Secure Tenancies (Victims of Domestic Abuse) Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:04 pm on 19th March 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Robert Courts Robert Courts Conservative, Witney 6:04 pm, 19th March 2018

It is an honour to make a brief contribution to this debate on a much needed and welcome Bill, which I am glad has cross-party support and which I support fully. When I was practising at the Bar, I came across many people. As many Members who have also practised in that field will realise, one of the most common emotions encountered there is fear. Sometimes that is people’s fear of the consequences of things they have done, but unquestionably the most moving is people’s fear as a result of what has happened to them or what may happen to them in the future.

Victims of domestic violence have some of the most terribly moving stories, and the issue of control runs through the whole domestic violence situation. Sometimes we are talking about control of things as basic as who can be spoken to or the control of money or of what somebody does, but there can be no greater control than the control of where somebody lives. When someone is suffering from abuse and needs to leave that relationship, the extra fear and worry of where they and perhaps their children are going to go adds a whole other layer. I will always remember the people I met who were in precisely that situation, which is why I am so pleased that the Government are introducing this much needed and welcome Bill.

I entirely support the Bill, as it is essential that when those tenants are leaving lifetime tenancies, they are able to be rehoused in the same sort of accommodation as soon as possible. The policies vary in district councils across the country. My local authority of West Oxfordshire grants special case status if accommodation is unsuitable because the continued occupation of the property is likely to lead to violence, but we must go much further, so that anybody who has to leave understands and knows that they will also have that lifetime tenancy.

I am glad that, statistically, domestic violence appears to be falling, but clearly one incident is far too many and we must do everything possible to assist those who are in that situation. I am also glad that the Government are providing £100 million of funding to tackle violence against women and girls, including £17 million for the transformation fund.

I want to say a word or two about social housing, because it is important that we do have social housing available. I am glad this Government have been building more council housing since 2010 than we saw built over the previous years of the Labour Government. I am not saying that just to make a party political point; I am simply saying that we have to have that social housing in order to ensure that if there is a family break-up for reasons of domestic violence, we have the property available for someone to go to and that that will remain the case.