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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I may have misunderstood some of the procedure. Can the Minister say at what stage the consent is given? I had assumed that after consent had been given it was possible for there to be some delay before transit took place. In opening his response, the Minister immediately assumed that the incapacity would only develop in transit. So he seems to be saying that consent is given literally as the journey begins. If that is the case, I accept that my amendment would have serious defects. Can the Minister say whether it is always the case that consent is to be given and then transit takes place?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: One envisages a situation where consent is given before we make the necessary administrative and transfer arrangements. So there will inevitably be some period of delay, perhaps a matter of weeks or a month at the most. But there will obviously be a period that would provide more than adequate time to ensure that the prisoner was able, fit and willing to travel. That is the important point.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am grateful to the Minister. He has confirmed that I perhaps understood more than I thought I had. My concern is that consent may be given and then there could be some considerable delay. It is absolutely proper that one would not put the administrative arrangements in place until one knew one had the consent, because that could waste time and money.

That brings me back to my concern that there could be a delay during which incapacity could develop, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, said, it is not always the case that incapacity becomes apparent. I think that

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I need to look more closely at experience relating to the 1990 Act and consider what I need to do on Report. The Minister says that we should put trust in the medical assessment and not put protection on the face of the Bill. We need to consider—in the light of perhaps the greater use of these provisions—whether there is sufficient protection. I think that we may agree with the Government that there is sufficient protection, but I need to look at the matter more closely. At this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 116 and 117 not moved.]

Clause 47 agreed to.

Clause 48 [Transfer of EU etc. prisoner to assist UK investigation]:

[Amendments Nos. 118 to 120 not moved.]

Clause 48 agreed to.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 121:


    Before Clause 49, insert the following new clause—


"PERSONS UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE
The Secretary of State may by order provide that the provisions of this Part shall apply with modifications in respect of persons under 18 years of age to take into account the needs of such persons."

The noble Baroness said: I note that throughout Part 1 of the Bill there is no reference to how these provisions may affect young persons under the age of 18. The amendment would give the Secretary of State the power to amend Part 1 in order to take into account the needs of young persons where necessary. A while ago the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, referred to the needs of young people.

Does the Minister accept that young persons could be directly affected by the provisions of Part 1, although I accept that it is unlikely that they might be so affected? How do the Government expect the authorities to act in dealing with them? Naturally, we would not want young people to be excluded from the operation of the Bill. It is quite possible that one could be a criminal under the age of 18. Sadly, crime statistics show how possible that is. The crime could be committed across international borders.

We need to know whether the Secretary of State proposes that those under 18 should be treated in the same way as adults with regard to the provisions of the Bill? I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government appreciate that the amendment seeks to protect the interests of those under the age of 18, but in our view it is unnecessary. The reason is that the provisions on transfer of prisoners in the 1990 Act already apply to those under 18, and there are no special arrangements under that Act to regulate their transfer.

Furthermore, it is not clear precisely what the clause would achieve, nor what the "modifications" referred to would include. Nor is it clear to the Government why modifications would be appropriate.

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As established in Clauses 47 and 48, prisoners may be transferred only if they consent to the transfer, and the issuing of a warrant under either clause depends on the Secretary of State reaching agreement with the other participating country.

There is an absolute discretion on the part of the prisoner and the Secretary of State as to whether he complies with any requests for a transfer. We consider that this discretion, which enables conditions to be attached to transfer and ultimately for a transfer to be refused, makes the additional power unnecessary.

My understanding is that in the region of 30 of these transfers per annum have taken place under the current legislation. We do not anticipate that these provisions will be frequently used. Therefore, the number of people under the age of 18 will be small. I hope that helps the noble Baroness with her amendment.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am grateful to the Minister for his response. He properly directed the Committee to the matter of discretion. We shall look at that matter. There may be issues that we would wish to raise with regard to young persons later in the Bill, but he has satisfied me with regard to this particular measure. We shall not be returning to the point. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 49 agreed to.

6 p.m.

Lord Filkin: Before Clause 50 is called, perhaps I may offer a word of explanation to the Committee. We had originally expected to reach this point on the Marshalled List close to half past seven. Therefore, we had explained to the Opposition Front Benches that the Government intended to take the unusual step of opposing the Question that Clause 50 shall stand part of the Bill—the reason being that we have been persuaded that the clause is no longer necessary; it is superfluous. Therefore, we had thought to break the proceedings at that point, allowing us to recommence on Wednesday.

However, this has been a productive afternoon, and a further hour and a half is available to the Committee. So I am in the hands of the Committee. I apologise for now signalling that it is possible, if the Committee is content to do so, to go further today than we had originally expected. I therefore seek to propose that we should use the extra hour and a half for debate.

I apologise because the Government's intention to oppose the Question that their own Clause 50 shall stand part of the Bill has been tabled but does not appear on the Marshalled List. Therefore, there has not been as much notice as we should normally expect and wish to give. On the other hand, I am aware that we have a good hour and a half available. It would perhaps seem inefficient not to give the Committee the opportunity of using that time if it so wishes. I am not certain whether this requires a formal resolution.

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On Question, Whether Clause 50 shall stand part of the Bill?

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill): Members of the Committee are now aware of the Minister's views and are free to say that they would like Clause 50 to stand part, or to make the Minister feel happier and say that they entirely accept his proposal—in which case I shall collect the voices of those present.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The Deputy Chairman of Committees has created a procedure by which other noble Lords may be able to respond to the Minister. Speaking only on behalf of the Opposition Front Bench at this stage, we are keen to crack on with as much of the Bill as possible and, within reason, I am prepared to do so. I am aware, however, that that may be inconvenient for other Members of the Committee and do not wish to speak on their behalf.

I simply ask the Minister whether the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, might have been apprised of this. It looks as though, if we proceed, we shall reach his significant amendments on the list. I should be concerned if the noble and learned Lord were not aware of that.

One of the huge disadvantages of taking Bills in Grand Committee—as Members of the Committee will be aware if they look at the monitor—is that noble Lords outwith this room have no indication as to the stage that has been reached. Therefore, if the Government gave advance indication of their intention to stop at a particular point, I anticipate that the noble and learned would not have received an indication to the contrary. I shall be content to continue, but I appreciate that that may well not be the view of other Members of the Committee or of noble Lords who are not present.

Lord Renton: I am open-minded on that point, but I have another point to raise. I hope that I am not being too narrow-minded in making this suggestion. We should bear in mind that this is a detailed Bill which is breaking new ground. It is a very important Bill, nationally and internationally. I should have thought that two and a half hours at a time is quite long enough for its consideration and that, in any event, we should not attempt today to go beyond Part 1, which we should reach before very long. I say that hopefully.


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