Amendment 149

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill - Committee (5th Day) – in the House of Lords at 8:45 pm on 8th February 2021.

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Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Conservative 8:45 pm, 8th February 2021

My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross. I pay heartfelt and fulsome tribute to her for all her tireless work for older people. There is much to commend in Amendments 149 and 157 in this group, but I will direct my remarks to Amendment 149; I pay particular tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, and her co-signers for introducing it.

The mental anguish and emotional strain of this form of abuse, continuing post separation, is worthy of our attention this evening. I thank the charities such as Refuge, Surviving Economic Abuse—known as SEA—and others that have brought this issue to our attention in the context of this Bill. The figures brought forward in research undertaken by Refuge suggest that 53% of survivors of economic abuse said that it stopped after they had separated from their partner.

However, the controlling and coercive behaviour offence does not cover abuse that occurs when couples are no longer in a relationship or living together, so there are strong arguments for bringing in the type of behaviour so eloquently outlined by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, in moving this amendment. In paying tribute to the work of these charities and the many who have suffered abuse, we should look at the inconsistencies and at closing the loophole in the present laws. My starting point is that, now that economic abuse is being recognised in the context of the Domestic Abuse Bill, it makes sense to bring this type of coercive behaviour within the remit of the Bill.

In responding to the powerful arguments put forward in this debate, if my noble friend the Minister cannot adopt the amendments before the House, I hope that she will look kindly on bringing forward amendments from the department and in her own words to ensure that the inconsistencies identified in this amendment are brought to an end and that this type of abuse, the forms taken and its pervasiveness—this abuse can continue long after separation—are brought to a timely end. I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, for moving this amendment. I believe that it is worthy of the attention of the House, and that this type of behaviour is unacceptable and should be brought within the remit of this Bill. If that does not happen this evening, I hope that my noble friend will look favourably on bringing forward on Report a form of words that we can all unite around.