European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Report (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 25th April 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Lister of Burtersett Baroness Lister of Burtersett Labour 5:30 pm, 25th April 2018

My Lords, I support my noble friend, and will speak in particular to Amendment 69. In Committee, I asked a number of questions about the future of domestic abuse funding, and when the Minister did not answer them in her wind-up speech I asked if she could write to all who had spoken in the debate—but letter came there none. So forgive me if I repeat those questions now.

First, what criteria will be used to decide whether future structural fund commitments will be met up to 2020, so long as they, as the Government put it, represent value for money and align with “domestic priorities”? Surely domestic abuse projects must align with domestic priorities, given the proposed domestic abuse strategy—even though the consultation document on that strategy says nothing about the future of EU funding. Can the Minister confirm that they will be considered to be in alignment with those priorities, so they will be protected until 2020?

Secondly, will the Minister give an assurance about the future of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme, which supports progress on equality and human rights, including through front-line services for people experiencing domestic abuse? At the end of her speech, she gave some crumbs of hope when she said that she would look at Hansard and see whether the Government could provide any further comfort on the back of the debate we had then. I hope, too, that she might have been able to read the debate on the recent Question for Short Debate on domestic abuse, in which most speakers from all parts of the House emphasised the importance of adequate funding for domestic abuse, and expressed fears about current proposals for reforming the basis of that funding.

That is the context for this amendment. If the Government are not willing to accept, in particular, Amendment 69, which is incredibly modest in what it asks for, that will send out a negative message to survivors of domestic abuse, and to the organisations such as Women’s Aid that work with them.