All Liz Twist contributions to the Domestic Abuse Act 2021

Mon 6th July 2020
Domestic Abuse Bill
Commons Chamber

Report stage
Report stage: House of Commons
Report stage
Home Office
3 interactions (157 words)

Domestic Abuse Bill Debate

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Department: Home Office
Legislation Page: Domestic Abuse Act 2021

Domestic Abuse Bill

(Report stage)
Liz Twist Excerpts
Monday 6th July 2020

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Home Office
Chris Clarkson Portrait Chris Clarkson (Heywood and Middleton) (Con)
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I would like to start by saying this is a good Bill. I would particularly like to add my support to new clause 20, and I pay tribute to my hon. Friends the Members for Newbury (Laura Farris) and for Wyre Forest (Mark Garnier) and to the Mother of the House, the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman), for their work on this. I would also like to pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Nickie Aiken) for her work on new clause 15, which I think achieves a great deal of good.

I will briefly touch on new clauses 22, 25 and 26. I welcome the Government’s long-standing commitment to support all domestic abuse survivors, including migrants, and they should always be treated as victims, regardless of their immigration status. The introduction of the destitution domestic violence concession and the domestic violence indefinite leave to remain scheme in 2012 were important steps in supporting migrant women who are victims of domestic abuse. It is important to note that obtaining these visas means that those affected have set up their lives in the UK with the expectation of obtaining indefinite leave to remain here. Already, this concession permits them to receive welfare payments, support and safe accommodation, and the scheme enables them to apply for the indefinite leave to remain that they would have had had they not been victims of domestic abuse.

The concession and the scheme are not available to people who enter the country on other visas, such as visitor, student or work visas, or to those here illegally. As we have heard, this is because, to obtain such visas, they will have already confirmed that they are financially independent and therefore require no recourse to public funds and, as such, their stay will be for a defined time. They do not therefore have a legitimate expectation of securing indefinite leave to remain.

I welcome the fact that the Government have pledged £1.5 million towards a pilot later this year, which will be used to assess the level of need for migrant victims of domestic abuse and to inform decisions. I join my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May) in hoping that this will identify the gaps in the current support available.

At this point, I was going to talk about amendments 40 to 43, but, as I understand from the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Jess Phillips) that they will not be brought forward, I will not labour that point as time is short. None the less, I would like to put on the record how welcome are the appointment of Nicole Jacobs as the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and the establishment of her independent office, which rightly holds the Government to account to ensure that all areas are working better to protect victims. I have the utmost confidence that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will listen to her sage advice.

Abuse can come in myriad forms—not just physical control or coercion, but financial and mental. Having listened to my right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes), it is clear that we also have to consider the new forms that abuse can take as technology and society develop. I welcome the fact that the commissioner will be required to have specific focus on victims from minority groups, and I hope that she will include the LGBT+ community, who experience disproportionately high levels of domestic abuse and distinct barriers in accessing support.

Finally, I would like to thank the Ministers and Members from both sides of the House for all their work on this truly historic Bill, which puts the determination to protect victims and their families at the very heart of our law.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab)
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6 Jul 2020, 12:05 a.m.

It is a pleasure to take part in this debate.

Children are victims of domestic abuse, not just witnesses. In March I held a Westminster Hall debate on this very issue, and that was the start of a series of conversations thereafter. At the conclusion of that debate, I said to the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Louth and Horncastle (Victoria Atkins), who is no longer in her place, that I would like her to go away and “grapple some more” with a resolution to include children in the Bill, so today I am really pleased to see new clause 15, which will indeed include children in the definition of domestic abuse. This has had such widespread support from charities and organisations across the children’s sector and the violence against women and girls sector, which have come together to assure us that they are united in believing that children should be included.

New clause 15, on recognising and seeing children as victims of domestic abuse, will lead to a greater understanding that children experience domestic abuse too, and will hopefully lead service providers to ensure that children get the services they need. I thank the Minister for her work on this measure, but the amendment on its own is not enough. We know that children affected by domestic abuse can recover, and lead happy and healthy childhoods, but they need the right support and they need it at the right time. New clause 15 recognises children as victims and helps local authorities to recognise the importance of ensuring that child victims have access to support. However, it will not help local authorities to deliver the support services in question.