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Volume 535: debated on Tuesday 15 November 2011

1. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the Baker report on extradition arrangements. (80645)

10. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the Baker report on extradition arrangements. (80654)

Does the Attorney-General recall saying, in 2009, when in opposition,

“Our extradition laws are a mess. They’re one-sided. A Conservative government will re-write them”?

Will they? Or is this another example of this Government’s signature policy of promising miracles in opposition and delivering nothing in government?

The first thing the coalition Government decided to do on taking office was ask Lord Justice Scott Baker to preside over a report; of course, he was helped by others in that. We have now had that report. I will consider the recommendations that are specific to the Law Officers in conjunction with the Director of Public Prosecutions and the director of the Serious Fraud Office. That involves discussions with devolved jurisdictions. Of course, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will consult on the recommendations that touch on her responsibilities, together with other members of the Government who can provide some input.

What consideration has the Attorney-General given to implementing a forum bar to give judges more discretion in deciding whether it is in the interests of justice for cases to be tried in the UK, such as the case involving Gary McKinnon, or where the offence was committed in the UK and it is difficult for the defence to bring witnesses and evidence to a foreign jurisdiction?

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, which is touched on in Lord Justice Scott Baker’s report, and will have to be taken into account in the Government response. He will be aware that Lord Justice Scott Baker’s proposals are guidelines, rather than an implementation of the forum bar. That is something that the Government will have to consider.

I have the misfortune to disagree with Lord Justice Scott Baker’s conclusion in relation to the standard of proof. May we have an assurance from the Attorney-General that in determining these matters proper account will be taken of the principle of reciprocity, and that it will be ensured that British citizens are not at a constitutional disadvantage in comparison with their American counterparts?

Mr right hon. and learned Friend makes another important point. Again, that is one reason why we asked for that matter to be looked into by Lord Justice Scott Baker and those who served with him. We are going to have to take account of his proposals, and I hope very much that my right hon. and learned Friend will make a contribution to that discussion.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend give the House the reaction, if any, from international counter-parties to the Baker report?

I am afraid that I cannot comment on the reaction from international counterparts. There is interest in the matter—indeed, I have been made aware of that by a number of sources, particularly in respect of people connected with the United States. Outside that, however, I cannot comment formally, and I think it is likely that any formal response would go to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.