That the Bill be read a second time.
My Lords, in few other crimes are human beings used as commodities for the personal gain of others as they are in the appalling crime of modern slavery. Men, women and children, British and foreign nationals, suffer a life of servitude and abuse: women forced into prostitution and denied their liberty; children trafficked and sexually exploited for profit; vulnerable men tricked into brutal and inhumane labour; and, throughout, accounts of sexual violence, beatings, humiliation, hunger and mental torture.
Modern slavery is a crime taking place, hidden from view, across Britain today. I am sure the House will agree that it should be consigned to history. That is the purpose of the Modern Slavery Bill—the first of its kind in Europe—which we will discuss in your Lordships’ House today. Having looked down the list of speakers, I am sure that your Lordships are particularly looking forward to the maiden speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Chisholm and Lady Mobarik. This will be an important step towards achieving that goal. It will ensure that we can effectively prosecute perpetrators, properly punish offenders and help prevent more crimes from taking place. It will enhance protection and support for the victims of these dreadful crimes. It will encourage business to take action to eliminate modern slavery from the global supply chains involved in providing goods and services to British consumers. Of course, tackling modern slavery will require more than legislation alone. It will take a determined and focused law enforcement response, greater awareness among front-line professionals, co-ordinated police action internationally, close working with business, and the support of communities, charities and faith groups.
In bringing the Bill forward, I pay tribute to all those who have campaigned tirelessly over recent years to bring this largely hidden crime into the light. I am particularly grateful to noble Lords who sat on the pre-legislative scrutiny committee. This committee held an intensive and thorough inquiry. I pay tribute in particular to the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, for her leadership, commitment and expertise on the issue. Thanks to their efforts, the Bill today is substantially different from the draft Bill published in December last year. It has benefited enormously from pre-legislative scrutiny and from scrutiny in another place. The Government have listened carefully and added very valuable additional provisions relating to protections for victims and business supply chains. I expect that careful scrutiny of the Bill will continue in your Lordships’ House.
I now turn to the specifics of the Bill. Part 1 deals with offences, sentences, reparation, and asset recovery. In this part, traffickers and slave drivers must know that their crimes will not be tolerated and that they will be caught and sent to prison for a very long time. The Bill consolidates the existing slavery and human trafficking offences, making it easier for prosecutors and the police to understand the available modern slavery offences when investigating these crimes. The offences have also been improved, including in response to pre-legislative scrutiny. It is now clearer that the slavery, servitude and forced labour offence can be effectively prosecuted where the victim is vulnerable; for example, a child.
The Bill increases the maximum available sentence for modern slavery offences to life imprisonment, ensuring that the worst perpetrators can get the lengthy custodial sentences they deserve and victims need. Criminals and organised gangs who trade in human beings do so for profit. Wherever possible, we must ensure that the illicit gains made from the trade in human misery are seized. The Modern Slavery Bill makes both slavery and trafficking offences criminal lifestyle offences for the purposes of criminal confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, subjecting convicted slavers and traffickers to the toughest confiscation regime possible.
Wherever possible, assets seized from a perpetrator should be used to provide reparation to their victims. Courts currently have the power to order convicted traffickers to pay compensation to their victims and can use money collected under the confiscation order to ensure that such compensation is paid in full. Therefore, it is unacceptable that in the past 11 years there have been only three such cases where criminals convicted of a principal offence of human trafficking have been ordered to pay compensation in this way. The Bill seeks to remedy this by creating a bespoke order for modern slavery offences, so that where the perpetrator has assets available, evidenced by a confiscation order, the court must consider making an order to provide reparation to the victim, and give reasons if it does not.
Part 2 relates to preventive orders. It introduces a vital new tool to prevent modern slavery offences, modelled on existing powers to stop sexual harm and with similar, substantial safeguards to ensure appropriate use. Slavery and trafficking prevention orders will target convicted traffickers and slave drivers and can be used to prevent further modern slavery offences from taking place—for example, by stopping an offender from working with children, acting as a gangmaster or travelling to specific countries.
