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Lord Goodhart: In listening to the speeches of the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, and the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, I have been reminded of the immortal words of the legendary Bill Shankly, who said, "Football isn't a matter of life and deathit's more important than that". Looking at the amendment, I can see no reason whatever why sport in general, or motor racing in particular, should be given an exemption that does not apply across the board.
Why should people involved in sporting accidents who are accused of manslaughter be entitled to an exemption that does not apply to the United Kingdom manufacturer of a product sold to some other country of the European Union where there is an allegation of defects so serious and negligence so great that it amounts to manslaughter? No exemption is entitled to the manufacturer in such a case, and I can see no reason for making a special exemption for sport. After all, when it comes to a choice between justice and sport, justice is the more important of the two.
If the amendment were differently worded and applied to all people who might be at risk of extradition, and if the appropriate Minister had the last say, that would be a different matter. We had a discussion about that earlier in our deliberations. By taking away the political judgment in the high court of Parliament, if I can put it that way, we now have one of the laws of unintended consequences. As I said earlier, I believe that there are circumstances when the political authority has the right to intervene to defend the interests of a British citizen.
Before Report, I hope that people will reflect on that. Perhaps we can table an amendment to ensure that, in certain circumstances, all citizens will in the ultimate degree have the benefit of the protection of the political authorities in Parliament.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have had a very full debate and I have rarely heard such sporting contributions to an amendment. I hope that what I have to say in response will give a modicum of satisfaction to all Members of the Committee. Before I do so, however, perhaps I may warmly welcome the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, back to a much more familiar place on the Front Bench. I congratulate him on his new role as the shadow Minister for Sport in both Houses. I shall be very interested to see how he exercises his duties in the other place, although they will not have the pleasure that we have had this afternoon.
I should say straightaway to the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, that, notwithstanding the imperfections which were so graphically and succinctly outlined by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, I accept absolutely that she tabled the amendment in order for us to debate it. I do not seek to make further sport of the issue at her expense.
We have some interesting issues to discuss here, although if this were a sporting event then I have to say to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, that I think he would lose. But this is far more important than a mere game and therefore I say to him that I really do not think there is much to fear; we are not changing the system so as to make sportsmen and women and those engaged in sporting activities more disadvantaged than they are at present.
I listened with great care to all that was said by the noble Lord, to seek to ascertain from him the basis of his concerns. He explained that he thought that damage would be caused to sporthe made many assertions to that effectbut I had a little difficulty in getting a clear statement from him on exactly what those concerns were based. Having said that, I hope that I shall be able to give a definitive response, but if there are other matters of particular concern to Members of the Committee, I hope that, after my explanation, they will say so.
It will probably not surprise the Committee to learn that I do not think we can single out sporting activities in the way suggested, which was the point made by the noble Lords, Lord Goodhart and Lord Stoddart, and in a different way by my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis. I am sure that the Committee will recall that we touched on this issue when we considered Amendments Nos. 112 and 126, relating to conduct which may have occurred in the United Kingdom. On that occasion I sought to deal with some of the anxieties that had been raised by people in the sporting world. The noble Baroness was kind enough to indicate those anxieties at the time and I sought to address them.
I pointed out then that the Bill as now amended provides that if any part of the conduct occurs in the United Kingdom, we can extradite only if that conduct would be seen as illegal over here. On that basis, I do not believe that those who run the United Kingdom-based Formula 1 teams need have any concerns about the introduction of the European arrest warrant. The amendment provides that where death or serious injury has resulted from a sporting event, the case should come to the Secretary of State for him to decide whether extradition would be proper. I have to ask what the word "proper" means for these purposes. I can foresee all kinds of legal challenges turning on that point. I mention this element because I know that it is very much a part of the plea which has been madethat the Secretary of State should remain engaged.
I also do not believe that it would be sensible to single out sport in this way. Tragically, sporting activity can lead to serious injuries and deaths, but it is not the only such activity. If we were to accept the amendment, presumably we would then face pressure for an equivalent provision from every UK mining company engaged in work overseas and from every construction company undertaking jobs in other countries. They would pursue the same theme. No doubt airlines would join the queue for a special exemption, as would almost any British company which owned or ran a factory outside these shores. Quite simply, I do not believe that that would be workable.
Those individuals whose specific actions lead to death or injury will continue to be liable for extradition, as they are at present. Those who have not been directly involved, but who perhaps set the general company policy and direction from the United Kingdom, will be able to establish that part of their action took place in this country, so they will be safe from extradition as long as their conduct was not
I hope that the noble Baroness will be content with that assurance, but it is right that I touch on the other position she raised because, as she pointed out, there is an issue as regards what would happen if, in due course, corporate manslaughter became a matter of criminal consequence here in the United Kingdom. If corporate manslaughter were to become a criminal offence in this country, punishable with a term of imprisonment in excess of one year, it would become an offence which could be capable of extradition.
Of course, as I am sure the noble Baroness will agree, it is the function of Parliament to decide whether corporate manslaughter is a proper offence that should appear on our statute book. If it should, the conditions on which it should be established and any safeguards that are necessary will, I know, be anxiously and creatively debatedif in no other place, then right here. I have enjoyed the company of noble Lords on a number of Bills and I do not anticipate that they will stray very far when that issue comes to be debated. At that point all the vigour and verve brought by noble Lords to the consideration of this matter will be heard.
As I have said, individuals directly responsible for death or injury will be extraditable, as they are at the moment. Let us look at the position of the Secretary of State in this. One has to ask whether the Secretary of State would have a reason to refuse an extradition request where it involved death or injury, whether or not it occurred in a sporting context. I ask that because these are extremely serious matters which need to be resolved in a court of law.
The noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, asked what would be the position in terms of school sports and pointed out the fears that have arisen in relation thereto. I can respond to the noble Lord by saying that that self-same matter has become an issue for the playing and maintenance of sporting conditions in this country. I refer to claims properly made by those who have been injured that rely on lack of proper regulation, lack of proper instruction or lack of proper opportunity. Such issues are now a feature of sport, in particular those sporting activities perceived to be dangerous. Rugby, boxing and a number of other sports would be so classed.
Here we face a challenge, not only internationally but in this country, to ensure that the way in which we regulate sportthe noble Lord pointed out that sport is self-regulated and it is right that it should bemeans that the regulations in place enable our young people and all those who engage in sport to do so safely, in accordance with the law, and to ensure that there are no breaches. I say that because the knowledge that there are justiciable consequences for negligence and failure have enabled us to maintain very robust
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