Following the successful introduction of a Ten Minute Rule Bill by Kevin Hollinrake MP in the House of Commons last month, campaigners from Missing People, alongside families of missing loved ones have welcomed the news that they may soon have the right to safeguard the legal and financial rights of their loved one whilst missing.
Current data protection law prevents even close family members from dealing with a missing loved one’s finances while they are missing. This can cause untold distress to those left behind who are already struggling with the emotional trauma of their loved one disappearing.
If the Guardianship Bill, (also known as “Claudia’s Law” in recognition of the campaigning of Peter Lawrence, father of missing Claudia), successfully gets through its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 3rd February, it will bring over 2,500 UK families one step closer to gaining the legal authority to protect their missing loved ones’ affairs.
The campaign is backed by many families who have personally faced these barriers to looking after their missing loved ones’ legal and financial affairs, including Eddie Hodges. Friday’s reading will take place exactly one year since Eddie’s son, Carl, was reported missing.
Eddie Hodges said: “For a whole year now, our family has been in pieces, not knowing where Carl is or whether he is safe. On top of this, we’ve been forced to contest with banks, councils, estate agents, car insurance companies; all of whom refuse to speak to us as we are not the account holders. I even struggled to pay for Carl’s parking fine without extensive assistance from the police. It is very upsetting and unnecessary.”
“We never lose hope that Carl will return, and we desperately want his life, his car, his home, to still be here when he does.”
Susannah Drury, Director of Services and Advocacy at Missing People said: “It’s fantastic “that Missing People’s campaign for guardianship powers has gathered pace and is moving ever closer to what we hope will be a positive conclusion for families whose loved ones are missing.
“Eddie’s son Carl was reported missing nearly a year after the government first announced their commitment to introducing guardianship. To be hearing the second reading of the Guardianship Bill a full year on from when Carl went missing is a poignant reminder of how many families have suffered as result of this lack of legislation in that time.”
Although rare for any Ten Minute Rule Bill to successfully become an Act of Parliament, the charity and those championing the Bill inside and outside of Westminster, remain optimistic about its progression. To date, guardianship has received no opposition, and gained cross party support in from both MPs and members of the House of Lords. Guardianship legislation has also been backed by the British Banker’s Association and the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
Paul Smee, Director General of The Council of Mortgage Lenders, said: “Mortgage lenders are too often prevented from making pragmatic arrangements in the customer’s absence because of confidentiality rules and legal obligations. Guardianship has the potential to help ensure that customer interests can be kept at the heart of financial firms’ actions, even in the most challenging situations.”