Skip to main content

Illegal Migration Bill

Volume 730: debated on Monday 20 March 2023

8. What recent assessment she has made of the potential impact of the Illegal Migration Bill on levels of (a) modern slavery and (b) sex trafficking. (904165)

Let me be clear: the UK Government are committed to tackling the heinous crime of modern slavery and to supporting victims. We continue to invest in the police to support them to improve the support they offer victims, and to drive up prosecutions. A total of £16.5 million has been provided by the Home Office since 2016, including £1.4 million last year for the modern slavery and organised crime unit.

First, my thoughts and prayers are with my constituents the Gentle family, who lost their son Gordon during the Iraq war. We should remember all those military families who lost loved ones during that conflict.

Is the Salvation Army correct when it points out that detaining trafficking victims as they arrive and then removing them will simply deliver vulnerable people back into the hands of the criminal gangs that exploited them in the first place, and that that does nothing to break the cycle of exploitation but only further fuels the profits of these criminal gangs?

No, the hon. Gentleman is wrong. The Illegal Migration Bill makes it clear that we want to break the cycle of the human traffickers. We will do that by carefully considering cases and returning those people who can be returned to their home country, where it is safe to do so. In cases such as Albania, we have worked closely with the Government to put in place the procedures necessary to ensure that those people are carefully looked after and not at risk of re-trafficking. If that is not the case, they will be taken to a safe third country such as Rwanda where, once again, their needs will be looked after.

Just to correct the Minister, it was not the hon. Member for Glasgow South West (Chris Stephens) who made that criticism, but the Salvation Army, which the Home Office employs as its main contractor on trafficking.

I asked the Prime Minister this, and I got no answer, so I am trying again. When I worked on a Home Office contract, I met many women and children who had been brought here illegally to be repeatedly raped as sex slaves. The Prime Minister tweeted that such victims would be denied access to support from our modern slavery system—a tweet that will be an absolute delight to traffickers. How will we help to prevent a woman who is brought here illegally from being repeatedly raped if she is denied access to our modern slavery system?

The hon. Lady and I agree that we want to do everything we can to support the victims of human trafficking, but we disagree on how we do that. She is content for people to be brought across the channel in small boats at the behest of human traffickers. We want to break that cycle once and for all, and we believe that that is the fair and the moral thing to do. Today, a majority of the cases being considered for modern slavery are people who are coming into the country—for example, on small boats. We are seeing flagrant abuse, which is making it impossible for us to deal appropriately with the genuine victims, to the point that 71% of foreign national offenders in the detained estate, whom we are trying to remove from the country, are claiming to be modern slaves. That is wrong, and we are going to stop it.