Two years ago Speaker Bercow granted me an ‘urgent question’. This is rare and means that a government minister is summoned to the chamber of the House of Commons to answer a question from an MP.
I had previously met several women who had turned to me for help. They were survivors of domestic abuse and the crimes who committed the abuse were suing for custody of children….get this….from prison!
Why? Because in family court it is still legal for a convicted criminal to self-represent and directly cross examine their victims in court. This is barbaric. Abuse is being carried out under the noses of judges and the police.
So, I joined the campaign on this issue that many other MP’s have been working on. At my ‘UQ’ the minister promised to bring in legislation to finally outlaw it. It was a huge victory and so important was this that my offices in parliament and Hove had to go to battle-stations just to cope with all of the correspondence we were getting from all over the country and a dozen countries around the world.
I was presented with the draft legislation by the minister a few weeks later. But then Theresa May called the election and the legislation fell. Since the election I have asked ministers repeatedly to bring it back, but they haven’t.
The government should feel shame for giving false hope to so many people who suffer unimaginable pain and damage from this. It’s mostly women but I have met several men too.
I am so sorry this is taking longer than it should. I feel really pain because I know these delays are causing vulnerable people to suffer. But please believe me I’m fighting for you and giving you voice in parliament and I will not stop until you get the protection you deserve. Yours, Peter