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Lords completes final check of Domestic Abuse Bill

25 March 2021

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The Domestic Abuse Bill completed its third reading, a chance for members to make sure the eventual law is effective, workable and without loopholes, in the House of Lords on Wednesday 24 March.

Members discussed one drafting amendment to include the full name of the new law in a clause regarding the monitoring of pepretrators. This amendment was agreed to without a vote.

Members also discussed the progress of the bill through the House at its conclusion of Lords stages.

Lords report stage day four: Wednesday 17 March

Members discussed subjects including the Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy and the investigation of links between online pornography and domestic abuse. Members also asked the government to think again on victim protection under the Istanbul Convention. Members also reached a compromise with the government regarding the recording of crimes motivated by sex or gender.

There were two divisions (votes) on proposed amendments (changes) to the bill.

Istanbul Convention

The first vote was on amendment 87, which ensures all victims of domestic abuse are protected, regardless of their status, in line with the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention.

Members voted 310 in favour and 232 against, so the change was made.

Online pornography

The second vote was on amendment 87A, which demands an investigation into any link between online pornography and domestic abuse, with a view to bring into effect the age verification regime in the Digital Economy Act 2017 as a means of preventing domestic abuse.

Members voted 125 in favour and 242 against, so the change was not made.

Third reading, a chance for members to make sure the eventual law is effective, workable and without loopholes, is scheduled for 24 March.

Report stage day three: Monday 15 March

Members discussed a range of topics and made changes to the bill in relation to migrant victims' personal data and leave to remain, and the registration of serial perpetrators and stalkers.

There were three divisions (votes) on proposed amendments (changes) to the bill.

Data sharing for immigration

The first vote was on amendment 67. It requires the government to ensure that personal data of migrant domestic abuse surviors, which is given for seeking or receiving support and assistance, is not used for immigration control purposes.

Members voted 321 in favour and 262 against, so the change was made.

Leave to remain for migrant victims

The second vote was on amendment 70. It seeks to provide migrant victims of abuse with temporary leave to remain and access to public funds, for a period of no less than six months, so they can access support services while they flee abuse and apply to resolve their immigration status.

Members voted 318 in favour and 269 against, so the change was made.

Registration of serial perpetrators

The final vote was amendment 73. It makes arrangements for serial domestic abuse or stalking perpetrators to be registered on the Violent Offender and Sex Offender Register, and be subjected to supervision, monitoring and management through Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements.

The amendment also requires the government to provide a comprehensive perpetrator strategy for domestic abusers and stalkers within one year of the new law being passed.

Members voted 327 in favour and 232 against, so the change was made.

Report stage day two: Wednesday 10 March

Members voted for four changes to the bill relating to children, survivors and training for judges. 

Child contact centres

This first vote was on amendment 41, which ensures all child contact centres are accredited in accordance with national standards on safeguarding and preventing domestic abuse.

Members voted 311 in favour and 237 against, so the change was made.

Training for judges

The second vote was on amendment 44, which requires the Secretary of State to publish a strategy for providing specialist training for judges and magistrates on matters relating to domestic abuse..

Members voted 286 in favour and 252 against, so the change was made.

Reasonable force

The third vote was on amendment 50, which clarifies the degree of force which is reasonable under self-defence law where the defendant is a survivor of domestic abuse alleged to have used force against their abuser.

Members voted 298 in favour and 241 against, so the change was made.

Survivors who commit an offence

The final vote was on amendment 52, which provides provides a defence where a person is compelled to commit a crime because they live in a situation of domestic abuse.

Members voted 283 in favour and 245 against, so the change was made.

Report stage day one: Monday 8 March

Members discussed a range of topics, including dissolution of Jewish marriages, deliberate damage to the relationship between a child and a parent by the other parent and abuse during pregnancy.

There was one division (vote) on a proposed amendment (change) to the bill.

Carer's relationship

The vote was on amendment 4, which would bring the relationship between a disabled person and their carer within the definition of 'personally connected'.

Members voted 318 in favour and 234 against, so the change was made.

Committee stage day six: Wednesday 6 February

Members discussed subjects including the monitoring of serial and stalking perpetrators, the impact of online pornography on domestic abuse and ensuring guidance meets the needs of male victims and those in same sex relationships.

Committee stage day five: Monday 8 February

Members discussed a range of topics, including recourse to public funds for migrant and BAME victims, polygraph testing for offenders released on licence and controlling or coercive behaviour by counsellors or psychotherapists.

Committee stage day four: Wednesday 3 February

Members considered a range of topics, including preventing a perpetrator from engaging with a victim during family court proceedings, contact with a child for a parent awaiting trial or on bail for domestic abuse offences and confidentiality of refuge addresses

Committee stage day three: Monday 1 February

Members discussed a range of topics, including:

  • disclosure of any immigration information
  • support provided by local authorities to victims of domestic abuse
  • accreditation of child contact centres and organisations that offer facilities or services for child contact.

Committee stage day two: Wednesday 27 January

Members considered a range of amendments relating to the role of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, including:

  • ensuring the Commissioner encourages best use of technology and data in identifying victims of domestic abuse
  • ensuring members of the Commissioner's advisory board includes members with relevant experience with mental health, substance abuse, child welfare, male victims and same-sex relationships
  • police notifications to the Commissioner about investigation of deaths where domestic abuse may be a contributing factor.

Committee stage day one: Monday 25 January

Members discussed a range of topics including:

  • treatment of parental alienation that harms a child's welfare as a form of domestic abuse
  • defining unreasonable prevention of dissolution of a religious Jewish marriage as abusive behaviour
  • inclusion of unborn children as victims of domestic abuse.

Second reading: Tuesday 5 January

Baroness Williams of Trafford (Conservative), Home Office Minister, opened the debate and responded on behalf of the government.

Speakers included a former member of the Pre-legislation Consultative Committee on the Domestic Abuse Bill, a former Home Secretary, a former Women and Equalities Minister, and a former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Read the 21st (PDF) and 28th (PDF) reports from the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee.

Domestic Abuse Bill summary

This bill aims to:

  • create and set out the functions for a Domestic Abuse Commissioner
  • create a new civil preventative order regime - the Domestic Abuse Protection Notice (“DAPN”) and Domestic Abuse Protection Order (“DAPO”)
  • require local authorities in England to support domestic abuse victims and their children in safe accomodation, and give priority to homeless victims
  • prohibit perpetrators of certain offences from cross-examining their victims in court (and vice versa) and give courts the power to appoint a legal representative to conduct the cross-examination on their behalf
  • clarify terms of consent for infliction of harm for sexual gratification and extend jurisdiction in criminal courts to further violent and sexual offences
  • enable offenders to be subject to polygraph testing as a condition of their licence following release from custody
  • places the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure
    Scheme on a statutory footing.

Image: PA