Mark intervenes in Crime Bill Debate on death penalty assurances

30th January 2019

Mark Pritchard speaks in the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill debate to ensure data sharing between countries in seeking to apprehend and prosecute serious organised criminal gangs and those accused of child sex offences.

I am grateful to the shadow Minister for giving way. Despite the fact that this is about not extradition, but data exchange and that it is heinous crimes that will incorporate this provision, does he accept that the threshold for the death penalty, both at state and federal level, is actually far higher—the bar is higher?

Yes, it is significantly higher, and the cases will be extraordinarily rare. That is what everybody who has looked at this says.

I am very grateful. The hon. Gentleman is being more than generous. On the issue of assurances, does he also accept—I know that he thinks logically—that if those assurances were given and were not actually fulfilled, future assurances would obviously not carry the same weight as previous assurances that were carried through?

I honestly cannot imagine a situation where a country that gave those assurances did not stand by them. That would undermine the whole system if that were the case. I do need to make some progress now. I hope that the House will realise that I have been generous in giving way to Government Members.

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The shadow Minister, rightly, gave a litany of examples where the Government have set out to abolish the death penalty worldwide. The SNP spokesman has referred to assurances on ISIS cases and other assurances. Given that we heard from the shadow Minister that assurances have been sought previously, I am a little puzzled about why that should change.

Words are great but it is deeds that are important, and we think that this should be in this Bill. As the Bill is, to use the Minister’s term, the docking station for future agreements, we think that this should be in the Bill, which sets the tone of the regulations for future agreements.

To help the House and to help me—I need all the help I can get—could the hon. Gentleman perhaps give an example of where assurances have not been sought in such cases?

That is not the point—it is about the principles. We have spoken at length about this and listed some of them. It is about the principles, and we are signatories to the ECHR as well. We should ensure that these principles and obligations are in this Bill; otherwise, in my view, we are not following those obligations.

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May I reach out to the Opposition? As the joint chairman of the all-party group on the abolition of the death penalty, I, like the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds), did have some concerns. However, I have addressed them with the Minister, who has listened. I think the Government have listened and I appeal to the shadow Minister and the Opposition Front-Bench team to think again in the national interest and in the interests of victims.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who has campaigned against the death penalty for very many years and who, as co-chair of the all-party group, knows a thing or two about it. I do not think he would say that lightly if he did not feel it.

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