LETTER:Help for victims of domestic violence

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From Ms Diana Maddock, MP

Sir: You reported today that the Family Homes and Domestic Violence Bill may be dropped by the Lord Chancellor ("Cabinet backs down on violence Bill", 27 October).

If this happens then it will be difficult ever to take the Government seriously again on the issue of domestic violence. There is no question of the Bill being ill thought-out or hasty, unlike much of the legislation presented to Parliament by the Government in recent years. It is the result of long and detailed consideration by a Special Public Bill Committee in the House of Lords, and many of the proposals came originally from the Law Commission's 1992 report on domestic violence.

The Bill is not about the undermining of marriage. It is about streamlining the way in which cases of domestic violence are dealt with by the courts. Among the Bill's effects will be to make it easier for women to get injunctions with the power of arrest attached.

The Bill represents a genuine cross-party attempt to help victims of domestic violence to get fair treatment. It has had the support of both the Liberal Democrats and Labour thus far and should continue to do so. Abandoning it would show not only that the right-wing tail is wagging the Tory dog, but that tackling domestic violence is so low on the Government's list of priorities that it can be sacrificed as a concession to a few backbench mavericks. It would not only be morally wrong but quite unnecessary, as the Government clearly faces no problems getting majority support for it.

Yours faithfully,

Diana Maddock

MP for Christchurch (Lib Dem)

House of Commons

London, SW1

27 October