New Clause 15 - Children as victims of domestic abuse

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 6th July 2020.

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Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women 5:00 pm, 6th July 2020

The right hon. Lady makes a point that I know would, at first blush, be attractive, but the problem is that we do not have that bedrock of evidence. We are coming to the Dispatch Box with an open heart, and I hope that it is acknowledged across the House that that has been our approach throughout the Bill proceedings. I do not know whether she has had a chance to read the report that we published last week into the work that the Home Office has done. There has been some very good work by charities, through the tampon tax funding and so on, but we are unable to put in the figures that we need to in order to undertake the sort of reform that she is urging upon us. We must have the data to ensure that anything that we are putting forward in the longer term best meets the needs of victims and is sustainable.

A person who comes to this country on, for example, a six-month visitor visa falls under one of the categories that one of the witnesses gave evidence to the Joint Committee on, in the evidence that was given to us as part of this review—the Southall Black Sisters. The right hon. Lady will know that people on visitor visas, who may be here for six months, will have made representations to the Home Office specifically on their financial circumstances, and we want to ensure that we can treat such people fairly and give them access to the help that they need. It is why we are very keen to focus on support rather than to follow the urgings of others that we deal with immigration status before we look at support. We want to help these victims to access help first and foremost as victims.

The pilot programme is to determine how we ensure that victims can obtain immediate access to support, and that any future strategy meets the immediate needs of victims and is fit for purpose. Support for migrant victims is a very important issue for all of us. We recognise that, which is why we are committed to launching the pilot project as quickly as possible. We are currently reviewing the options for implementing the pilot and expect to make further announcements in the summer, ahead of its launch in the autumn. We must resist the urge to act before we have the evidence on which to base comprehensive proposals, to ensure that measures are appropriate.

As I say, I want to give plenty of time to Members to debate the Bill at this important stage of its scrutiny. Before I do, I thank hon. Members—I hope I do not speak too soon—for the very constructive, collegiate approach we have taken, all of us, on this Bill. I know some very different viewpoints may be held on particular issues that will be debated in this Chamber this afternoon, but I know that the House will keep at the forefront of its mind that we are debating this Bill because we all want to help victims of domestic abuse and we all want the abuse to stop.