Clause 15 - Guidance about independent domestic violence and sexual violence advisors

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:54 am on 24 May 2024.

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Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice 10:54, 24 May 2024

It is a privilege to open this debate and bring the Victims and Prisoners Bill back to this House, slightly larger and more robust—a description that I fear, after nine years in this place, could apply to my physique too. A series of amendments were made in the other place that we believe strengthen the intentions behind the Bill.

At the outset, I express my gratitude to the shadow Minister, Kevin Brennan, and to the usual channels for their work in a very short timeframe to ensure that we are able to proceed with the Bill today. It is a pleasure to serve opposite the shadow Minister. He knows not only the huge respect but the fondness I have for him. Notwithstanding the six weeks of to and fro that I suspect we may have during the election, I want to put it on the record that I genuinely wish him very well for the future.

On Report in the House of Lords, we strengthened measures on victims to make it clear that compliance with the code is not optional and to bolster measures to hold agencies to account for its delivery. We also introduced measures to give a stronger voice to victims of offenders whose conditional release is considered by the mental health tribunal, to make it clear that victims who have signed non-disclosure agreements can make disclosures to much-needed support services without fear of legal action, and to raise the threshold for the disclosure of counselling notes for victims so that they can now only be disclosed where they are of substantial probative value.

We also tabled an amendment in the other place yesterday to create a new ground within article 17 of the UK general data protection regulation specifically for the victims of stalking and harassment to request deletion of personal data related to false allegations. The amendment will help protect victims from further distress caused by the retention of such data. I put on the record my gratitude and tribute to Stella Creasy for raising the issue and campaigning on it, and to my friend the noble Baroness Morgan of Cotes for pursuing it in the other place.

I turn to Lords amendments to part 3 of the Bill relating to infected blood. I am grateful, and I know this country will be grateful, to Dame Diana Johnson for her tireless campaigning in seeking to expose and tackle this national scandal and ensure that those who have been victims of it receive the support and compensation they deserve.

The Lords amendments do three crucial things. They impose a duty on the Government to establish a UK-wide infected blood compensation scheme within three months of Royal Assent; they establish a new arm’s length body named the Infected Blood Compensation Authority to deliver the compensation scheme; and they impose a duty on the Government to make interim payments of £100,000 to the estates of deceased infected people where previous interim payments have not been made.