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Human Trafficking

Volume 517: debated on Thursday 28 October 2010

2. What discussions she has had with her EU counterparts on the co-ordination of member states’ action against human trafficking of women. (19943)

Policy responsibility for human trafficking rests with my hon. Friend the Minister for Immigration. There have been no ministerial discussions with other EU member states on human trafficking. The UK plays an active role in combating this horrendous crime and will co-ordinate activities with our European partners where it is in the UK’s interests to do so.

Nothing undermines the dignity of women more than human trafficking and this modern-day slavery. Article 10 of the EU directive on trafficking requires all member states to provide necessary medical treatment to trafficking survivors. When will Britain set an example and sign the EU directive?

We have decided not to opt in to the European directive at the moment, but we are keeping a watching brief. When it is implemented, we might well decide to do so, but we are already doing most of the things required by the directive to a good standard and we do not want to be inhibited by introducing laws in this country. Several things that we do already would need transposing into legislation, but we do not need to make legislation to prove to the Commissioners what we are doing already.

May I urge the Minister not to opt in to the EU directive? I know that human trafficking is one of the Prime Minister’s priorities, but before we opt in we must consider whether we can do things better; I urge caution in this matter.

The question is about co-ordination. By which mechanism can the origin, transition and destination countries get together to deal with the problem of human trafficking?

We do that already without legislation. We have been very involved in Europe in terms of trafficking. Human trafficking is a key area under the Stockholm programme, which sets out the EU justice and home affairs priorities. We also helped to shape the draft EU trafficking directive and helped with the first Schengen evaluation on human trafficking. We are working closely with European colleagues. Quite frankly, it is better that we work in the countries of origin, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, so that we stop trafficking at source by working with the Serious Organised Crime Agency, after which we should work at our borders and then in-country.