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Borders Bill would ‘tear up Modern Slavery Act’, Govt warned

Human Trafficking
23 November 2021
Holly Lynch MP

Immigration proposals currently making their way through Westminster would ‘effectively tear up the Modern Slavery Act’ letting down victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, the government has heard.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Holly Lynch MP, Labour’s Shadow Crime Reduction Minister, warned the UK Government that aspects of its Nationality and Borders Bill would seriously undermine the societal response to exploitation. She said:

“Perpetrators of modern slaver are committing heinous crimes and must be brought to justice. With that in mind, I wonder if government ministers have read the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s recent article entitled ‘The rushed borders bill will fail victims of modern slavery’?

“Will the government urgently act to address the failings in the Nationality and Borders Bill before it effectively tears up the modern slavery act, letting down victims and letting perpetrators get away with their crimes?”

The government minister responded:

“I can assure The Honourable Lady that I meet with the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, and she plays a very important role in informing the government's policy and I can assure her that the borders bill is going to strengthen the government's response and support for the victims of modern slavery.”

In an article for The Times earlier this month, The UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Dame Sara Thornton warned that certain provisions in the Nationality and Borders Bill could prevent victims receiving proper support.

The Commissioner criticised various aspects of the bill including Clause 51, which aims to disqualify potential victims of modern slavery who have a criminal record from state protection. Dame Sara said this sends a message that some victims are more deserving of support than others.

She added: “We are quite rightly proud of our Modern Slavery Act which was genuinely ground-breaking in 2015. Let’s not rush through legislation which could undermine both the identification of victims and the prosecution of offenders – both key features of that act.”

Our latest briefing on the Nationality and Borders Bill details our precise concerns.

Read the briefing here

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