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Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness and, indeed, to all noble Lords who spoke in this short debate on our amendment. I do not want to discuss dangers posed by large migrations of workers to which the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, referred. I do not believe that that will arise. However, as the noble Baroness said, we are clearly correct to monitor carefully all aspects of the situation and how the treaties are working, not merely in the labour market but in other areas as well. The purpose of the amendment is simply to keep those matters before the House.

I disagree with those who suggest that the smaller countries will be uncomfortable with the proposal. It is not the smaller countries which need reminding or patronising about their position; they are strong independent countries and they know perfectly well where they stand and what kind of Europe they want. However, we in this Parliament need reminding that we used to be the champions of eastern Europe, not just siding with the large countries—the "bully boys" as Austria calls them—but a genuine supporter of the smaller nations of central and eastern Europe. That is what we should become again.

I do not accept the negative interpretation of the amendment, but I accept the assurances and the commitment given by the noble Baroness this afternoon. I believe those will help assure ourselves and, indeed, these noble and gallant countries of east and central Europe that we have their interests at heart and that they will not be forgotten. However, in the light of what the noble Baroness said, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Extradition Bill

3.40 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now further considered on Report.

Moved, That the Bill be further considered on Report.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 8 [Remand etc.]:

Lord Goodhart moved Amendment No. 51:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in speaking to the amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 214 and 217. My noble friend Lord Mar and Kellie will speak to Amendments Nos. 52, 215 and 239. It will be noted that Amendments Nos. 52 and 215 are very much to the same purpose as Amendments Nos. 51 and 214, but Amendment No. 239 raises a similar point in a different context. Our amendments are

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similar to an amendment that I moved in Grand Committee. However, I have altered it to some extent to take on board a suggestion by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew of Twysden.

The judge who is required to proceed under Clause 8(1) must fix a date for an extradition hearing to begin. Under subsection (4), that date must not be later than 21 days from the date of the arrest. Clause 8(5) reads:

    "If before the date fixed under subsection (1) (or this subsection) a party to the proceedings applies to the judge for a later date to be fixed and the judge believes there are exceptional circumstances, he may fix a later date; and this subsection may apply more than once".

Our amendment would replace "there are exceptional circumstances" with,

    "that the interests of justice so require".

The Bill allows the date for the hearing to be postponed only in exceptional circumstances. There may be many reasons why a delay may be needed by either side—either the Crown Prosecution Service or the person against whom extradition is sought. There may be a number of reasons why the subject of the request may not be ready to proceed. There may be and very frequently are serious delays in getting legal aid, even when the hearing is imminent. Clause 8 leaves very little time for having authorisation for legal aid.

Where the defendant, if I may call the person that, argues that his or her human rights will not be observed in the requesting state, it obviously may take a considerable time to gather and present the necessary evidence. There may have been some difficulties in finding a lawyer, particularly if the defendant is foreign and not familiar with the English or Scottish legal system and does not know where to start. The lawyer or defendant may fall ill. There may well be circumstances in which the CPS will need more time to present the grounds for extradition, for wholly justifiable reasons.

The Government's reply to the amendment in Grand Committee was that someone could go to the substantive hearing—the first hearing within the 21-day period—and then ask for an adjournment of that hearing, which the court will have discretion to grant. That is true, but the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, who spoke for the Government on that occasion, recognised that it was not desirable to start substantive hearings and then adjourn them, and promised to look at the matter again. No doubt the Government have looked at the matter again but have not changed their view, which is unfortunate on this occasion.

If there are real reasons for doing so, surely it would be better to be able to go to the court and ask for an adjournment without having to wait for the substantive hearing and ask for an adjournment at that point. It is in everyone's interests that there be a power to do that. If someone has to wait for the substantive hearing, there is at least a risk that the application for adjournment will be refused and that they will have to make what provision they can for proceeding on that day. That would be unnecessary if there were a power to ask for a postponement at an earlier stage.

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If the court can order an extension of time in exceptional circumstances before the first day of the substantive hearing, why can it not order an adjournment if the circumstances are not exceptional but it is clear in the interests of justice that the extension should be granted? Amendment No. 51 applies that principle to extradition to category 1 territories. Amendments Nos. 214 and 217 extend the same change to extradition to category 2 territories. Amendment No. 214 does so in cases where proceedings are begun by warrant under Clause 72, and Amendment No. 217 does so where a provisional warrant has been issued under Clause 74.

The entirely reasonable and appropriate course would be to allow applications for an adjournment to be made before the date of the first hearing in not only exceptional cases, but cases where arguably it was in the interests of justice that the extension be granted there and then. That would make it unnecessary to wait for the first hearing before the application could be made. I beg to move.

3.45 p.m.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, the names of my noble friends Lord Hodgson and Lord Bridgeman stand to three amendments in the group, Amendments Nos. 51, 214 and 217. I shall deal with those amendments very briefly at this stage.

As the Government are aware, we fully support the amendments. They pick up on a valuable point made in Committee by my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew. He referred to the fact that the judge might lack guidance about what "exceptional circumstances" covered and that "for good reason" might not provide the guidance. He concluded:

    "On reflection, perhaps it would be better to use the phrase 'where the overall interests of justice require'".—[Official Report, 19/6/03; col. GC 382.]

I agree entirely. We feel that postponement, if it were in "the interests of justice", would give adequate guidance to the judge when deciding whether to set a later date for the hearing.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, I was pleased in Committee that the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, who responded then to the amendment, gave a commitment that the Government would think again. The noble Baroness is nodding her head very helpfully, so we may get a good reply when she reaches the amendments.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, I challenge myself to be even more brief than the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay.

Amendments Nos. 52 and 215 have been inspired by the Law Society of Scotland. They would ensure that the judge considered the interests of justice as a whole before granting a continuation of a hearing. The current drafting of the clause is defective in Scottish eyes, because it could lead to the indefinite detention of someone awaiting an extradition hearing. The amendment ensures that a balanced approach, taking

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account of the interests of justice as a whole, would be deployed before a continuation was granted. I remind the House of the Scottish context. There is a similar requirement for the Crown to proceed within 110 days when the accused is remanded in custody.

Amendment No. 239 would introduce further ideas that should be taken into consideration by the High Court when deciding to extend the required period in Clause 100(10). Clauses 8, 76 and 100 of the Bill appear to be inconsistent. When dealing with extensions to the dates for initial and extradition hearings respectively, Clauses 8 and 76 make reference to the need for a judge to believe that there are exceptional circumstances that justify a delay. However, no such reference is made in Clause 100. Is that a mistake? Extensions should not be the norm; they should be granted timeously. The amendment would ensure that the court's discretion to extend the time can be invoked only in exceptional circumstances and when it is in the interests of justice to do so.

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