HC Deb 24 January 2002 vol 378 cc1025-6W
Sir John Stanley

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will list the actions that the Government may take to further the implementation and financing of the conclusions and recommendations of the March 2001 Meeting of the Special Commission to Review the Operation of the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. [29530]

Ms Rosie Winterton

We will continue to work with the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference and with other States Parties to the Convention in order to take forward the work resulting from the Special Commission. The Final Report on the Special Commission is expected shortly, and the Permanent Bureau is planning to complete its Final Report on Transfrontier Access/Contact in May 2002.

In addition to our standard contribution to the Hague Conference, which this year amounts to £70,514, we have made a grant of £14,452.85 to the Permanent Bureau in the current financial year, in order to assist them in carrying forward their work on children conventions. We have also subscribed a further £5,000 towards the costs of maintaining and developing the International Child Abduction Database (INCADAT).

The UK sent a delegation of senior judges and officials to a conference arranged by the Permanent Bureau at De Ruwenberg in October 2001 at which judicial co-operation and good practice in central authorities were discussed. France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States were also represented. The Permanent Bureau has begun work on producing a Good Practice Guide, and we will continue to support this.

The Permanent Bureau is currently considering whether to recommend the convening of a follow-up Special Commission later this year, in order to continue work on good practice, on transfrontier contact and on judicial co-operation. If the Special Commission takes place, the United Kingdom will send a delegation.

The Permanent Bureau also now issues questionnaires to newly acceding member states and we will take this into account in considering whether to accept their accessions in relation to the United Kingdom.

We are also providing encouragement and support to countries considering whether to join the convention. My officials have taken part in a conference of southern African countries considering child abduction and other child protection issues in London this week, and I attended and addressed the conference on 23 January.