It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Buck.
Labour’s Justice team has worked closely with Gina Martin and her lawyer, Ryan Whelan, since last year. They have done a remarkable job in attracting public and media support, gaining nearly 100,000 signatures for their petition, and then getting the issue on to the parliamentary, and now the Government’s, legislative agenda.
Under great pressure, the Government have been forced to expedite this legislation to outlaw this disgusting practice, using unusual parliamentary procedures usually reserved for when there is a broad consensus on uncontroversial legislation. In normal circumstances, the Opposition would support some of the amendments. However, given that the campaigners seek a broad consensus, it is not our position to support the amendments on this occasion, as we do not want to create an excuse for the Government to delay the legislation, including during its passage through the Lords.
I understand why my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow tabled her amendment, but she will be aware that the sentencing guidelines allow judges to consider misogyny when sentencing. However, it is obviously not a specific aggravating feature, as race is. We really need the Government to bring in, on a separate occasion, a domestic violence Bill or a victims of abuse Bill, during the deliberations of which these matters could be considered. My hon. Friend would have our full support on that occasion.