not aware that there was a major concern about discrimination, which is what is protected—as it were—by the protected characteristics. One would perhaps want to know the situation in other countries. I thank him for raising the issues and giving us the chance to discuss these subjects.
My Lords, if I may, I shall raise one small point. We are talking here about the ability to effect an arrest, not an obligation on the person who discovers and identifies somebody who is suspicious and to be arrested. To clarify, if it against public policy for somebody to be extradited, there is no obligation on the person concerned who has been granted this power to carry out the arrest. Is that correct?
My Lords, I assume that the process of extradition occurs under judicial control after the arrest and after the person arrested is in the custody of the judiciary or under the control of the arrangements made by the judiciary. That is quite important. In most of the speeches made at Second Reading, we distinguished between the Executive and the judiciary. They are two distinct parts of government. It is the Executive’s responsibility to take people before the judiciary, which is then responsible for how they are treated, subject to the Executive sometimes being part of the treatment afterwards. It is important to distinguish between the two. Therefore, it is acceptable that the authority deciding whether this arrest should go ahead is not a judicial authority but the responsible executive authority.
As far as both amendments are concerned, the information sought is reasonable and might be subject to risk, but it would be very easy, particularly if there seemed to be any public concern about the matter, for a parliamentarian to raise this as a Parliamentary Question, rather than have an obligation on the Secretary of State to keep to a time when there might not be much in the way of information to put out. I can see why these arrangements are a subject of public interest, but the Parliamentary Question system is a good way to deal with that as and when they seem important.
I support what my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay just said. There is a fundamental distinction between the Executive branch and the legal branch. My objection to the Bill is that it includes a country where that division is nothing like as strong as ours. One of the issues is that these mechanisms for extradition are politically motivated in one of the five countries. The distinction between the Executive and the judicial system is crucial in people’s protection. Therefore, I very much support my noble and learned friend making that distinction, which distinguishes us and four of the other countries from the fifth. We ought to underline that very strongly.
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have made their points on these amendments and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, for moving Amendment 1. To recap, at Second Reading there was considerable cross-party consensus on the Bill’s aims and measures, alongside the robust scrutiny that I expect from the House, and now the Committee. The amendments before us rightly tease out some of those points.
Noble Lords will be interested to know that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC, wrote to the new Security Minister on 2 March. His letter, which I will put in the Library following Committee, says:
“Overall, it is the firm view of the CPS that this Bill strikes the right balance between ensuring sufficient human rights safeguards and delivering the capabilities that the police and CPS require in order to safeguard the public … under the current process there remains a risk that UK law enforcement could encounter a potentially dangerous person wanted for a serious crime by a trusted partner, but for whom they would have no power to arrest and detain … The Bill does not make it more or less likely someone will be extradited, but it does increase the chances that persons wanted for serious offences by some of our closest and trusted partners will enter, with all the existing safeguards, the extradition process.”
I know that reporting on the effectiveness of the legislation, and the reliability of Interpol alerts, is a topic of interest. If the Committee will allow it, I will address Amendments 1 and 2 together as both concern reporting on the legislation’s effectiveness.
On the perceived risk of abuse of Interpol notices highlighted in Amendment 1, I reassure the Committee that the immediate power of arrest proposed in the Bill will apply only to requests from specified countries—currently the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. These countries have been specified as we have a high level of confidence in their criminal justice systems and use of Interpol notices. The Government have no intention of specifying countries likely to abuse the system to political ends.
Additionally, the UK is currently working with Interpol to ensure that its rules are robust, effective and complied with. The former chief constable of Essex was recently made the executive director of policing services for Interpol, the most senior operational role in that organisation. A UK government lawyer has also been seconded to the Interpol legal service to work with it to ensure that Interpol rules are properly robust and adhered to by Interpol member states. We will continue to work with Interpol to increase the reliability and trustworthiness of the whole red notice system.
International organisations such as Interpol are critical to our vision of a global Britain and international law enforcement co-operation beyond the EU. Interpol provides a secure channel through which we exchange information, on a police-to-police basis, for action. It is important to remember that we are putting our trust in particular countries and that we will certify certain international arrest requests from only those countries, not any other Interpol notices. An arrest request from our trusted partners may be in the form of an Interpol notice, but it will be certified not because of the method by which it is sent to us but because it comes from a specified country and is for a serious offence.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked about the safeguards that will be provided that go beyond those provided for under the EAW and what they will be. We are seeking to enshrine important safeguards in our extradition arrangements, including the ability for a judge in the UK to dismiss a warrant from an EU member state on the basis of proportionality and, if there has not yet been a decision, to charge and try the wanted person. Judges will also be required to establish that the offence is also an offence in the UK—we discussed that the other day, I remember. We will also retain the ability of courts to refuse extradition on the basis that it is incompatible with the requested person’s human rights.
My noble friend Lord Deben asked about political motivation by “one country”. We do not accept that any of the countries concerned will be in the habit of making politically motivated requests. All those specified have justice systems in which the Government are prepared to put their trust.
Did my noble friend notice that the President of the United States has just taken credit for 3,000 judicial appointments and said that he has therefore ensured that those judicial appointments will make decisions in line with his and Republican Party policy? How can one possibly say that this is the same kind of judicial system that we have?
I understand that, and we have the protection that the request has to go before a judge but, in this document, the Government give accreditation to the United States, which has no reciprocal arrangements with us, and talk about a “trusted partner” when it is not a partner. It will not do this the other way around and, clearly, it asks for the extradition of people on political or commercial grounds, which would not happen with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. We are saying something about the United States that surely none of us believes.
I think my noble friend is referring to the Extradition Act itself, not the pre-extradition arrest process. I do not know whether he is questioning the Extradition Act’s efficacy, but that is not what we are talking about in the Bill. He also has an amendment down for later in Committee so perhaps we could come back to this at that stage if he wants to make further points.
I am happy to do that; I merely say to my noble friend that I have tabled the amendment and wish to discuss it because this is our opportunity to do so and we are repeating our view. My noble friend is using phrases that are, I think, unsuitable, given the relationship. We are, after all, extending—perfectly properly, I think—the way the Extradition Act works. It seems reasonable at this point, before we go any further, to question whether one ought to use those phrases in these circumstances.
We will get on to my noble friend’s point, but we use Parliament to make law rather than to make points. I hope he will respect the point that I make.
The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, asked about obligation to extradite. He is absolutely right. The Bill creates powers for the police, not obligations to other countries.
Amendment 2 requests the publication of an annual statement on arrests. The NCA already keeps data and publishes statistics around arrest volumes in relation to Part 1 of the Extradition Act. It does it without being required to do so by primary legislation. We have no doubt that it will similarly do so in respect of arrests under this new arrest power, as this is a sensible operational practice. I have sympathy for the amendment, so I have asked officials to look at how we can give the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, some reassurance. I hope he will accept that I will liaise with him between now and Report.
I am not persuaded that the either the Secretary of State or the NCA require a statutory obligation to take these steps. I hope I have been able to persuade the noble Lord not to press his amendments, but we will have further discussions between now and Report.
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this short debate. I am obviously happy to withdraw my amendment for the moment.
I agree with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood. The noble Lord, Lord Deben, has also made some important points, which I know we will come to later.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, mentioned Parliamentary Questions. Sometimes, the Answers we get are not very good, to say the least. That goes across government. I am going to have to start tabling Questions about Parliamentary Answers. I asked one recently of another department. I asked, “What do we here?” and the Answer had no bearing whatever on the Question. I raised that with the Minister concerned and he accepted that. I thought, “Just answer the Question. If you can’t answer it, tell me you can’t answer it.” They had sent back a ridiculous Answer that had no bearing and it is not good enough. Unfortunately, that is a problem across government. Maybe we need a debate in the House about it. I am going to try putting in FoIs and comparing answers between PQs and FoIs. Will the answers be as bad there? We will see. But that is a separate issue. I would love to think that PQs were the answer; unfortunately, in my experience of being here for nearly 10 years, they are not.
Having said that, I am pleased with the Minister’s response, especially to my second amendment. I look forward to further discussions between now and Report. On that basis, I am happy to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment 1 withdrawn.
Amendment 2 not moved.
Clause 2 agreed.
3: The Schedule, page 2, leave out lines 17 to 19
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment precludes the period of imprisonment extending beyond 24 hours before the person is brought before a judge.
My Lords, I tabled this amendment following the speech of the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Clark of Calton, at Second Reading. She raised the issue of the time that a suspect—the person who has been arrested—might spend in custody before coming before the court. Someone arrested on the Friday before a bank holiday weekend might not go before the court until the Tuesday, if one excludes weekends and bank holidays. The impact assessment tells us that the legislation is likely to involve only half a dozen people, so without wanting to impose too much on our judiciary—I accept that it is pretty hard pressed these days—I do not see that it would be too much of an extra strain on them or on the police to deal with these matters over the weekend.
I am grateful to the Minister for calling me just before we started the Committee stage to say that, basically, I had got the drafting wrong. Okay, this is what Committee stages are about: to raise issues and to see how we can deal with them. The schedule provides that in calculating the 24-hour period before a person is brought before a judge, no account is taken of weekends, bank holidays and so on. Reference is made to provision elsewhere. I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson, will deal with this matter. I look forward to him explaining this to me because I believe the argument is that that would mean that no one could be arrested on a Saturday or a Sunday. I am not quite sure that I follow that, but no doubt he will put that right.
When the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Clark, spoke at Second Reading on 4 February, she asked, at col. 1743, for some statistics on the number of arrests. I thought I should check on whether those have been made available. It may be that the matter was not pursued, the Minister having spoken to her. But as she said then, if there is a problem in relation to extradition to category 2 territories, the solution might be better co-ordination between the police and the judiciary to enable a warrant to be obtained at an early stage, or the involvement of the judiciary in a screening process instead of the designated authority. This is a useful opportunity for us to consider these points and I beg to move.
I rise briefly to welcome the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay. If he will now be covering some Home Office matters, we will be spending a lot of time together and will get know each other well, so that will be welcome.
The amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, is very sensible and I am happy to support it. She set out the issue clearly: someone can be picked up on the Friday before a bank holiday weekend and potentially wait until the Tuesday morning before being brought before a judge. That is a fair point. If people are arrested, they should be brought before a judge quickly, so I look forward to the noble Lord’s response.
My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their words of welcome. There will, indeed, be plenty to keep us busy on the home affairs front. Amendment 3 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, concerns the period of detention. It seeks to delete the provision that, in calculating the 24-hour period within which an arrested person must be brought before the appropriate judge, no account should be taken of weekends, bank holidays and the like, as she explained.
