'There will be many long nights and many amendments, and it will be our duty to bring them forward.'
Watch Arise Trustee Lord Alton at the House of Lords Second Reading debate on the Nationality and Borders Bill, 5 January 2022. The Bill creates 'a fertile environment for those responsible for trafficking and enslavement.'
My third concern – and I declare an interest as a Trustee of the charity, Arise –is about Part 5 of the Bill and its impact on combatting modern slavery.
15 NGOs have called on the Government to remove Part 5 from the Bill. Others, including the Independent Ant-Slavery Commissioner, ECPAT, the Children’s Society, senior police officers and prosecutors have also expressed alarm that these new provisions will create a fertile environment for those responsible for trafficking and enslavement.
Issues concerning Modern Slavery should not have been put in a Bill primarily about immigration – a point reenforced by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee report on modern slavery.
The Minister will have read the speech of Sir Ian Duncan Smith and the intervention of Teresa May – the architect of this world class legislation.
Teresa May told the Commons: “If we are to stop modern slavery, we must ensure that we catch the perpetrators, which requires victims to be able to come forward with evidence.” She identified that the public order disqualification threshold and the time period on slavery and trafficking information notices will have that effect. Does the Minister agree?
Sir Iain did not press his amendment but said we might well do so and asked the Government to offer progress to avoid that. Perhaps the Minister will tell us how he intends to address that.
Beyond amendments on citizenship fees, Hong Kong and modern slavery, the Bill presents a host of other contentious and contested issues.
This House cannot simply give the green light to a Bill which has been found to be defective by our Joint Committee on Human Rights and the UNHCR warning that this Bill “would deny recognised refugees the rights that are guaranteed to them under the Refugees Convention and International law
We have a duty to diligently scrutinise and amend this legislation.