§ 4. Mr. Alan Clark
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government intend shortly to become a signatory of the Haagen agreement relating to the abduction of minors.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Roy Hattersley)
I assume that the Question refers to the Hague Convention of 1961 concerning the protection of minors. A Working Party of the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission is reviewing conflicts of jurisdiction concerning children. The question of 1372 signature of this Convention will be considered in the light of the Commission's views.
§ Mr. Clark
Is the Minister aware of the case of my constituent, Mrs. McCartney, whose five-year-old son was snatched by her estranged husband and removed from this country on the basis of a false passport declaration? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that if we were parties to this agreement the task of enlisting the co-operation of foreign police forces to locate and return such children would be very much easier? Since these cases are regrettably becoming more frequent, is it not time that such a move was expedited?
§ Mr. Hattersley
I make no judgments on the McCartney case this afternoon. The Convention to which the hon. Member referred was an attempt to reconcile two different principles in these matters, and the British Government have to look very carefully at the reconciliation of those principles to make sure that the application of the Convention in Britain would be in the best interests of British citizens and their children who might go abroad.
If the hon. Member will send me the details concerning Mrs. McCartney and her child, I shall pursue the case as best I can in her interests.