Violence against Women and Girls

Part of Contamination of Beef Products – in the House of Commons at 3:12 pm on 14th February 2013.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper The Minister for Immigration 3:12 pm, 14th February 2013

I congratulate the Members who bid for the debate at the Backbench Business Committee. It was an excellent idea, and well done to the Committee for setting aside the time for this debate and the one to follow, which is on the same theme of sexual violence. The House will shortly be able to hear from my hon. Friend Nicola Blackwood.

I thought that Stella Creasy rather spoiled the debate, frankly. It had been a good debate, and I had listened to powerful speeches from both sides of the House, including from Members on the Labour Benches and other Opposition Benches, but her tone at the end rather soured an excellent debate.

I am sorry that Diana Johnson finds my presence disappointing. I fear that may be the case for Opposition Members. I thought, though, that both she and the hon. Member for Walthamstow were rather churlish about the Department for Education. The Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend Mr Timpson, found the time to come and listen to part of the debate, and he and I have spoken about these issues previously, including earlier this week. Some Opposition Members cling to the idea that there is somehow a divide in the Government, but it is a false idea.

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North said that the Minister of State, Home Department, my hon. Friend Mr Browne, had not mentioned the teenage relationship abuse campaign when he answered a question in Women and Equalities questions. I may be wrong, but I listened carefully and the Minister not only referenced that campaign, but made the point that the Government are relaunching it today and are committed to continuing it because it has been so effective. On the basis that things said in the House of Commons are often the greatest secrets in the world, I will say it again: the teenage relationship abuse campaign “This is abuse” will be relaunched today with a focus on what constitutes controlling and coercive behaviour, and on raising awareness among teenagers of what constitutes abuse and violence. I have seen that campaign and think it rather effective. Evidence also suggests it is effective, and I am pleased the Government are relaunching it.