Baroness Sanderson of Welton debates involving the Ministry of Justice during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 24th Jan 2024
Victims and Prisoners Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage & Committee stage: Minutes of Proceedings
Mon 18th Dec 2023
Wed 10th Mar 2021
Mon 8th Feb 2021
Domestic Abuse Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords

Victims and Prisoners Bill

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Excerpts
Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, I will speak briefly to Amendments 6 and 10, which are designed to ensure that children who have been criminally exploited are seen and treated as victims rather than perpetrators. As has already been discussed, I understand the Government’s desire to keep definitions broad and to resist requests for too much specific detail in the Bill, but there is a case to be made about child criminal exploitation.

First, there is a need for clarity. The Government’s own Serious Violence Strategy says:

“In order to support different agencies and sectors working together it is important we have common definitions of the issues we are tackling”.


Yet on the issue of criminal exploitation, there is no common definition. The definition used in that strategy is the same as that in Working Together to Safeguard Children but differs from the definition in Keeping Children Safe in Education. As a result, different parts of the system are working to different understandings of what constitutes criminal exploitation. They have found the current definitions to be not only different but overly complicated.

As one police officer said in the very helpful briefing from the Children’s Coalition, which has already been mentioned:

“What is applying in Newcastle is totally different to Surrey”


and current definitions

“are too open to interpretation and this breeds an inconsistent approach”,

so we need consistency. We also need a statutory definition for criminal law purposes for, as that police officer also explains:

“We definitely need the definition to do our job. It’s a 21st-century crime we are prosecuting with outdated legislation”.


The Government should be given credit for their focus on the growing threat of serious violence, which often gives rise to criminal exploitation but, if I am honest, it feels a bit odd that they would not see that this might be a useful step. It would not only help those victims having to live with a criminal conviction, making life even harder for them in the long run through no fault of their own; it would also send an important message to the real perpetrators in all of this—the people who take away these children’s lives, forcing them to live constantly on edge and in fear. It is a fear of the people exploiting them but also a fear of the authorities, if their situation is not properly recognised or understood.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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My Lords, I support all the amendments in this group. I am interested in verbal harm because it is true that, as politicians, we get a lot of that. I have had verbal abuse from that Front Bench, in fact, but I am old enough that it has not affected my behaviour.

Amendments 5 and 6 are quite crucial here, as is Amendment 10 on child criminal exploitation. On top of all the important points made by noble Lords here about child victims, I want to ask the Minister about the Government’s role in re-victimising children and young people by deploying them as covert human intelligence sources or child spies. I have raised this issue a few times over the past few years. It is still a practice that absolutely horrifies me—that the Government would actually encourage the further criminalisation of children. In recent years, the Government have actually expanded the use of child spies, including authorising them to commit criminal offences. I do not expect the Minister to answer this this evening, but I would like a full answer, because this is an issue that fills me with horror.

The Government’s actions obviously meet the definition of child criminal exploitation in Amendment 10, as these children are being

“encouraged, expected or required to take part”

in criminal offences by the police. Can the Minister therefore outline what victim support and other help is provided to these child spies when they are being sent back into dangerous criminal situations? Will they be eligible as victims under the victims’ code—I assume they will—and can the Minister give up-to-date figures on how many child spies are currently being used by police forces? I have been consistently told that it is a very small number. In my view, any number is wrong, but if I could have that information, I would be very grateful.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, it is a great pleasure to speak in this debate, and I, too, look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carter of Haslemere. I first began working with the noble Lord at the Home Office. As we all know, the department is a place of many minefields, but when the noble Lord entered the room, there was always a sigh of relief. You knew that with Harry, you were in safe hands. He is a wise man with a profound intellect and great humanity, and I know this House will benefit greatly from his future contributions. He is also a modest man, so he would probably prefer it if I now turned my attention away from him and to the matter in hand.

Like others, I welcome the Bill and the changes made in the other place. There are some areas on which I agree with the domestic abuse commissioner—in particular, the request for a national assessment of the need for and provision of domestic abuse services across the country. The Government have done so much in the Bill to address this at a local level. It makes sense to provide that cohesion and insight at a national level, not least because we still need to understand whether the duty on accommodation-based services in the Domestic Abuse Act, while done with the best of intentions, has inadvertently created a two-tier system within essential community-based services. I also share the Children’s Commissioner’s concerns about the need better to protect those subjected to child criminal exploitation, which has been mentioned already, and the need for specialist advocates for child victims of the most serious crimes.

