The transcript for a Parliamentary debate exploring the creation of an automatic suspension in law of a parent’s rights in relation to their children if they are found guilty of murdering the other parent, is now available to read.

The House of Commons debate on 12th September took place following the publication of an e-petition, which asked the government to create an automatic suspension in law of a parent’s rights in relation to their children, if they are found guilty of murdering the other parent. Under current government rules a petition which gathers more than 100,000 signatures must be debated in Parliament.

The discussion is very much worth reading, as it offers some interesting and nuanced ideas on how to put a suspension into place, including putting the onus on the convicted parent of showing that his or her parental responsibility (PR) should not be terminated.

Members of Parliament also suggested that a suspension should be an option in cases of domestic violence, including this comment from Kerry McCarthy who said, “Far too many parents have to keep in contact with their abusers for their children’s sake. I say “for their children’s sake”, but that is based on a default presumption that it must always be in the child’s interest for the parent in prison [for domestic violence] to retain contact, and quite often that presumption is wrong.”

The petition was created by Edwin John Robert Duggan and collected more than 129,000 signatures.

Duggan is a law graduate and a close friend of Jade Ward,  a 27-year-old mother-of-four, who was murdered by her estranged husband at her home on August 25, 2021. Russell Marsh was found guilty of murdering Jade this year and received a life sentence. However, he is still legally allowed to receive updates on the children, ask for school reports, and have a say in his children’s upbringing while serving his sentence in prison. Duggan has called the legal proposal “Jade’s Law”.

The government failed to respond to the petition within the accepted timeframe and to address the request directly. These failures were criticised by Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP, in a letter to the Ministry of Justice.

You can read the transcript of the debate here.

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