[1st Allocated Day]

Part of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:21 pm on 15th March 2021.

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Photo of Nick Thomas-Symonds Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow Home Secretary 6:21 pm, 15th March 2021

I will come to other concerning aspects of the Bill in a moment, but it says a great deal that when I am talking about the great British tradition of the right to protest, it is a Conservative Member of Parliament who stands up to challenge it. That is quite remarkable.

Let me turn to what is needed to address the appalling issue of violence against women and girls. To our shame as a country, we see unacceptable levels of female homicides at the hands of men every year. Labour is committed to working on a cross-party basis to bring forward additional protections; to deliver on the inadequate sentencing for domestic homicides; and to address unacceptable and intimidating street harassment. Labour is committed on stalking, on improving rights for victims of crime, on better domestic abuse services and on recognising misogyny as a hate crime.

There are wider issues, too. On 29 January, I wrote to the Government, together with the shadow Secretary of State for Justice, my right hon. Friend Mr Lammy; the shadow Housing Secretary, my hon. Friend Thangam Debbonaire; the shadow Minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, my hon. Friend Jess Phillips; and the shadow Minister for victims and youth justice, my hon. Friend Peter Kyle. We raised the awful practice of sex for rent—people coerced into providing sex in lieu of payment—and put forward proposals. We wrote to the Secretary of State for Justice, the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government; not one of them has even bothered to reply. That shows that this is a Government who too often like to talk tough but who fail to take the action needed. In its current form, the Bill does not meet the ambition of the time and will be a terrible missed opportunity.