Immigration Detention: Brook House Inquiry

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Thursday 11th January 2024

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, it is the turn of the Cross Benches.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Portrait Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (CB)
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Will the noble Lord tell the House how many asylum seekers are now held in detention, in limbo, with their cases unheard by us—or never to be heard by us? Is he at all ashamed that Médecins Sans Frontières is having to look after them?

Windrush Generation

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Tuesday 28th November 2023

(6 months, 4 weeks ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I think it is the turn of the non-affiliated Bench.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, the Minister said that the majority of the recommendations from the lessons learned review had been implemented. Why was the Windrush working group disbanded before all the recommendations had been implemented?

Illegal Migration Bill

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I suggest that Report be adjourned until not before 8.24 pm.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness has suggested that the House adjourn now. We normally have our dinner break around 7.30 pm, I accept that, but I wonder if it would be convenient for the House to continue with the next group, which is a voting group, and then all sides could release their Members.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, we had Agreement with the usual channels. I know the Labour group often wants to break at 7.30 pm. I do not wish to have a dispute at the Dispatch Box but I ask that the noble Lord stick with the agreement that we had earlier and return no later than 8.25 pm.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, if the noble Baroness wants to have the dinner break now, that is fine, but I think we should move a Motion that allows that if the business finishes a bit earlier then the House could come back a bit earlier, rather than a rigid arrangement.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The noble Lord is absolutely right that sometimes the dinner break business finishes a bit earlier, and if it does then I am happy that Report resumes then. But the time given for a Statement is usually 40 minutes, and that is exactly what I am giving for the Statement today. That is in the Standing Orders.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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I entirely accept the point that it is normally 40 minutes. However, if it finishes earlier then we should move a Motion that will allow us to come back a bit earlier, rather than saying “no earlier than”.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I suggest that we have been arguing for two minutes. Can we just do the Statement in the normal way and leave 40 minutes for it?

Consideration on Report adjourned until not before 8.27 pm.

Illegal Migration Bill: Economic Impact Assessment

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Tuesday 27th June 2023

(12 months ago)

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None Portrait Noble Lords
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Too long!

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I remind noble Lords that there are 10 minutes for a UQ. Therefore, if noble Lords kept their comments to a minimum, we could get through more questions.

Lord German Portrait Lord German (LD)
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The Government say that this is an “illustrative analysis”—it certainly provides more illustrations than proper analysis of the costs.

Illegal Migration Bill

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Wednesday 8th March 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Lord Murray of Blidworth Portrait Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con)
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I will deal with that question in parts. First, as to the declaration on the front of the Bill—to which I draw the noble Lord’s attention—he will note that the Secretary of State, Suella Braverman, made a statement under Section 19(1)(b) that:

“I am unable to make a statement that, in my view, the provisions of the Illegal Migration Bill are compatible with the Convention rights, but the Government nevertheless wishes the House to proceed with the Bill.”


As the noble Lord will be aware, when the Labour Government introduced the Human Rights Act, Section 19 provided for a ministerial statement as to compatibility. By way of a Statement, the then Minister in charge of the Bill, Jack Straw, provided that this test should be one of a 50% threshold. The effect is that a Section 19(1)(a) statement is that you are satisfied that the measures are absolutely compliant, and a Section 19(1)(b) statement is that you are less than absolutely sure. Therefore, by placing a declaration of this kind on the front of the Bill, it is not a statement that the Government believe that the measures in it are not compatible; it is clearly the case that there is a strong—in my submission—legal basis for contending that these measures are compatible. However, applying the principles enunciated by Jack Straw following the passage of the Human Rights Act, the Home Secretary has quite properly appended her name to the statement on the front of this Bill. That, I hope, deals with the noble Lord’s first point.

I turn to the noble Lord’s second point, in relation to the UNHCR’s comments yesterday evening—I think the UK representative of the UNHCR made some comments. Plainly, His Majesty’s Government disagree with that analysis. I draw noble Lords’ attention to the passage in the judgment given by the High Court in the Rwanda case, in which submissions were made by counsel on behalf of the UNHRC in relation to its views on the scheme. The court did not say that those submissions were correct. It is clear that this is no infallible statement as to compatibility with international law.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, before noble Lords continue, there are a lot of people wanting to ask questions, so I implore noble Lords to ask short questions that will elicit short answers from the Minister. Let us continue with the noble Lord, Lord Campbell.

