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Modern Slavery

Volume 584: debated on Monday 7 July 2014

The Government have made much progress in tackling this horrendous crime. Our ground-breaking Modern Slavery Bill will have its Second Reading tomorrow in this House. Later this year, we will publish a modern slavery strategy, which will co-ordinate a comprehensive programme of national and international activity. It will include: the national referral mechanism review, which will report its interim findings shortly; child trafficking advocate trials, which will launch in the summer; and establishing specialist teams at the border.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply and congratulate her on introducing the Bill, the first of its kind in the world to tackle this disgusting crime. Does she agree that it is important to work with businesses to tackle this part of the problem by eliminating forced labour from supply chains?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. It is absolutely vital that we work with business on the issue of forced labour and slavery in supply chains, which is why I hosted a round table recently with representatives of business organisations and individual businesses, together with other Ministers, including the Under-Secretary with responsibility for modern slavery and organised crime. We are doing a great deal with businesses to help to raise awareness so we can prevent people from being abused and exploited. Of course, companies have a social responsibility to take appropriate action. If they do not, their reputations will suffer.

Two thirds of the children identified and found as trafficking victims by the authorities go missing again. Will the Home Secretary legislate for a guardian for each of these children, to keep them safe and to act in their best interests?

We are trialling the child advocate concept in a number of ways in the coming months. We have made it absolutely clear that, through the Modern Slavery Bill, we will provide for the opportunity to put it on a statutory basis. I hope everybody in this House would want us to use the work of those trials to identify the best approach to take in relation to individuals, whatever their title, who work with trafficked children, to take them through and to help to give them the support they need. We need to ensure that we find and take forward the best approach.

Does the Home Secretary agree that the trafficking prevention orders included in the Modern Slavery Bill will be a valuable tool for police seeking to disrupt trafficking gangs? What discussions has her Department had with police on the practical implementation of the orders?

I am happy to tell my hon. Friend that the police welcomed the concept of prevention orders that we are putting in place through the Bill. She is absolutely right: crucially, the prevention orders will enable us to ensure that action can be taken against someone who has been convicted of an offence of modern slavery so that we can reduce the possibility of that offence being recommitted. Up until now, it has been possible for someone who has served a sentence for such an offence to come straight back out, become a gangmaster and carry on with what they were doing in the first place. The prevention orders will enable us to prevent that from happening.