Slavery and trafficking risk orders will restrict the activity of individuals suspected of being complicit in modern slavery offences where this is necessary to prevent the harm that would be likely to be caused by future offences. For example, they could be used to stop activity where there is insufficient evidence to bring a successful prosecution now, but there is clear evidence of the risk of future trafficking or slavery offences being commissioned.
Part 3 deals with maritime powers. It is aimed to close a gap in existing legislation. There are currently no applicable express policing powers to stop, divert or detain vessels at sea where law enforcement authorities suspect that individuals are being trafficked or forced to work. In the past three years, there have been eight such occasions. The Bill will provide law enforcement with clear powers to take action on these boats, arresting those responsible and rescuing more victims.
Part 4 provides for an Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner. In the past, the number of prosecutions and convictions for these specific offences has not reflected the scale or seriousness of the problem. In 2013, there were only 68 convictions, and that is not good enough. To tackle modern slavery effectively, we need effective co-operation across law enforcement borders in immigration and local services. We need a senior figure dedicated to the UK’s fight against modern slavery to strengthen law enforcement efforts in the UK and ensure that a wide range of public authorities work effectively to identify victims. That is why the Bill includes an Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner to encourage good practice in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of modern slavery cases, as well as improving the identification of victims.
The commissioner’s role is set out in a similar way to other commissioners. The commissioner will be independent and his annual reports will be laid before Parliament. Given the urgent need to see improvements in our approach to tackling modern slavery, the Home Secretary has recently appointed Mr Kevin Hyland as designate Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner, following an open selection process. As the first UK commissioner, Mr Hyland will use his extensive knowledge, gained in the Met, and first-hand experience of working with modern slavery victims to ensure that public authorities do more effectively to tackle the despicable individuals behind these crimes and, importantly, to identify and protect more victims.
Part 5 deals with the protection of victims. At the heart of the Bill and all our work is the desire to ensure that victims receive the protection and support that they deserve and which will help them to recover. Fear of prosecution can deter victims from coming forward to help the police with their investigations and from acting as witnesses in court. It is vital that we give them the confidence to come forward.
The Crown Prosecution Service already has guidance in place to prevent the prosecution of victims who have been forced to commit crime, but we can and should go further. The Bill includes a statutory defence for victims with safeguards against abuse. Even in cases where the defence does not apply, prosecutors will still need to look carefully at all the circumstances to see whether it is in the public interest to prosecute victims.
Helping more victims to testify in court is crucial in our fight against the perpetrators. We need to give victims greater assurance that they can access special measures, such as giving evidence by video link or from behind a screen, so the Bill extends to all modern slavery victims existing provisions which help trafficking victims gain access to special measures.
Whether victims appear in court or not, we need to identify them so that they can receive help and support. That is why the Home Secretary set in motion a review of the national referral mechanism, to ensure that the care and support provided is effective. The review has just reported—last week. The Government will respond to the review in the modern slavery strategy, which will be published ahead of our Committee debates, scheduled for early December. In addition, the Bill includes a provision for statutory guidance for the identification and support of victims to ensure a consistent and effective approach.
One of the most heinous aspects of modern slavery is the trafficking and enslavement of children—robbing them of their childhood and casting a long shadow over their future. Child trafficking victims are exceptionally vulnerable and require specialist support and care. We are currently trialling a scheme of child trafficking advocates in 23 local authorities in England. The Bill includes provisions, which were strengthened in another place, to enable Parliament to place these advocates on a statutory footing once the trial has been completed and, following the evaluation of the trial, to establish how we can provide the best protection and support to this particularly vulnerable group of children.
The Bill also ensures that where the age of a trafficking victim is uncertain and there are reasons to believe that they are a child, public authorities will presume that victim to be a child for the purposes of providing assistance and support. We need to ensure that law enforcement has good data on this largely hidden crime so that we can develop an effective strategic response. Therefore, we are placing a legal duty on public bodies to report suspected victims of slavery or human trafficking.
