DEFENCE – TERRORISM CRISIS – 1 November 2001

Dr Julian Lewis: I thank the Secretary of State [Geoffrey Hoon] for giving way with his customary generosity. A little earlier, he said that the Taliban could stop the campaign against them by yielding up bin Laden and, presumably, his closest associates. Has he thought how we should react if, when the campaign begins to press hard on the Taliban, they tried a move in which they announced that bin Laden and his closest associates had left the country, and if that were verified? Presumably, we would not just call off the campaign; we would still insist on proceeding until the rest of the network was destroyed.

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Dr Lewis: I wish to ask the Secretary of State how he would resolve the following dilemma. If Osama bin Laden were to come into United Kingdom jurisdiction, would we be able to surrender him to America, given the restrictions that we have adopted on not surrendering anyone to a country which has the death penalty?

[Mr Hoon: I would have no hesitation or difficulty about achieving that.]