It might be helpful if I first reassure noble Lords that this provision does not arise from any desire of law enforcement agencies to detain individuals for prolonged periods without judicial oversight. The Government have been very careful to ensure that sufficient safeguards exist against this. Our operational partners have already proved themselves effective at producing wanted persons before courts within strict timeframes. The practical question at the heart of this issue is one of being certain that, when a person is produced at court, an appropriate judge is available to hear their case. The key aspect perhaps is that, rightly, the requirement under the Act is for the person to be brought before the judge, not simply for a judge to consider the case on paper. I hope that addresses the point raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. If the Bill were to be amended along the lines suggested, it would render the power largely unworkable; in some instances, because of perfectly normal court closure times, if a judge were not available for the wanted person to appear before them—
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord. It is questionable whether the word “brought” requires the physical presence of the judge and the particular person so that they should be facing each other directly. Nowadays we have all sorts of technology that enables people to encounter each other while not in one another’s physical presence.
To be clear to the noble and learned Lord, it is the statutory intention that the person should be brought before a judge in person. It is an additional safeguard and a better situation for them to be seen in person before a judge. If the Bill were amended along the lines suggested, it would make the power operationally unworkable because, in some instances, normal court closure times would preclude that. As we have discussed, it could mean, practically, that arrests could not be made on a Saturday or on the Sunday before a bank holiday.
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord again. This is his first outing and we are throwing bouncers at him. If that is the problem, we need to amend the legislation to make it clear that “brought before” does not mean that there is a personal, direct, physical confrontation. I would be very willing to talk to him about this at any time but, so far, I am not entirely satisfied with what he has had to say.
I thank noble Lords for their forbearance on this, my first outing. It is our intention to replicate the existing provisions under the Extradition Act. It may be helpful for me to speak to the noble and learned Lord and others in greater detail about the statutory intention of what the Government propose. We seek to mirror the provisions already there, which are caught up in the usual formulation of “as soon as practicable” that already exists in the Extradition Act. There are precedents for these arrangements for provisional arrest under Part 1, under which a person may be provisionally arrested without warrant and brought before the appropriate judge within 48 hours of their arrest, subject to exactly the same conditions as set out in the schedule under discussion here.
My noble friend Lady Williams of Trafford has already cited the letter sent by the Director of Public Prosecutions to the Security Minister earlier this week, which welcomes the way the Bill, as drafted, will avoid unnecessary delay and ensure initial judicial scrutiny as early as possible, before the case proceeds through extradition proceedings in the usual way. It is for that reason that the Government are not persuaded that the amendment is needed. I hope that gives some reassurance to the noble and learned Lord, the noble Baroness and others.
My Lords, I did not expect it to go in this direction, but I thank the noble Lord for his explanation. I am left a bit thrown and not entirely satisfied. I decided that I would not bring my iPad into Committee to scroll up and down through the 2003 Act; I reckoned it could wait until later, but clearly I should do so.
If this provision is to mirror the 2003 Act, which talks about bringing someone before a court as soon as practicable and in any event within 48 hours, that still does not meet the provisions of new Section 74A(4) because, as I said, if someone is picked up on a Friday afternoon, 48 hours lands them on a Sunday. There is an important point of principle in this: the way it operates—the noble Lord used the term “workability”—in terms of the position of the Executive and the work it has to do with the police and the rights of the individual who is the subject of this. That is why the judiciary is involved: to ensure that that person’s rights are properly protected. It looks as if the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, wants to intervene.
I think the position is that, as times have changed and we are more modern than we once were, a judge is now available at all times to deal with this matter. Therefore, it is not necessary to leave out weekends or bank holidays because the reason that was put in was that the judge might not be there. Now, under the rules of the system, the person can have his case before the judge in the holidays because a judge is always there. Therefore, it needs to be changed to take account of that. That is my understanding. I hope the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, agrees with me.
As my noble friend Lord Paddick says, this is what Committee is about. He has reminded me that some courts are open on a Saturday to deal with custody cases, which adds another dimension to this. I look forward to discussing this to get the right balance, which is what we always seek. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson. I am sorry that, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, said, we have been bowling him googlies on his first outing. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 3 withdrawn.
4: The Schedule, page 3, line 9, at end insert “and
(e) it is satisfied that the request is not politically motivated.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment is to probe the propriety of requests, and whether paragraph (d) provides adequate protection.
My Lords, I beg leave to move Amendment 4 and will speak to my Amendments 11, 11A and 11C.
Amendment 4 would insert into the criteria for a certificate under new Section 74B that the designated authority is
“satisfied that the request is not politically motivated.”
This takes us back to our first debate and is intended to probe how the propriety of requests is dealt with. We already have new Section 74B(1)(d), which says that the authority
“is satisfied that the seriousness of the conduct constituting the offence makes it appropriate to issue the certificate.”
I am not sure quite what that paragraph means. What is “appropriate”? It may go only to the offence for which the possible sentence meets the threshold. What is the seriousness of conduct constituting the offence? How does one assess the conduct as distinct from the offence as it is legally defined in the country in question? I am quite prepared for the Minister to tell me that this is in the 2003 Act and that there is case law on it. I will wait and see.
Amendment 11 would amend new Section 74C, which concerns the validity of requests, including from the requesting authority. The designated authority —in our case, the NCA—must believe that the authority in the other state has the function of making these requests. As my explanatory statement says:
“The amendment is to probe whether the designated authority should rely on a request if there is any doubt as to whether the requesting authority has this function,”.
The word “believes” made me hesitate over this provision.
Amendment 11A would provide that, where someone has been discharged, the person should not be arrested again in reliance on the same certificate. There should be a further certificate. I am not sure that we have the amendment in quite the right place. However, it seemed worth raising the issues of concern to the organisation Justice, which has been following—and, in some cases, leading us on—the proceedings on the Bill. It is concerned about it being quite wrong for there to be a new power in respect of the same extradition request should the designated authority issue a fresh certificate. Justice understands that the Government do not intend for fresh certificates to be issued where the first has been produced incorrectly and that this would be a matter for judicial scrutiny. I am again grateful to the Minister for having a word with me about this. I hope she will put on record what I know to be the Government’s position on this.
Amendment 11C would provide for
“the affirmative procedure for regulations to designate the ‘designated authority’.”
We have been told that the designated authority will be the National Crime Agency, although it is not specified in the Bill. Given that reorganisations in the police service are not that unusual, I understand why one might need the opportunity to change the reference. There is clearly concern about ensuring that a future designated authority has the requisite expertise, as there is in the service at the moment. It would therefore be appropriate to use that procedure. I beg to move.
Amendment 5 in this group is in my name. It would simply put “National Crime Agency” into the Bill. Throughout the Bill, there are references to the “designated authority”, but there is no mention of a specific agency. I am sure that the Minister will set out why the Bill is framed in that way and I look forward to that explanation.
Other amendments in this group are in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. They are all useful, as they give the Minister the opportunity to explain further the Government’s reasoning in specific areas and to convince the Grand Committee of the protections in the Bill.
On Amendment 4, who will be responsible and accountable if the safeguards fail and we end up complying with a request that is politically motivated? Amendment 11 would take away the uncertainty built into the Bill. I do not like phrases such as “the designated authority believes”. “Believes” is a strange word to have in legislation. I like there to be a bit more certainty than is offered by a word such as “believes”. It seems very loose and open to all sorts of interpretations by all sorts of people.
Amendment 11A raises the circumstance where somebody could be rearrested under a new certificate. I accept that circumstances can change and maybe those powers are needed, but if somebody has been released under one certificate, we need to make clear what would need to change for them to be rearrested under a new one.
Amendment 11C has my full support. In many ways, it is a compromise between what the Bill says and what Amendment 5 says. Doing it through an SI is probably the best way forward, so I fully support Amendment 11C. I look forward to the Minister’s response.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for their points on these amendments. They have been grouped together as dealing with the functions of the designated authority and the criteria applied by it in certifying requests.
Amendment 4 proposes a new criterion for certification. This would require the designated authority to be satisfied that the request is not politically motivated. Making consideration of political motivation a precondition of certification for the designated authority would reverse the present position for arrests under the Extradition Act 2003. Presently, the courts are required to consider during the substantive extradition hearing whether any of the statutory bars to extradition apply. These statutory bars include whether the request for extradition is made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing an individual on account of their political opinions—that comes under Section 81 of the Extradition Act 2003. The Government’s position remains that it is right that the judge considers these points based on all the evidence before him or her during the substantive hearing and not the NCA prior to arrest. It is the judge who is ultimately accountable.
Furthermore, we are all aware that the Extradition Act contains substantial safeguards in respect of requests motivated by reason of the requested person’s political views. These safeguards will continue to apply, and we fully expect the courts to continue to exercise their powers of scrutiny as usual.
Arguments of political motivation are of course not usually simple. It is right that the question of whether an individual extradition request can be described as politically motivated should be assessed by a judge before an open court. It is vital, of course, that the requested person should be able to put their arguments on this basis to a judge, but it is also crucial, in the fulfilment of our obligations under the international arrangements on extradition that give rise to such proceedings, that the requesting authority should be able to respond to such arguments and put their own case as to why the request is not politically motivated. This should be openly and fairly arbitrated, so importing this consideration into the process for determining whether an individual may be arrested would be at odds with existing extradition law. Noble Lords will be aware that judges and justices of the peace are not required to consider such factors when deciding whether to issue an arrest warrant under Section 71 or Section 73 of the 2003 Act.
Were the designated authority to make such a deliberation in effectively, it would need to be able to invite representations on the point from both the requesting authority and the requested person in each case before certification. Not only would this be hugely resource-intensive, it would also advertise to the wanted person that they are wanted. I should note that the designated authority, as a public body, would already be under an obligation to act compatibly with convention rights under Section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. At the point of certification, this will include consideration of whether an arrest is ECHR-compatible.
I bring the attention of noble Lords to the types of territories proposed as appropriate specified territories. These are democracies whose criminal justice systems are rooted in the rule of law. I am certain Parliament would not accept the addition to the schedule of territories that we believed would send the UK politically motivated arrest requests. I hope I have been able to persuade the noble Baroness that there is no gap in safeguards here and that, consequently, she will be content with withdraw her amendment.
She also asked what is meant by the “seriousness of the conduct”. The language mirrors the test in Part 1 of the Extradition Act 2003. As she thought, there is indeed case law on the point. The intention is to capture only conduct sufficiently serious to ensure that the power is used only where proportionate. For example, the minor theft of an item of food from a supermarket or a very small amount of money is unlikely, without exceptional circumstances, to be sufficiently serious. Only when the designated authority decides that the offence satisfies the test will it be able to certify the request.
I turn now to Amendment 5, which seeks to define the designated authority as the National Crime Agency in the Bill. Our approach here mirrors that of the designation of the authority responsible for certification of European arrest warrants under Part 1 of the Act. The Government consider that the designation of the authority responsible for issuing a certificate is an appropriate matter to be left to secondary legislation. A regulation-making power affords the appropriate degree of flexibility to amend the designated authority in light of changing circumstances, including alterations to the functions of law enforcement bodies in the UK. To future-proof the legislation, the Government believe that the current drafting leaves an appropriate amount of flexibility. As I said, the Government’s intention is initially to designate the NCA, which is the UK’s national central bureau for Interpol, as the designated authority. I hope I have persuaded the noble Lord that we have got the balance right and that he will be content not to press his amendment.
