Clause 50 - No entitlement to additional recovery period etc

Part of Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 2 November 2021.

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Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 10:00, 2 November 2021

I support the amendment and join the calls for the clause not to stand part of the Bill. I very much echo the comments of the shadow Minister. Like her, and as on previous occasions, I find myself not at all clear why the clause is necessary, and what problem it is driving at. Again, I find myself asking for evidence. I have not seen or heard about an issue with abusive additional trafficking claims sparking extra NRM recovery periods. I recognise that that could absolutely happen in theory, but we need much more by way of evidence before we enact such a clause.

Even though someone might be describing earlier events of trafficking, disclosure of that additional information and trafficking or slavery histories could have all sorts of significant implications for that survivor. It could, for example, mean a break from a controlling partner. It could give rise to other dangers for them or to new trauma. Furthermore, as the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner has noted, survivors can feel more able to disclose their trafficking experiences relating to one particular form of exploitation than another, so forced labour can sometimes be disclosed earlier than sexual exploitation, due to feelings of shame or mistrust.

The fact that if the competent authority considers it appropriate in the circumstances of a particular case another recovery period can be granted is better than nothing, and it is good that that provision is in the clause, but that protection needs to be considerably strengthened to ensure that those who need it will have it. As matters stand, we have no idea how that analysis is going to be undertaken. What if the disclosure of this new information leads to new dangers or new trauma? Surely we would all agree that that should require a new decision and a new recovery period, but there is nothing in the Bill to say that that would definitely happen.

Perhaps the clause should be reversed—the Home Office might want to consider turning the presumption around, so that we assume instead that a new recovery period would be needed unless we are satisfied with a very restricted route for a very restricted range of reasons, and the reasonable grounds decision should not occur. The Home Office needs to explain its thinking here.

Finally, on the issue of trafficking, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham are conducting research on that subject at this very moment in time. I urge the Home Office to wait to see the evidence, rather than jumping in with two feet.