Lord Campbell of Pittenweem Portrait Lord Campbell of Pittenweem (LD)
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My Lords, the Minister mentioned the rule of law. Why is it, then, that every time this Government find themselves in difficulty, they seek refuge in illegality? They did so in Part 5 of the markets Bill, they did so in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol, and now we have the admission, to which the Minister has just referred, that the provisions in this Bill may be illegal. Of course, we have to take that together with the opinion expressed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The unwillingness to give certification in the usual form is, in a sense, corroborated by what the UNHCR has said.

Even the title of this Bill is ambiguous. It is called the “Illegal Migration Bill”, but we are not clear yet —it is at least becoming clear to me—that it is not the migration that is illegal but the Bill itself. I finish by repeating a point already made: growing up in politics in this country, I have been told many times that the Conservative Party is the party of law and order. I have stopped believing that this evening.

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Lord Murray of Blidworth Portrait Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord for that question. It is not the case, I am afraid, that the people-smuggling gangs are responsible for piloting the vessels: quite frequently they will delegate the duty of piloting the vessels to other passengers; it is not uniquely the case. This means that it is in fact much harder to penalise the masterminds behind these organisations. Very great efforts are made, but the reality is that there is a massive demand to cross the channel. Lots of people want to come to our country, and when there is that untapped demand, unfortunately, the likelihood is that if one criminal gang is closed down, another will crop up, unless you attack the seat of the problem, which is the demand for illegal migration.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, my noble friend Lord Murray is going to hate me, but I have just had agreement through the usual channels that we will go an extra 10 minutes, given the demand for questions. So we will hear from the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, from my noble friend Lord Balfe and from the Cross Benches.

Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP)
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I am sure the Minister will wish to correct an erroneous statement that he made in responding to the Front-Bench questions. He said there are 100 million refugees in the world. That is not what the Statement says. The figure from which the Statement draws comes, I believe, from the UNHCR: 100 million displaced people in the world, most of whom are in the countries of origin. I am sure the Minister will want to correct that. I am going to pick up on the question of children. Have the Minister or the Government considered what life would be like for a 16 year-old, a 15 year-old or a 17 year-old being held—warehoused—in this country and then, the day they turn 18, being thrown out, even though we know they are a refugee?

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Lord Liddle Portrait Lord Liddle (Lab)
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We have had only one Labour person.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, it is the turn of the Labour Benches, but I hope that if people ask short questions and get short answers, we will get through everyone.

Lord Liddle Portrait Lord Liddle (Lab)
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My Lords, does the Minister accept that we cannot solve this problem by unilateral domestic action alone? We have to have co-operation with European countries that are facing similar problems of asylum and refugees. Does he also accept that this co-operation is going to be very difficult to deliver if we are seen to be unilaterally going against the European Convention on Human Rights? This is fundamental, because it will not only stop co-operation in this area but threaten co-operation in areas such as trade. It is a foundation of the Good Friday agreement and is vital to Britain’s standing in the world.

Children Seeking Asylum: Safeguarding

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Monday 23rd January 2023

(1 year, 5 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I think it is the turn of the Liberal Democrat Benches, then we will be delighted to hear from the noble Lord.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee (LD)
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I thank the noble Baroness. I hope that the Minister will be confirmed in his pursuing of my noble friend’s point about corporate parenting by the chorus of approval that the suggestion received. Sadly, children going missing from care is not a new issue, as the Minister said. What is being learned from the two situations? What information and experience are being swapped, including on identifying the fact that traffickers, criminals and other dodgy people are hanging around outside different establishments hoping to catch a hold of their victims, as I shall call them as well as children?

Metropolitan Police: Misconduct

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Wednesday 19th October 2022

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I think we have a bit of time, so let us hear from my noble friend Lord Hailsham, followed by the noble Lord.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, may I put to my noble friend a model that Parliament has established for other professions, such as doctors and nurses? He will know that when a complaint is made to one of those authorities, it can be very rapidly transmitted to an independent interim appeals body, which can make an interim order of conditions or suspension pending a proper investigation of the complaint. Is that not a model that we should consider? Although I recognise that there would have to be an independent authority to which the initial complaint is made.

Rwanda Asylum Partnership

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Wednesday 19th October 2022

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I think the House wants to hear from the Liberal Democrat Benches.

