Last week (21 October) during debates on the Immigration and Social Security Coordination Bill Lord McColl informed the House of Lords that the Government had agreed to meet with him and his Bill’s co-sponsor Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP to discuss their Bill.
The previous week the House of Lords had voted in favour of an amendment brought by Lord McColl to grant confirmed victims of modern slavery from EU countries 12 months leave to remain in the UK if they met certain criteria. Although the Government opposed the amendment it was passed by the House of Lords but was later rejected by the House of Commons.
In asking the Commons to reject the amendment the Government offered a compromise: to change the process for the current grants of discretionary leave so that victims from EU countries will be automatically considered for discretionary leave in the same way that victims from other countries are, instead of having to make a special application.
Although this compromise is welcome, Lord McColl had said when he proposed his amendment that
“broader reform of the immigration status of all confirmed victims of trafficking is needed alongside statutory assistance and support for all confirmed victims, including UK nationals….I will continue to advocate for my Bill as the longer-term solution for all victims of modern slavery”
After prompting from Sir Iain Duncan Smith in the Commons, the Government agreed to a further concession – to meet with Lord McColl and Sir Iain Duncan Smith about the issues raised by their Bill.
This is a step forward for the Bill which has been waiting to be debated since January. Victims’ need for longer term support has now been placed firmly back on the Government’s agenda.