I turn finally to Amendment 11, on requests made in the “approved way”. My noble friend’s amendment suggests that a request should be considered to have been made in the approved way only if it is made by an authority that has the function of making such requests in the territory concerned, rather than an authority which the designated authority believes to have this function.
Perhaps I may momentarily be a bit philosophical. The amendment attempts to base the assessment of the authority’s function on an objective truth. That is admirable from the point of view of legal certainty, but the designated authority does not have a monopoly on truth. The best it could do in practice, when making the assessment described in the amendment, would be to decide, to the best of its ability, whether the authority in question has the function of making such requests, arriving at what I think we would characterise as being a belief that it does so. Of course, the designated authority, as a public body, must take decisions that are reasonable and rational.
As such, we expect there to be no difference between how the assessment would be made in practice under the amendment and how it would be made under the existing text. The benefit of the text, as we have proposed it, is that it mirrors language elsewhere in the Extradition Act—for example, when the designated authority under Part 1 may issue a certificate in relation to a warrant and when the Secretary of State may issue a certificate under Part 2.
On the perceived risk implicit in Amendment 11A—that an arrested person could be rearrested for the same thing, having been discharged by a court, perhaps because they were not produced at court on time or for some other failing—I reassure the Committee that this is neither the intention nor the effect of the new sections in the Bill. New Section 74A(8) makes clear that an arrested person may
“not be arrested again in reliance of the same certificate”
if they have previously been discharged. The intention of this drafting is to stipulate that an individual may not be arrested again on the basis of the same international arrest request once a judge has discharged them. This mirrors Section 6 of the Extradition Act 2003, which provides for the same thing, where a person provisionally arrested on the basis of a belief relating to a European arrest warrant may not be arrested again on the basis of a belief relating to the same European arrest warrant.
On top of that, new Section 74B(3) requires that a certificate has to have been withdrawn before any arrest takes place to allow a new one to be issued relating to the same request. This again illustrates that a further certificate cannot simply be issued on the basis of the same request once an individual arrested under this power has been discharged by a judge.
Of course, it is vital that a certificate can be issued on the basis of a new request, or on the basis of a wholly different request, so that an individual wanted for another crime is not immune to any further arrest because they were once arrested and discharged for a different crime. Organised transnational offences, such as people trafficking, often involve offences in different countries, on different dates, with different victims, and no individual should be able to avoid answering for more than one serious crime using a legal loophole. The amendment would create that impunity. For that reason, I hope I have been able to persuade the noble Baroness and that she will be happy not to press that amendment.
Amendment 11C would require an affirmative resolution procedure to apply to any statutory instrument that designates an authority as a “designated authority”. Given that the framework and criteria for the issuing of a certificate are provided for in the Bill, we consider that the negative resolution procedure affords an appropriate level of parliamentary scrutiny. We have plainly set out what the designated authority will do and how they must do it. Which particular body exercises that function is not, in our view, a matter that needs to be subject to debate in both Houses. The use of the power to designate an authority is necessary to accommodate any changing circumstances, including alterations to the functions of law enforcement bodies in the UK, and we consider it appropriate that we can respond to this promptly. The application of the negative procedure is also, again, completely consistent with the procedure for designating an authority for the purposes of issuing a certificate in respect of a European arrest warrant under Part 1 of the Extradition Act 2003.
I am sorry for my long-winded response to these several amendments. I hope the noble Baroness and the noble Lord are happy not to press their amendments.
I do not think the Minister was long-winded; it is quite a long group of amendments. I am grateful to her for that. I should have brought my iPad so that I could have followed all the references to the 2003 Act. I take all the points that the Minister made—in particular, the point about organised crime. One does not always remember how the nature of crime changes. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 4 withdrawn.
Amendment 5 not moved.
6: The Schedule, page 3, line 34, leave out “, vary”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment is to probe the variation of a reference to a territory, as distinct from an addition or removal.
My Lords, I beg to move Amendment 6; I also have Amendments 7, 9 and 10 in this group. I start with Amendment 9, which I think is the most important. This amendment would restrict additions to Schedule A1 to one territory at a time. Orders are not amendable; one says either yes or no—and it is rarely no—to the whole thing. Let us consider an order seeking to add, say, Turkey and the Netherlands—it might not happen but I am thinking of two very different states—where one might want more protections than are proposed by the Government, but one would not want to reject an order to add the Netherlands. I think that is a sufficiently stark pairing to enable your Lordships to understand why I am concerned about this. I have written myself a note about the delegated powers memorandum. I cannot now find it but I am sure that it said something quite relevant. I might be able to find it by the end of the debate. Anyway, that is my particular concern. I do not think that I need to expand on it any further. I am grateful to the noble Lord and the noble and learned Lord for adding their names to this.
Amendment 6 is to probe how a territory can be varied, as distinct to being added or removed. It did not seem to me that one could vary a territory to make it part of a state. If it is about a change of name—some states do change their names—surely legislation here is not necessary. Amendment 7 is to take out the provision in new Section 74B of the Act that regulations can amend new Section 74C consequential on the addition, variation or removal of reference to a territory. New Section 74C is about the validity of requests for an arrest, which have to be made in an approved way; so, again, I am probing. What could be amended other than that the request comes from an authority with the requisite function? I table this because I am uncomfortable that there might be regulations in contemplation that widen the category of authorities entitled to make the request.
Amendment 10 would deal with the basis on which the Secretary of State may add a territory. The Minister at Second Reading said that we would apply the provisions only to
“alerts from countries that do not abuse Interpol systems, that respect the international rules-based system and that have criminal justice systems we trust; and only to alerts relating to sufficiently serious offences.”—[Official Report, 4/2/20; Col. 1727.]
I do not quarrel with a word of that. This amendment seeks to transfer those words into the legislation. I beg to move Amendment 6.
My Lords, I very much support this Bill. My Amendment 11B relates to the names of territories that were not in the original legislation but are in this Bill. My noble friend perfectly reasonably suggested that I might be objecting to our extradition system in general and that that would not be suitable. I agree with her. However, this Bill has a list of “trusted partner” countries. That is true of all but one of them. All the others have a system of justice that is removed as far as humanly possible from politics. In this country, we are proud of that. That would not matter if one could not show—as I hope to—that the United States, because of its different kind of legal system, is using the extradition arrangements in a way that my noble friend rightly objects to, and why quite a number of other countries are not this list. The problem is that, by putting the United States on this list, we are making a statement about its use of extradition which seems unjustified. I will explain why.
We know that, unlike with the other countries, there is no reciprocal arrangement because the United States has said that it is contrary to its constitutional arrangements to have reciprocity. Our original Act is not reciprocated by the United States. I find that difficult anyway, but we are not discussing that issue here. In the case of the United States, unlike many other countries with which we have had and probably will have reciprocity after negotiation, we accept that it will not extradite people to us in circumstances in which we are extraditing people to it. We are confirming that by saying that we will extend our extradition procedure—perfectly properly in other circumstances, I think—to enable us to arrest people in the circumstances that this Bill makes clear.
We are very fortunate in this country because the whole system is overseen by the judiciary. It would be arguable that it does not matter because the new arrangements will mean that the judiciary will still be able to oversee that. After all, we are not putting every country on the list. We are not saying that the judiciary oversees everybody; we are saying it about these countries and distinguishing them from others.
I will remind your Lordships about two cases that show why I think that this is very real. We have the case of a woman who killed a British boy in Britain, has admitted it and has not been extradited although we have asked for that extradition. Not only has she not been extradited but the United States has refused to reveal what it claims are the special and secret arrangements under which the extradition cannot take place because the person is supposedly covered by diplomatic immunity. However, the United States will not publicly explain the special arrangement. Not only is the lady not extradited, although we have asked for it, but it is on a basis that the United States has refused to reveal. Were this Turkey, Bangladesh or another country, this would be a very good reason for not putting the name on this list.
There is a second reason: the use of the extradition arrangements to pursue a political or commercial end. For the United States it is very often a commercial end. In this I speak of the case of my former constituent Dr Mike Lynch, chairman of one of our most successful companies. He sold his British company to an American company; it was sold under British law in Britain, bought by an American company and operated in Britain. After a bit, the American company had so badly mucked up the running of this business that it wanted an excuse for the sum it had paid, so it called on the British authorities to prosecute Dr Lynch, saying he had misled it. That may or may not be true. It had done very extensive due diligence before, so it is difficult to believe that so great an American company with so much opportunity to look beforehand should have been misled, but that is what it said.
The British authorities investigated and found that there was no case to answer. Therefore, they declined the prosecution. The American company, Hewlett Packard, perfectly rightly—I have no objection to this—went to the civil courts to claim its case. That case has now been heard at great length. It is probably the longest case of this kind ever held in this country. Dr Lynch was cross-examined for many days. The case is over as far as the evidence is concerned, but there has so far not been a judgment, so we do not know whether the civil courts in this country will find my former constituent guilty or innocent. Hewlett Packard is clearly worried about this case. Indeed, to read it one might be worried oneself if one were on that side. But still, we do not know. It is for the judge to decide.
British justice is known internationally as the fairest system in the world. That is why lots of companies that are not here agree with other companies that are not here for their court cases, should they come up, to be decided in British courts; they know that they will get a fair deal. Hewlett Packard has however demanded that Dr Lynch be extradited from Britain to have the case heard not in this country but in the United States. I am quite sure the reason is that it feels a United States court is more likely to make a decision which pleases it—particularly given the geographical position of the court calling for the extradition and its long-standing relationship with Hewlett Packard—and more likely to accept its case than the British one.
We all know that there are many situations in which British companies have found that courts in the United States make decisions that we would find, let us say, commercially political rather than judicially objective. Here we are, saying that this “trusted partner” should be treated in the same way as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, all of which have systems that any of us in this Room would be happy to be tried before, but how many of us would genuinely say that, if we had a commercial disagreement with an American company with power and political punch, we would wish to be charged before an American court? That is a different situation.
I have tabled the amendment not because I seek to undermine the original Act, although I think it was a mistake to allow a non-reciprocal arrangement with the United States. I am merely saying that I do not think that the United States should be one of those countries that benefits from a perfectly proper extension of our laws.
My noble friend said that she would not want to have this kind of arrangement with anyone whose judicial system was subject to political influence. President Trump has pointed out that he has changed the judges in the Ninth Circuit because it was
“a big thorn in our side”.
He has now appointed judges who will not be a big thorn in his side. He has made, I think, 181 judicial appointments and encouraged the majority Republican Senate to change as many as possible while he is there so that they get the judges who will to make the sort of judgments that suit the right-wing Republican that he is.
I say to my noble friend that it is no good saying that America is so like us, that they speak English and all the rest of it. The truth is that, in this area, America is different. It is using the extradition system to promote its commercial interests. The case I referred to was of a British company—of a Brit who has created very many jobs in this country, is a serial entrepreneur and who the Government have used and lent upon because of his extreme expertise. Yet we are allowing ourselves to be used by the Americans to try to ensure their commercial interests are advanced.
