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Human Trafficking

Volume 530: debated on Wednesday 6 July 2011

10. What recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on the level of cross-border human trafficking to and from Northern Ireland. (63177)

Data on the exact level of cross-border trafficking is not available, but there is clearly a cross-border element in many cases. I spoke yesterday to the Northern Ireland justice Minister and I know that he has been working closely with authorities in the Republic of Ireland to tackle this despicable crime.

I thank the Minister for his response. People are being trafficked across the border with bogus papers. Unfortunately, they are being trafficked from this country into the Republic of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is discovering trafficked people whose papers are so obviously bogus that they should never have been admitted to the United Kingdom in the first place. This is an issue that we really need to look at.

My hon. Friend is, of course, absolutely right. The Minister for Immigration is working closely with his counterparts in the Irish Republic to ensure that we jointly strengthen our external borders against threats such as human trafficking gangs. I would like briefly to pay tribute, if I may, to my hon. Friend’s work on the all-party group and, indeed, to that of our former colleague, Anthony Steen and the Human Trafficking Foundation, which I hope to accompany to Northern Ireland. My hon. Friend has much to add to the debate. [Interruption.]

Thank you, Mr Speaker. The ease with which cross-border trafficking between Northern Ireland and the Republic can occur is quite obvious and apparent to everyone. Will the Minister ensure that liaison with the Republic of Ireland’s authorities is stepped up to ensure that those who are being trafficked can be helped, given the problems that they are facing?

We all want to hear the hon. Gentleman—I hope others heard him better than I did. The little that I heard was about cross-border co-operation. I can assure him that we have had some recent successes in Northern Ireland, as he will have seen from the newspapers. We work extremely closely with the authorities in the Republic. This is an issue that affects us all. It is a despicable thing, and I draw the attention of all Members to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report “Forced labour in Northern Ireland”, which has recently come out and bears reading.