HC Deb 25 January 1966 vol 723 cc11-2
7. Mr. Clark Hutchison

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what steps have been taken to implement the decisions arrived at during the meeting of law officers and other representatives of Commonwealth Governments after the Commonwealth Law Conference in Sydney in August.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

The hon. Member is doubtless referring to certain matters discussed at the meeting of Commonwealth Law Ministers held at Canberra on 2/3 September. Her Majesty's Government have made arrangements to consult other Commonwealth Governments on these.

Mr. Hutchison

Can the Minister say what is happening to this idea of a Commonwealth Court of Appeal and what view do the Australian and New Zealand Governments take?

Mr. Hughes

Her Majesty's Government take a very forthcoming view on this, but the fact is that there was no unanimity at Canberra. The Law Ministers agreed that they would ascertain the attitudes of their respective Governments and we are taking steps to obtain the considered views of other Governments of the Commonwealth.

Mr. Gardner

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, in spite of the critical stage through which the Commonwealth is passing, many countries in the Commonwealth, including the West Indies, Singapore and Malaysia, still show an active interest in the idea of setting up a Commonwealth Court of Appeal to replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council? What steps are the Government taking to harness this interest?

Mr. Hughes

I appreciate fully what the hon. and learned Member has said, but what we are doing is obtaining the considered views of other Commonwealth countries on this matter to see whether there is a basis from which we can make some progress.

Sir J. Hobson

Was not the subject of the Fugitive Offenders Act discussed at Canberra? Will the hon. Gentleman tell us when we are likely to have proposals to deal with that?

Mr. Hughes

That is also under consideration.