New Clause 15 - Children as victims of domestic abuse

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 6th July 2020.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes Chair, Women and Equalities Committee, Chair, Women and Equalities Committee 5:45 pm, 6th July 2020

I thank my hon. Friend for that commitment and look forward to the consultation coming forward. It is important that we have the opportunity to look further at how these emergency regulations have worked during the period of covid and that we understand how they can assist women. I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor will say something about this in his closing comments. I do not know whether the appropriate place is via new legislation or via the consultation that my hon. Friend referred to, but there is clearly a real need for debate and for this House to be able to express its view and understand the issue thoroughly.

Jess Phillips spoke with her usual forcefulness, and she will know that I have found common ground with much of what she said. I welcome her support for the broad direction of the Bill. I also welcome her comments about the need for us to find a mechanism to support migrant women who are the victims of domestic abuse. I have said this previously in the Chamber and I have no doubt that I will say it again. I vividly recall sitting around a table with my hon. Friend the Minister; my hon. Friend Edward Argar, who was then in the Ministry of Justice; the noble Baroness Williams, who I think was the Victims Minister; Southall Black Sisters and other charities; and the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley, who I always regard as an expert on these matters. There was consensus around the room that we have to find a way to treat the migrant victims of domestic abuse as victims first. I am sure that there are differences of opinion—as there were in the room that day—as to how we best do that. I very much hope that the pilot projects of which my hon. Friend the Minister has spoken will be able to provide us with the data that we need so that we can find a long-term, enduring solution to help, and help effectively, victims of domestic abuse who are here perhaps with no legal public funds or with insecure immigration status that means they are dependent on their partner for their right to be in the UK.

Whether it is the much-needed changes that are to be introduced in respect of the family courts—I welcome new clauses 16, 17 and 18—or other measures, it is crucial that we find a way to make our court system support the victims of domestic abuse. We must find a mechanism whereby it supports the children who might otherwise be obliged to come into contact with perpetrators. I welcome the fact that we are moving to a position wherein the legal process will no longer be able to perpetuate abuse.

My hon. Friend the Minister has worked hard on the Bill, and I welcome the changes that have been introduced. I commend her for having made such enormous progress. It has been a difficult journey for a Bill much delayed. We are not there yet, but I sincerely hope that our noble Friends in the other place do not delay the process much further. I commend my hon. Friend her for her very hard work.