Parliament is never short of Bills coming from the Home Office, but the Modern Slavery Bill is different. At the end of the second reading in the Lords last week, the Minister pointed to the warm reception given by every speaker who followed this with seven minutes on all the things that could be added to it. The view on the Lib Dem benches, like others, was to welcome the Bill both for what it is and for the opportunity it provides to do even more to address the abomination (and very big business – this is often highly profitable organised crime) of trafficking and forced labour.
And something else very significant has happened. Forced labour featured in a recent episode of “Scott and Bailey”. Will that do as much to raise public awareness of slavery as the body under the patio in Brookside did for domestic violence? (No-one else mentioned this in the debate though I did hear comments outside the chamber – apparently peers don’t like to admit to watching TV!)
The Bill brings the offences of holding someone in slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour together with human trafficking for exploitation, and increases the maximum penalties to life imprisonment. There is a new offence: committing any crime (for instance stealing a car) with the intention of trafficking. There are powers to require an offender to pay compensation to the victim.
Full article here