Lord Purvis of Tweed Portrait Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD)
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I am grateful to the Government Chief Whip. I visited the reception centre in Kigali in June, and I asked about the legal basis of that centre, which is on a private contract on an annual basis that will run out in April. I saw no facilities for people who will be vulnerable or at suicide risk, and I have asked repeatedly in this House about the legal underpinning of the MoU. This House’s International Agreements Committee has today reported to say that it is unacceptable for measures such as this to be under an MoU rather than being under a treaty. Will the Government think again and allow Parliament to vote on, scrutinise and ratify this agreement if they believe that it is sound?

Rwanda Asylum Partnership: Removal of Unaccompanied Children

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Thursday 21st July 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Lister of Burtersett, for securing this debate and all noble Lords who have contributed to it. It is a very important topic and I am very happy to set out the Government’s position. In response to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, I am happy to engage in future debates on this important issue.

Before I come on to discuss the specific points that have been raised, I hope colleagues will allow me to briefly set out some background. Last year, the Government published our New Plan for Immigration, and we have since introduced the Nationality and Borders Act, which is the legislative vehicle through which we will put much of that plan into action. In April this year, we announced the migration and economic development partnership with Rwanda, which is part of a co-ordinated strategy to disincentivise dangerous and unnecessary journeys, such as small boat crossings, to save lives and to increase public confidence in our immigration system. In reply to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, we have many safe and legal routes which allow people to come here safely. The UK and Rwanda have worked closely on the arrangement to ensure adequate safeguards are in place to protect vulnerable people seeking safety, as set out in the memorandum of understanding. There are provisions for a monitoring committee to monitor the end-to-end process.

Turning to the specific topic of today’s debate, I cannot comment on ongoing legal proceedings but our position under the Home Office’s inadmissibility guidance is clear: unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are not suitable for third-country inadmissibility action and as such are not eligible for relocation to Rwanda. The approach to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children is also extended to any individual whose age has been disputed by the Home Office but where that age dispute is ongoing. I hope that answers the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Dubs.

In answer to my noble friend Lord Lilley, as to why we cannot speculate on the reasons why unaccompanied asylum-seeking children might travel to the UK, everyone considered for relocation to Rwanda will be screened and have access to legal advice. This includes individuals who are undergoing a full Merton assessment and those who have legally challenged their assessment. The age of an individual arriving in the UK is normally established from the documents with which they have travelled. However, many who claim to be under the age of 18 do not have any definitive legal documentary evidence to support their claimed age, to answer the question from my noble friend. While many are clearly children, for others it is less clear. It is important that there is an effective decision-making process in place, not least for safeguarding reasons. An incorrect determination could result in an adult being placed with or alongside children. Conversely, if a child is wrongly assessed to be an adult, they may be served with an inadmissibility decision.

This initial age assessment is just the first stage in the broader age-assessment process. Where there is still doubt, the individual will be treated as a child, pending further consideration of their age. The Supreme Court recently and unanimously held that the Home Office’s initial age assessment policy was lawful in the case of BF (Eritrea) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, and that was last year.

The policy contains various safeguards, including that an individual whose age has been disputed may be treated as an adult without further consideration of their age only where two officers, one of at least chief immigration officer grade, have independently assessed them as being over the age of 18, based on their physical appearance and demeanour. There is a large margin of error in the individual’s favour, and that is designed to ensure that only where it is very clear that the person is an adult will they be treated as such.

Where there is less certainty, the policy directs officers to afford the individual the benefit of the doubt and treat them as a child, pending further assessment by a local authority. These measures will collectively serve to further minimise instances of individuals being mistakenly assessed as adults and provide them with an easily accessible route to seek a remedy where error does occur. There are also a number of safeguards in place to ensure that children are not mistakenly removed to Rwanda. Those who are deemed suitable for the inadmissibility procedure go through either a detained or non-detained route following a case-by-case assessment of their suitability for detention. For those who are not detained, where their age has been disputed by the Home Office, they are at liberty to approach a local authority and ask for a holistic age assessment, which takes into account all relevant information and evidence in relation to the young person. These are led by qualified social workers who are trained to work with children, and it is long-established Home Office policy to give significant weight to any decision on age made by a local authority. There has been no use of X-rays in the context of age assessment since the Nationality and Borders Act came into force.

