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Volume 130: debated on Wednesday 30 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is now able to give the results of his Department's recent investigations into the activities of gangmasters; and if he will make a statement.

Benefit fraud investigators from my Department, supported by investigators from the Department of Health and Social Security, have now concluded a major investigation into the activities of gangmasters and their workers in Lincolnshire. Of the 600 people investigated, all of whom were drawing benefits as unemployed, between 40 and 60 are likely to face prosecution for offences under social security legislation. Up to 20 of those facing prosecution are likely to be gangmasters. In addition to the likely prosecution cases 300 of the 600 claimants investigated withdrew their claims to benefit during the investigation. Benefit savings from the exercises are likely to total some £330,000.The Government are determined to reduce abuse of the gangmaster system in the interests both of safeguarding public funds and of protecting legitimate gangmasters and their equally honest employees whose businesses are being undermined by the dishonest in the industry. Further unannounced fraud drives will therefore take place in the areas concerned at regular intervals for the foreseeable future.