Any representation of Parliament will inevitably centre around the confrontational cut and thrust of questions and debates in the House of Commons chamber. Yet, MPs are also given the opportunity to host debates on important issues of common interest in the smaller forums of the halls and committee rooms located throughout Westminster.
Last week, I was privileged to secure a debate in Westminster Hall, one of these smaller chambers, which allows backbench MPs, such as myself, to put forward a subject for debate with colleagues which is responded to by a government minister. I used this opportunity to highlight the issue of modern slavery and the potential for Britain to take action.
This is a matter which cuts across the party-political divide, appealing not to any manifesto pledge but instead a common spirit of humanitarianism. It is estimated that 136,000 people are currently victims of this awful crime in the UK alone, being denied their basic freedoms and human rights by criminals. Across the world this number rises to 40 million people, one quarter of whom are children. There is certainly more that needs to be done, especially as almost half the countries across the world have failed to criminalise slavery.
There is no one solution to the problem and it is incumbent upon lawmakers to ensure that there are no grey areas in the law which allow exploitation to continue. For this reason, I am campaigning to change the Modern Slavery Act, passed in 2015, to require British finance companies to conduct checks ensuring that the money entrusted to them by their customers does not enrich those who profit from exploitation.
As one of the major global financial centres, the UK can lead the world in eradicating this horrendous crime by ensuring the money we invest in our savings and pension pots should never be used to support human slavery.
Meanwhile, this British leadership has been on display in Glasgow this week with COP26. Under the presidency, the UK is working towards securing a commitment to net-zero by the middle of the century, accepting that this is a global issue that all countries need to step up to the mark on.
The phrase ‘future generations’ rightly frames all of our discussions around the climate. It was therefore great to hear that pupils from Bourne tuition have taken matters into their own hands by designing a seed spreading zone to help aid flooding across Lincolnshire, leading them to be named one of the winners of the National Farmers’ Union’s ‘Farmvention: Climate Superheroes’ competition. I am looking forward to meeting them and hope to hear about any future inventions they have planned!