The Nationality and Borders Bill, reflecting many of the policies set out in the New Plan for Immigration, is being heralded by the Government as ‘fair but firm’. However, whilst measures in the Bill are intended to take a ‘firm’ approach on immigration and prevent abuse of the asylum system, they are not at all ‘fair’ for victims of modern slavery.
In particular, Clauses 63 and 64 do not provide the comprehensive reforms on support and leave to remain proposed under Lord McColl and Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP’s Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill.
At Committee Stage of the Bill, Labour MPs tabled amendments based on the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill. A new amendment being debated this week at Report Stage on Wednesday 8th December is also based on the Bill.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith has tabled amendment NC47, which will replace clause 64 to provide a much fairer system for victims who have been identified by the Government as being victims of modern slavery.
NC47 would provide new long-term statutory support for victims in England and Wales. It would also provide leave to remain for all confirmed victims in the UK for at least 12 months to receive support, assist police with their enquiries, or seek compensation.
As the Bill stands:
It’s not fair that the Bill’s statutory support for victims in England and Wales ends when it is confirmed they are a victim.
It’s not fair to make changes to the current discretionary leave to remain criteria which will make it stricter and narrower.
It’s not fair that confirmed victims do not currently receive the long-term support which evidence has shown is crucial to enable them to begin to rebuild their lives following exploitation.
NC47 would be fair for victims; providing confirmed victims with much needed longer-term support to help them recover, ensure they are not re-trafficked, and provide them with stability and security to enable them to engage with the criminal justice system to bring their perpetrators to justice.
NC47 would be firm on perpetrators; by providing certainty and security, victims could engage with police and prosecutors so that in the longer term, perpetrators could be dealt with firmly. The current conviction rate is very low, so it is in the Government’s interest to ensure that traffickers are brought to justice.
Notably, the Nationality and Borders Bill is being considered at the same time as the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill is going through the House of Lords. The Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill had its First Reading in the House of Lords on Monday 29th November.
This demonstrates a continued and doubled emphasis on the urgent need to provide 12 months of statutory support and leave to remain for confirmed victims of modern slavery.
The Free for Good Campaign is calling for MPs support NC47 which would provide fair long-term support and leave to remain for victims of modern slavery to act firmly against perpetrators.