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US-UK Extradition Treaty

Volume 515: debated on Monday 6 September 2010

11. What progress has been made on her Department’s review of the operation of the Extradition Act 2003 and the US-UK extradition treaty. (13093)

The coalition agreement committed the Government to reviewing the UK’s extradition arrangements worldwide, to ensure that they operate effectively and in the interests of justice. The review will examine both our extradition arrangements with the United States and our operation of the European arrest warrant. I will make an announcement to Parliament on the chairmanship and terms of reference of the review shortly.

My right hon. Friend will be aware that there is general concern that the provisions of the Extradition Act 2003 are lop-sided so far as they apply to the United States. Our relationship with the United States has always been based on mutual trust, and concerns about the workings of the Extradition Act are not helping to reinforce that mutual trust. Will my right hon. Friend give the House an assurance and an undertaking that once her review has been completed, if it demonstrates that the provisions and workings of the Extradition Act are lop-sided she will bring forward amending legislation to this House?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his observations. I reflect, as he does, on the importance of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States of America, but I am also aware, obviously, of comments that have been made outside the House and inside this Chamber about the extradition treaty between the UK and the USA. That is why I think it entirely right for the coalition Government to have agreed that we will not only review that treaty but address the issue more widely and review the operation of European arrest warrants, about which hon. Members—particularly my right hon. and hon. Friends—have also expressed some concerns in this Chamber. I do not wish to prejudge the outcome of the review, but, as I said, I will be making more details of the review available to the House shortly.

Does the Home Secretary understand that, in addition to the lop-sided nature of the legislation, there is a further issue that prejudices British citizens, namely the willingness of American courts to exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction and entertain prosecutions in circumstances where doing so would simply not be permitted in this country? Will that second issue also form part of her review?

Let me say to my right hon. and learned Friend that, as I have indicated, I am well aware of the range of concerns that exist in relation to the extradition treaty between the UK and the USA. That is why the coalition Government have agreed that we should have this review of the extradition treaty and take it more widely, looking at all our extradition arrangements to ensure that they operate effectively and in the interests of justice.

I have a constituent who has already been extradited under the treaty. In following his case, I certainly agree with recent remarks by the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough (Mr Blunkett), who concluded that perhaps the previous Government gave away too much. Whatever the outcome of the review, I hope that, on that point at least, the Home Secretary will be able to agree with both me and her predecessor.

My hon. Friend is tempting me down a route that I do not think is appropriate—to agree the outcome of the review in respect of its assessment of the current extradition treaty. That is not appropriate as it would undermine the whole point of having a review—details of which will be announced shortly—which is to ensure a proper process for considering the issues—

Order. I understand the natural temptation to do otherwise, but if the Home Secretary would face the House when she replies, it would help all of us. I think that she has concluded her response.