I am perfectly happy to stand by whatever a British court decides, but I have certainly seen too many examples of American courts making decisions that would never be made in this country. Therefore, I ask the Government to remove the United States from the named countries, instead seek with it an understanding that has the reciprocity necessary and then add it to the list. Unless we have that reciprocity and can be assured that it is not being used for commercial or political reasons, I do not believe it ought to be given the status that is being given in these circumstances.
My Lords, I support Amendment 9. As I indicated at Second Reading, I support the Bill. There is a great deal to be said for the proposition that there should be reciprocity between countries that respect the rule of law on the administration of criminal justice. However, I strongly support this amendment; I see absolutely no inconsistency between the two propositions.
The reasons why are very simple. We all know that there are countries in the world that do not respect the rule of law. I will not set about trying to give your Lordships a list because the list itself changes. Countries that respected the rule of law no longer do. Weimar Germany did; Hitler’s Germany did not. This is a moveable feast.
My concern is that we are giving the Secretary of State wide powers to add different nations to the list by regulations. At Second Reading I went through the possible reasons, and they are still there: political motivation, getting a good deal on a treaty, the fact that we need a bit of support on this or that, so we put a country on the list. There is a whole series of reasons why, in years to come, since this Act will be in force for many years, Ministers—not, I hasten to assert, either of these Ministers—will think it appropriate to add to the list countries that this House and the other place together think are inappropriate to be added.
We are doing this by way of regulation, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, pointed out. The consequence is that the Prime Minister of the day or his acolyte—and we are talking about a Prime Minister who would not perhaps respect the rule of law himself, but who knows what could happen—would insist on having a country that we in both Houses would regard as totally inappropriate to be a brother or sister nation on such a list and with whom we would think it quite inappropriate to have any sort of arrangement of this kind simply because it does not respect the rule of law. I have been through that.
What are our processes? They are that such a country could be included in a list of perfectly acceptable countries—the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said the Netherlands and Turkey—but can we just cut down a little further into that? It means that when the House considers the regulation, it will have to decide whether to exclude Turkey—to use the country that the noble Baroness used—because it is really rather important and because we greatly respect the Netherlands, or whether to reject Turkey and the Netherlands. Or, to go the other way, we must have the Netherlands, so we must therefore have Turkey. If one or other of these courses is taken—whichever way round it is—if there is any amendment, the whole thing falls to the ground. We will not want the Netherlands to fall to the ground, nor Denmark, France or Germany. There are many countries that we would want to espouse as colleagues in respect for the rule of law.
What is proposed in this amendment is utterly simple. What is the difficulty in doing it one country by another? It might take a little longer; there might a little more typing, a little more printing—we could even have all the countries, except the ones objected to, come through as a job lot. I gave a little cricketing analogy earlier and I am sorry that I bowled bouncers not googlies at the Minister. One of the most famous things ever said at a cricket match was when, in 1902, Hirst came out to bat against the Australians with 15 runs to get on a difficult wicket in the dark; the story goes that Rhodes met Hirst and exchanged the words, “We’ll get them in singles”. Let us get this done in singles.
My Lords, I cannot match the noble and learned Lord’s eloquence, except I remember that Lord Bingham used to use that phrase to describe how judges should nudge the law forward gently, step by step, rather than sit hitting sixes and fours.
I support this amendment for the reasons that have been explained. There are two features of the issue that are worth bearing in mind. First, the standard that the Government have set, which was described by the Minister, is a relatively high standard and, therefore, we are not talking about large numbers. Indeed, the Schedule itself demonstrates that we are not expected to have a great list, they will come in twos or threes at the worst, preferably ones, as the amendment seeks. Secondly, the issue of a standard is something that we would wish to debate, as the noble Lord, Lord Deben, demonstrated in his contribution. It is a great shame if we are masked, as it were, by having one good country on the list that we would not object to but which is in the kind of pairing that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, mentioned, so that we cannot really grapple with the one to which we are objecting because the instrument is not amendable.
With great respect, this seems a very sensible amendment that meets the problem of the non-amendable instrument without at the same time creating an insuperable difficulty for the Government. It enables a debate to take place that would have a real point to it instead of one that really does not have a point because one part of the list—if it is a list—is unobjectionable. I very much support the amendment.
My Lords, I add my general support to the proposition and arguments that have been made. When I had the good fortune to chair the ad hoc committee looking at the workings of this legislation three or four years ago, this was one issue that the committee spent a long time discussing. Our concern throughout was essentially—and, I believe, entirely properly—about injustice. We must have an extradition system that is just at its heart. If there is any risk or probability of people being extradited into circumstances in which their human rights will be abused or ignored, or in which injustice will be meted out to them, we should not be party to it.
I was particularly grateful for the remarks by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. He has touched on a point that I will come to when I move my amendment later on in the proceedings. I will not say that he has stolen my thunder—he has made the point a lot better than I might have.
My Lords, Amendment 6 is a very good probing amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. As I raised on the previous group, the words of the Bill need clarifying. This amendment gives the Minister the opportunity to do that and to explain why the word “vary” is in new Section 74B(7)(a). We have to be very careful with the words that we use in legislation. I can see why we would want to add or remove a territory, but why vary it? Is it to address a name change? I am sure that the Minister will tell us why. Amendment 7 allows the Minister to explain the need for this power. It may be perfectly sensible, but to make that clear would be most welcome.
My Amendment 8 is fairly simple. It seeks to improve the Bill—as do all my amendments—by requiring the Government to report changes before adding, removing or varying a reference to a territory. What is the process for adding a country? How will additions to the list be approved? What would the parliamentary scrutiny be? What is the process for the talks?
I also have my name to Amendment 9, which has been referred to in a number of contributions. The Government would have to add territories one at a time; I very much agree with that. Parliament could reject a specific country or territory, which seems very sensible and proportionate. However, this came out in Second Reading: is this Bill also a back door to some sort of protection from the loss of the European arrest warrant? I know the Government said that it was not, but this would allow them to add the European Union straight away and in one go. That would be an interesting thing for the Government to do. When I thought of that, I was reminded of the interesting PNQ that the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, recently asked about the European arrest warrant. I also recalled the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Robathan. He asked a question of the Minister:
“My Lords, is it not the case that not all European arrest warrants are the same? A European arrest warrant from France or Germany, with whom we share the same respect for the rule of law, is one thing, but a European arrest warrant from one or two other countries—here I particularly mention Romania—is not the same because often political interference has taken place in the judicial system.”
The Minister replied:
“My noble friend makes a very good point about political interference. In fact, that is one of the safeguards within what we are seeking. He is right to make the point that not all EU states are the same.”—[Official Report, 2/3/20; col. 398.]
If the Government decide to put in the European Union in the future, that point could not be addressed. It is a valid issue—or, of course, it may not be an issue at all. It would be useful to have a response on that.
Amendment 10 should cause the Government no problem at all; I look forward to the Minister’s response on that. The noble Lord, Lord Deben, makes a valid case in Amendment 11B. “Levelling up” is the new buzzword in the Government. I think that we need a bit of levelling up in our special relationship with our friends across the pond as far as it applies to extraditing suspects who are wanted for crimes committed in this country. They must be very serious crimes which need to be investigated. Questions need to be asked, and potentially the evidence test is made and the matter is put before a court in the UK. The noble Lord cited two cases to illustrate that, which is very important in this respect. We are seeking a bit of reciprocity here, so I strongly support what he said and I hope that the noble Baroness can give a full response to these points because he has made the case very well.
I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. The amendments before us relate to the delegated power to specify any additional territories to which this new power may be extended. As I have said, in the first instance, the powers afforded by the legislation would be granted only to the UK’s closest criminal justice co-operation partners, these being the Five Eyes powers and the EFTA states. These are the countries in whose criminal justice systems and use of Interpol systems we have a high level of confidence. The amendments address the power to add, vary or remove countries from the Bill and a minor consequential amendment to vary what is meant by making an extradition request in the approved way if there is a good justification for doing so in the future.
I shall start with Amendment 9 because the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, began with it and other noble Lords have expressed a great interest in it. It specifies that territories should be added one at a time. I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, for speaking to me about this and I did slightly warn him ahead of time that we are not going to agree with it. That is not to say that we would want to add territories in multiples, but it is common practice to allow for multiple territories to be specified together for similar legislation. Noble Lords will know that this is the process for adding territories in Part 1 and Part 2 of the Extradition Act 2003. I hope that the affirmative resolution procedure would give Parliament the opportunity to scrutinise the Government by voting either for or against a resolution and to express an opinion towards any country being added to the Bill. I expect that if the Government attempted to add a territory which Parliament did not agree with, it would act accordingly. However, I understand the substance of the point that the noble and learned Lord made.
The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, referred to our debate the other day on the Norway/Iceland issue. The Norway/Iceland surrender agreement operates under Part 1 of the 2003 Extradition Act, so an agreement with the EU based on that precedent would keep EU member states in Part 1 of the Act, where the power of immediate arrest already exists. The Bill is only for specified Part 2 countries where currently there is no power of immediate arrest. I do not want to prejudge the outcome of the negotiations, but we may well return to this issue.
I shall reverse engineer, as it were, and go back to Amendment 6. It looks to determine how varying a reference to a territory will be distinct from the addition or removal of a reference. I assure noble Lords that the term “vary” aims to future-proof the legislation and to ensure that technical changes do not place a restriction on the use of the power. An example of such a technical change would be a situation where part of a territory seceded from a specified territory and the Government wished to maintain this power in relation to only the successor state. This is of course not a particularly likely scenario but one for which it is responsible to be prepared.
Amendment 7 proposes to remove the power to vary the meaning of making a request “in the approved way” under new Section 74C. In the current draft, a request is made “in the approved way” if it is
“made by an authority of the category 2 territory which the designated authority believes has the function of making such requests in that territory.”
The power in new Section 74B(7)(b) is included to enable similar provision to be made, where appropriate, to that in Section 70(5) and (6) of the 2003 Act. These subsections set out the variations to the meaning of “the approved way” for extradition requests made from British Overseas Territories and for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. I will set out some examples of how that power might be used.
Where a newly specified territory had a number of different authorities which had the function of making requests, the power in new Section 74B(7)(b) would enable one or more authority to be singled out as the appropriate authority for making valid requests, should that be necessary. A further example might be if the Government sought to specify one or several of the British Overseas Territories. In such a scenario, the Government may wish to provide for requests to be made by the governor-general of the territory rather than the authorities within it. In such circumstances, the regulations might provide for requests to be made in the approved way by or on behalf of a person administering the territory.
Regarding preparing and publishing a report on adding a new territory, as well as any intention to add further territories or negotiations with prospective territories, to the scope of this legislation as specified in Amendment 8, the Government are committed to ensuring that Parliament has the ability to question and decide on whether any new territory could come within scope. Therefore, it is mandated in the Bill that any Government wishing to add a new territory to the scope of this legislation should do so through the affirmative resolution procedure. Any statutory instrument laid before Parliament will of course be accompanied by an Explanatory Memorandum, which will set out the legislative context and policy reasons for that instrument.
