New Clause 15 - Children as victims of domestic abuse

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:45 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 8:45 pm, 6th July 2020

It is fair to say there were moments in the past two and a half years where I did not quite believe that I would be able to stand at the Dispatch Box and deliver the winding-up of the Bill’s Report stage, so it is a genuine pleasure to be here doing exactly that.

We have seen extraordinary contributions from across the House, not just in this debate but over the history of this Bill and its progress through Parliament. We have heard from Members who have bravely given their own experiences of the abuse they themselves suffered, whether that was Rosie Duffield, who moved us all on Second Reading in October last year or, indeed, my hon. Friend Mark Fletcher, who brought to the Chamber his own experiences as a child living in an abusive household. Those are but two examples; there are, sadly, many, many more examples we have heard, both through the direct experience of colleagues, but also through the experiences we have all tried to bring into the Chamber.

There are people we know as soon as their names are said—names such as Clare, Rachel and Holly. We know their stories. If one thing can be drawn from today’s debate and the progress of this Bill, it is that we do not just talk about them and the experiences they endured and the experiences that were forced on them, but that we talk about the legacy their lives have had. Their legacy is written throughout this Bill.

As the Minister, I have to, of course, try to respond to the many points that have been made in the debate, and I apologise that I simply will not be able to do so. To give some indication of just how much cross-Government working there has been on the Bill, as well as the work in Parliament, there are now seven Departments—and counting—working on it. During briefing sessions for the Committee sage, the officials briefing me had to have a queueing system because they could not all fit on a conference call. That gives an idea of how many people have been involved in the Bill, and I thank each and every one of them, because I will not have the honour of doing so on Third Reading.

I will jump now to some of the substance of today’s debate. Jess Phillips and many Opposition Members, as well as my right hon. Friends the Members for Maidenhead (Mrs May) and for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) and Christine Jardine, raised—understandably and rightly—support for migrant victims. I reiterate the Government’s commitment to helping victims and to the support for migrant victims scheme, which I announced on Second Reading. We expect to make announcements in the summer about this. We will be working with charities. We are working with the domestic abuse commissioner—I spoke to her about this only on Friday. We want this scheme to have the trust and involvement of everyone who is as concerned about migrant victims as we are. We are aiming to publish the framework of the scheme ahead of Lords Second Reading, and we very much hope that everyone will feel able to support it.