Part 6 deals with transparency in supply chains. Modern slavery in supply chains is an issue which the Government take extremely seriously. We do not want businesses in the UK to have any connection with these abhorrent crimes and UK consumers should not be put in the position where they inadvertently buy goods that could have been produced by abused and enslaved individuals. In this regard I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of Cradley, for introducing a timely and thought-provoking debate on the subject in your Lordships’ House on 30 October. That is why I am extremely pleased that the Bill was amended in another place to require organisations carrying on a business in the UK above a certain size threshold to disclose each year what they have done to ensure that there is no modern slavery in the supply chains of their organisation.
Modern slavery is an evil against which this Government are determined to take a stand. I know that that view and belief is shared across the House. This Bill is an important measure as it will help effectively to punish the criminals and organised gangs behind this appalling crime, ensure victims receive the protection and support that they deserve, prevent other vulnerable people from becoming victims and encourage action by business to eliminate modern slavery from supply chains. It stands alongside non-legislative actions such as making tackling this crime a priority for the National Crime Agency. Ahead of the Committee stage, the Government will publish a comprehensive modern slavery strategy.
I am under no illusion about the scale of the task ahead. The Bill can be only one step along the path to ending slavery. However, I believe that by acting together in this Parliament we can send a powerful message that we are determined that traffickers and slave drivers will be prosecuted and punished and that the victims of their appalling crimes will be returned to freedom. I beg to move.
My Lords, in rising to speak on this important Second Reading I must first pass on the apologies of my noble friend Lady Royall. The noble Baroness, assisted by my noble friend Lord Rosser, will be leading for the Opposition on this very important Bill, but unfortunately today she has to attend a family funeral.
We often think of slavery as history, a story of atrocities past and fights fought and won. The harrowing film “12 Years a Slave” and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s compelling account of Lincoln’s fight for abolition both tell of events that took place centuries ago. However, slavery is not a thing of the past. Sylvia, one of the women whom the Eaves Poppy Project has helped, is 47 years old. She came to the UK from Uganda to escape an abusive husband, after a friend told her that she could work for his friend’s company. On arriving, however, she was taken to a house in Manchester, locked in a room with another girl, raped, beaten and forced into prostitution. Her traffickers would film and photograph her. She was given just one meal a day and not allowed any contact with her son. After four months she escaped but was so scared that she went into hiding. Finally she got the courage to get help and claim asylum, but the Home Office sent her to Yarl’s Wood immigration centre. There, fortunately, she came across the Eaves Poppy Project, which helped to secure her release and prevented her being sent back to Uganda.
This is what 21st-century slavery looks like in Britain: women raped, beaten and forced into prostitution; children groomed and sexually exploited for profit; men exploited, conned and forced to work in inhuman and degrading conditions; families trafficked by gangs across borders but also within our country and sometimes within the same area. I am proud of the work that we did in government through criminalising trafficking in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the Asylum and Immigration Act of 2004; the introduction of the offence of forced labour, slavery or servitude; the national referral mechanism; the creation of the UK Human Trafficking Centre; and, of course, the introduction of the Human Rights Act. But we agree that more needs to be done, so I welcome the Bill.
I pay tribute to the Members of this House who have worked so hard on this issue, particularly the noble Lord, Lord McColl, who is tireless in his fight for trafficked children and victims generally, and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss. I also pay tribute to members of the Joint Committee, including my noble friends Lady Kennedy and Lord Warner, the noble Baronesses, Lady Hanham and Lady Doocey, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby.
The invaluable campaign briefings of the many organisations that fight for the victims will also inform our proceedings. The victims of these terrible crimes should be at the centre of everything we do. We owe it to them to make the Bill as good as it can be. We think that it should go further in tackling the problems it seeks to resolve and we will work with colleagues across the House to amend it accordingly. I will now touch on one or two of the issues that we will pursue.
