Any attempt to keep a child away from one of its parents without good reason should be classed as domestic abuse, an MP has warned.

Shipley MP Philip Davies said The Domestic Violence Bill must crack down on children being used as weapons in relationships. He wants amendments made to the Bill to include parental alienation – where one parent deliberately alienates the other parents from a child - as a form of domestic abuse.

He said: “I have heard horrific stories affecting parents and children and if we are to save future generations of children from having non-existent relationships with one of their parents, something needs to be done, and my amendment would be a start.

“The definition of domestic abuse should include cases where one parent deliberately denies the other parent contact with their children for no good reason. As far as I am concerned, this is just as abusive as other forms of abuse that are regularly mentioned; it causes significant distress, upset and harm. In some cases, the harm is so bad that it can tragically lead to suicide.”

Mr Davies told MPs charity ManKind is reporting an increase in fathers being denied contact as set out in a court order because of the lockdown despite Government rules saying children can move between both homes.

“There have been media reports of lawyers being inundated by divorced parents arguing over lockdown custody. It is always wrong to use a child as a weapon, but it seems that coronavirus has made things worse on this front, too,” he said.

Mr Davies said the news had “quite rightly” reported about female victims during the pandemic, but ManKind had also reported calls to its helplines since lockdown are 30 per cent higher than normal, and visitors to the ManKind Initiative website are 50 per cent higher.

Mr Davies said: “I hope that any victims of domestic abuse, male or female, will call the police and get in touch with individuals or organisations that can help them in these difficult times.”

Other measures Mr Davies wants the Bill to cover are including false allegations in the definition of domestic violence, in a bid to stop it happening and stop some parents having their reputations and lives “trashed by malicious, vexatious accusations”.

Mr Davies also wants every victim and perpetrator of domestic violence treated equally regardless of gender.

He said: “While there are more recorded female victims of domestic abuse, there are still many male victims, and a further body of evidence shows how their numbers are also likely to be underestimated. They should not be ignored. I really want to reiterate for the record that we need to be very clear that women are not the only victims of domestic violence and that violence against women is not always perpetrated by men either.”