Amendment 124

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Committee (5th Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 13 February 2024.

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Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport) 6:30, 13 February 2024

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that explanation. I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Brinton and Lady Newlove, the noble Lord, Lord Marks, and my noble friend Lord Wills for their support for this small group of amendments. The Minister is right that we have no disagreement about the outcomes we wish to see at the end of this. Our concern is that giving a voice to victims in major incidents is so important that it needs to be explicitly mentioned in the Bill.

I accept that Clause 29(2)(a) does go some way, but it does not actually say that the job of the special advocate is that they have to talk to the victims. I listened to hear whether the Minister would say something about guidance or statutory instruments that might say that, because obviously that would help us with this issue. Certainly, a policy statement would be very welcome.

The question of the confidence that victims or the Secretary of State would or would not have in the special advocate is one of great sensitivity. It could be that the special advocate was giving the Government a very hard time and they may not be enjoying that, and we need to make sure that that person is protected by the statute under those circumstances. However, we have made some progress in opening up this discussion, which I know we are going to follow through in the next group of amendments. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 124 withdrawn.

Amendments 124A to 125 not moved.

Clause 29 agreed.

Clause 30: Appointment of advocates in respect of major incidents

Amendments 126 to 126B not moved.

Clause 30 agreed.

Clause 31: Terms of appointment