A Government minister has refused to confirm a new Domestic Abuse Bill would ban the cross-examination of victims by alleged perpetrators – which had been proposed before Parliament was suspended.
Home Office minister for safeguarding, Victoria Atkins, would not comment on whether key provisions made in the original proposal would remain when any fresh Bill is brought back to the House of Commons for consideration by MPs.
Plans for new legislation to protect domestic abuse victims are expected to be re-introduced in the new parliamentary session after the Queen’s speech, the Prime Minister said.
The Domestic Abuse Bill was among those brought to a halt when Boris Johnson decided to prorogue Parliament.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Atkins said: “All Bills in those early stages fall at prorogation, but I am delighted that the Prime Minister and Home Secretary have, pretty unusually, confirmed that the Bill will be in the Queen’s Speech.
“At this point in time, I am at the limit of time in terms of what I can say about what is in the Queen’s Speech.”
Ms Atkins added that she would be able to provide more detail “in a few weeks time”.
Her comments come as the Government announced the appointment of Nicole Jacobs as its first domestic abuse commissioner.
Ms Jacobs is taking on the post after being the chief executive of charity Standing Together Against Domestic Violence.
Ms Atkins said: “The appointment shows the determination of this Government to tackle domestic abuse.”
Pressed on what Ms Jacobs will be able to achieve in the part-time role, Ms Atkins said she was experienced in the area, having worked for domestic abuse charities for two decades, adding: “The fact that a commissioner has been appointed, I hope, will give charities some comfort.”
Her job will be to “stand up for victims and survivors, raise public awareness and hold both agencies and government to account in tackling domestic abuse”, she said.
Ms Jacobs said: “I intend to raise the voices of victims and survivors of all ages, status and background and ensure that we shine a light on practice that fails them.”
She told the BBC she was “relieved” the Prime Minister has pledged to re-introduce a new law on the issue.
The independent Office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner will be made a statutory body and publish reports on its findings.
The number of domestic violence killings has hit a five-year high, figures obtained by the BBC this month showed.