This procedure will give Parliament opportunity for scrutiny and will allow the House to reject the addition of any new territory to the Bill. Any Minister looking to add a new territory to the Bill would be expected to give Parliament good reason for doing so, therefore negating the need for this amendment. Having said that, I have sympathy with the spirit of the amendment and have asked officials to look into how we can give the noble Lord some reassurance on this. I will continue to liaise with noble Lords ahead of Report.
Amendment 10 would add a specification criterion for new countries to the Bill. This has not already been included to ensure that Parliament is given the full freedom to decide on any new territory. If criteria were to be added, Parliament might be put in the invidious position of having to accept that a particular territory that was not appropriate for specification for other reasons should be added. In this circumstance Parliament would likely want to consider all aspects of the proposal, so adding these criteria would limit Parliament’s discretion. As I have outlined, any Government proposing to add a new territory would also need to give clear reasons for doing so, both in the explanatory documents accompanying any statutory instrument and during any subsequent debate. We would not want to bind the hands of future Governments to decide on the criteria they use to specify a new country.
I think we can all agree that the factors identified by my noble friend will of course be important and relevant considerations that we would expect any Government to take into account when deciding whether it is appropriate to seek to add a new territory. However, we do not consider that they need to be in the Bill. The current drafting ensures that Parliament can assess the merits of each territory which is due to be added to the Bill and scrutinise any addition through the affirmative resolution procedure. I am not persuaded of the need for this amendment.
Amendment 11B aims to remove the United States from the Schedule. The US is a critical partner in fighting terrorism and international organised crime. It is a responsible user of Interpol and has a criminal justice system with extensive checks and balances. We are confident of these points in relation to the US as much as to the other countries that we seek to specify. The new power of arrest, which is designed to protect the public in this country, has nothing to do with whether UK extradition requests to other countries are successful. It is about ensuring, when we have robust and trustworthy information that a person is wanted for a serious offence, that the police can arrest that person. Requests from the US are backed by judicial warrants predicated on probable cause. This is a firm ground on which to bring a person before a judge in the UK to decide on their further detention.
My noble friend talked about the US President’s comments on judicial appointments. Of course, this was raised by the leader of the Opposition in another place. We need to bear in mind the context in which the President might have said that in an election year. The Prime Minister made his views on the US treaty very clear in another place last month. The Government’s long-standing position is that the treaty with the US is fair and balanced in practice.
Not at the moment. If my noble friend could wait until I have finished my comments, I will be happy to take his intervention. It is just that I have a number of points to make; I hope that is okay. The Prime Minister has committed to looking into the questions raised by the leader of the Opposition, so I am sure that my noble friend will look forward to that. This issue should not delay or undermine our efforts to ensure that police in the UK have the right powers in place to get wanted fugitives off British streets.
My noble friend talked about Anne Sacoolas, which is a valid issue; the US refusal to extradite her is a clear denial of justice. The Government and UK law enforcement continue to explore all opportunities to secure justice for Harry Dunn’s family. I bring to my noble friend’s attention the fact that this is the first case that has ever been refused under the UK-US extradition treaty. By contrast, we have refused 19 cases. The Government’s long-standing position is that the treaty is fair and balanced in practice. My noble friend also mentioned Dr Lynch. As we have stated, consideration of the substance of an extradition request includes any statutory bars to extradition such as political motivation. These are properly a matter for a judge at the extradition hearing. I will not comment any further as this is before the courts.
My noble friend also talked about reciprocity. What we are doing in this Bill is creating powers for the UK police, not obligations on the countries concerned. I know that he is concerned about reciprocity, but the Bill will enable UK police officers to protect the public more effectively. It is about ensuring that UK police officers have the power to remove dangerous individuals from our streets before they can abscond or offend, not relying on some sort of reciprocity that may depend on the nature of the regime in the other country. I am happy to take his intervention now if he wishes.
I thank my noble friend the Minister. I realise what she is saying and acknowledge the care with which she is saying it; I thank her very much for that. I tried to intervene earlier specifically on the issue that President Trump had said what he said. The Minister said that we had to realise that that was an election situation. She then moved on to the Prime Minister. I put this to her: how happy would she be if our Prime Minister got up during an election and said, “I am very pleased that there are 181 judges that I have managed to get appointed, who will make decisions much closer to the Conservative Party’s views than the judges whom they replaced.”? I think that she would be deeply upset and would feel that that struck at the very heart of British justice. I am trying to make the point that the United States makes political decisions about judges, who are very often able to act in support of American business. In fact, this is one of the issues that President Trump has always raised—“America first”. My concern is that there is an actual case where that appears to be what happened. I do not think that it helps us to give the impression that the United States’ legal system is on a par with that of Switzerland, because it is not.
I also ask my noble friend to reply to the noble and learned Lord opposite, who made a very important point about this, which is that if we say this about one country that is so different in a group such as this, we also say it about that group. It would be better if we offered Parliament the chance to make a decision on each country. In this case, it would be better not to give the impression that we were doing this because we wanted a favour from the United States on trade. That is what it looks and sounds like. Having read what the Prime Minister said, that is what I think. It is about doing nicely with the United States. The point about other countries that the noble Lord opposite made is a dangerous one.
On the point about taking the countries one by one, and the group that a country is in, as I said, in any secondary legislation that comes before your Lordships’ House there has to be a statement about the rationale for that secondary legislation, which Parliament can reject if it wishes. However, as I said to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, I utterly understand where he comes from.
On the point about judicial appointments in the US, putting aside what President Trump said, I think that the US judiciary is very protective of its independence. Certainly, on the issue of arrest warrants, the US has a criminal justice system in which we can justifiably put this level of trust.
I have a note from the Box about favours from the US. This power is, of course, in our interests. It benefits UK police. On that note, I hope noble Lords will feel content not to press their amendments.
My Lords, I will say a word on Amendment 9. I obviously agree with what has been said by a number of noble Lords about it. The views of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, suggest that a Minister putting forward a list would have to be mightily careful that the list was of all good, or at least equally good, countries. If there was a doubtful one it would have to be separate. That lesson should be taken to heart. It is very unwise to have a great big list where we are not sure about two or three countries, because we would just lose the whole lot. I suspect that we may be faced in due course with a fair group about which we have some knowledge already. I do not think that that has anything to do with the Bill, but it might be a consequence of granting this power. I imagine that any Minister contemplating this who wished to be successful would be very careful to leave a country out of a list of very good countries and have it in a separate list if he thought that it would risk the others.
I have my own view on how judges are appointed in the United States and am rather anxious that nothing of the sort should appear here. On the other hand, judges in the United States, although they may be appointed for various reasons, have responsibility as judges. The point about this matter is that extradition to the United States or any other country will be decided by a judge, though ultimately subject to the discretion of the Home Secretary. The judiciary here will be in charge of that and obviously the degree to which the explanation given by the United States carries weight will be quite important.
My Lords, this is an interesting group. With regard to the United States and one of the Five Eyes seeing things a bit differently, if this matter comes back on Report, as it may, it would be helpful if the Minister could explain to the House how the human rights criteria that will be applied at the judicial stage would apply in any given situation without using specific cases. That is part of the whole picture.
On Amendment 6 and my suggestion that the word “vary” be deleted, we are told that this is to future-proof the arrangements in case one part of a territory secedes. I find it difficult to envisage all this and I do not see why the Government would not in that situation just delete the original but add the substituted territory. On Amendment 7, I confess I need to read properly what the Minister said. On the criteria listed in Amendment 10, the Minister said that Parliament would have to reject a territory if the criteria were not met. Actually, that is not the way round the amendment is written. Parliament would not be required to reject it but a reference to a territory could be added “only if”. I think those are different; these are on minima.
However, I see absolutely no down side to agreeing the amendment which at the start I said was the most important of this group with respect to the position of the United States. The justification proposing it is that it is not common practice. That does not mean that it is good practice in every situation. I am absolutely with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, who said that it is entirely consistent with support for the Bill. I will not follow his cricketing analogies because I will probably get them wrong again. As I said at Second Reading, we should not be in the business of bulk orders, if I may put it that way.
The Minister said that the affirmative resolution procedure gave Parliament the opportunity to scrutinise. Scrutiny means different things to different people, but it does not mean that you go straight from scrutiny to the remedy you are seeking. I do not think that it is an adequate response to an amendment which I really do not think would cause, as has been said, much more than a few more pieces of paper—a little more typing and standing up and sitting down. We will come back to this at the next stage. It ought to be such an easy one for the Government to concede to divert us from other amendments. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 6.
Amendment 6 withdrawn.
Amendments 7 to 11C not moved.
12: The Schedule, page 10, line 14, leave out sub-paragraph (2)
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment removes the provision in the bill that allows regulations to amend, repeal or revoke any provision made by primary legislation.
My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments 13, while Amendment 14 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, is also in this group. Amendment 12 would remove the provision allowing
“regulations to amend, repeal or revoke any provision made by primary legislation.”
This is something to which I have a natural aversion. I appreciate that the regulations in question, in paragraph 29(2) of the schedule, are limited by paragraph 29(1) which refers to regulations
“consequential on the amendments made by this Schedule.”
Is paragraph 29(2) necessary? It suggests that the drafters were anxious that they did not have time to prepare the Bill. I have looked at what the 2003 Act says on this point. Section 219 provides for amendments, repeals and revocations but can deal only with one
“contained in an Act passed in a Session after that in which this Act is passed.”
I do not think that alters my central point, which is my natural aversion to regulations amending primary legislation. Amendment 13 deals with the same point. I beg to move.
My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment 14 in this group. I owe the Committee an apology for not adding an explanatory statement, but essentially this is a probing amendment. The reason is that when I tabled it, I was not entirely sure exactly what my anxieties about the proposed legislation might be, but I have spoken to the Minister about my general unhappiness. Interestingly, the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has just talked about paragraph 29(2). It strikes me as extremely clumsy and I am uneasy about it. As I say, that is why I have tabled this amendment and discussed it with the Minister.
Throughout the passage of the Bill thus far, the Government have emphasised that it is about powers of arrest. Of course, much of the Bill is about those powers, but it is clearly set within the context of the extradition system as a whole. One has not only to look at the Title of the Bill to see that; if you look at its substance, it becomes apparent. In the nicest possible way, I think “the Lady complaineth too much” in talking about the focus of the Bill on powers of arrest. The Bill is essentially about the workings of our extradition system as a whole. As the Committee knows—and does not need me to point out—it is essentially divided into two parts; I oversimplify, of course. There is the bit that relates to the European arrest warrant and the bit that relates to the rest.
