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Extradition Orders

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 19 May 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what principles he applies in deciding on the claim to be a political refugee of an individual for whom an extradition order is sought.

The Extradition Act, 1870, requires that a fugitive criminal shall not be surrendered if the offence in respect of which his surrender is demanded is one of a political character, or if he proves to the satisfaction of the police magistrate or the court before whom he is brought on habeas corpus or the Secretary of State that the requisition for his surrender has in fact been made with a view to try or punish him for an offence of a political character. The Act does not use the term "political refugee" nor does it state what offences are of a political character. I have to consider each case on its merits, in the light of the decisions of the courts.

Is it not clear that the only accusation against this man Eisler, who has been arrested, is of a political character—the fact that for political reasons it was not possible for him to put his political beliefs on a document? What more could be asked than that?

I understood that this was a Question of a general nature. There are later Questions on the Paper dealing with Eisler.

Will my right hon. Friend consider whether, before a warrant is issued for the arrest of the person for whom an extradition order is sought, the Home Office should not be consulted, and that it should not be issued on the authority of a local magistrate?