14. How many people have been convicted of human trafficking offences in the last four years. (907375)
That question does not sit within the responsibilities of the Ministry of Justice; it is a question for the Home Office. However, I can inform the hon. Gentleman that between 2010 and 2013—the latest year for which figures are available in relation to human trafficking offences on an all-offences basis—the number of convictions increased by nearly 66%. The Government are committed to stamping out this abhorrent crime, building on the United Kingdom’s strong track record of supporting victims and fighting the perpetrators.
I am sorry to learn that the Secretary of State for Justice thinks that convictions for trafficking are not really his responsibility. I should have thought that those at the Ministry of Justice were the very people to deal with them. In Scotland, the Minister for Justice takes responsibility for trafficking convictions there. My criticism of the new Modern Slavery Bill is that all the laws for which it provides are exactly the same as those that have operated up to this moment.
I do not know what “66%” means: 66% of nothing is nothing. We want to know why the Ministry of Justice did not argue for the new laws that Lord Judge and Peter Carter recommended to the Joint Committee that was set up to look into the issue.
In response to the hon. Gentleman’s first point, I can tell him that it is a simple matter of fact in Government that this issue is looked after by the Home Office. As for his second point, I do not believe that any past Government have done more than the present Government to tackle human trafficking. Work is being done across Government and across the public sector to deal with a crime that we all believe is abhorrent, and that we all want to see stamped out.
The Secretary of State says that the issue of human trafficking is not his responsibility, but the issue of convictions is, and one of the key challenges is gathering evidence. In my constituency, I often meet victims many years after the trafficking offences have been committed. The Home Office may be responsible for some of these matters, but what is the right hon. Gentleman’s Department doing to improve the evidential chain and ensure that the evidence is there in court to secure convictions?
The securing of evidence to bring prosecutions to court is a matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, but our Department will always do all that it can to facilitate their work. I expect our reforms of the court system to improve the process in both those organisations, but we depend on the very good work done by our police service and the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that people are prosecuted.