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Extradition- Nat West 3Commons Debate 24 Oct 2006 Annotated

Extradition- Nat West 3Commons Debate 24 Oct 2006 Annotated

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Published by: Julia O'dwyer on Mar 05, 2012
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Legend:Edward Garnier, Solicitor GeneralMichael Howard, former Home SecretaryBoris Johnson, Mayor of LondonDavid Heath, Deputy Leader of the Commons
24 Oct 2006 : Column 1389
 
Orders of the DayPolice and Justice Bill
 Lords amendments considered.
 After Clause 46
3.47 pm
 Lords amendment:
No. 36.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (JoanRyan):
I beg to move, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment.
Mr. Speaker:
With this it will be convenient to take Lords amendments Nos. 81 to 85and the Government motions to disagree thereto.
Joan Ryan:
The adoption of these amendments by the other place was a bad day forinternational co-operation in the fight against crime. Today, we have the opportunity toput that right, and it is the last chance to do so. The amendments were proposed bymisguided right hon. and hon. Opposition Members. Why? Because they believed thatthe amendments would somehow protect people accused of serious offences from facing justice abroad, rather than at home.
Leaving aside the whole question of whether Her Majesty’s Opposition should have
allowed themselves to be so heavily influenced by blatantly inaccurate media reportingwithout checking their facts, my question is this: what is wrong with a provision onextradition that, when in government, they voted into law fully 17 years ago, when theyimplemented the European convention on extradition?
Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills) (Con):
The question is not aboutextradition per se but about making a prima facie case to the courts. The United States
 
requires a prima facie case to be made if it is to extradite someone here, but we do notrequire it to extradite someone there. That is the matter in question.
Joan Ryan:
I unders
tand the hon. Gentleman’s point, which has been made several times
in the Chamber and in another place. Hon. Friends and I have answered it in Committeeand at the Dispatch Box. I repeat
 — 
I shall do so again later in my speech
 — 
that the hon.Gentleman is, frankly, wrong. The United States demands probable cause of us. Wedemand of it information sufficient for a magistrate to issue a warrant for arrest. Thatconstitutes reasonable suspicion. Probable cause and reasonable suspicion have what wecall rough parity. They are as close as it is possible to get, given that no two legal systemsexactly match. We therefore have parity and reciprocity in the evidence required betweenthe United States and us.
Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough) (Con):
I am grateful to the Under-Secretary forgiving way so early in her remarks, but her point needs immediate clarification before shemisleads herself or the House. Does she accept that the 1973 treaty between the
24 Oct 2006 : Column 1390
 United States and the United Kingdom required mutual parity, albeit through differentwording? We required a prima facie case and it required reasonable cause. Does sheaccept that the 2003 treaty does not contain parity and reciprocity, and that probablecause is not matched by information? Information is a different legal concept fromprobable cause, which is based on evidence.
Joan Ryan:
I regret that the hon. and learned Gentleman does not appear to have listenedto what I said. However, let me answer his two points clearly. I do not accept that the1973 treaty delivered parity. There is no parity between a prima facie case and probablecause. I believe that there is rough parity
 — 
I repeat that no two legal systems are thesame
 — 
between probable cause and reasonable suspicion. Before the Extradition Act2003 was introduced, an imbalance existed but it was the opposite of what ConservativeMembers suggest.
Several hon. Members
 
rose
 — 
 
Joan Ryan:
I intend to give way to as many hon. Members as possible in the timeavailable.
Mr. Humfrey Malins (Woking) (Con):
The Under-Secretary may know that I sit part-time as a district judge, so I know as well as many our duty to do justice. If a UK citizenis before a court because the Americans are trying to extradite him or her, is not it ourfundamental duty t
o say to the Americans, “You have to establish a prima facie casethrough evidence before we extradite”? Is not anything else a gross dereliction of duty to
our UK citizens?
Joan Ryan:
I disagree. It is our duty to do justice, and our extradition arrangements areabout justice for victims and bringing the perpetrators of crime to justice. The purpose of the 2003 Act and the treaty is to ensure that justice is done in some serious cases
 — 
I am
 
sure that I do not need to tell the hon. Gentleman that. We are dealing with a trustedpartner and a legal system in a long-standing democracy, with which we have had arelationship for more than 100 years. We have operated under the 2003 Act for two yearswithout experiencing any difficulty. We demand of the United States informationsufficient for a magistrate to issue a warrant for arrest. An individual before the courtsfacing extradition has to go through due process, and has numerous opportunities to puttheir case to the courts. They are also covered by the European convention on humanrights. It is important that we take that into account.
Mr. Michael Howard (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con):
I do not ask the hon. Lady toaccept anything that we say; I simply ask her to accept what her ministerial colleague,Baroness Scotland, said in another place on this point on 16 December 2003. She saidthat the test that we have to meet when we seek extradition to this country is
“a higher threshold than we ask of the United States, and I make no secret of that.”— 
[
Official Report, House of Lords,
16 December 2003; Vol. 655, c. 1063.]
Those were the precise words of the hon. Lady’s ministerial colleague in another place.
Why does she continue to fly in the face of those words?
24 Oct 2006 : Column 1391
 
Joan Ryan:
I have said to the House that there is no exact parity. There is rough parity. Ireiterate that case, and no amount of insisting that there is a higher threshold or a lowerthreshold will change the fact that this is rough parity. It is as close as we can get, and weare satisfied
 — 
because we see it in operation
 — 
that it delivers justice.
Several hon. Members
 
rose
 — 
 
Joan Ryan:
I want to make a little more progress, then I will give way to other hon.Gentlemen and hon. Ladies.The European convention on extradition enabled the UK to extradite without prima facieevidence. Since 1991, when it came into force, scores of people who were wanted forvery serious offences have been extradited from this country without prima facieevidence. I have no doubt that the world, including this island, is a safer place because of that convention. In the same way, the UK has been able to bring people back here to face justice in our own courts. I salute those on the Opposition Benches who were members of the Government at that time for their foresight and common sense. Sadly, however, someof those same Members and others on those Benches thought that the decision to extendthose provisions to our arrangements with the United States
 — 
a decision that the officialOpposition did not oppose in 2003
 — 
should be reversed. Why? People have beenextradited from here to the United States, and vice versa, for more than 100 years. We
trust the United States’ system just as it trusts ours— 
it is as trustworthy as that of our

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