Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Bill Debate

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Department: Home Office

Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Bill

Conor McGinn Excerpts
Committee stage & 3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Committee: 1st sitting & Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons
Tuesday 3rd March 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Act 2020 View all Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 3 March 2020 - large print version - (3 Mar 2020)
Conor McGinn Portrait Conor McGinn (St Helens North) (Lab)
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People in places like St Helens—good, decent, honest, hard-working people—expect us in this place to do what is right by them, to work in the national interest and to do together what is patently obviously right. I think, therefore, that this is a good day for the House, and a day that so many victims across the country will recognise as one on which the Government have played their role, working with the Opposition, in doing something that will alleviate a great deal of the pain and suffering felt by victims in the cases that have been referenced throughout the progress of this Bill through the House.

In the case of my constituent Marie McCourt, that is of course the murder of her daughter Helen, and today is bitter-sweet. She has been a quiet, dignified, but very tenacious champion, and I am sure the Secretary of State, the Minister and their predecessors can attest to the strength of her determination on this, but it is bitter-sweet because the murderer of her daughter has already been released. However, as I said on Second Reading, it is a testament to the character of Marie McCourt that her campaign continued, despite the knowledge that that was likely to happen, so that other families would not have to suffer.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe
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Will my hon. Friend give way?

Conor McGinn Portrait Conor McGinn
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I will, of course.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe
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I say “hon. Friend” because on this issue we have worked closely together. Will he accept my thanks for his leadership on this issue, for working so hard to make sure that this did not fall off the agenda and for making sure that today did actually happen? On behalf of my constituent Linda Jones, Marie McCourt and the others, we are grateful to the House for bringing this forward.

Conor McGinn Portrait Conor McGinn
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I thank the hon. Gentleman very much not just for his words in the Chamber today, but for the co-operation we have had over the last three or four years in continuing to ensure that this agenda was to the fore. I also recognise that officials from the Department have not just delivered on this Bill and spent painstaking hours going through all the legalese required, but have met me and the family over the course of many years.

I pay particular tribute to the Secretary of State and the Minister. They made a promise to the McCourt family, and they kept it. They consistently and continually worked with the family, and they showed a great deal of empathy and support. They did much behind the scenes to ensure that Marie, John, Michael, and all the McCourt family felt sure that this Bill would be passed, as it has been. In Northern Ireland, Charlotte Murray’s family are hoping to change the law there, and in Scotland the family of Suzanne Pilley hope to do the same. This is unfinished business in a legislative sense for the rest of the UK, and we hope that those legislatures will act accordingly.

For 31 years, the community in Billinge has prayed at St Mary’s Catholic church for Helen McCourt and the return of her remains, and those prayers continue. I know that Members across the House send their sympathy and solidarity to Marie McCourt, on a day on which she can rightly take pride, although that, of course, does not return the remains of her beloved Helen.

Question put and agreed to,

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.