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Human Trafficking (Labour Exploitation)

Volume 579: debated on Monday 28 April 2014

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has set out in detail much of the work that the Government are doing to tackle human trafficking and slavery. To better tackle labour exploitation, we have moved the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to the Home Office to strengthen its links with law enforcement agencies.

This is the first opportunity that I have had to welcome the hon. Lady to her new position. I know from personal experience how effective the Gangmasters Licensing Authority is. It is particularly effective because it focuses its attention on the areas with the highest risk of criminality and exploitation, rather than on lower-risk areas. Has she considered, and will she discuss with her colleagues in government, whether there is scope for using the model of the GLA in other high-risk labour areas, where similar work could be done?

When the Minister looks at that suggestion—I had responsibility for the GLA for two years as a Minister; it is an excellent organisation—will she also consider the status of the GLA’s board members, now that it is in her remit? Will she, first, upgrade the status of the sole representative for human trafficking on the board from delegate status to full status; and secondly, not do what the Government are proposing, which is to reduce the numbers of union representatives representing the work force on the GLA?

That is also an interesting suggestion that I will look into, although I cannot promise where we will get to.

When I visited the migrant camps at Calais with the deputy mayor of Calais, every person there said that they had paid traffickers to get there, putting them in danger of labour exploitation in the UK. Will Home Office Ministers consider supporting a joint initiative by Dover and Calais for the French police to clear those camps and repatriate people or process their asylum claims, as the case may be?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. I know how hard he works in his constituency on these matters. We work closely with our counterparts in the French police to deal with this issue, and my hon. Friend makes an important point. Many victims of modern slavery that I have met came into the country willingly but illegally, because they felt they were coming for a better life. They have been exploited; that is not right and we need to stamp that out.