However, where an individual is assessed by a local authority to be an adult, they are at liberty to challenge that decision through the courts. Where an individual is assessed to be suitable for detention, they will be referred through the detention gatekeeper process. This was introduced in June 2016 and works independently of both referring operational teams and detained caseworker teams to ensure that individuals enter immigration detention only where it is for a lawful purpose and is considered to be a proportionate measure on the facts of the case. If the detention gatekeeper is not satisfied that detention is lawful and proportionate, a referral can be rejected, or returned for further information. This process provides an element of independence in the detention decision-making process and protects potentially vulnerable individuals from being detained when it is not appropriate to do so. This would include individuals for whom there are any reasons to have concerns about the reliability of a decision on age.

Another safeguard is the requirement for regular detention reviews. Our published detention guidance sets out prescribed points at which continued detention must be reviewed. If a person who is detained makes representations that detention is unlawful on the basis that they are a child, the officer conducting the review will consider this and a decision on whether to maintain detention or release must be made as promptly as possible. In addition to monthly detention reviews, individuals also have the circumstances around their ongoing detention considered periodically at a case progression panel. These consist of a chair, panel members and panel experts, who review the appropriateness of continuing detention in accordance with the policy and legal framework.

Those subject to inadmissibility procedures will also have access to legal advice. They will be served with a notice of intent which notifies them that they are under consideration for the inadmissibility process and provides them with an opportunity to make any representations as to why they believe the inadmissibility process should not apply to them before a decision is made; this can include any representations about age. They will have the ability to seek legal recourse where they believe they have been wrongly treated as an adult and placed in detention.

Access to independent legal advice and judicial oversight of the process are two of the most important safeguards against the removal of individuals who may have been incorrectly assessed as adults, and the Home Office will of course fully respect the outcome of any successful legal challenge. Where an individual does put in a legal challenge on the basis of their age, we will of course wait for that to conclude.

Finally, we have in place a provision within the migration and economic development partnership to facilitate the return to the UK of an individual where there is sufficient cause. This would include individuals where it is subsequently established that removal was unlawful on any basis.

In terms of further strengthening the system, and on the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, we recognise that there is more to do to make the wider system as robust as possible. The age assessment reforms within the Nationality and Borders Act will improve the accuracy of age assessment outcomes, minimising the risk that a person will be incorrectly treated as either an adult or a child.

I close by thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, for securing the debate—

Baroness Lister of Burtersett Portrait Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab)
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I think we have some time, so before the noble Baroness sits down, I would say that we have identified a gap between theory and practice. The Minister accepts that more work needs to be done but then says that everything will be fine once the Nationality and Borders Act is operational. However, this House rejected the age assessment procedures as taking us backwards rather than forwards. A number of specific questions were asked, which I do not think the Minister has answered. I would be grateful if she could do so subsequently in writing, but could I at least have an assurance, as I asked, that officials will consider seriously the recommendations put forward by the consortium, and that whatever decisions are taken at that meeting are relayed to noble Lords who have spoken in this debate?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I know that this House did not accept the age assessment process, but Parliament did, and eventually this House did not demur on that. I will certainly take back the noble Baroness’s points on the consortium, and I hope that we can make progress in a constructive way. As I say, I look forward to further debates on this issue, because I think it is important that we get it right.

Slavery and Human Trafficking (Definition of Victim) Regulations 2022

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Wednesday 20th July 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

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Moved by
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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That the draft Regulations laid before the House on 23 May be approved.

Relevant document: 5th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (special attention drawn to the instrument)

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, on 4 July the other place voted to affirm these regulations, which support the implementation of Part 5 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 which, as noble Lords will recall, received Royal Assent at the end of April. Section 69 of that Act gives the Secretary of State the power to define the terms “victim of human trafficking” and “victim of modern slavery” for the purposes of Part 5 of the Act.

The definitions of these terms are therefore relevant to the provisions in Part 5 relating to the circumstances in which the Secretary of State must provide assistance and support to identified potential victims under Section 64 and the circumstances in which an identified potential victim may be disqualified from protection if, for example, they are a threat to public order, as set out in Section 63. When these sections use the term “victim”, that refers to the definitions contained in these regulations. As such, the regulations simply ensure that such provisions in Part 5 of the Act can work in practice.

