Clause 49 - Identified potential victims of slavery or human trafficking: recovery period

Part of Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 2 November 2021.

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Photo of Craig Whittaker Craig Whittaker Assistant Whip, The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury 9:45, 2 November 2021

I thank both hon. Members for their contributions. Let me see if I can answer some of their questions. Basically, there is no need to amend clause 49 to provide a 45-day recovery period as that is already provided for in guidance. The guidance is the statutory guidance under section 49 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, where victims will still receive a 45-day recovery period unless disqualifications apply.

The hon. Member for Halifax is right when she quotes our obligations under the Council of Europe convention on action against trafficking in human beings, which require us to provide a 30-day recovery period or, as the legislation states, until

“the conclusive grounds decision is made.”

In 2020, the average time for conclusive grounds decisions was actually 339 days. That long period stems from pressures on the system, which we are working to reduce through our transformation project, to ensure that victims get certainty much more quickly. This period is notably much longer than the 45 days that the hon. Member is proposing.

With regard to how that impacts on devolved pilots, as set out in the new plan for immigration, the Government are also piloting new ways of identifying child victims of modern slavery that will enable decisions to be taken within existing safeguarding structures by local authorities, the police and health workers. This approach will enable decisions about whether a child is a victim of modern slavery to be made by those involved in their care and ensure that decisions made are closely aligned with the provision of local needs-based support and any law enforcement response. The Government will continue to monitor the consequences of this measure and whether it will reduce further flexibility around decision making.

On that basis, I ask the hon. Lady to withdraw the amendment and to support the clause as drafted.