HC Deb 10 March 1949 vol 462 cc1369-71
12. Mr. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that a number of men against whom maintenance orders for the support of their wives and children have been made by magistrates and justices of the peace in this country have left this country for Eire and are evading payment of orders for the support of their wives and children owing to the fact that the Eire courts have no jurisdiction to enforce a maintenance order made in the courts of England and Wales; and whether he will endeavour to come to some agreement with Eire to enforce orders made in this country against defaulting husbands.

The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)

I have no reason to think that large numbers of men are evading maintenance orders by leaving the United Kingdom for Eire. I understand that, when such cases do occur, the Orders cannot be enforced in Eire. The provisions of the Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement) Act, 1920, could have been applied to such cases, if legislation adopting the Act had been passed in Eire, but this has never been done. I will consider with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary whether it would be worth while to ask the Government of Eire if they would like to make an agreement for the reciprocal enforcement of maintenance orders in their country and in ours.

Mr. Janner

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the experience in a large number of cases is that such husbands do go to Eire and that the wives cannot get their maintenance allowances; and, further, in view of the fact that there is shortly to be a change in the Constitution of Eire, will he take immediate steps to see if a reciprocal arrangement can be made so that men of that nature will not avoid their obligations?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I have said that, of course, orders cannot be enforced in Eire—there is no legislation—but, in fact, the Eire police have been helping in persuading the husbands to do their duty. although they do not always succeed. I have also said that I will consider with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary whether a mutual agreement can be made with the Eire Government.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Minister aware that a man in this position does not have to go to Eire and that if he leaves his job and gets another in an Admiralty yard he is free? Will the Minister take that up with the Home Secretary?

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Will the Minister consult with the Attorney-General about introducing an Amendment into the Maintenance Bill at present before Parliament in order to cover this particular question?

Mr. Noel-Baker

There is nothing we can do to make legislation effective in Eire.