As noble Lords familiar with this area will know, there are already definitions of slavery and trafficking in primary legislation under Section 56 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. However, these definitions relate to the criminal offences in Sections 1 and 2 of that Act, which deal with slavery and human trafficking respectively. What this means in practice is that the 2015 Act definitions require evidence of conduct amounting to a criminal offence, which is not a requirement for the purposes of victim identification, nor a prerequisite to provide support.

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Baroness Butler-Sloss Portrait Baroness Butler-Sloss (CB)
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My Lords, I am not at all sure that I am allowed to speak, and I seek the approval of the House. The reason that I arrived late was that I was having an MRI scan for a bad back. Am I too late to speak?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The noble Baroness is looking at me and I guess I am a bit of a soft touch.

Baroness Butler-Sloss Portrait Baroness Butler-Sloss (CB)
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I am very grateful and it was only because I had a bad fall last week and went for an MRI scan. I took the first taxi back to be here.

What saddens me is that this Government are enormously to be praised for the Modern Slavery Act. It was the work really of the then Prime Minister Theresa May and we should be grateful to her that we have led the way across the world. That makes these regulations very sad.

I went with Romanian police and the Metropolitan Police down the Edgware Road, where a Romanian Roma gang was exploiting 20 or 30 Romanian women, who were begging. It was a fantastic coup by the Metropolitan Police and eight men went to prison, I am glad to say. That was modern slavery, but it is not included here. Begging, debt bondage and benefit fraud—and some others, but particularly those three—are contained as part of modern slavery. This case some years ago was a very typical example of serious modern slavery, but it would not be within these regulations, as far as I can see.

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Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for explaining these regulations. It is probably totally out of order but, if I may, can I commend her for demonstrating selfless integrity by her intervention at the weekend?

I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, for tabling this regret amendment, which we support. We agree with him, the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee and organisations such as CARE—Christian Action, Research and Education—that there should have been formal consultation before the Government came up with the definitions of victim of modern slavery and victim of human trafficking. Without consultation with the anti-trafficking sector, any definition used to determine whether someone is a victim of modern slavery is likely to wrongly exclude victims from the support and protections to which they are entitled.

It was clear from the debates that we had in this House that the whole impetus of the Nationality and Borders Act was to reduce abuse of the national referral mechanism, and it is likely that these definitions are consistent with the Government’s approach in that Act. In fact, when we debated the legislation, my assessment was that all the provisions of Part 5 were about making it more difficult to be recognised as a victim of modern slavery and tightening the restrictions on the support available. In particular, as the noble and learned Baroness has just said, the change to

“significantly impair the person’s ability to protect themselves from being subjected to slavery, servitude or forced or compulsory labour”,

compared with the language in the Modern Slavery Act, which states

“which may make the person more vulnerable”,

appears to be a significant restricting of the definition.

I pay tribute to the honourable Jess Phillips MP for her passionate and detailed critique of these regulations when this draft statutory instrument was considered in Committee in the other place, based on her own experience as a first responder in the NRM process and her subsequent casework as an MP. Many other organisations agree with her that the definitions raise the threshold for identification; set a definition of exploitation that is far too narrow; are not in alignment with international law; do not distinguish between adult and child victims; do not explicitly include criminal exploitation; do not feature “practices similar to slavery”, as detailed within ECAT; and overemphasise arranging or facilitating travel.

Yet again, the Government have taken the cavalier approach of saying they can interpret something—in this case, the European convention against trafficking, ECAT—in whatever way they think fit, when even the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee concludes that the definitions in the SI make the situation even more unclear, the exact opposite of what the Government claim to be doing. I agree with the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, about the enormous progress made by the Modern Slavery Act, significantly improved by this House, but these regulations and the Nationality and Borders Act row back from that progress.

In conclusion, this statutory instrument appears to narrow the definition of who can be recognised as a victim of modern slavery or trafficking and to create confusion rather than clarity, both of which could have been remedied through a formal consultation process, which was not undertaken. We support this regret amendment.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate, both for their contributions and for their continued engagement on what is clearly a very important topic for us all. I join the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, in paying tribute to the right honourable Theresa May for all that she did on modern slavery. I think that, ultimately, we all have the same goal: to ensure that victims of modern slavery are identified and supported.

