Mark Fletcher – 2020 Speech on the Domestic Abuse Bill

Below is the text of the speech made by Mark Fletcher, the Conservative MP for Bolsover, in the House of Commons on 28 April 2020.

I start by paying tribute to the maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Hyndburn (Sara Britcliffe). She is a friend, a formidable colleague and today she is a history-maker. I thought she gave a wonderful speech.

I strongly welcome this Bill and I add my words of tribute to those from Members from all parts of the House for those who have helped get us to this stage. It is, regrettably, a timely Bill. Many Members have touched on the current situation, and I echo the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire Dales (Miss Dines) about the importance of Members of Parliament speaking to their local police force and ensuring that we are dealing with the issue on the ground, as it happens. Her comments were well placed, and I join our weekly calls with Derbyshire police to make sure that they are taking the issue as seriously as we are.

The symbolism of the Bill and the importance of that symbolism was beautifully summarised by my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Laura Farris) in a fantastic speech. It is incredibly important that we hear male voices adding their support for the Bill, because this is not a women’s issue, but a societal issue, and it is vital that male voices make themselves heard, saying, “This must not go on.” The Bill is a wonderful starting point. There have been many suggestions for what should be added to make it stronger, but the symbolism of it is this House at its finest.​
My hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) made a wonderful speech earlier and stole almost all the suggestions that I was going to make. As he got there first, all I will say is that I strongly support what he said about the impact on children.

Very sadly, I grew up in a household where we encountered incidents of domestic violence. Let me say that it casts a lifelong shadow on those children who are affected. Behind closed doors, many things go on. There are many secrets. Those doors do not have to be those of people who are lower class, middle class or upper class; they do not have to be of members of one socioeconomic group or one minority characteristic or another. Those doors do not discriminate. There are secrets behind them.

I echo the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes), who touched on the impact of domestic abuse in the LGBT community. That is an incredibly important consideration.

Unfortunately, I had a step-dad who reigned with physical terror. I regret that I remember the difficulties we had when he became violent, when he decided, one day, to come home and beat my mum to a point where she needed strong support, and when he came upstairs and blamed me—an 11-year-old kid—and used words that I would not repeat in Parliament ever. Those are things that shape you. Those are things that, unfortunately, you can never forget.

I do not remember particularly well the period afterwards of economic manipulation in which he took, or tried to take, control of the family’s money, but I do remember the visit of the psychiatric nurse to help my mum. I remember her shame—her shame—for nothing that she had done, her shame at not being able to tell the authorities, when she denied it to the police and when I was lying to my school. I remember that shame. That is something that nobody should have to go through. If there is anything that we should take away from this Bill, and this fantastic session of Parliament today in which we have heard so many brilliant contributions, it is a very simple message: this must end.