I will focus my remarks on the role of the independent public advocate, which, I am afraid, does not go far enough if the position is to achieve what the Government say they want it to achieve. Fundamentally, as the Government have made clear, the IPA is there to ensure that the victims of major disasters do not encounter the difficulties and injustices that others have encountered, such as the Hillsborough families and the bereaved and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire.

In terms of offering support and signposting through an overwhelming, inevitably complex system, the IPA will do just that. It will help with the difficulties, particularly now that we will have a standing advocate—a change to the original proposal which is to be applauded. However, what it will not be able to help with are the “injustices” mentioned by the Government. The victims of such incidents do not want just hand holding, important as that may be; they want to know the how and the why of what happened to them, and are acutely aware that these answers are not always easy to come by. That is why the IPA must have the powers of a data controller and the ability to compel public authorities to provide information.

The Government have said that if the IPA conducts its own investigations, this could complicate the landscape of other formal proceedings such as potential investigations, statutory inquiries and inquests. I take the point, but the Government have also said that the standing advocate will advise the Government on victims’ treatment by public authorities in response to major incidents and that it could also advise on the most appropriate form of government review following an incident. Is it not therefore sensible for the IPA to have the ability to request the information and evidence necessary to inform that advice, as well as to assuage the concerns of the people the advocate is there to represent?

Having worked with many groups affected by various disasters—I declare my interests as set out in the register—I know that they share a distinct trait: a complete lack of trust in government and those in authority. It is hardly surprising, given the history: the doctored witness statements of Hillsborough, the unanswered safety concerns of Grenfell residents, the sub-postmasters who were told that they were the only ones encountering problems with the Horizon IT system; I could go on. At the heart of every tragedy lies an institution intent on protecting itself, and while the Government are making great strides in the efforts to change this culture, it would be naive to think it does not still exist. Certainly, to those caught up in such scandals, it is their working assumption.

If we are to give people true equality of arms in the form of a standing advocate to represent them and be their voice, that advocate must have the power to truly act on their behalf by having the ability to break down the barriers that people will quite reasonably suspect are being put in their way. You may say that that is the job of a public inquiry or panel—certainly, that is the case in all the instances I have just mentioned—but what about other disasters, perhaps smaller in scale but no less devastating for those involved? What about disasters which merit the involvement of the advocate but do not meet the bar of a statutory inquiry? What happens to those families? How do they get the answers they need?

Moreover—and this is key—the independent public advocate has the potential to play a powerful role not just by providing practical help but by initiating the delicate process of building trust between victims and the state where no such trust exists. It can do this only by having the power to hold public authorities to account. I am afraid that I am going to disagree with my noble and learned friend the Minister: I do not think the Hillsborough charter will be enough in this instance.

I defer to the noble Lord, Lord Wills, who has done so much in this area, but in the light of the conversations I have had, without this power there is a feeling that the lessons have not been learned from the tragedies that have gone before. Instead, there is only the frustration that other people will face the same battles and endure similar injustices, and the independent public advocate will not have the support of the groups the Government say have done so much in helping to inform the parameters of this position. To that end, I hope that my noble and learned friend the Minister will look at this again, or at least provide the flexibility in the Bill for such a power to be added at a later stage, should it become clear that it is necessary—as I think it will—once the IPA has begun its work.

I have one more question—forgive me if this is covered in this afternoon’s statement—regarding the infected blood scandal. The new government amendment is most welcome but, rather proving my point about the lack of trust, campaigners are still concerned about the timing of the new judge-led body to administer the compensation scheme. There is a commitment for it to be established within three months of the passing of the Act, and the amendment includes the need for a small advisory board made up of potentially eligible persons and their representatives. Make no mistake, this is undoubtedly a good thing, but such boards are not always straightforward to set up. Can my noble and learned friend the Minister confirm that the need to begin conversations about this now has been relayed to the Lady Chief Justice, so that no further delays are inadvertently added into the mix?