Let me start with the offences at the heart of the Bill. In 2011-12, there were 15 prosecutions for slavery but no convictions. In the same year, there were 150 prosecutions for trafficking but only eight convictions. Ensuring that the offences under the Bill are well drafted, clear and strong enough to allow us to prosecute and secure more convictions of these criminals is therefore crucial. Currently, the Bill transposes existing offences from three pieces of legislation, maintaining the current offences of holding someone in slavery and merging two existing offences of human trafficking into a single one. Worryingly, the threshold needed to secure convictions is very high.
I am sure that we have all heard of the case of Craig Kinsella. Craig was held captive by the Rooke family in Sheffield and forced to work from 7.30 am until midnight for no pay. He was starved and beaten. Craig was not trafficked into the country: a British national, he voluntarily moved in with the family but was then subjected to appalling abuse and exploitation. Despite extensive evidence, the Rookes were convicted of false imprisonment and other lesser offences, not of slavery and trafficking.
A similar situation arose in Kent, involving 29 Lithuanian chicken catchers. They were beaten and had their wages stolen, and they were living in appalling conditions. The police thought that this was criminal conduct but the CPS said that there was not enough evidence to prosecute. Following this case, Detective Inspector Roberts of Kent Police gave evidence to the Joint Committee and said that they had,
“quite considerable difficulty in working out what is criminal exploitation”.
I am worried that these cases would still not be covered under the Bill. Like the Joint Committee, the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group, the Joseph Rowntree Trust and others, I believe that there should be separate offences of exploitation.
If the examples of adults being exploited are abhorrent, the idea of a child being subjected to these crimes does not bear thinking about. The numbers are even more shocking. In 2013, the national referral mechanism received 1,746 separate cases of human trafficking, 432 of them involving minors. The UK Human Trafficking Centre identified 2,744 victims last year, including 600 children—yet, since the introduction of the offence, there have been no prosecutions where the victim was a child.
There is much we could do in the Bill to improve the situation for children. Crucially, we need to introduce new offences of child trafficking and exploitation. Have the Government considered child exploitation in relation to recent UK cases, particularly the sexual exploitation of girls in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere? These girls were neither trafficked nor held in slavery, but they were exploited. Putting specific offences in the Bill would move the legislative framework from one looking at individual sexual acts to one in which exerting control over a course of behaviour is more important.
The notion that a child could ever consent to their exploitation is beyond my comprehension. They very rarely understand that they have been trafficked and are often duped by those who traffic them. I do not understand the Government’s reticence on this point and we will want to unpick this in Committee. I am pleased to see a basis for the guardianship system in the Bill—once again, I pay tribute again to the noble Lord, Lord McColl, for his work on this—and welcome the requirement for the advocate to act in the child’s best interests, but this was added late in the Commons and we will want to look again at the strength of the clause. We must also look at the issue of the statutory defence for children. The Bill as it stands does not reflect the specific vulnerabilities of children, and that cannot be right.
It is also key that we look at the role that the regulatory framework and the UK industry have to play. We have all heard calls for stronger action on supply chains. Noble Lords will, like me, have been shocked by stories of men trafficked from Burma and Cambodia and forced to work 20 hours a day for no pay, fishing for prawns for UK shops; and by the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory, where 1,200 people making clothes lost their lives. We need stronger legislation to prevent this happening; other countries are doing it and it has the support of 82% of the British public.
I am pleased that the Government have listened and introduced a new clause. I am not sure, though, that it is strong enough. We need to ensure that it has a wide coverage, that consumers are able to compare and assess how different companies are doing, and that the provisions can be adequately enforced. The Government have to play their part as well. Legislating for supply chains without also looking at expanding the powers and remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to other sectors where forced labour is prevalent, such as hospitality, construction and catering, does not make sense.
It is disappointing that Ministers would not even consider the amendment put forward by my colleagues in the Commons, which was only an enabling power. We will also come back to this in Committee. I am also deeply concerned about the issue of domestic workers being tied to abusive employers. The last Government put in place a regime for migrant domestic workers who accompanied employers to the UK that was internationally recognised as good practice. The current Government changed the regime in April 2012. These individuals are now tied to their original employer and their visas are not renewable beyond the initial six-month duration.
