Domestic abuse legislation will fall for the second time in two months as a result of next month’s general election.
The Early Parliamentary General Election Bill, which sets an election on 12 December, was expected to receive royal assent as the Gazette went to press. All bills that have failed to achieve royal assent by the time parliament is dissolved on Wednesday will fall.
This includes the Domestic Abuse Bill, which fell on 10 September, when parliament was unlawfully prorogued, but was reintroduced in the Queen’s speech on 14 October.
The bill was being considered by a public bill committee, which was due to report to the House of Commons by 21 November. However, parliament’s website states that ‘due to the imminent dissolution of this parliament and the forthcoming general election, the bill will not progress any further and the public bill committee will no longer meet’.
Law Society president Simon Davis said: ‘Whoever the next government may be, we hope they will bring forward measures to prevent cross-examination by alleged abusers in the family courts. Not only does this form of cross-examination repeat the trauma for the victims, but it also allows the perpetrator to use the court process to perpetuate the abuse.’
Giles Peaker, a partner in the housing department at Anthony Gold, was due to give evidence last week to the committee on housing law issues and domestic abuse, but the session was cancelled.
Peaker told the Gazette: ‘It is very sad to see the Domestic Abuse Bill fall. At the very least there will be substantial delay before it is brought back again. While I think that the bill did not adequately address the housing issues arising from domestic abuse, there was the possibility of amending it to do so. Now all involved and affected will have to wait and see.’
Also at a standstill are the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which introduces provisions for no-fault divorce, and the Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure Bill), another stepping stone in the government’s £1bn courts reform programme.