Independent Public Advocate

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Excerpts
Thursday 2nd March 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Lord Bellamy Portrait Lord Bellamy (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for those questions. It is not at present envisaged that a person will be permanently appointed as the independent public advocate and always there on the off-chance that a disaster happens. What is envisaged is that there should be a permanent secretariat, which I think would have to be provided by the Ministry of Justice. When a disaster happens, that secretariat would become engaged, make immediate contact with the families, the emergency services and everybody else involved in those tragic and difficult events, and very quickly—I really do mean very quickly—make a recommendation to the Secretary of State to appoint an independent public advocate.

Such a person would be appointed and, from that point onwards, would take over the job of making sure that the victims and their families are fully supported in the areas of mental health and other problems, and are prepared properly for inquests and so on. The gap that is identified at the moment—of who is looking after the victims, the families and the bereaved—would be filled by that function. Details need to be fleshed out, but that is the broad scope as envisaged, subject to further discussion.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, I too welcome this announcement and the Government’s willingness to have ongoing discussions to shape this. Can my noble and learned friend the Minister reconfirm that families, survivors and victims—those with first-hand experience who have not had a chance to feed into this process since the 2018 consultation—will be given a voice? As we have talked about, their voice needs to be heard now so that we can shape this correctly. Secondly, there is an assumption that there may be an inquiry. There might not always be an inquiry; it might just be that the independent public advocate and panel help people through said disaster. As part of the ongoing discussions, can we make sure that the question of whether they have the power to compel evidence will be raised? That was a big problem with Hillsborough. If there is not to be an inquiry, that may be an important part of their role.

Lord Bellamy Portrait Lord Bellamy (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for those questions. I can confirm that the families will be involved in the discussion and creation of this new office. The question of the powers of the independent public advocate, particularly to compel the production of documents and so forth, also needs further discussion and elaboration.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Excerpts
Wednesday 21st April 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
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My Lords, I am pleased to follow the noble Lord, Lord Russell, who I have had the pleasure of working with on different areas of the Bill. He is very wise.

Let me congratulate the Government on reaching this important moment, as the Bill will soon finally become law. I pay tribute to so many people who have made this happen, in particular my noble friend Lady Williams, who as the Minister has dealt with such sensitive and important issues in a sensitive and caring manner. In fact, she seems to have been surgically attached to the Dispatch Box for months. I will always be grateful to my noble friend for her help and advice on the specific areas that are of concern to me in relation to children and the importance of the provision for community-based services. Let me also pay tribute to Claire Stewart of Barnardo’s for her help and professionalism.

As we have been told, we are in the middle of National Stalking Awareness Week and I was pleased to see the video message from the right honourable Robert Buckland, the Lord Chancellor, which has been mentioned. He said in that video:

“Our job is to raise awareness of this wicked crime, to increase support for victims”


and address the perpetrators. As the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, said, he ended by saying:

“We need to call it out. We need to stamp it out. We need to do all we can to deal with the menace of stalking in our society.”


The Lord Chancellor is right and the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, the noble Lord, Lord Russell, and the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, make strong arguments that I will not repeat.

I have had discussions with my noble friend Lady Newlove, who is unable to be in the Chamber. She asked me to convey the following message: “Sadly, the Government voted for Amendment 42 to be quashed out of the Bill. I am ashamed. Why? Because, despite many conversations through the usual channels, MAPPA category 3 will still have so many gaps it resembles a string vest. The response from the Government of proposing more guidance is not worth the paper it is written on. Treating those families whose loved ones have been needlessly taken with lack of respect and dignity—the Government is proposing more guidance—has not worked over the years. What is it going to take in order for Government to stop this pattern of behaviour in order to protect innocent lives taken by the hands of offenders of coercive controlling and stalking? Government rhetoric serves only to shamefully value human life after the horse has bolted and to protect those accountable by these two insensitive words ‘lessons learned’, instead of saying ‘enough is enough’.”

We can all understand my noble friend’s frustration. While it is clear that Nicole Jacobs supports the principle of this amendment, she also understands that ViSOR and MAPPA are overloaded systems. I seek the Minister’s help. We are all on the same side and we all know where we want to reach. As the Lord Chancellor said about stalking, we all want to call it out and we all want to stamp it out.

