House of Commons Library

Draft Modern Slavery Bill

Published Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On 16 December 2013 the Government published a White Paper which included a Draft Modern Slavery Bill. The draft Bill contains provisions to: consolidate existing offences, create new civil orders and establish and new Anti-Slavery Commissioner. The Bill will undergo pre-legislative scrutiny.

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On 16 December 2013 the Government published a White Paper which included a Draft Modern Slavery Bill. The draft Bill contains provisions to:

• Consolidate and simplify existing slavery and trafficking offences;

• Increase the maximum sentences available to life imprisonment;

• Introduce civil orders to restrict the activity of those who pose a risk and those convicted of slavery and trafficking offences;

• Create a new Anti-Slavery Commissioner; and

• Establish a legal duty on specified public authorities to report potential victims of trafficking.

• The draft Bill currently extends to England and Wales only.

Also on 16 December 2013, Frank Field published a report, Establishing Britain as a world leader in the fight against modern slavery: Report of the Modern Slavery Bill Evidence Review. He had been asked by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to lead a series of evidence sessions in the autumn of 2013.

In December 2013. the Home Secretary said that the Government would:

• bring forward a Bill in May 2014, informed by Frank Field’s report and the report of a Joint Committee which will conduct pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill.

• publish a Modern Slavery Action Plan in Spring 2014, based on the work produced by Frank Field and others, setting out its non-legislative response to modern slavery.

A Joint Committee to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny was appointed and reported on 8 April 2014, following motions in both Houses. It was critical of the approach taken in the Bill and produced its own version of draft legislation. The Introduction stated:

3. Our Report recommends the following key steps to improve the draft Bill:

simplifying criminal offences so as to ensure more convictions;

putting the principles of victim care and services on a statutory footing and making it easier for victims to claim compensation; changes that are morally right, politically expedient and fundamental to effective prosecution;

recognising the special case of children by creating separate offences of exploiting and trafficking a child; making clear that children cannot consent to modern slavery; making provision for distinct child assistance and support; and establishing a statutory system of advocates;

ensuring that victims are not prosecuted for crimes they were forced to commit while enslaved;

strengthening the asset recovery regime to seize the illicit gains made from modern slavery;

ensuring independence for the Anti-Slavery Commissioner in order to establish the post as a focal point for galvanising the fight against modern slavery; and

taking steps to make sure that goods and services produced elsewhere but sold in the UK are free from the taint of slavery.

The Government has not yet responded to the Joint Committee report or published the Action Plan.

Further information about human trafficking generally can be found in the Library Standard Note: Human Trafficking: UK responses (SN04324).

Commons Briefing papers SN06792

Author: Oonagh Gay

Topics: Crime, Crimes of violence, Criminal law

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