HC Deb 27 April 1960 vol 622 cc207-8
38. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will state British policy relating to the European Court of Human Rights; why Great Britain has not yet ratified the relevant Convention; and what steps she is taking to do so.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Robert Allan)

The United Kingdom was the first country to ratify the European Convention on Human Rights, Section IV of which deals with the setting up of the European Court of Human Rights. Article 46 provides for the optional acceptance by member Governments of the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court. Her Majesty's Government have not exercised this option. They adhere to the procedure under Article 32, whereby cases are submitted by the Commission of Human Rights to the Committee of Ministers for a decision.

Mr. Hughes

Is it not important that Britain, with her great traditions in these matters, should give a moral and political lead to the rest of the world, especially at the present time when millions of people are being denied human rights on false doctrines and specious pretexts, particularly in South Africa?

Mr. Allan

I do not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman has it right. The procedure under Article 32, the one which we adopt, is equally effective and equally binding as that under Article 46, which goes to the Court. There is no difference.

Mr. Paget

Are we not in certain difficulties in this matter until we introduce an aliens law which conforms with the Charter? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that our aliens law as it stands at present is in flagrant contradiction with Article after Article of the Charter?

Mr. Allan

That question is quite different from the one on the Order Paper.