Domestic Violence and Abuse

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th June 2018.

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Photo of Bambos Charalambous Bambos Charalambous Labour, Enfield, Southgate 12:00 am, 4th June 2018

What the timetable is for bringing forward legislative proposals on domestic violence and abuse.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

The Government’s wide-ranging consultation on domestic abuse closed last Thursday. We are analysing more than 3,200 responses received from survivors of domestic abuse, frontline professionals, experts from the domestic abuse sector and academics. I am grateful to everyone who took the time to respond. As announced in the Queen’s Speech, the Government remain committed to bringing forward a draft Bill this Session.

Photo of Bambos Charalambous Bambos Charalambous Labour, Enfield, Southgate

The previous Chancellor announced that domestic violence services would be among the beneficiaries of the tampon tax and would receive an additional dedicated £10 million a year, but this amount remains inadequate for services already hard hit by successive cuts since 2010. Will the Government set out a long-term funding strategy for domestic violence and rape crisis services?

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman; I know he has taken an interest in this matter. The Government have committed £20 million specifically to domestic abuse accommodation. It is supporting 80 areas, creating 2,200 new bed spaces and supporting 19,000 victims of domestic abuse. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is also conducting an audit of services. Between that audit and the consultation responses, we will ensure that we have a service that supports victims of domestic abuse.

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett Conservative, Bexleyheath and Crayford

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Can my hon. Friend confirm that the first ever statutory definition of domestic abuse will recognise that it is not just physical, but can take many different forms—psychological, sexual, economic and emotional—all of which should be considered?

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

I echo your congratulations to my right hon. Friend, Mr Speaker. I can give him the confirmation for which he has asked. The purpose of the Bill is to include in legislation, for the first time, a cross-governmental definition of domestic abuse. We know that it is not confined to physical violence but can take many forms, and we want the law to reflect that.

Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Opposition Whip (Commons)

I look forward to the introduction of the Bill, and, as the Minister knows, I also look forward to working on it on a cross-party basis. However, may I press her further? Is she aware of a report published by Professor Sylvia Walby in 2009, which, I think, updates earlier research and draws attention to the economic as well as the moral and emotional case for tackling domestic violence earlier and better?

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

I am extremely grateful to the hon. Lady, who always brings her outside expertise to the House when she speaks of such matters. It does not feel right to talk about the economic effects of domestic abuse, because the emotional and psychological impacts are of course far greater, but there is an economic side as well. We look forward very much to working on the Bill with the hon. Lady and others.