Before I turn to some specific points raised, I highlight again that in drafting these regulations, our focus has been on achieving alignment with the definitions currently used operationally and set out in the existing statutory guidance for England and Wales and the equivalent non-statutory guidance for Scotland and Northern Ireland. I was most grateful to be able to speak to the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, earlier. One thing that noble Lords quite often do, particularly during the passage of legislation, is request of me that they can see draft regulations before they are brought forward to the House. It is something that was not requested on this occasion, but I would say that, generally, where they are available, I am always happy to share them with noble Lords.

As for some of the other engagement processes that we have undertaken, during the engagement our approach to align the definition with ECAT and the Palermo Protocol was welcomed. We have ensured that this advice is reflected in the draft regulations, which align with ECAT and existing definitions set out in statutory guidance and allow for identification of victims of currently unknown forms of human trafficking or slavery. There has also been a thorough engagement process within the Home Office and with partners such as the police and other first responders, to which noble Lords referred, particularly the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, to thoroughly identify potential risks and ensure that no unintended consequences or impacts arise from the regulations. The cost and time considerations of running a full public consultation following the new plan for immigration consultation therefore outweighed the potential benefits, given the opportunities to engage on the issues relating to the regulations, but I think we can all agree that there is something to be learned from this process.

Noble Lords also mentioned the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. The committee expressed one concern: that the powers conferred by what was then Clause 68(1) gave Ministers unlimited discretion to define the terms, rather than setting out in the Bill that they should reflect the provisions of Article 4 of ECAT and Article 4 of ECHR, as intended.

We have ensured that the definitions reflect those international provisions in their drafting, and the committee did not raise any other concerns that the regulations would not receive sufficient scrutiny. However, we recognise the evolving nature of these types of exploitation, and the Government can commit to keeping the terms of the regulations under review in the light of operational experience in the Home Office. The Nationality and Borders Act will also be subject to post-legislative scrutiny three to five years after Royal Assent. These regulations can be considered in that review.

The noble Lords, Lord Alton and Lord Paddick, talked about the definition of “exploitation” being too narrow and said that the drafting fails to consider the specific circumstances of child victims. It is very important that a range of factors are taken into account when considering whether an individual is a victim of slavery. It does not diminish the consideration of age at all. This way of drafting means that the list is inexhaustive and allows decision-makers to bring in various other conditions or factors relating to the individual’s circumstances, including of course their age. The regulations are compliant with ECAT and we make it clear that they allow for different types of exploitation which emerge over time.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, posited that the definitions are limited and do not include practices similar to trafficking, including debt bondage, forced marriage and certain forms of exploitation, including criminal exploitation. As I have said, the definitions as drafted in the regulations provide scope for various forms of human trafficking and slavery to be identified that are not explicitly defined. This is set out in statutory guidance. For example, criminal exploitation is covered by the definition of either human trafficking or slavery, depending on the precise nature of that exploitation, and will remain as currently defined in the statutory guidance. Regulation 3(6)(d), which includes force, threats or deception to induce the provision of services, would cover child soldiers, given the low threshold at which a child would be deemed to have been forced, threatened or deceived, and exploiting children for illicit activities. In the current statutory guidance, debt bondage is set out as a situational and environmental indicator of modern slavery and will remain as such.

Similarly, the current guidance on adoptions and forced marriage will remain the same. For forced marriage, for instance, this is set out in paragraph 2.65 of the statutory guidance. The Government’s position on illegal adoption is covered in the statutory guidance at paragraphs 2.61 to 2.64. While there are restrictions on arranging adoptions, as set out in Sections 92 and 93 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, whether this will constitute forced or compulsory labour depends on circumstances. The position will remain the same. More broadly, slavery includes many of these practices. Debt bondage, which the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, referred to, and forced marriage mean exercising control over someone in a way that significantly restricts their liberty. The guide is Article 4 of the ECHR, in relation to which slavery is interpreted in the regulations by virtue of Regulation 1(3).

Noble Lords have also raised concerns about the compatibility between these regulations and ECAT. I stress that the definitions set out in the regulations are compliant, as I have just said, with our international obligations, including ECAT, and align with existing operational practices. They will ensure that potential victims are identified and that those involved in identifying victims have very clear parameters on which to rely. They are compliant because, put simply, the activities and forms of exploitation mentioned in ECAT are covered by the draft regulations. Following the approach of ECAT, we have intentionally avoided including reference to all specific forms in recognition, again, of the evolving nature of trafficking and slavery, and so as not to exclude victims of currently unknown forms of exploitation.