DEFENCE (FRONT BENCH) – AFGHAN PRISONERS – 23 January 2006

Dr Julian Lewis: When British forces come into contact with terrorist suspects in Afghanistan, as the Secretary of State [Dr. John Reid] has conceded they surely will, to whom will those suspects be handed over, by whom will they primarily be interrogated, and in which countries will those interrogations take place?

[The Secretary of State for Defence (John Reid): Without wishing to seem over-philosophical, that depends. It depends on what people are arrested for: is it acts of terrorism or something primarily to do with narcotics or insurgency? It depends at what time arrest happens. It depends on the state of the judicial system that will be built. It depends on whether there are prison facilities. It depends on which of the allies is working alongside us - for example, the Australians, the Danes or the Dutch. I very much welcome the fact that the Dutch Cabinet have unanimously agreed that the Dutch ought to go in, although that is subject to their Parliament discussing the matter. If the hon. Gentleman were asking a specific question about specific cases, I should be able to respond.]

Dr Lewis: Terrorists.

[John Reid: I understand that he is saying terrorists, but I am not sure whether that includes insurgents or whether insurgents would include those involved in the narcotics trade. I shall write to him, if we decide to go ahead. I have to point out that I have not yet pressed the final button. When I do, I will come to the House and many of these matters, which we have already discussed in detail, can then be discussed in detail.]