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This is a note on the progress of the Modern Slavery Bill. It complements Library Research Paper 14/37 prepared for the Commons Second Reading.

The Bill had its Second Reading in the Commons on 8 July 2014 and was considered by a Public Bill Committee over eleven sittings between July and October 2014. It completed its Report and Third Reading stages on 4 November 2014.

The Public Bill Committee agreed a small number of minor Government amendments to the Bill. It also agreed more substantive Government amendments that added a requirement for individuals subject to either of the proposed new prevention orders to notify the authorities of their name and address.

There were numerous divisions on almost every part of the Bill. There was particularly lengthy debate on the scope of the proposed slavery and trafficking offences, the need for a standalone exploitation offence, the territorial extent of the provisions on enforcement powers for ships, the independence and role of the Anti-slavery Commissioner and child trafficking advocates, the proposed statutory defence for victims, and the need for the National Referral Mechanism to be placed on a statutory footing.

A new clause (moved by David Hanson) aimed at reversing changes to visas for overseas domestic workers, was narrowly defeated on division only after the Chair added his vote to the noes.

On Report, the Commons agreed a number of Government amendments to the Bill. The most significant was a new clause requiring commercial organisations that supply goods or services to publish an annual “slavery and human trafficking statement”.

The Bill completed its Lords stages between November 2014 and March 2015. On 17 March 2015 the Bill is due to return to the Commons for consideration of Lords amendments. The most significant amendment was the result of a Government defeat following a division on overseas domestic workers. For full background on this, please see Library Standard Note 4786 Calls to change migrant domestic worker visa conditions.


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