Examination of Witness

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:29 am on 29th October 2019.

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Photo of Luke Graham Luke Graham Conservative, Ochil and South Perthshire 9:29 am, 29th October 2019

Q It does. I appreciate that. I have one final question, if the Chair does not mind. Unfortunately, in an area such as this, your role is so worthy and so wanted throughout the United Kingdom. I do not want to put you in a political hotspot with our constitution, whether it is Brexit or other movements where the UK can become a bit of an issue. However, I have a big concern. In my constituency I have Clackmannanshire, which has the highest instance per head of domestic abuse in Scotland. It is as much of a postcode lottery in Scotland as it is in other parts of the United Kingdom.

To be devolved does not mean to be separate. You come from a country with a federal system; the point about eminent domain still rests within this UK Parliament, as the sovereign Parliament. I do not see this as an either/or model. I would be very keen for a role such as yours to have a UK-wide remit, following a similar model to the Office for Veterans’ Affairs that was recently launched, which connects devolved and reserved matters and guarantees guidelines and standards throughout the United Kingdom, which I think is exceptionally important.

Do you foresee any problems? The Bill is quite specific about Wales. Paragraphs (c) to (g) of clause 6(2) talk about

“undertaking or supporting (financially or otherwise) the carrying out of research; providing information, education or training…to increase public awareness…consulting public authorities…co-operating with, or working…with, public authorities, voluntary organisations and other persons”.

At the moment, the Bill talks about

“co-operating with, or working jointly with, public authorities, voluntary organisations and other persons, whether in England and Wales or outside the United Kingdom.”

I find it bizarre that we are creating a Bill that says, “We want you to co-operate with England and Wales and other countries outside the UK, but not the two other constituent parts of the United Kingdom.” Do you foresee any problems for us in trying to extend your role in just paragraphs (c) to (g)—which currently apply to Wales—to Scotland and Northern Ireland? Obviously we might have to stagger that for Northern Ireland because we have no Assembly just now, but do you foresee any problems with extending your role for guidelines, consultation and research, so you can complete the mapping exercise and make sure that the service is provided to all citizens of the United Kingdom, rather than just two constituent parts of it? I will take away the political side for a minute—that is our job—but from a practical point of view, so long as you got a budget uplift to match, do you foresee any problems in your role being extended to Scotland and Northern Ireland?