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UK domestic abuse legislation to be brought forward 'before Easter'

By Lewis McKenzie, PA Parliamentary Reporter

The Government has pledged to bring forward legislation to help protect victims of domestic abuse "before Easter".

Labour MP Christian Matheson (City of Chester) had asked when the Domestic Abuse Bill would be brought forward.

The Bill sets out provisions to establish a Domestic Abuse Commissioner and would prohibit cross-examination in person during family proceedings in certain circumstances.

Mr Matheson said: "Since 2010, the Conservatives have cut over a third of all funding to local authorities' domestic and sexual violence services.

"I have constituents coming to see me who are in shelters for months or even years because the facilities aren't there.

"So when are they (the Government) going to bring forward the Domestic Abuse Bill which has cross-party support so that we can give justice to these victims?"

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland confirmed that the legislation would be progressed in the coming months.

"(Mr Matheson) will be glad to know that we intend to bring the Bill forward very soon, indeed well before Easter, so that we can debate it," said Mr Buckland.

"He makes a point about local government services, he will have no doubt welcomed the local government settlement announcement that was made yesterday (Monday).

"And from his own experience of local authorities, and indeed my local authority, choices can be made to offer direct assistance, for example with women's shelters and refuges.

"Decisions on non-domestic rates can also help the funding of those services and important decision were made in the way in which homelessness and housing support was given to make sure that the interests of those centres were put first and foremost because they're not just shelters, they're places of rehabilitation and support as well."