I noted the welcome announcement in the Minister’s speech about the upgrading of ViSOR and MAPPA. On the one hand we are told that putting stalkers on to a register is problematic but, on the other, we are told that putting them on to a register can save lives. Can the Minister persuade me why I should not vote for this amendment?

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, I understand the strength of feeling on this issue. I completely agree on the need to do more to stop serial offenders. Too often in the worst cases we discover that the perpetrator has had a long and shocking history of previous abuse. I am not clear about how a register or, effectively, a new category under MAPPA would improve the situation.

Members in this House and in the other place have said that new guidance is not enough to deal with the problem. I can understand why there might be some scepticism on that front. The truth is that this comes down to better guidance, proper training and more effective information sharing about the worst offenders.

Throughout the passage of the Bill, we have heard distressing details of what some of those offenders have done. But the fact remains that the vast majority were already covered by current MAPPA categories. Merely shifting their names into a new category or on to a new register will not change matters. If anything, it could make the situation even more difficult, for this is not straightforward. Working through the finer details of this so-called super-database as to exactly who will be on it and for how long they will remain there will take time, which we have all agreed we do not have. How do we avoid ending up with something so unwieldy that it inhibits the process of tracking and managing these people?

While I understand why a new category or database might seem appealing, I genuinely believe that in practice it will not deliver what we want. Surely it is better to focus our energies on improving the system that we have. We all agree that it is not working as it should, but the Government are investing in improvements to the ViSOR database that will enable better risk assessment and information sharing. I really believe that this, together with the new guidance and frameworks which have already been promised, will be more effective in dealing with the very real problem before us.

Baroness Burt of Solihull Portrait Baroness Burt of Solihull (LD)
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My Lords, we have had some immensely knowledgeable, cogent and passionate contributions tonight, particularly from the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, and my noble friend Lady Brinton.

Several noble Lords have referred to National Stalking Awareness Week and, like others, I was greatly heartened to hear the Secretary of State, Robert Buckland, say that he would do what he could to address this issue. He has campaigned for years on stalking so, as the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, said: why vote against the amendment considering what would be achieved by it?

There is a well-known saying—I am not the only one who can trot out the old things—which is, “Do what you’ve always done, and you’ll get what you’ve always got.” In 2012, the stalking law inquiry report recommended exactly what this amendment, retabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, would do. Since 2012, the Government have insisted time after time that the implementation of the rules is the issue, not making recording mandatory. Victoria Atkins said last week:

“The real issue … is not the statutory framework but how it is applied”.—[Official Report, Commons, 15/4/21; col. 522.]

In this case, doing “what you’ve always done” has not even got us to where we used to get, as the harrowing figures given to us have demonstrated. Clearly, from the testimonies of the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, my noble friend Lady Brinton and others, what we have now is worse than ever. From a pre-pandemic level of about two women being murdered per week, that number has more than doubled—with 16 since the Report stage of this Bill. You can be sure that all the gradations of fear, pain and misery proportionately cascaded all the way down the line. Why will the Government not be brave enough to do something different with the changes contained in these amendments?

We know that the danger comes with an escalation from minor offences to major ones. Stalkers can be helped, but, without a co-ordinated effort to identify them at an early stage, the real danger they pose may come too late. The Government’s alternative is not strong enough, although I acknowledge they are trying hard to do something with their own amendment and that is greatly appreciated.

We have heard many harrowing testimonies over the course of these amendments. No one in your Lordships’ House wants to have to hear the sickening details of another one—no “DVAOA”, as the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, said—no “déjà vu all over again”. While I welcome the government amendments, including MAPPS as opposed to MAPPA, my party and I are fully behind the amendment put by the noble Baroness, Lady Royall. We will support her if she sees fit to push it to a vote.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Excerpts
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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My Lords, having listened to other speeches from noble Lords, I realise that the comments that I have prepared are far too mild. I was just going to congratulate everyone who has campaigned and fought for proper provision and thank the Government for working constructively. It is not often that I find myself on the mild end of things. I think that there is now a clear understanding of the need for community services, including supporting survivors of domestic abuse in their own homes. I feel strongly that the abusers should have to leave and not the survivors. The Green group is very supportive of Amendment 85 from the noble Lord, Lord Rosser. I am sure that we will come back to it at another time in another place. In the meantime, well done everyone.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, it is an honour to follow the noble Baroness and her mild comments. I will speak to and welcome Amendments 17, 24 and 28. As we have said many times before, this was already a very good Bill. I thank the Government and particularly my noble friend Lady Williams for the lengths to which she has gone to improve it further. She has been unstinting in her determination to address many of the outstanding issues, always putting the victims’ needs first. With these amendments, I believe that the Government have addressed the potential unintended consequences of a two-tier system.

