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Meeting with MPs in London on February 11

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I've copied & pasted this from my response to a similar question on another forum:


Just my personal take on the meeting, but at least three other contributors to the LBB were there as well, so maybe they'll add their thought later.

Basically, as they Government scheduled two major debates for Wednesday afternoon; & got the whips to ensure that everyone was in the chamber for the votes, the number of MPs who turned up was rather limited (only about three, that I noticed, but they were at least three who were personally opposed to the proposed legislation).

Presentations were made by ISUW, health care & charity workers, an academic & one punter, in the hour that we were allowed. Additionally, one of the male escorts present, stressed that the legislation is supposed to be gender neutral, but the Commons debates are framed in terms of helpless women & evil men.

Although the GMB official chairing the meeting stated that the union is backing the anti-criminalisation campaign, he did think that the Government majority would, pretty much ensure that the proposals will get through the Comittee stage & 3rd Reading, in the Commons, but that, as private citizens; & even the IUSW, should concentrate on lobbying members of The Lords; especially with regards to the increased public nuisance (perceived) that brothel closure orders would create, by forcing WGs onto the street (the idea being that people are generally tolerant of discrete indoor premeses but don't like things to be too visible).

The union representatives also seemed to be amazed at the range of activities covered by "controlling for gain", that the term didn't need to indicate coercion or exploitation & that the proposed legislation does nothing to directly target these two issues.

The health service providers were advised to get their health authorities to get off the fence & not leave it to the RCN & BMJ to state that these measures will make it far more difficult for them to contact sex workers; for providing support services, & that the legislation will actually increase both the stigmatisation & risk of violence & exploitation that sex workers face.

Outreach charities were advised to stress the difficulties they would face if the trade was forced furhter underground.

More meetings are planned & Catherine has my email address; my own union is opposed to these measures as well, & has promised to keep me up to date with future meetings & developments (I was teken along to withness the arrangements for one such event which will involve some rather well known civil rights campaigners adding their criticism, for the cameras).

Just a shame that the venue was changed at short notice & therefore not as many people were able to make arrangements to be there as was hoped for.

(Oh, & I can confirm that several male & female sex workers, who belong to the IUSW, did turn up, with several more joining at the end of the meeting.)

Unfortunately, they didn't introduce the MPs; in fact it was until after the meetling had closed that we were unformed that any MPs had even bothered to turn up (sadly JS, even though she's a GMB sponsored MP didn't show her face), & being a bit hard of hearing, I missed their names.

The meeting ran from 1430 -1530; which was just before the division bell rang for the first of the two debates, but the MPs left at about 1520.

Amongst those peers who I know are opposed to this legislation are:

Lord Richard Faulkner of Worcester (LAB) (,

Baroness Howe (Crossbench) &

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (LIB DEM)

Unfortunately, no email addresses or websites for the latter two, but they all spoke out most vehemently on this issue, when similar clauses were proposed, regarding compulsory councelling for sex workers, in the Criminal Justice & Immigration Bill 2008 debates & stated their intention to oppose any attempt to introduce legislation criminalising the purchase of sexual services. I'm hoping that Catherine Stephens & IUSW will be able to provide details for mor of those who are sympathetic on the issue in the near future.

BTW, I should have mentioned that the GMB officials were quite clear that one of the reasons peers were likely to be more helpful was that they can ignore the whip & vote on the basis of their own conciences without having to worry about either penalties from their party or worrying about being seen as being pro-prostitution affecting their re-election prospects.

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