Representatives from our national Member Churches joined The Salvation Army at the Houses of Parliament to pray for modern slavery victims who risk losing vital protections should the Illegal Migration Bill, as it stands, become law.
The concern is that The Bill, which is designed to tackle illegal immigration, contains measures which would prevent genuine victims of modern slavery from coming forward to receive life-changing support.
Major Kathy Betteridge, Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery for The Salvation Army said: “The UK risks undermining our previously world-leading system of protections and lifesaving support services for vulnerable victims of crime. These include people tricked into coming to the UK illegally and under false pretences, only to be exploited in our farms, factories, and building sites or trapped and traded in brothels and even homes.
“In the past 11 years, The Salvation Army has supported more than 18,000 people to rebuild their lives following the most terrible abuse. We want to work with these survivors and lawmakers to safeguard protections for people at risk of exploitation in the future, so all people can live a free and full life.”
Watch the Call to Prayer video
CTE’s Principal Officer for Ecumenical Relations and Development Doral Hayes said: “It was both powerful and humbling to be praying alongside ecumenical friends at the Houses of Parliament at the same time that The Bill was being discussed and debated. We prayed for both wisdom and compassion in the minds and hearts of those involved in creating and defending the laws of the land. Acknowledging that each person is made in God’s image, we were reminded that there is only one Lord of Lords.”
In the House of Lords
Church of England Bishops have also been proposing amendments to The Bill in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Manchester’s amendment to limit the detention of accompanied children was passed by 202-144 votes. The Lords also backed the CTE President and Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby’s call to put a long-term strategy into The Bill. His amendment was passed 154-107. In his speech, he called for unity on migration policy across political divides, instead of it being used “as a wedge issue to divide”.
The Bill’s currently in what’s called ping pong where the Commons and Lords wrangle over the final wording. Further amendments can continue to be tabled during this process. The Bill will be back in the Commons and Lords next week. The government is determined to pass the Bill before the Commons rises for the summer on Thursday 20 July.