Mira, a Filipina domestic worker, was brought by her employers from the Middle East to the UK. She worked 16 hours a day with no time off, shared a room with the family’s children and had no private time or space. Mira’s employer retained her passport and paid her nothing while she was in the UK. She ate only leftovers and if the family ate out, she went hungry. One day, Mira found her passport and sought help from Kalayaan, which advised that she had only a tied domestic worker’s visa. Thankfully, Kalayaan found Mira legal assistance and referred her to the national referral mechanism. Kalayaan found that 92% of those on the new visa were unable to leave the house unaccompanied. This is clearly unacceptable.
Victims of trafficking should be at the heart of the Bill. If we do not support them, we are leaving people who have been abused to be betrayed once again. The national referral mechanism needs to be strengthened. In 2012, the UK Human Trafficking Centre identified 2,255 victims, but the NRM identified only just over 1,000. Too often, they are treated merely as immigration cases.
At the moment the NRM is an internal process of the Home Office, and there is no transparency or appeal. We have an opportunity to place it on a statutory footing and give it a greater ability and authority to support victims at the time when they need it most. I am aware that the review of the NRM has recently concluded, and we will want to look at its findings in Committee.
Victims should be better compensated. We support the provisions to define trafficking as a lifestyle offence, but I urge the Government to look again at proposals that we made in the Serious Crime Bill to strengthen the recovery of assets. Money cannot go to the victims if we are not recovering it from criminals in the first place. I also welcome the creation of reparation orders, but we must ensure that victims can be compensated even when there has not been a specific conviction.
While I welcome the introduction of the anti-slavery commissioner, their remit needs to be strengthened. At present, it is extremely limited to doing little more than acting as directed by the Home Office. The remit should include supporting victims and a clear mandate to make recommendations across government. We also want greater independence for the commissioner, and that is simply not established by the mere addition of the word “independent” to the title.
The Government are rightly proud of having introduced the Bill, but the victims of trafficking need us to do more. A fortnight ago we found out that the UK will no longer support future search and rescue operations to prevent migrants drowning in the Mediterranean. Many of the men, women and children on these boats will be victims of traffickers—gangs who are exploiting people’s desperation by sending them on unsafe journeys and sometimes deliberately killing them. In that context I am glad that we are opting back in to the European arrest warrant, but there is a lot more we could be doing, whether to prevent families undertaking these dreadful journeys in the first place or to tackle these crimes more generally, if it were not for this Government’s reluctance to work with our European partners.
Abraham Lincoln once wrote:
“If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong”.
All of us agree that slavery is wrong. That is not the issue today. The Bill is not a party-political Bill. It is about the abuse of human rights; it is about the most vulnerable men, women and children who are exploited by their fellow human beings; and it is about victims, their rights, and our ability to support them and bring perpetrators to justice. I am deeply ashamed that in 21st-century Britain slavery is flourishing and blighting the lives of many. Over the coming weeks, as we debate and seek to improve the Bill, we should keep uppermost in our minds the plight of the all too many victims of this terrible crime; think of Sylvia, Craig and Mira. Working to build on the legacy of William Wilberforce, let us ensure that through the Bill we in this House do everything possible to end this heinous practice. We have a responsibility to work together on all sides of this Chamber to ensure that this good Bill can be an even better one.
My Lords, I declare an interest as co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery, and as a trustee of the Human Trafficking Foundation.
I do not want to weary the House but I might add to what the Minister has said about slavery. Approximately 29.8 million people—men, women and children—are trafficked and enslaved across the world, more than the entire transatlantic trade 200 years ago. Slavery and trafficking is the second most valuable illegal business in the world, at least $150 billon a year, which includes prostitution, forced labour, domestic servitude, begging, thieving, debt bondage and benefit claims. So far, as noble Lords have already heard, very few traffickers and slave owners have been convicted of these crimes, which is why the Bill is now before the House. In my view, its Second Reading is a historic and exciting moment. The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary are to be congratulated on bringing it forward, and I am aware that both of them are passionate about it.
