Tougher penalties for human trafficking announced in the Queen of England’s speech have been welcomed across the United Kingdom.

The annual speech commences the Parliamentary session and sets forth the agenda for the coming year.

The measures in the Modern Slavery Bill give new powers to courts and ensure compensation is paid to victims.

In addition, an anti-slavery commissioner will be established to coordinate the response of law-enforcement agencies.

The Home Office, the U.K.’s ministerial department responsible for immigration, security and law enforcement, wants the bill to become law before the next election.

The Christian charity, Hope for Justice, which exists to end human trafficking and slavery in the U.K., tweeted: “Delighted to see victims of human trafficking and modern slavery prioritised in the #QueensSpeech 2014.”

Elsewhere, Tearfund chief executive Matthew Frost welcomed the commitment to eradicating human trafficking but stressed that the bill must reach beyond the U.K.

Through the No Child Taken campaign, by the end of 2015, Tearfund aims to protect 50,000 vulnerable children worldwide from trafficking, disasters and disease.

“The scourge of human trafficking is a 21st century scandal, and we welcome this government’s commitment to eradicating it from this country,” Frost said. “Traffickers often prey on families living in desperate poverty who try to give their children a better life by sending them halfway across the world in good faith, only to find they are caught up in horrendous slavery.”

“This bill must reach beyond our borders, incentivizing aid recipients to fight modern slavery and mandating supply chain transparency if we are to win the battle against trafficking,” Frost said.

More than a million children are trafficked every year.

Paul Hobson is the news editor of The Baptist Times, the online newspaper of The Baptist Union of Great Britain. A version of this news article first appeared on The Baptist Times website and is used with permission. You can follow the Baptist Times on Twitter @BaptistTimes.

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