MP introduces Bill to protect and enhance refuge provision for women fleeing domestic violence

Lewes Lib Dem MP Norman Baker has introduced a Bill into Parliament in the light of grave concerns he has about the provision of refuges for women, and the commissioning practices being adopted by local authorities.

The Bill passed its First Reading unopposed, and is scheduled for its next stage on Friday 6 March, but unlikely to make any further progress, given the imminence of the General Election.

Norman says:I have visited my local refuge, as well as others around the country when I was Home Office minister, and recognise the essential nature of this provision. It is vital that we do not see cuts to this area of local government responsibility and my Bill would guarantee a minimum level of provision and also rule out unhelpful council commissioning practices, such as excluding women from outside the immediate area, when the immediate area is often the last place women fleeing violence want to end up.”

  • Transcript to Norman’s introduction to the Bill can be found

  •  A copy of the Bill can be found:

Letter to the Argus from Norman Baker MP and Catherine Bearder MEP regarding the recent comments by Cllr Donna Edmunds

Dear Editor,

This week UKIP MEP hopeful and Lewes councillor, Donna Edmunds, came out to say business owners should have the right to turn away customers if they choose – based on arbitrary factors such as gender or sexuality.

Views like these have absolutely no place in the 21st century and I am disgusted to hear someone standing to represent Britain in Europe speak in such anachronistic and abhorrent terms.

The UK prides itself on its tolerance and, although Ms Edmunds defends her argument as ‘libertarian’, we have to ask ourselves whether we want someone with such an underlying sexist and homophobic agenda anywhere near the decision making process.

Electing someone as outdated as this could prove a massive step back for our society.

Hearing about the racist slurs at UKIP’s spring conference last weekend, it is clear this party still has a long way to go to ensure it adequately represents the views of the majority of Britons. They campaign on a one-issue platform but they also clearly harbour a whole range of other very dangerous views.

We now have less than three months to stop this nasty party from gaining ground at the Euro elections. Liberal Democrats, as the party of IN, will be leading the fight against Ukip by standing up for an open and tolerant society, values the EU clearly enshrines.


Norman Baker MP and Catherine Bearder MEP

New rules for paternity leave welcomed by Norman Baker

Local MP Norman Baker has welcomed Nick Clegg’s announcement that parental leave can now be shared between mothers and fathers at minimal extra cost to business.

The old-fashioned assumption is that women will always be the parent that stays at home – many fathers want that option too. That is why from April 2015 the coalition government is introducing shared parental leave to allow couples to split the existing 52 weeks of maternity leave, making a joint decision that ensures all career options remain open to women after pregnancy.

Employers can gain from a system which allows them to keep talented women in the workforce and have more motivated and productive staff. This new system will also give us a great opportunity to make our workforce even more flexible, help working families and boost economic growth.

The changes, which were proposed in the 2010 Lib Dem manifesto, give women greater freedom in pursuing their goals and will hopefully reduce the feeling that they have to choose between having a successful career and having a baby. They should be supported by their employers, rather than being made to feel less employable or under pressure to take unchallenging jobs.

It is already illegal to sack a woman because she is pregnant or on maternity leave. This new ruling creates a fairer society that gives parents the flexibility to choose how they share care for their child in the first year after birth.

The proposals for shared parental leave and flexible working are included in the Children and Families Bill 2013 which is currently going through Parliament. The details will be set out in regulations.

Norman says:

“I am pleased to see this big step towards parental equality. Allowing both parents to share the 52 weeks of leave stops the current situation in which businesses can lose a valued female employee for an entire year, now, at no extra costs to business, the time can be divided between the mother and father.

“As a father myself I really appreciate the time I had with my daughter in the first year of her life. I feel the early connection invites a stronger relationship between parents and their children and both mothers and fathers should be entitled to this.”