It is always very encouraging when a group of MPs set out to promote an important theme within Parliament and particularly for them to work with a team that is not restricted to party politics. Tomorrow a debate is due to take place in Westminster Hall which is not the main premise for debates but it is an opportunity for groups of MPs to hold a publicly released debates. Those of us who are keen about this theme can hope that in due course that other MPs will endorse this theme and perhaps eventually there will be a more significant debate and policies will be created. A couple of weeks ago a Labour MP from the London constituency of Poplar and Limehouse set out two Early Day Motion documents that are both focused on a very clear similar theme. The MP who has set these out is Apsana Begum and the two documents she has entitled are “Domestic Abuse and public life” and “Domestic Abuse and workplaces”. With one exception so far, the same MPs have endorsed both of these documents. There are 22 additional MPs who have endorsed both of them and one MP who has only endorsed the public life document. In order for EDM documents to become approved they require five additional MPs to sign them initially and here in Sussex, Caroline Lucas from Brighton Pavilion was one of the MPs who endorsed both of the documents. Another three MPs endorsed both of the documents at the beginning. They are Chris Stephens who is an SNP MP from Glasgow South West, Kate Osborne Labour MP from Jarrow near Newcastle Upon Tyne and a Conservative MP Kate Kniverton from Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire. The significant aspect of this is not just that she is currently the only Conservative MP who has signed these documents, but also that she has never endorsed any other EDM documents previously. She was elected in December 2019 and there have been a total of 3,540 EDMs in that time so these are clearly two very important documents based on her view.
Along with the other MPs so far, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the Brighton Kemptown MP has signed both of these documents. Here in Sussex we have several MPs who have never signed any EDM’s but it would be reasonable for them to do so on this subject. The Government Ministers are the only MPs who are not able to sign EDMs so eight of our 16 MPs cannot do so but along with Lucas and Russell-Moyle there are six other Sussex MPs that could do so. Two of these that have not signed EDMs previously are Sally-Ann Hart from Hastings and Rye and Caroline Ansell from Eastbourne. However, they have both spoken about Domestic Abuse in the past. Earlier this year Hart was speaking in March at a “Public Bill Committee: Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill: Examination of Witnesses” and she included
“Clearly, consumers also need to be aware of security threats both within the context of domestic abuse and otherwise. Should the Government be giving guidance to consumers?”
Back in March 2020 Ansell spoke during the International Women’s Day session and she included “Domestic abuse in all its forms is a devastating crime that leaves people living in fear.” It would clearly be very disturbing if neither of them won’t sign the two EDMs given these comments in the past, even though they have never signed EDMs previously. The other local MPs who are not Ministers have signed EDM’s in the past and two of them have also spoken about Domestic Abuse previously. The two that have not done so currently are Peter Bottomley from Worthing West and Henry Smith from Crawley.
The debate that is due to take place tomorrow at 4pm in Westminster and it would be likely that Lucas and Russell-Moyle will participate in the discussion. Let us hope that others including some of the Ministers will also take part. Along with these documents there are a number of other MPs who in the past have raised the theme of Domestic Abuse in questions and discussions. Just over a month ago an MP called Jonathan Ashworth wrote out a question on the subject of “Domestic Abuse: Victim Support Schemes” and his question was responded by Mims Davies who is a Minister and is the MP for Mid Sussex. She opened the response with the words “Tackling domestic abuse is a priority for this Government.” Another Minister who has spoken several times is Gillian Keegan from Chichester. Several years ago she stated “Domestic abuse is an act of brutality often hidden in plain sight, and it affects one in four women and one in six men across this country.” Perhaps one of them will participate in the debate tomorrow?