The Bishop of Leeds received the following written answer on 16th November 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds asked His Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to introducing an import ban on (1) all products produced by forced labour, and (2) on products produced by all Chinese companies listed as exploiting forced labour.
The Bishop of Bristol received the following written answer on 31st October 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Bristol asked His Majesty’s Government when they will appoint the next Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.
Lord Sharpe of Epsom: The role of the Anti-Slavery Commissioner (IASC), as set out in the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, is to encourage good practice in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of slavery and human trafficking offences and the identification of victims.
The process to recruit a new IASC follows the principles set out within the Cabinet Office Governance Code on Public Appointments.
A decision on the appointment is under consideration.
The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answers on 27th June 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesties Government what assessment they have made of the Safe Car Wash App by the Clewer Initiative; and how many instances of modern slavery have been linked to car washes in the last 10 years.
Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con): The Government is fully committed to tackling the heinous crime of modern slavery, including when it manifests in car washes to ensure those who commit these crimes are brought to justice.
On 8th March 2022, the House of Lords debted the Nationality and Borders Bill in the 3rd day of the report stage. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in support of several amendments on modern slavery:
My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 67 and 68 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Alton. I spoke to these amendments in Committee because I was concerned that Clause 59 was effectively raising the reasonable grounds threshold for identifying a victim of modern slavery. With respect to the Government, I confess that I remain unconvinced by their desire to alter reasonable grounds thresholds, and was not adequately assuaged in my fears that this could erect an unnecessary barrier to victims accessing the national referral mechanism.
The noble Lord, Lord Alton, made the argument in Committee that reasonable grounds decisions on the standard of “suspect but cannot prove” would allow the Modern Slavery Act to be more in line with ECAT. I am not a legal expert so this may well be the case. However, I made the point that since we currently use “maybe” as it exists within the Modern Slavery Act, as opposed to “is” or “are” as proposed by the Government —indeed, rather than “has been” as appears in ECAT—in supposedly bringing ourselves in line with ECAT we would effectively raise the threshold for access to the NRM.
On 8th March 2022, the House of Lords debated the Nationality and Borders Bill in its report stage. The Bishop of Worcester spoke in support of amendments to the bill that would remove certain clauses relating to victims of modern slavery, and moved an amendment intended to protect overseas domestic workers:
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I support the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, to remove Clauses 57, 58 and 62 from the Bill, to which I have added my name. I too congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, on her appointment and give thanks for all the work she does, even when we do not always entirely agree across these Benches.
As we have heard, Clauses 57 and 58 would make it appreciably more difficult for people to be recognised as victims of modern slavery and receive support. In Committee, the Minister responded to my concerns about these clauses by saying that, far from deterring victims, this will
“encourage genuine victims to come forward”.—[Official Report, 10/2/22; col. 1843.]
On 10th December the Bishop of St Albans received a written answer to a question on whether Uighur forced labour had been used in production of PPE bought by Government for use in the UK:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of whether Uighur forced labour was used in the production of personal protective equipment purchased by the UK from Medwell Medical Products; and what plans they have to implement due diligence checks to ensure that items purchased by the UK have not been produced using such forced labour. [HL10106]
On 28th July the Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol, received written answers to three questions on overseas domestic workers, and seasonal workers (both areas vulnerable to modern slavery and human trafficking).
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: HL6880 To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they intend to publish further details about any changes to the routes of entry to the UK for overseas domestic workers.
Baroness Williams of Trafford: Our broad approach for January 2021 will be to maintain the existing provisions for overseas domestic workers, expanding this route to include EU citizens.
On 22nd July the Government’s Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill was debated at Sec0nd Reading in the House of Lords. The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, and the Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol, spoke in the debate, highlighting modern slavery, work eligibility, EU citizens, visas for ministers of religion, tariffs, and children’s welfare.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, the introduction of this Bill in another place is a signal opportunity for Her Majesty’s Government comprehensively to reset the legislative basis for immigration control in this country, to set out a vision for doing so, and to rationalise and streamline the more than 1,000 pages of immigration legislation under which we labour. It is surprising, therefore, that, as other speakers have pointed out, this Bill is so narrow in scope. Continue reading “Bishops of Southwark and Bristol highlight concerns with Government’s Immigration Bill”