HC Deb 18 November 1946 vol 430 cc498-500
23 and 24. Mr. Symonds

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (I), if he is yet in a position to make a statement about the discussions between His Majesty's Government and the U.S. authorities with regard to the enforcement in the U.S.A. of paternity orders made out in the United Kingdom against former U.S. Servicemen;

(2) what steps are being taken by His Majesty's Government to safeguard the interests of the wives and children abandoned in the United Kingdom by former U.S. Servicemen who have now returned to the U.S.A. on demobilisation.

Mr. Mayhew

As at present advised, I regret that I can offer little hope that it will be found possible to secure the enforcement of affiliation orders, but we are still thoroughly exploring this possibility in relation to the numerous and complex State laws of the United States. The maintenance of the dependants of former United States Servicemen is being informally discussed with the United States State Department. I regret that, as regards these discussions, I have nothing to add to my written reply on 17th October to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bexley (Major Bramall). His Majesty's Embassy and Consular officers in the United States do all they can to assist British wives of United States ex-Servicemen who become involved in divorce proceedings in the United States courts.

Mr. Symonds

As these discussions have been dragging on for months, can ray hon. Friend say what is the particular reason which prevents some reasonable arrangement being made?

Mr. Mayhew

The difficulties about affiliation orders are primarily legal difficulties. The question of alternative methods of giving assistance to dependants over here is, of course, primarily a matter for the United States Government. I agree with the hon. Member that the position is not satisfactory, but it is primarily for the United States Government, although we are doing what we can.

Mr. Driberg

Is my hon. Friend aware that the present Minister of State assured me some months ago that a list of these cases was being drawn up in conjunction with the Home Office, and could he say whether that list is more or less complete, and approximately how many names there are on it?

Mr. Mayhew

I think that some 6,000 people are involved. Without notice I cannot give details about the list.

Mr. Nicholson

I am sure the hon. Gentleman is aware of the grave hardship caused to citizens of this country, and I want to ask him if there are not some unofficial methods which might be adopted in the case of affiliation orders? Must it always be taken up on the highest official level?

Mr. Mayhew

There are unofficial ways of coming to informal arrangements, and these are being pursued by His Majesty's representatives in the United States.

Mr. McGovern

Would it not be the practical thing for the British Government to take over the responsibility and pay some of the paternity orders out of the Dollar Loan?

Mr. Scollan

Does the hon. Gentleman really mean that no representations of any kind can be made to the American Government on a pressing matter of this kind?

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