HC Deb 18 July 1960 vol 627 cc23-4
29. Mr. Mathew

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that, of the nine European conventions and agreements concluded by the members of the Council of Europe in 1957, 1958 and 1959, the United Kingdom has signed three and ratified one; and to what extent this involves a modification of the stated policy of Her Majesty's Government to participate fully in the work of European co-operation.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I am aware of these circumstances, but I would assure my hon. Friend that this does not reflect any modification of Her Majesty's Government's policy of seeking the fullest possible co-operation with other European countries. Consideration is still being given to the ratification of the two conventions signed but not yet ratified by Her Majesty's Government. The remaining conventions are, in general, such as to conflict with our legal system and practice.

Mr. Mathew

While thanking my right hon. and learned Friend for that Answer, which will be received with some satis faction by our fellow-members in the Council of Europe, may I ask him if he does not think that it will greatly enhance the reputation of this country if these international obligations were fulfilled promptly?

Mr. Lloyd

I think they should be fulfilled as promptly as possible, but there are a number of fairly wide considerations involved. To give one example to the House, one of the conventions which we do not feel we should sign is one enabling police officers of other States to seek out and question witnesses in this country. I should have thought that, quite obviously, that is a matter of very considerable complication, which one cannot possibly sign as an expression of good will towards European countries. One has to consider that matter very carefully indeed.

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