The Government are wary of specifying what the independent commissioner should and should not report on, and I agree with them. The Minister has also made the point that the commissioner is already undertaking the relevant mapping exercise. None the less, Amendment 17 sends a signal about the importance of community-based services. Together with the requirement for local authorities to assess the impact of the duty under Part 4 and the further requirement, via Amendment 28, for local partnership boards to advise on other local authority support, I believe that this provides a robust and, importantly, ongoing mechanism and structure for ensuring that community-based services are not adversely affected by the duty.

I welcome the Government’s commitment to consult on the provision of community-based services and congratulate my noble friend Lord Polak on all the work that he has done in this area. I also welcome the amazing number of charities and stakeholders that have welcomed these amendments. As I have said before, I understand why the Government cannot extend the duty in this Bill. On this issue and so many others, they have come forward with significant changes. They have moved where they can and altered their position in areas where we thought that they would not.

I realise that I am still relatively new to this House. I also realise that no Bill will ever be perfect and that noble Lords will fight for the changes that they think are right, but this Bill has cross-party support, and for very good reason. It will create a genuine step change in the way we tackle domestic abuse. It has already raised so much awareness. Someone who works on the front line said to me on seeing the raft of government amendments:

“You should see the amazing survivor messages I’m seeing this morning. I’m quite emotional seeing their excitement. We feel the tide is turning.”


The tide is turning but, as we all know, we have only a limited period to get this Bill through. I believe it is now up to us to bid it safe passage.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall) (Lab)
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I call the noble Baroness, Lady Watkins of Tavistock. No? Perhaps we should hear from the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, since she is with us.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 8th February 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

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Baroness Redfern Portrait Baroness Redfern (Con) [V]
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My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Lords and to listen to their powerful and compelling speeches. I am pleased to speak to Amendment 149. It is vital that post-separation abuse is recognised within this Domestic Abuse Bill, as the controlling and coercive behaviour offence only recognises victims who live with an abuser or who are in an intimate relationship with them. That cannot be right. Leaving a controlling relationship is very dangerous, as many survivors know. It is too easy to assume that once a victim has left their abuser, that abuse stops. In too many cases it is just the opposite and economic abuse is rarely used in isolation, as victims still suffer from other forms of abuse, which forces them to abide by their abusers with unreasonable demands placed on them. All the while, they desperately want to keep themselves and their children safe.

As one victim said, it is like an invisible chain: it goes on and on. That is because their abuser does not even have to know where their victim is. As a result, it puts them at an even greater risk of homicide during this period. The resulting outcome is that it prevents a victim from moving on with their lives. They feel that they can never be free. This new clause would ensure that those victims who were previously personally connected are protected from any coercive or controlling behaviour occurring post separation. This is a one-step opportunity within this Domestic Abuse Bill to change the law and save lives.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 149. It took us a long time to recognise coercive control, but now that we have, we have come a long way very quickly. The term “coercive control” has entered our vernacular; as mentioned in an earlier debate, “The Archers” centred a major story line on it, as did “Coronation Street”. That might sound trivial, but it is not, because with each storyline, society’s understanding grows and what was once considered acceptable is not any longer.

The Government should be proud of the part they have played in reaching this point. When Theresa May introduced the offence of coercive and controlling behaviour in 2015, England and Wales became the first countries in the world to recognise and criminalise this behaviour. With the Bill we are leading the world again by including economic abuse in the first legal definition of domestic abuse. Again, we are ahead of the curve.

