|Mon 11th March 2019||
Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill [Lords]
3rd reading: House of Commons
Report stage: House of Commons
|6 interactions (1,762 words)|
Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill [Lords] DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Lucy FrazerMain Page: Lucy Frazer (Conservative) - South East Cambridgeshire)
Department Debates - View all Lucy Frazer's debates with the Ministry of Justice
Legislation Debates - View all Lucy Frazer's contributions to the Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2019
(1 year, 4 months ago)Commons Chamber
That is the very next point I was going to make, so I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. I have said it twice already but I shall say it a third time: I am proud of the work that the Department for International Development does. It is a Department that is often hammered by our newspapers, but it does really important work. The £35 million that it has already spent has changed lives and saved lives, and if the £50 million that has been committed is spent properly—I am sure it will be—it will go on to save lives as well.
I mentioned Nimco’s work; I do not want to embarrass her, but I know that the amount of money that it took to get her to Somaliland to do the work that she did was so small as to barely qualify as a DFID grant. I know that the work of Jaha, whom I mentioned earlier, in the Gambia has cost so little that it would only just register or qualify as a DFID grant. There are so many people like that out there who could do with the kind of support that DFID can provide.
My hon. and learned Friend the Minister provided lots of reassurances when she spoke in Committee about what the Government are doing and how committed they are to tackling FGM. I do not know whether protocol means she will have the opportunity to repeat those reassurances later—
I see her nodding her head, so she will. I look forward to that.
If this tiny, uncontentious Bill protects just a handful of girls from undergoing the horror of FGM, we will have done something worth while and important in passing it into law. I close my speech simply by thanking all Members present for their support, which I hope the Bill will get at the end of the day. I particularly thank the Clerks, the Whips Office and the Ministry of Justice Bill team, who have been so helpful in getting us to this point. Finally, I thank Lord Berkeley again for winning the arguments next door and handing us a Bill in such good order.
Break in Debate
I rise briefly to support this excellent Bill and to make two very simple points.
First, as many hon. Members have said, there is no excuse—be it cultural, religious or medical—for any of the practices that are labelled under the broad-brush bracket of female genital mutilation. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately) said, these are often things that are done to young girls by those who love them most. There is an enormous challenge in that, because we should not claim that the people who do this do not love their own children, but they are committing acts of child abuse.
I hope that this law sends out a very clear message that, in this country and hopefully in many others that will follow the lead set by my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith), FGM is not an acceptable practice in the 21st century, and nor should we have allowed it to persist for as long as it has. That is a profoundly important cultural point in a landscape where there is no cultural excuse for a practice that many have quite rightly described as barbaric. I know that this point is not within the Minister’s purview at the Ministry of Justice, but I hope that we can tackle this aspect of FGM in the strongest possible terms, as part of this Government’s and other Governments’ good work on FGM; we need to address an issue that goes beyond simply the legally prosecutable, into a wider set of complex international and cultural dynamics on which we have a duty to lead the way.
My second point is only just within the scope of the Bill, and that is to say that we could have addressed this issue some time earlier were it not for the arcane procedures of this House. It shames us all that this issue had to be taken on in this way. I know that the Minister has stepped into the breach with great enthusiasm because, as both sides of the House have agreed, it is absolutely the right thing for this Government to be doing, but it is not right that the procedures of this House allow us to be in this position. When times are perhaps a little calmer and we are not starting statements at 10 o’clock at night, rather than finishing the business then, I hope that we may be able to address that issue because doing so will allow us not only to deal with such matters with greater speed, but to take on many other issues. I hope that this Parliament can be just as modern as this Government have been in getting with the 21st century.