Amendment 162

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill - Committee (5th Day) – in the House of Lords at 11:45 pm on 8th February 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Morgan of Cotes Baroness Morgan of Cotes Conservative 11:45 pm, 8th February 2021

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response. He certainly addressed the points raised in the debate, but I do not think he will be surprised to hear that, unfortunately, I do not think he satisfied many of them. Because the time is late, I will obviously not take a long time to go through the arguments in response, but I want to thank all noble Lords who have spoken at this late hour. The fact that so many noble Lords waited to make their points in the way that they did—and I would agree with the Minister that this was an excellent debate—shows the strength of feeling on all sides of the Committee in relation to this amendment.

This is an amendment and a subject that reaches beyond the House and beyond Westminster. It is of direct interest to millions of victims, survivors and their families and friends. I want to thank all those who have campaigned, particularly Refuge—who have rightly been paid tribute. I thank the designate domestic abuse commissioner for her support too. In the course of this debate, we heard clearly why this change to the law is needed, why it needs to be included in this Bill and why the change should be made now.

I will address two very specific points. We have already heard about the length of time Law Commission recommendations take to come into force, but I would say that making threats to share such matters a crime is a relatively small and straightforward change to an existing offence which would not have more complex implications for the broader legal landscape and would offer protection sooner. I particularly thank the noble Lord, Lord McDonald, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, and the former Lord Chief Justice, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. They have spoken so compellingly this evening.

I have also seen the College of Policing guidance that has been issued. I do not think that any police force would feel that they knew more about how to bring prosecutions in the case of these threats than before they had read that guidance. While a small proportion of threats could be prosecuted at the moment, that is not happening in practice. Therefore, the law is not working as intended, which means that there is a gap.

I hope that Ministers will work with those of us who want to see a change in the law. I will, of course, beg leave to withdraw this amendment at this stage of the process, but I strongly suspect that—depending on the nature of future discussions—this amendment will be back at the next stage and it is possible that the feeling of the House will need to be tested.

Amendment 162 withdrawn.