We know that, at the time that I was chairing the House’s committee that looked at the workings of the 2003 Act, the question arose of whether the country should opt back in to the EAW. We on the committee believed that it was the right thing to do; we were clear but not unanimous about that. It was discussed on the Floor of the House and that view was endorsed by the House as a whole. Now, as everybody knows, there is a real possibility that we may leave the European arrest warrant. I was slightly surprised when looking at the Explanatory Notes to the Bill that there was not a great deal of reference to that. However, I then went further into the matter and got hold of a copy of the memorandum from the Home Office to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. Paragraph 29 says:
“The Department considers that the proposed regulation-making power provides the appropriate level of flexibility to amend the list of specified category 2 territories, and to amend the definition of making a request in the “approved way”, in response to changing circumstances. Leaving such matters to secondary legislation ensures that the Government can respond in timely fashion to potential future developments, and that such response provides certainty and clarity as to the appropriate manner of request from amended or newly specified territories. For example”—
this is the important bit—
“if the UK were not to have access to the European Arrest Warrant or a similar tool, with the effect that EU Member States become re-designated as category 2 territories, it is likely to be appropriate to specify some or all of them for the purposes of this legislation (thereby replicating the immediate power of arrest which applies to a certified European Arrest Warrant).”
The point here is that it is clearly envisaged that, in some way, Part 1 of the 2003 Act will be collapsed. This power, and the powers contained within it, which may appear somewhat ancillary to the whole question of arrest, are—if I might use a cricketing analogy to follow that used by the noble and learned Lord—rolling the pitch, even if, to mix my metaphors, they are not a Trojan horse for bringing that about.
Clearly, if we are to leave the European arrest warrant scheme, something needs to follow. But it is objectionable and inappropriate that the substantial part of the extradition code of this country is not to be modified as a result of primary legislation. Extradition law is an important component of our country’s wider constitutional framework. As was pointed out by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and others, we will be faced with Hobson’s choice. This is not in any way desirable. That is the point about which I am concerned and the rationale that I worked out for my amendment.
My Lords, I feel very strongly that although we may have disagreed on the subject of the United States, that should not stop us recognising the wider argument to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, has referred. Far too much legislation going through both Houses ends up leaving everything to be decided in secondary legislation where it is almost impossible to make changes, and this is another example.
I want to underline what my noble friend Lord Inglewood has said, which is that extradition is far too important a matter to leave basic, material decisions merely to secondary legislation. This is part of the freedom that people in this country rightly feel they have and I do not believe that we should allow the Government to have the powers that this seems to allow. I hope that my noble friend will recognise that this is a matter of real principle, a principle that the party to which we both belong is supposed to believe in above all things—constitutional propriety. This is not constitutional propriety, but sleight of hand.
I do not have many remarks to make on this and I could not think of a quixotic quote. However, I really like Shakespeare because he is connected with the borough I grew up in, so I will remind you of this quote
“haste is needful in this desperate case.”
Some of the points which have been made are very important and should be taken on board. What are we doing here? We support the legislation in principle, but we have asked for reasons why we are doing this and we have gone through some of the wording before.
I look forward in particular to the Minister’s response to Amendment 12 because when you look at the wording it seeks to take out, it is quite worrying that it is in there at all. It may well be that there is a perfectly understandable explanation and I will be able to get up in a moment and say, “I fully support what the Minister intends to do”, but as it reads now, I am worried about what we are passing here. Perhaps she will say that it is fine because it talks about further consequential provisions in the sub-paragraph above and the Government will do nothing. However, there is an issue about the powers we are giving to the Executive and our ability to scrutinise or change them at a later date. That point has been made by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, so I want this to be looked at.
Amendment 13 seeks to remove regulations about “saving” or “incidental” provision. What is that about? We could make all sorts of changes by saying that something is a saving. We could get rid of whole swathes of stuff, so what are we agreeing to? We do not want to find ourselves saying months or years ahead that we did not realise when we agreed to this that we were giving those powers to the Executive. I will leave it there and look forward to the Minister’s response, but I may intervene at some point for further clarification.
I thank noble Lords for the points they have made and I hope to be able to allay any fears around what Amendments 12, 13 and 14 seek to address.
As noble Lords have said, paragraph 29(1) confers a power on the Secretary of State to make further provisions that are consequential on the amendments made by the Schedule to the Bill. This is a standard power which is commonplace in legislation and is naturally constrained. It can be used only to make provisions that are consequential and it is not a power to make substantive policy changes. Rather, it will allow the Government to make small, technical amendments for good housekeeping to ensure that that statute book is consistent and functions well.
As we implement the new arrest power, it is in everyone’s interests to ensure legal continuity for law enforcement partners and those subject to arrest for extradition purposes. While many of the amendments required to other enactments are made by Part 2 of the Schedule to the Bill, it is anticipated that further consequential amendments may be identified as part of the implementation process. That is why the standard power is taken to provide the flexibility to ensure that the new arrest power can operate smoothly and efficiently. Placing a timeframe such as 12 months on the use of the power would unnecessarily frustrate the aim. In any event, as noble Lords will know, the power cannot be used to amend future legislation.
As to the scope of the possible amendments, the Bill is narrowly focused. Its purpose is to provide a power of provisional arrest for specified category 2 territories for extradition purposes. I stress the point that it does not affect or relate to the subsequent extradition process. The purpose of the consequential power is to deal with the consequences of those changes to the statute book. As such, just as wider amendments to the Extradition Act 2003 fall outside the Bill’s ambit, so amendments to effect wider extradition policy would fall outwith the consequential amendments power. The power extends to provisions that amend, repeal or revoke any provision of primary legislation. As I hope I have made clear, this is not unusual or exceptional. It is standard practice to take such a power to provide flexibility for smooth and efficient implementation.
Similarly, the power to make saving or incidental provision by regulations found at paragraph 29(3) of the Schedule is a standard power commonly given in legislation for the purposes of smoothing the introduction of a change to the statute book. Incidental provision would include only amendments that are necessary or expedient to make the Bill’s substantive provisions work. Saving provisions are required where it is necessary to preserve existing law following a change to legislation —for example, to ensure fairness or consistency in court proceedings in progress at the time of a change to legislation. As I have stated, these are standard clauses. Any amendment by regulations that amended, repealed or revoked primary legislation would be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure by virtue of paragraph 29(5), as befitting a Henry VIII power of this type. I hope that I have allayed noble Lords’ fears about that.
As a final point to my noble friend Lord Inglewood, the power in this Act would not allow us simply to move countries from Part 1 to Part 2 of the Extradition Act, nor to substantively amend Part 1. Those are not consequential amendments. With those explanations, I hope that noble Lords will feel happy to withdraw their amendments.
I thank the Minister very much for explaining that. I am reassured to a large extent by what she said. Would it be possible to give an example of one of those little technical things that would be changed so that we are clear what we are all talking about? If she cannot now, maybe she could write to us.
My Lords, I acknowledged that the regulations referred to in paragraph 29(2) must be within paragraph 29(1). I come back to the point that good housekeeping should be done before a Bill is presented to Parliament, not least because it would reduce the amount of time needed on the Bill in Parliament. For many years, I have recognised that it is a great deal easier to sit on this side of the House or Committee and pick holes than it must be to draft this stuff. Nevertheless, it is our job to pick some holes.
I do not apologise for raising this and cannot say that my concerns are wholly allayed: the words “necessary” and “expedient” were used in the delegated powers memorandum, along with “detailed and technical” about the nature of the amendments. I would like to assure myself that the words in the Bill reflect what has been said. I will possibly talk to the noble and learned Lord before the next stage. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 12.
Amendment 12 withdrawn.
Amendment 13 not moved.
14: The Schedule, page 10, line 25, at end insert—
“( ) Sub-paragraph (1) and any regulations made under this paragraph expire at the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the day of this Schedule coming into force.”
My Lords, I thank the Minister for her words and put on record, which I have not yet done this afternoon, that I support the basic principles surrounding the provisions relating to arrest in this context. I heard what she said about the powers in the Bill and the withdrawal of countries from Part 1 of the 2003 Act. I think I read earlier today that the powers to do that by secondary legislation are contained in the 2003 Act itself, so there is a possibility of the whole EAW system, if I can call it that, collapsing. Then something has to be done next, but I will not major on that any more at this point. The Minister said that these were usual provisions; they may be usual provisions in usual times, but we are in slightly unusual times.
Amendment 14 not moved.
15: The Schedule, page 10, line 29, leave out “the National Assembly for Wales” and insert “Senedd Cymru”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment replaces the reference to the National Assembly for Wales with a reference to Senedd Cymru, reflecting the change made by the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020 (anaw 1) to the name of the Assembly.
My Lords, the Government have laid Amendment 15 to reflect Section 2 of the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020, which changes the name of the Welsh legislature to “Senedd Cymru or the Welsh Parliament”. This amendment is a technical consequential amendment. It follows the new practice of using the Welsh name when referring only to the Welsh legislature. I hope noble Lords will be able to join me in voting for this amendment.
I am very happy to support this amendment. While looking at it, I was thinking that Members of the Welsh Parliament are called Assembly Members. What will they be called in future? They are in a Parliament and are called AMs—will there be some consequential change there? Maybe someone could clarify that at some point.
Amendment 15 agreed.
Schedule, as amended, agreed.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Committee adjourned at 4.18 pm.
My Lords, I start by making clear what this Bill does not do. It does not change our extradition process or any of the existing safeguards in extradition proceedings. It does not make it more or less likely that a person will be extradited. It does not in any way affect the current judicial oversight of the extradition process or the character of the court proceedings themselves. Nor is it concerned with the UK’s extradition relationships with other countries or the recent case of Anne Sacoolas. It is concerned only with how suspects enter the court system. The only thing that this Bill changes is when and how a fugitive wanted for a serious offence by a trusted country is brought before the UK court.
Currently, when UK police have a chance encounter with a suspect who is wanted by a non-EU country, they cannot arrest them. The officer is required to walk away and obtain a warrant from a judge, only to try to relocate that individual later to make the necessary arrest. This means that fugitives known to the police to be wanted for serious offences remain free on our streets to abscond or offend. In 2017, an individual wanted by one of the countries in the scope of the Bill, for the rape of a child, was identified at a routine traffic stop. Without the power to arrest, the police had no power to detain him then and there. That individual is still at large.
This Bill will change that. It will ensure that fugitives identified by the police or at the UK border can be arrested immediately. They can be taken off our streets and brought before a judge within 24 hours. This ability for the police to arrest these fugitives as soon as they are encountered will prevent them escaping and evading justice or harming the UK public. The usual way in which police officers become aware of an international fugitive is the circulation of alerts through Interpol channels. Interpol alerts from all countries are now routinely available to UK police and Border Force officers. This circulation of Interpol alerts has created a situation whereby a police or Border Force officer might encounter an individual whom they can see, by performing a simple database check, is wanted for a serious offence by another country. These front-line officers need the power to act immediately on this information to keep our citizens safe.
Many countries, including most EU member states, afford their police the power of immediate arrest on the basis of Interpol alerts. The Bill will create a limited version of that power, with appropriate safeguards. It will apply only to alerts from countries that do not abuse Interpol systems, that respect the international rules-based system and that have criminal justice systems we trust; and only to alerts relating to sufficiently serious offences.
