Victims of exploitative employers or ‘illegal workers’ who should be thrown out the country? Government anti-slavery plans are in danger of failing unless this dangerous ambiguity is addressed. Two bits of news last week will be seen as unwelcome by all those who think the Modern Slavery Act will have finally crack the problem of exploited labour. The first comes from information that the Edmonton MP, Kate Osamor, managed to dig out from the Home Office after around a round of relentless questioning back in October. In queries put to the government’s new Modern Slavery Minister, Karen Bradley, Osamor sought information on the numbers of people identified as victims of forced labour and who had been granted a safe haven.
Home Secretary Theresa May’s speech to the Conservative Party conference yesterday has been condemned even in the pages of the truest and bluest of Tory journals. Her claim that there is no economic benefit to the UK from immigration was picked apart by James Kirkup, the executive editor of the Daily Telegraph, who described it as an “awful, ugly, misleading, cynical and irresponsible speech”.
The Immigration Bill 2015-16 was laid before Parliament. It contains an unprecedented expansion of the powers of immigration officials to detain individuals, to seize property, and to otherwise interfere with everyday activities, often on the mere suspicion that someone involved is in the UK without authorisation.
The Inspector said that Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre was ‘a place of national concern’ with the facility’s ability to give adequate healthcare to all its detainees deteriorating ‘severely’ in the last 2 years. The HMIP report also attacked the length of time people were detained, the delays and backlogs of applications, and the fact that the UK was the only country that did not have a time-limit for detainees.
Labour's leadership contenders have form on immigration issues The candidates in the battle to succeed Ed Miliband as the leader of the Labour party has allowed an opportunity for the party to debate immigration policy more openly and without the constraints of a set and rigid policy agenda. Jeremy Corbyn, who during the selection period just about scraped enough nominations to get on to the ballot, has found himself leading the race with a tsunami of support from constituency Labour branches across the country. Corbyn is also, along with Liz Kendall, a candidate who is on the ‘pro’ side of the immigration debate.