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Human Trafficking

Volume 519: debated on Thursday 2 December 2010

On Tuesday 30 November 2010 at oral parliamentary questions, my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah) asked me to “explain why the Government did not sign the EU Directive” on human trafficking, Official Report, column 661. I responded that we had signed it. The hon. Member raised the matter again as a point of order on 1 December, Official Report, column 821. As I made clear in my answer there is more than one instrument.

For the avoidance of doubt and confusion I set out here the UK’s position:

There are two European instruments currently in force and one proposal for an instrument.

The EU framework decision on combating trafficking in human beings was adopted by the Council of Ministers in July 2002. Member states had two years to implement the framework decision, including through any legislation. My right hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough (Mr Blunkett) was the Home Secretary at this time.

The UK signed up to the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in March 2007 when the right hon. and noble Lord Reid of Cardowan was Home Secretary. It was ratified in December 2008 and came into force in April 2009 when the former Member for Redditch (Jacqui Smith) was Home Secretary.

In July this year the Government decided not to opt in to the draft EU Directive on combating human trafficking; a different instrument. If the Government conclude later that the directive would help us fight human trafficking, we can apply to opt in after it has been adopted. Negotiations on the text are at an advanced stage.