HL Deb 25 July 1985 vol 466 cc1374-6

[References are to Bill [133] as first printed by the Commons]

1 Clause 27, page II, line 39, at end insert "or authorisation".

2 After Clause 27, insert the following new clause:

"Application as respects British Islands and colonies.

.—(1) Her Majesty may be Order in Council direct that any of the provisions of this Act specified in the Order shall extend, subject to such modifications as may be specified in the Order, to—

  1. (a) the Isle of Man,
  2. (b) any of the Channel Islands, and
  3. (c) any colony.

(2) Her Majesty may by Order in Council direct that this Act shall have effect in the United Kingdom as if any reference in this Act, or in any amendment made by this Act, to any order which may be made, or any proceedings which may be brought or any other thing which may be done in, or in any part of, the United Kingdom included a reference to any corresponding order which may be made or, as the case may be, proceedings which may be brought or other thing which may be done in any of the territories mentioned in subsection (1) above.

(3) An Order in Council under this section may make such consequential, incidental and supplementary provision as Her Majesty considers appropriate.

(4) An Order in Council under this section shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.".

3 Schedule 3, page 25, line 17, at end insert— 3A. An authorisation given by the Secretary of State under section 26(2) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969 (except where the relevant order, within the meaning of that section, was made by virtue of the court which made it being satisfied that the child was guilty of an offence).".

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their amendments. The purpose of the amendments relates mainly to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, whose authorities wish that The Hague and European Conventions should apply to their islands. This is achieved by amending the definition of the words "custody order" where they appear in Clause 27(1), consequential on the insertion of the new paragraph 4 in Schedule 3, and by the insertion of the new Clause 28 extending the provisions of the Bill to those territories and any colony where this may be considered appropriate.

The amendments to Clause 27(1) and Schedule 3 are purely technical. They deal with an authorisation given by the Secretary of State under Section 26(2) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969 to allow a child, who is subject to a care order made in one of the islands to which I have referred, to be transferred to care in England and Wales. They ensure that such an authorisation will cease to have effect on the making of an order under the Bill, as would be the case with a domestic care order.

New Clause 28 provides for Orders in Council to be made to extend the provisions of the Bill to any of the British Isles and any colony, and to apply the Bill within the United Kingdom in such a way as to allow for that extension. My Lord, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in the said amendments.

Moved, That this House do agree with the Commons in the said amendments.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

Lord Prys-Davies

My Lords, the House is grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Chancellor for reviewing the effect of the amendments, which appear complicated and which were passed in the other place. The amendments strengthen the Bill. We wish that it had been possible, by a suitable amendment, to ensure that the custody orders obtained in Scotland would be enforceable in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and vice versa. Their non-enforceability was described by my noble and learned friend Lord Elwyn-Jones on Second Reading as "the problem on our doorstep". But we understand that that reform could not be achieved through the vehicle of this Bill.

The Government have held out the hope that the particular mischief to which my noble and learned friend drew attention will be tackled in the next Session. Therefore, it remains for me, on behalf of these Benches, to warmly approve the amendments from the other place, and to express the hope that the Bill will achieve its desired objectives, and that henceforth parents and children will be protected from avoidable turmoil, anguish, and indeed cruelty.

Lord Meston

My Lords, may I too welcome these amendments? Anything which extends geographically the principles and procedures of this legislation must enlarge its usefulness. Children are abducted to, and via, the Channel Islands and other such places where there is sometimes a diluted respect for our laws, and it must be in the interests of such children that the practical and legal problems faced by those who try to trace them are minimised. In this context, I too hope that the Government will actively consider legislation in accordance with the Law Commission's recommendations for the mutual enforcement and recognition of custody orders within all the jurisdictions of the United Kingdom.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Lords who have spoken. I too hope that we shall be able to legislate on the internal problem next Session. This Bill would not have been a suitable vehicle for it. I shall do my best to get a slot, without being compelled to anticipate at this stage the Queen's Speech.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, I think that that is the second commitment from the Government on law reform for the coming Session. We shall await with great interest to know when the slots are filled.

On Question, Motion agreed to.