Amendment 81

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill - Committee (4th Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 16th September 2020.

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Photo of Lord Randall of Uxbridge Lord Randall of Uxbridge Conservative 5:30 pm, 16th September 2020

My Lords, I first repeat my interest in the register as a vice-chairman of trustees of the Human Trafficking Foundation. I support Amendment 81 and commend the noble Lord, Lord Morrow, on bringing it forward and on his work on anti-trafficking and modern slavery, as we have heard. I think I read somewhere that it was hearing of the plight of a Romanian woman that set the noble Lord out on this admirable path. Similarly, every time I meet victims or survivors, it just makes me want to do more to help their lot; I believe that is not an uncommon experience. I also commend the noble Lords, Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown and Lord Alton of Liverpool, and my noble friend Lord McColl of Dulwich on their speeches. I particularly congratulate my noble friend Lord McColl and commend his excellent Private Member’s Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill, which we have heard about. I hope the Government can find time for his Bill or, even better, absorb it into a government Bill.

I am delighted to support Amendment 81, as it is an opportunity to raise again how different the position of EEA nationals will be after 1 January 2021 and to clarify Her Majesty’s Government’s position. In this context, as freedom of movement is replaced with a points-based system, the Government rather unfortunately and naively assert that

“we remain committed to protecting individuals from modern slavery and exploitation by criminal traffickers and unscrupulous employers”— a noble thing to say. But the Government must explain what actions they will take to give expression to this commitment and thereby ensure that the ending of free movement and the consequential change in immigration status for confirmed victims of modern slavery who are EEA nationals does not lead to increased exploitation. I hope the Government can state clearly that there will be an automatic consideration of discretionary leave to remain for EEA nationals who are confirmed victims of modern slavery.

Sadly, despite our taking back control of our borders and the excellent work of our law enforcement agencies, there will still be good numbers of poor unfortunates trafficked and forced into modern slavery. This amendment asks Her Majesty’s Government only for an assessment of the impact. Perhaps my noble friend might like to consider that William Wilberforce lived for a time in Uxbridge. I am sure that the current MP for that place, my home town, will be keen to ensure that this Government do not ignore the potential for improving the lot of the victims of modern slavery. Let us at least ensure that they will not be forced back to face their traffickers and suffer the same fate again.