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EC Action: Children

Volume 508: debated on Monday 29 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps the Government are taking to ensure that the 1996 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children is ratified by all EU member states before 5 June 2010 in accordance with Council Decision 2008/431/EC of 5 June 2008; and if he will make a statement. (324640)

Eight EU member states are already Contracting States to the Convention. Council Decision 2008/431/EC authorised the UK and other remaining EU member states to ratify or accede to the convention, and requires the simultaneous deposit of their instruments of ratification or accession, if possible before 5 June 2010.

In November 2009 the UK expected to conclude its legislative process by June 2010. Under the convention this would have enabled implementation three months later, on 1 October 2010.

However, it will not now be possible for the UK to complete its implementing legislation as intended in June 2010. The intention now is to have all necessary legislation in place to enable the UK to ratify by 16 July 2010 after the general election. Implementation would then follow on 1 November. Whether ratification can take place then is, however, dependent on the position of the remaining EU member states. The Council Secretariat has called for an update from member states for discussion at the May General Questions meeting of the Council's Committee on Civil Law Matters.

The UK remains firmly committed to ratification and implementation of this important convention and is working to achieve this.