The background is that in October 2013, the Home Secretary asked Frank Field MP to set up an informal inquiry as a prelude to drafting the first draft of the Modern Slavery Bill. He, John Randall MP and I heard evidence and provided a report. That report and the evidence were incorporated into the evidence of the Select Committee of both Houses, of which Frank Field was chairman and I was a member. We had a lot more evidence, and in our report we bravely, or rashly, drafted our own version of the Bill. Not surprisingly, the Government version did not adopt all our suggestions, but there have been further discussions and more changes made in the other place.
Where have we got to? In my view this is a good Bill, but, of course, in several ways it could be improved. I feel that this Bill is the start of a process, and as we see how it works, we can in the future press for improvements. I therefore suggest that we should not be too ambitious with this Bill. I should like to make a few comments about the contents, but inevitably more issues will arise in Committee, many of which the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, has already referred to.
It is good to have all the major offences under one umbrella, but I am not entirely happy with the wording in Part 1. There is considerable momentum to include in Part 1 a clause defining child exploitation as a separate set of offences. This, in principle, may seem appropriate but there are certain difficulties which need to be overcome. Proof of the age of a young person under 18 in the criminal courts can be a long, drawn-out and possibly distracting exercise. One needs to bear in mind that the sentence in the Bill for the most serious offences against adults is life imprisonment. You cannot get more than life. There is the possibility that it may make prosecutions more difficult and consequently reduce the protection of child victims. The Home Secretary at Third Reading in the other place spoke of unintended consequences. I am a bit concerned that the offence of child exploitation without some restrictions on its interpretation is too wide.
I am, therefore, now somewhat ambivalent about whether a clause especially for children is really necessary or appropriate. The issue of consent does not arise in Clauses 1 and 2 for adults as I read them. I sought the assistance of a number of former Supreme Court judges who have taken the same view. However, there is strong support for a child clause, and I was strongly in support of it myself at one stage. I am not actually opposed—as I say, I am ambivalent—so I look forward to future more careful consideration in Committee.
As has been said, the sentences for slavery and trafficking in the Bill are increased to life. It will therefore be important for the judiciary in the Crown Court to have some sentencing guidelines. In a recent case in Sussex, a sentence of four years, reduced to two and a half, on a trafficker of 70 women appears to be on the low side. So far, the Proceeds of Crime Act has been less than effective in this area of criminal law. I hope that the changes in the Bill will make a difference and that the assets of alleged traffickers will be frozen at an early stage of the investigation. Equally, reparation for victims is an important part of doing justice to the victims.
It is excellent that the post of commissioner is in the Bill. The word “independent” has just been inserted into the title of the appointment clause. There is a strongly held view, set out already by the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, that this word alone will not make him sufficiently independent and that his duties should be more directed towards the protection of victims. I think that we should wait to see how the first commissioner, just appointed, carries out his duties. Kevin Hyland, who I have the good fortune to know, is an excellent choice. We shall have to see whether he will find himself constrained or others will find his duties are too narrowly expressed. If that proves to be so we can press for changes in future legislation.
There is a pilot scheme for child advocates with a statutory requirement to act in the child’s best interests, an issue close to the hearts of the noble Lord, Lord McColl, and myself, and the important requirement to report on the pilot to Parliament. I naturally hope that this will form part of future legislation.
Clauses for protection of victims include a partial defence of victims against prosecution, and I agree that there must be exceptions as set out in Schedule 3. We need to see how the defences work out, and whether any of the exceptions prove to be unfair to a victim. If they prove to be unfair, and the victim faces prosecution when the offence was directly the result of slavery, this will need to be revisited. Again, however, it is hugely to the credit of the Government that they have accepted the need for that degree of protection of victims.