The need for this immediate arrest power is clear. Noble Lords will no doubt be aware that the European arrest warrant carries an immediate power of arrest for individuals wanted by EU member states. Last year, over 60% of the EAW arrests made by the Metropolitan Police were the result of a chance encounter. Without a similar immediate power of arrest for people wanted by non-EU countries, known fugitives walk free. I will give noble Lords a further example. In 2016, UK authorities were alerted that a fugitive wanted by a country in the scope of this Bill, for crimes involving sexual offences with a minor, had entered the UK. He could not be arrested there and then, although the police did obtain a warrant. However, that suspect was not arrested until he was re-encountered in 2019. For those three years he was at large on our streets. We cannot allow that situation to continue.
I turn to the provisions in the Bill. The Bill proposes a power for UK law enforcement officers to arrest an individual on the basis of an international arrest request, typically an Interpol alert, without a UK warrant having been issued first. The new power will apply only where the request has been issued by a specified country. These countries are ones in whose criminal justice systems and use of Interpol alerts we have a high level of confidence. Initially the power will apply to requests from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. It will also apply only where an individual is wanted for a sufficiently serious offence, one that would be a criminal offence in the UK and which could result in a custodial sentence of three or more years.
It is not front-line police officers who will have to decide whether an Interpol alert is from a specified country or for a sufficiently serious offence. The National Crime Agency receives Interpol requests and it will identify which alerts have been issued by a specified country and for a sufficiently serious offence. The NCA will then certify those alerts as carrying the power of immediate arrest. These certified alerts will be clearly distinguishable on the databases available to police officers and Border Force officers. Those officers will be able to tell which alerts relate to individuals who are eligible for arrest. This process will ensure that the power is used appropriately and as we intend it to be.
The arrested person must be brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest. Thereafter, this legislation does not change any part of the subsequent extradition process. The safeguards that exist in extradition proceedings, set out under Part 2 of the Extradition Act, will continue to apply. For example, the person will not be extradited if doing so would breach their human rights, if the request is politically motivated or if they would be at risk of facing the death penalty.
Without this power, a potentially dangerous individual who is known to the police can remain at liberty on UK streets, able to offend or abscond. The new power will see people who are wanted for a serious crime by a trusted country, and who may be a danger to the public, off our streets as soon as they are encountered. We will continue to strengthen our security with like-minded security partners across the globe. In future, additional countries whose criminal justice systems and use of Interpol systems we trust can be specified within the legislation, if both Houses approve.
Our commitments to human rights protection and the rule of law remain unchanged. The arrested individual will be in front of a judge within 24 hours of arrest, and the existing safeguards afforded to each and every person before the UK courts for extradition will remain as now. We are not removing any of this judicial oversight from the extradition process; in fact, we are not making any changes at all to extradition law. We are making changes to police powers of arrest for international fugitives.
As a global leader in security, we want to make the best use of our overseas networks and international tools. The new power will enable us to do so. The Government are committed to doing all that we can to protect the public, and the Bill is directed to that end. I beg to move.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for her explanation of the Bill. We understand its limited scope but she will understand that the subject of extradition is bound to tempt observations on the whole issue of extradition, not just on the narrow scope of the Bill. No doubt there will be some creative attempts, though not from me, to bring concerns within the scope of the rather cunningly narrow Long Title.
The big question for me, and the immediate one, is not just “why?” but “why now?” The Minister is clear that this has nothing to do with leaving the EU and the unavailability of the European arrest warrants but, frankly, given the timing of the Bill, that defies credibility. The game is given away by the letter from the Metropolitan Police, the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Counter Terrorism Policing and the National Crime Agency which the Government have prayed in aid for the need for the Bill. They start their letter to the Home Secretary of 6 January by saying that they are writing to highlight the operational gaps to which the Minister referred. They say:
“The risks in this area are not new, but have been brought into sharp focus as a consequence of our collective efforts to plan for the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU. The European Arrest Warrant enables an officer to arrest a wanted subject there and then.”
They go on to explain the process used when that is not available.
We will not oppose the Bill from these Benches but we will take opportunities to explore some of the issues it throws up and get some assurances on the record. However, I am afraid it will not be possible to avoid mention of our leaving the EU entirely. I wish we were considering the security and law-enforcement measures that will be needed in the absence of our EU membership as a package, because they are interconnected. However, some of them may be a way off.
The political declaration stated that the EU and the UK should
“establish a broad, comprehensive and balanced security partnership.”
Even without the reference to a balanced partnership, however, I would have expected reciprocity in the arrangements between the UK and each other state. In an extremely helpful briefing meeting yesterday, for which I thank the Minister and her officials, the Minister told us that the Government were not seeking reciprocity. Could she unpack what that means and explain why not? Could she tell us the position regarding Germany, whose constitution precludes the extradition of German nationals to a non-EU state? I understand that there are similar issues regarding Austria and Slovenia.
During the transition period, Article 185 of the withdrawal agreement allows any member state that has raised reasons related to fundamental principles of national law to refuse to surrender its nationals to the UK in response to a European arrest warrant. This is an issue for now, not the end of the implementation or transition period. The House would welcome being informed on this.
No two states are the same, so I would be grateful for a specific assurance on the following point; the Minister is aware that I will ask about this. Under the Bill, countries can be added to the schedule through a statutory instrument subject to the affirmative procedure. Of course, statutory instruments are not amendable, so it seems to us that it would be inappropriate for any SI to add more than a single country. It would not be possible for your Lordships to delete one country from a list presented in a statutory instrument, so I hope the Minister can confirm that there will be no bulk orders, if I may put it that way.
I shall make a wider point relating to EU states, but it is relevant to replacements for the EAW. As I said, states are not the same as one another. I recall evidence given to the Select Committee on Extradition Law, which sat in 2014, I think. I was a member and we may hear more from the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, who chaired it. We heard concerns about the treatment of prisoners in other states, for instance. The extradition power of arrest introduced by the Bill raises human rights issues, as well as political motivations. The courts have applied a human rights lens, including, for instance, on the condition of prisons in EU states.
The Minister mentioned the death penalty. It is a matter for the Secretary of State. There should be no extradition if the person
“could be, will be or has been sentenced to death for the offence”
unless the Secretary of State receives a written assurance, which he considers adequate, that the sentence of death will not be imposed, or that, if it is imposed, will not be carried out. That is in the 2003 Act. However, we have had a recent example, in quite a different context, of where death penalty assurances were not sought by the predecessor to the current Government—which I think of as the same Government.
There are ethical issues, too. Topically, is live facial recognition technology being used to find the subjects of extradition requests? Are the subjects of Interpol red notices on watch lists? The use and reliability of the technology are controversial.
Other noble Lords may refer to the United States and its criminal justice system. That is not a new issue, and it is very important—but I think I have made the general point.
When one thinks about safeguards, that is in part a question about holding to account and the governance of the arrangement. How will the designated authority, the NCA, be held to account? In particular, how will it demonstrate the steps taken before certifying a request? This is the triage process referred to in the impact assessment.
Finally—for today, at any rate—I will ask about consultation. What discussions have there been on the Bill with interested organisations—apart from the police, of course—and what consultation will there be as countries are added? We know that the police are keen to see this implemented and we understand the benefits. What is proposed by way of consultation when it comes to adding category 2 countries?
I am not surprised that this is one of the first Bills of the Session. It will have fitted the Government’s agenda well. As I said, we are persuaded that it is right to go ahead, and the police have explained that very clearly. But I will quote from an article by a solicitor, Rebecca Niblock, to which our ever-excellent Library has pointed us. She wrote:
“Whilst the impact assessment makes reference to the possibility of using the scheme for arrests which would have been EAW arrests but for Brexit, this is painted as an additional benefit, ancillary to the primary one. This seems, at best, disingenuous. Whilst speeding up the apprehension of six serious criminals a year is a laudable aim, a far graver concern is the immediate loss of the EAW scheme. Promoting the Bill as one which is primarily concerned with the problem of arrests from non-EU countries has the benefit of avoiding an emphasis on what will be lost when we leave the EU, whilst giving the appearance of enhancing law and order.”
We on these Benches heartily concur.
My Lords, there was a beguiling opening to the debate from the Minister. “Really, this is no more than a new extradition-based arrest power.” And so it is. Of course, we all want criminals, whether they are British criminals or foreign visitors, to be arrested to face justice. The process envisaged in the Bill for this purpose is on the basis of a warrant issued in a foreign country, and then a certificate issued here by an authority designated by the Secretary of State. You may be arrested by a police constable or others—I need not go through them—without any pre-reference to any domestic judicial authority.
The reference to the domestic judicial authority occurs after you have been arrested. So the entire fairness of the process—its “trustworthiness”, to use a word that has been used in the papers—is dependent on the quality of the judicial processes available in the foreign country.
The six countries identified range from tiny Liechtenstein to probably the most powerful nation on earth, the United States of America. Speaking personally, I have no problem with them.
However, the Bill gives the Secretary of State wide powers. When did a modern Bill not give the Secretary of State wide powers? To the six territories currently listed there may be added 16 or 60, or every single country in the world, by the Secretary of State in making his or her decision. While I certainly excuse our present Minister from this, in the real world we are surely not going to be so naive as to believe that all sorts of motives—a possible trade deal, a plea just to be good friends with us, political beliefs, sympathy with a tyrannical regime—may not lead a Minister, at some time in the future, since elections bring different parties to power, to be subordinated to the single imperative that the only question which needs to be answered is that the country to be added to the list should have a credible, independent judicial system, so that when the request is received, it is based on an entirely—to use the word again—trustworthy system of administering justice. This is a huge power being given to the Minister.
Being modern legislation, that is not the end of it, of course. We have that monstrous ogre Henry VIII in full operation, tucked away in paragraph 29(2), by which regulations can be made which would
“amend, repeal or revoke any provision made by primary legislation”.
Then, we have the great advantage of the Bill going on to tell us what primary legislation is. I am sure we all know, but it tells us: every Act of this Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly. All this is to be done by secondary legislation. We have to be tough about extradition, as I said, and the Minister is entitled to point out, as no doubt she will, that all this will be based on affirmative resolution.
I should like to focus attention on paragraph 29(6), which contains a power to annul regulations. That is a welcome addition to any Bill. This Bill would be so much more impressive and hold the balance so much better if all regulation-making powers, including the use of Henry VIII regulation-making powers, were made subject to annulment on the basis of a resolution of either House of Parliament. That, I respectfully suggest, would be proper and sensible parliamentary control over the processes. It would also provide us, the nation and its citizens with a serious safeguard against an overambitious Executive or, as the years unfold, what may become an unduly craven one bowing to a foreign power. Will the Minister consider at least reflecting on the constraints currently imposed on the annulment process? Will she also assure us that in whichever form the annulment process is finally left, the use of it by this House will not be treated as a constitutional outrage?
