25 July 2019
Iain Duncan Smith calls for changes in Modern Day Slavery laws to protect victims

Iain Duncan Smith calls on the Government to amend the legislation on Modern Day Slavery to ensure that victims can come forward without fearing arrest and incarceration.

Mr Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con)

I start by welcoming my hon. Friend—I do not think he is yet “right hon.”—to his post. I think he will bring modulated and very moderate tones to these debates. One thing is for certain: having a seat in business questions will now be an absolute must. I welcome my hon. Friend in that regard.

Nothing can be done in this Session, but I want to raise a particular issue. With Lord McColl, I am a co-sponsor of a Bill to change the process relating to modern-day slavery. I ask and urge my hon. Friend to press his colleagues at the Home Office, who have to date been utterly mealy-mouthed about the changes necessary to give victims of modern-day slavery the opportunity to come forward without fearing arrest and incarceration. Will he press his colleagues at the Home Office to urgently bring forward the Bill’s provisions as soon as possible, to improve the quality of the lives of those who suffer most? [Interruption.]

Mr Rees-Mogg

As I rise, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire (Andrea Leadsom), the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has arrived to sit next to me. She is a very distinguished predecessor of mine, whom I congratulate on her promotion and return from the Back Benches.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith) is absolutely right about modern-day slavery. It would be opportune to pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May), the former Prime Minister, for all the work that she did on modern-day slavery—the terrible and hidden curse that it is. I share his view that everything should be done to stop it. The Home Office should move in that direction and people should not fear criminal prosecution if they have been held as modern-day slaves. That would clearly be desperately unfair.