When the Government launched consultation on the Bill in March 2018, LBC ran a phone-in discussing economic abuse. A woman called in. She had been suffering from emotional abuse and was also suffering from financial abuse without knowing it was a recognised behaviour. After listening to the show, the woman admitted she was now considering leaving her husband, saying: “I’ve always hidden it: ‘It’s all me; it’s all me.’ Now I realise it’s not all me. I’ve been going through this for quite some time, but I didn’t realise this was an issue”. This is just one example but it shows the very real impact of this Bill and how it is already forging that better understanding and, in so doing, providing better protection for victims—but it can provide better protection for many more victims if it accepts this amendment to include post-separation abuse in controlling and coercive behaviour rather than relying on stalking legislation in which it does not fit easily as a stand-alone offence.

I appreciate that my noble friend has said that we must wait for the outcome of the Home Office review and that this will be published by Report. I sincerely hope the findings will in fact cover this issue for, if we do not address this, we will be letting down all those victims, who we know exist and who continue to suffer even when they have summoned up the courage to leave their abusive partner. If we do that, I am afraid we will have renounced our leading role in this area.

Baroness Burt of Solihull Portrait Baroness Burt of Solihull (LD)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Lister of Burtersett, and other noble Lords for bringing Amendment 149, and to Surviving Economic Abuse. I support both Amendments 149 and 157 and am particularly keen to support Amendment 149 on post-separation economic control.

In an earlier discussion, we had the debate about universal credit and other benefits and the need to ensure the victim can have the financial wherewithal to leave the abuser by making split payments the default position. I hope the Government will be kindlier disposed towards this amendment, which covers a whole aspect of abuse not yet covered in UK law.

As we have heard, the crime of domestic abuse as set out in the Serious Crime Act 2015 does not cover post-separation abuse. Amendment 149 rectifies this. I do not need to add further to the examples that have already been given by other noble Lords, such as the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, to make the point of how serious and all-pervasive to the life of the victim this can be.

A number of noble Lords have mentioned the amendment to tackle post-separation abuse that was tabled in Committee in the Commons. The Minister, Alex Chalk, acknowledged that the charity Surviving Economic Abuse had done an “important public service” in raising the issue. However, the amendment was withdrawn in Committee due to assurances regarding an ongoing government review into controlling or coercive behaviour, as mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister. We still await the review. It is now promised before Report, and I hope this Minister will not use the same reason for not allowing this amendment. Even better, we would love to see the Government bring their own amendment on Report.

We really need this. One Crown Court judge estimated that without something of this nature, the legislation would be missing 50% or 60% of the people who need to be protected. This is a great Bill, but it will still fail victims—even after they have summoned the courage to escape and even when they thought they had finally got their lives back—if we do not tackle this vitally important group.

Amendment 157 was ably introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, and I have added my name to it. It tackles coercive and controlling behaviour by a relative, whether or not they reside with the victim. As the noble Lord has said, only 25% do. The definition still applies, even if they are no longer in an intimate relationship but still reside together. The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, raised the issue of forced marriage, and the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, mentioned other members of the girl’s or woman’s family who do not toe the family line and the way that their life can be poisoned as a result. This amendment therefore widens the definition of controlling and coercive behaviour to ensure that these relationships are still defined as domestic abuse and can be prosecuted as such. I hope that the Government give it favourable consideration.

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This is an Irish protocol that we should warmly welcome and aspire to emulate at the earliest opportunity—which is to say, in this Bill, now.
Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, I too will speak to Amendment 162, although, by this stage in the evening, the arguments have already been made. It is not necessary for me to outline the damage that is done by threats to share intimate images or how distressing it is for victims. Anyway, the Government recognise the problem, which is why they have asked the Law Commission to conduct a review.

I understand why the Government wish to wait for the outcome of that review, but we already know that these threats are carried out largely in the context of domestic abuse, which seems to make this Bill the appropriate legislative vehicle. So that leaves us with a conundrum. I appreciate the difficulty, so simply ask my noble friend the Minister how the Government intend to address this issue, in a timely way, if they cannot consider this amendment at this moment in time.

Lord Alderdice Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Alderdice) (LD)
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The noble Baronesses, Lady Newlove and Lady Jones, have withdrawn, so I call the next speaker, the noble Baroness, Lady Bertin.