There are special measures to help witnesses in criminal proceedings, which is a most important aid to getting victims to give evidence. Very much to the credit of the Government, who have listened to advice, is the requirement for companies to investigate their supply chains, but I find the wording of the supply chain clauses somewhat overelaborate. Two excellent reports have been published on the national referral mechanism which propose the improvement of the system for identifying victims. I hope that those recommendations will be taken up and put into effect. I would like to see in the Bill an enabling clause that gives the power to the Home Secretary to put the NRM on a statutory basis without requiring any further primary legislation.
I turn very briefly to the support for victims, most of which is not appropriate for primary legislation but which is the most important part of the battle against traffickers and slave owners. There are two reasons, one moral and one practical, why this country should put in place adequate and continuing support towards those identified as needing that help. The moral reason is obvious: we have a duty to look after those men, women and children who have been brought into this country to be slaves, and those within the UK who are also enslaved. Indeed, the girls in Rotherham were slaves. The practical reason underpins the main purpose of the Bill, which is that the Government naturally want to improve the number of successful prosecutions. To a very great extent that depends on victims being prepared to give evidence.
In this country we comply with the Palermo agreement, the Council of Europe convention and the EU directive by offering accommodation and support for those going through the identification process. The UK offers 45 days—more than the minimum requirement of 30 days—and for some people a longer period. However, prosecutions may take over a year to be heard in the Crown Courts. So far, many if not most victims who would be witnesses are not given sufficient help after 45 days by way of accommodation, financial support and many other much needed services such as counselling and access to mental health help, which are so badly needed by many utterly traumatised people. After 45 days many go missing, some are retrafficked and some are living on the streets. Read the excellent final report of Jeremy Oppenheim on the NRM. He sets out the plight of those people in clear terms and describes our manifest failure to give sufficient help in all sorts of ways which I do not have time to set out today—and I apologise for going a minute over. The USA and Taiwan have statutory requirements which would be well worth considering. The way in which the strategy policy of the Government and local governments is implemented will define and judge the United Kingdom as a caring or non-caring country and will have a marked effect on whether we achieve the level of successful prosecutions that the Government are seeking to achieve by introducing the Bill.
My Lords, I will concentrate on three areas: the first is support for adult victims of trafficking. Victims of trafficking are entitled to know exactly the support to which they are entitled. That support should be spelt out in statute to avoid ambiguity. The Bill contains a clause requiring the Home Secretary to issue guidance about the support provided to adult victims, but I am not convinced that guidance provides an adequate guarantee to a victim of the assistance to which he is entitled under the EU directive and European convention. If the Bill is truly to serve the needs of victims as well as the justice system, it needs to contain a clear statement of the minimum assistance available to a victim of trafficking in accordance with our international obligations.
I also believe that, as the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, has just said, we need to reconsider the length of time that such support is available. The current 45-day reflection and recovery period is far too little to enable a person to make a proper recovery from their ordeal. Many charities recommend a period of 90 days. Indeed, the United Nations commentary on the EU directive states:
“When transposing the Directive into national legislation, Member States are encouraged to include in their national legislation a period of reflection and recovery of a minimum of 90 days for all victims of trafficking”.
Even 90 days will not be sufficient for some people to take significant steps towards recovery when they experience post-traumatic stress disorder, but we need to ensure that we are protecting and supporting victims to begin that longer-term recovery. One of the recommendations from the recent review of the national referral mechanism is that consideration should be given to the support available to individuals following conclusive identification as victims. I look forward to seeing the Government’s response to this recommendation in due course.
In the context of this Bill, I also want to raise the fact that I have heard from charities that provide assistance to victims of trafficking that many of their clients who are EU nationals are having extreme difficulties accessing welfare benefits due to the application of a more stringent habitual residence test and changes to housing benefit eligibility introduced earlier this year. Understandably, many victims of trafficking are unable to demonstrate when they entered the country, and their labour exploitation does not seem to be valid work for the purposes of these tests. I cannot believe that victims of the heinous crime of trafficking were our intended target in the restriction of welfare benefits. Indeed, if victims are unable to receive this support, I very much doubt that they will be able to remain in this country to assist with police investigations and prosecutions, which is one of the key aims of the Bill before us today. Can the Minister indicate what steps are being taken to ensure that victims of trafficking are not being detrimentally affected by the application of residence tests for welfare benefits and whether he would consider amending the regulations to ensure that victims of trafficking are exempt from these tests?
