Amendment 76

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords am 6:30 pm ar 23 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport) 6:30, 23 Ebrill 2024

My Lords, it is really a pleasure to respond to this group from these Benches, because there is real progress. It is important to record thanks to everybody who has made this progress happen. I very much welcome the clarification that the Minister has made in Amendment 76. The noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, is quite right, though, that this is a first step. Indeed, today a useful brief was sent to me and possibly other noble Lords from the Bar Council, which makes the point that the issue of non-disclosure agreements is ripe for legislative change. The Bar Council welcomes the Government’s intention to implement legislative reform and recognises that some NDAs are abusive in nature. NDAs cannot cover criminal acts, and under existing common-law protections many are already unenforceable, but those who are asked to sign them are not always aware of the relevant legal principles. When you have the Bar Council and everybody else on your side, you know that this is an important first step.

On the Government’s amendments, I welcome Amendment 85, as the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, welcomed it. I thank the Minister and his team for listening and for bringing forward this amendment, which was aired in Committee very powerfully indeed by the noble Baronesses, Lady Watkins and Lady Newlove. Then, of course, there is a suite of amendments in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Bertin. I was very pleased to be able to support these in Committee. These Benches are absolutely in favour of them; they have the support of the whole House. I know from the very long time ago when I was a Minister how much work goes into getting to this place. I congratulate the noble Baroness and say how much we are in favour of these amendments.

The noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, is absolutely right to be disappointed about the Government not accepting Amendments 87A and 88A. It is probably clear that we have not come to the end of this. The noble Baroness is quite right in nodding to say, “We have definitely not come to the end of this discussion about what needs to happen to support victims with requests for dealing with digital and other information, and providing the right kind of safeguards for them”.

The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, is right, and she has our Benches’ support for her amendment. If there were to be a Division on this then it would be next week. Between now and then we need to look at what the Minister has said to see if we can push him a bit further than he has gone, and then maybe we could avoid that, but the noble Baroness needs to know that she has these Benches’ support, and probably that of the Liberal Democrats, if we need to take the issue further. All in all, we have made great progress.