My Lords, I am not happy to follow the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, into his legal arguments. I will leave the Minister to deal with them because, having listened to the noble and learned Lord, I simply make this point: where are we coming from, where have we been, and to what extent were some of those arguments relevant under the European arrest warrant and current procedures as well?
I strongly support the Bill. My question is not “Why are we doing it now?” but “Why didn’t we do it some time ago?”. If the European arrest warrant made sense, what about all the other countries where we could have made this possible with, in the phrase used in the literature, a “trusted partner” whose legal systems and the fairness of whose operations we respect? If we look at the situation, although the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, saw frightfully sinister timing in it, if we should have done it before, let us get on with it now. Realising the problems that could arise if the European arrest warrant was not proceeded with begs the question: why do we not have a proper procedure to deal with this? The government briefing assumes that the European arrest warrant will continue, but if it does not, we need something to put in its place very quickly, or we will see a huge waste of police time as they chase after people whom they were not allowed to arrest when they saw them and whom they have to try to find again if they can.
I am afraid that I worry very much about the world in which we now live. This has become a much more dangerous world, in which the role of the police becomes ever more important for the maintenance of public confidence and security. Looking at yesterday’s Hansard, I was struck that three of the items that occupied the House’s business were, respectively: “Coronavirus”, “Streatham Incident” and “Terrorism: Contest Strategy”, all of them representing in their own different way extra problems and challenges for the police—a police force which I have to say was unfortunately reduced at a time when things seemed a little quieter but which now quite clearly faces serious challenges in making our country safe. The Contest strategy was yesterday discussed in the context of safety in public arenas. Opening the newspapers today, I noticed the argument about the COP—the climate change conference—in Glasgow, where a key issue seems to be the huge cost of policing it, with 200 world leaders turning up, and the amount of additional police responsibility involved. That is not in the original five-year police programme; it has suddenly been introduced and will put enormous extra responsibility on them.
Some noble Lords may have seen the headline in the Times today about the unfortunate and terrifying incident in Streatham, and it being the ambition of the perpetrator to murder an MP. What does that mean for extra police responsibility? I had to live for 20 years with police security. As threats and issues arise, I know the extraordinary manpower challenges they represent. We know that the gentleman in Streatham is not a lone eccentric; my understanding is that there are very many in our prisons who might be much like him and pose a similar threat.
Added to that challenge are the complaints of police failure to follow up all the incidents of internet fraud that there are—the number of people being hacked, the amount of money they are losing. They are completely new challenges that certainly did not exist 20 or 25 years ago, but they now put extra demands on the police.
Knife crime is prevalent. I listened with interest to the Question earlier on cash machines. I think that noble Lords are aware that cash machines are not the safest bits of equipment in the world. We need think only of the amount of crime and the number of attacks associated with them, and the difficulties they present for our police as they become more isolated. There is the growth of serious organised crime as well. I noticed in the government briefing on this that, in 2018, 352 arrests were made under the European arrest warrant, half of them after chance encounters. The other half—I make it about 180—came from following up known criminals or someone for whom there was an overseas request for extradition. There is little argument about the extra police hours represented by having to go off and get a warrant then going to look for the person again.
In this troubled world, with the mass migration of people and the growth of transnational crime, the capability gap has been clearly exposed. There is a shortage of manpower to deal with these issues. We should support anything which the Government or the legislature can do to make the police’s job more efficient and effective. This should not be without proper safeguards, including the phrase about dealing only with trusted partners, in whose handling we can have confidence. As I understand it, this does not make any difference to the standard extradition arrangements and the requirements that have to be observed. It deals merely with the specific issue of somebody being recognised as being wanted as an established criminal somewhere else and an extradition request existing for them. It would be quite unsatisfactory for the policeman to have to say: “Sorry, I can’t do anything about you now. I’m just popping off to see the judge. Make sure you’re here when I come back.”
Without belittling it, this is an important, sensible step. I hope to goodness that the European arrest warrant remains operational and well. If it does not, the Bill, when it becomes an Act, will be important in replacing it with an effective arrangement. I hope that, with our trusted partners, we can be a reliable ally in fighting crime, wherever it comes from.
My Lords, extradition has long been an area of our law in which I have been interested and concerned. For some years before my retirement in 2012, I appeared in most of the cases on this sometimes rather arcane topic. It was, therefore, a great pleasure and privilege to have served, alongside the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, on the Extradition Law Select Committee of this House chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, in 2014-15. Its report on extradition law and practice, the EAW and our relations with the States and around the world is a sound text on which to consider any future development of this topic.
I speak today not because I have any particularly penetrating questions for the Minister, nor to note particular areas of concern. Rather, in the same spirit as the noble Lord, Lord King—whom it is always a privilege to follow—I lend the Bill my full-hearted support. Various questions will, no doubt, arise in today’s debate. My noble and learned friend Lord Judge raised the ever-possible threat that regulation-making powers may be abused. We may need to reconsider aspects of those in Committee; they will then be considered on their merits. Meanwhile, the Government have my backing on a sound, sensible and essentially modest piece of legislation. Despite the Government’s disavowals, I rather hope that the Bill is designed, at least in part and prospect, to meet the threats that would arise if we were to lose the EAW scheme following Brexit.
Echoing what the noble Lord, Lord King, said, in the global and all too lawless world in which we now live, cross-border crime is an ever-growing threat to international peace and prosperity. It is difficult to overstate the importance of extradition in the armoury of the law-abiding majority. I emphasise that effective extradition is an imperative for both states in the process. It is essential for both the country where the criminality occurs and the country to which the perpetrators have escaped to bring the fugitive perpetrators of crime back to their home country to stand trial and, if they are convicted, be punished for their offence. If not, one finds oneself with sanctuaries and safe havens, and those countries to which fugitives flee and in which they feel safe will inevitably attract others to do likewise.
It was those sorts of considerations that led to the framework decision in Europe in 2002, the European arrest warrant and, in turn, the 2003 ruling Act in this country. It is all that which makes the prospective loss of the scheme deeply concerning to so many of us. Plainly, it is therefore sensible to do what we can now in advance to seek to combat the risk that one day we may lose the benefit of that scheme.
This modest Bill will not—and, alas, cannot—fill all the gaps in extradition law to which the loss of the European arrest warrant would give rise, but it can certainly help enormously in at least making this country a less appealing sanctuary for those who have committed crimes and are wanted to be extradited for their trial or to serve a punishment or sentence already imposed abroad. Its initial, immediate effect, as the Minister has explained, is entirely independent of the future fate of the European arrest warrant: to plug a gap which has now existed for some little time in the extradition process with regard to the arrest of those who flee from certain non-EU states. EU states are covered by Part 1 of the 2003 Act; it is the non-EU states that have concerned us hitherto. In the language of the governing 2003 legislation, it is for those fugitive, as explained, from six Part 2 countries: the other four in the Five Eyes agreement—New Zealand, Australia, Canada and America—and Switzerland and Lichtenstein.
As it is now, having initially spotted somebody you need to arrest, you need to obtain in advance a court warrant as a requirement to arrest and extradite them to one of those countries, with the delay and inevitable opportunity to reoffend or, more likely, go to ground to which that gives rise. Under this Bill it will instead be possible, with what I suggest are the ample safeguards put in place, to arrest initially with no court warrant, although of course you have to take that person to court in 24 hours. That then locks in all the safeguards which exist under the legislation.
If we are to lose the European arrest warrant scheme, this Bill cannot improve the prospects of our receiving here those who have fled from criminality in the UK and whom we want back here for trial. For that we will need to look elsewhere. It is my fervent hope that the Government are earnestly in the process of looking elsewhere against the risk that the EAW may all too soon disappear. I support the Bill.
My Lords, the objective of the Bill is worthy and uncontroversial: to enable persons wanted in approved countries to be brought more efficiently into extradition proceedings, so as to reduce the prospect of absconding or further offending while they are in the UK. I entirely accept that, as the Minister said, it does not diminish the safeguards in the extradition proceedings themselves. However, the chosen mechanism is a new power of arrest without warrant. That is sufficiently unusual to require a little more reassurance than appears in the Explanatory Notes, helpful though they are, and I would be grateful if the Minister would comment now, or at any rate before Committee, on six gentle questions on this short Bill.
First, could the Minister explain why the existing powers of urgent arrest under Sections 73 and 74 of the Extradition Act 2003 before an extradition request has been submitted or certified are not considered sufficient? There may be a good reason but it needs to be made known. My understanding is that a request from the issuing state for the accused’s provisional arrest can already be the subject of a provisional warrant application by the CPS to the court—an application which, in urgent cases, can be made out of hours to the relevant duty judge, if necessary by email.
Secondly, does the Minister accept that the new procedure will itself take time? The NCA, as designated authority under the Bill, will have to review any extradition request and decide whether to certify it as creating a provisional arrest power. That may be a substantial exercise, given the need not to interfere arbitrarily with the rights of extradition subjects, even for 24 hours, the well-documented abuses of Interpol red notices, and the possibility that the list of category 2 territories may be substantially expanded in the future—to which I will return.
Thirdly, and staying on that subject, can the Minister tell us more about the nature of the triage process that the designated authority will conduct? In particular, will it be part of the NCA’s function to verify that extradition requests comply with the human rights requirements under Interpol’s constitution, and with any procedural or human rights requirements under the US-UK extradition treaty or its equivalents? Finally, the impact assessment states that the new policy is
“expected to result in 6 individuals entering”
the criminal justice system
“more quickly than would otherwise have been the case.”
It seems pretty plain that this Act of Parliament has not been constructed just for those six people, whoever they may turn out to be, and that the list of specified category 2 territories is likely to be significantly expanded.
Therefore, my fourth question is: the Minister spoke of trust, but what precisely are the criteria that will be applied by Ministers in determining to designate a new category 2 territory for new Schedule A1, and, in view of the potential for abuse identified by the noble and learned Lord, Judge, why are they not set out explicitly in the Bill? I remind your Lordships that category 2 territories include the likes of Russia, Turkey and Zimbabwe.
My fifth question: is it envisaged, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, thought, that the member states of the European Union, or some of them, will find their place in the schedule?
My sixth question: will reciprocal powers to those in the Bill be sought from the EU in negotiations for whatever will replace the European arrest warrant and, more broadly, can the Minister give any further indication of the type of replacement to which we aspire? Are we aiming to adapt the European arrest warrant itself, or the Norway-Iceland agreement with the EU, or are we looking for something of a different nature?
As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown, just said, many of us would greatly regret the loss of the European arrest warrant, which, since its political awakening in the weeks after 9/11, has exemplified both the effort required for meaningful co-operation in Europe and the enormous benefits to be derived from it. We can be particularly grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, who will follow me, for her tireless work on improving it over the years.
Forebodings that any replacement will be inferior have already been borne out by the EU’s declaration of 31 January that Germany, Austria and Slovenia will not surrender their own nationals to the UK, even during the transition period. But Brexit has happened, its consequences must be faced, and we all share the same objective of ensuring that the best possible alternative is negotiated. I hope that the Minister will at least be able to tell us what we are aiming for.