New Clause 15 - Children as victims of domestic abuse

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 6th July 2020.

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Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley 6:15 pm, 6th July 2020

My right hon. Friend makes a fair point, but unfortunately the Bill is not actually quite as it seems. There are references saying that the Government should take note of, and services should be provided on the basis of, the fact that women are more likely to be a victim than a man, but it should be irrelevant. It does not matter whether the victim is a male or a female—it is completely irrelevant—and we should take out any of those kinds of reference. The Bill should be gender neutral. That is the point I am trying to make.

In the rest of the time allowed, I want particularly to focus on my amendment 24, which is about classing parental alienation and when a parent deliberately prevents the other parent from having contact with their child or children for no good reason as domestic abuse. There are thousands—hundreds of thousands—of mums and dads, as well as grandmas and grandads, who do not have any relationship with their children at all, simply because one parent has deliberately and for no good reason turned their child against the other parent. I think they will find it quite extraordinary that all the main political parties are trying to block parental alienation being in the Bill as the criminal offence of domestic abuse. Parliament is failing those people, but I will keep speaking up for them. This is simply cruel—not just for the parent, and the grandparents, deprived of access, but for the children. It should be quite clearly classed as domestic abuse if this is done without any good reason at all.

I am very grateful to the Minister for including parental alienation and preventing contact with children as examples of domestic abuse in the recently released draft of the statutory guidance that goes alongside this Bill. I would have liked to see this in the Bill itself, but I believe that this is a momentous development, as it means that when considering domestic abuse, parental alienation and preventing contact are now specific examples that the Government have highlighted in their guidance. Such individuals, including those men and women who have written to me about their distressing personal experiences and who are clearly suffering now, have a message from the Government that what they are experiencing is clearly abuse. I very much hope that this will be of significant comfort to those who currently feel completely helpless in these situations.

Of my other amendments, I want to highlight one in particular in the time I have left. It is about lie detector tests, which have not come up in the rest of the debate. My amendment 26 would remove the use of lie detector tests. I am on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and we did an inquiry into “The Jeremy Kyle Show”. Many people in this House revile Jeremy Kyle because he used lie detector tests on his programme, and people pointed out that they are not reliable and that they come up with dodgy results. It seems extraordinary that the same people who pointed out that it was outrageous for Jeremy Kyle to use lie detector tests in an entertainment programme because they were not reliable would support using them in something as serious as this, when clearly the tests are just as unreliable as in his case. I would like to see the evidence that says that these tests are accurate and justifies their use, which, by the way, will presumably exonerate Jeremy Kyle; otherwise, we should not touch them with a bargepole. I look forward to hearing the Government’s evidence to support the use of lie detector tests. However, the main important message from me is that parental alienation is and should be domestic abuse.