As I wrote yesterday there were six clauses that were debated and all of which were an attempt to make this Bill far less dangerous to the people who seek asylum in our nation. Sadly all six got rejected by the majority of the Conservative Party members whose numbers are significant enough to enable the Government to achieve what it wants to achieve. Last night there were another 3 amendments or clauses that were an attempt to remove some of the attack on people seeking our nation as a place to come for security and safety. Then there was the final vote for the third reading of the Bill. Sadly the three amendments were blocked by the Conservative Party and inevitably the Bill was then approved. None of the Conservatives supported any of the Clauses or Amendments although the debate that took place as part of Clause 6 did indicate that several Senior Conservatives who are no longer part of the Government are opposed to significant parts of the Bill. However during the debate for the final element which was the
Clause 82 – Commencement that received: 297 for, 229 against.
which was in effect the approval of the Bill a brief debate took place involving Priti Patel who was approving it and Yvette Cooper who was opposing it. Some of the statements from Yvette Cooper were as follows
Far from cracking down on the criminal gangs and the smugglers, this Bill makes things worse. The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and former top police chief, Sara Thornton, has warned the Government repeatedly that the policies in this Bill will severely limit our ability to convict perpetrators and dismantle organised crime groups. I can tell the Home Secretary that the Labour party will not support letting vile people traffickers and criminal gangs off the hook in the way that she is prepared to do.
In November, 27 people died in the cold English channel. We need solutions and co-operation to try to tackle the smuggler gangs who are making a profit from people losing their lives. We need the safe and legal routes that the Home Secretary has promised and not delivered. The Afghan soldier who worked with our armed forces and arrived by boat with his family just a few weeks ago to claim asylum should never have ended up in a dinghy on the channel. The security co-operation just is not happening. The Home Secretary has failed to go to the heart of the criminal gangs’ business model, which is all around social media, and she has failed to back the measures that we proposed yesterday.
The other three Clauses were as follows:
- Clause 58 – Late compliance with slavery or trafficking information notice: damage to credibility
227 for, 298 against.
Amendment proposed: 128, page 57, line 25, leave out clause 58.—(Stuart C. McDonald.)
There were no Conservatives voting for this clause
- New Clause 6 – Exemption for child victims of modern slavery, exploitation or trafficking
234 for, 288 against.
(1) The Secretary of State may not serve a slavery or trafficking information
notice on a person in respect of an incident or incidents which occurred when the person was aged under 18 years.
(2) Section 61 of this Act does not apply in cases where either of the positive reasonable grounds decisions related to an incident or incidents which occurred when the person was aged under 18 years.
(3) Section 62 of this Act does not apply in cases where the positive reasonable grounds decision related to an incident or incidents which occurred when the person was aged under 18 years.
(4) Sections 64(3) and 64(6) of this Act do not apply in cases where the positive conclusive grounds decision related to an incident or incidents which occurred when the person was aged under 18 years.—[Holly Lynch.]
There were no Conservatives voting for this clause
- New Clause 3 – Offence of human trafficking for sexual exploitation
234 for, 286 against.
This was a very significant clause with a long list of changes and a significant debate – the comments included one from Theresa May who stated
I am very interested in what the right hon. Lady is saying. If we are to stop modern slavery, we must ensure that we catch the perpetrators, which requires victims to be able to come forward with evidence. She is outlining certain elements of the Bill that she fears will restrict victims’ ability to come forward, and I am concerned that the public order disqualification threshold and the time period on slavery and trafficking information notices will also have that effect. Does she share my concerns about those aspects and hope that the Minister will address them specifically today?
There were no Conservatives voting for this clause but Theresa May did not vote against it and indeed she did not vote against any of these clauses including the one that the Government approved which was for the third reading. Neither did Caroline Ansell from Eastbourne or indeed Boris Johnson which raises many reflections. I am delighted that Caroline Lucas who is my MP voted in favour of the three amendments and voted against the Bill because it is not something our nation should adopt.
Interestingly at the end of the Clause 3 debate Iain Duncan Smith stated
It is not my intention to press it to a vote but, if such amendments are not tabled in the other place, others will table an amendment and we will bring it back to this House for a vote.
So although he voted for the 3 reading he is at least expecting a better end result than what we have currently seen.