The second area where I would like to see improvements in the Bill is the protection of children. In September 2013, the report Still at Risk, produced by the Children’s Society and the Refugee Council, stated that a system of protection needs to be developed,
“that includes an independent trusted adult appointed to a separated child as soon as they come to an authority’s attention. This person’s role would be to ensure that all potential victims of trafficking are able to understand their rights, ensure that their voice is heard in decisions that affect them and are supported effectively through the different legal processes that they are engaged in”.
However, still the Government have not been willing to support this proposal in all its fullness. They have accepted the need to introduce trials of specialist independent advocates for trafficked children, which were to be introduced from 1 July across 23 local authorities. We were reassured on 7 April that they,
“will be experts in trafficking, and completely independent of the local authority and social services department. Their role will be to steer the child through the complexity of the multiple government agencies—not just local-authority care, immigration and criminal justice but all government departments. This is to ensure that the child's voice is heard ... these advocates will have the capacity and the expertise to address the additional needs of the child. They will attend meetings, speak for them and act as advocates for them”.
The Minister, my noble friend Lord Taylor, said:
“By getting alongside children and supporting them in this way, the advocates will have a role in ensuring that the risk of children going missing and disappearing will be reduced”.—[Official Report, 7/4/14; col. 1156.]
He said that the timing,
“will enable us to consider the impact of the specialist independent child trafficking advocates, as well as how the scheme worked, during the passage of the modern slavery Bill, which should be before one or other of our two Houses of Parliament. The modern slavery Bill is a much better place to make these changes”.
I specifically asked the Minister why he was not proposing that advocates had a legal status. He said:
“That is a question that the modern slavery Bill will indeed be able to consider”.—[Official Report, 7/4/14; col. 1158.]
We welcome that.
The third area of the Bill where I have particular concerns is the role of the Anti-slavery Commissioner. As presently drafted, the commissioner’s remit is too restrictive to enable him or her to protect victims effectively. Furthermore, the Bill’s provisions need revision to ensure the independence of the commissioner—I refer to the report published recently by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. One other matter that I must put on the record is my deep unease with the fact that the Home Office has proceeded in recruiting and appointing a person as the Anti-slavery Commissioner before the role has been sanctioned by Parliament.
When it comes to statutory support services for victims and statutory child trafficking guardians, the truth is that the political context in which we find ourselves has changed quite dramatically in the last month. Northern Ireland embarked on the road to its modern slavery Bill, called the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Bill, rather earlier than England and Wales. That Bill proposed both statutory support services for victims and statutory child trafficking guardians and on 20 and 21 October the Northern Ireland Assembly voted for those provisions. Of course, central to devolution is the idea that different parts of the United Kingdom can do things differently. However, I want very gently to ask the question: do we want rescued trafficked children to be afforded fewer rights in England and Wales than in Northern Ireland? I think not, and I hope that by the time this Bill leaves your Lordships’ House it will at least be as robust as the Northern Ireland legislation. Incidentally, I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Morrow, who has taken this legislation through the Northern Ireland Assembly, and to the Justice Minister, David Ford, the leader of the Alliance Party, who has worked so closely with the noble Lord on this Bill. It is very encouraging to see all the main parties in Northern Ireland coming together to generate some excellent legislation, and I look forward to their taking the lead and generating ground-breaking legislation in other areas, too.
I welcome the Bill; it is a good Bill and has developed since the draft Bill was published in December. However, I do not believe that it is yet the world-leading legislation that we would like it to be. I am confident that, through the careful examination of noble Lords, this House will achieve some of the key improvements that are needed.
My Lords, I was very pleased to be appointed to the Joint Committee on this Bill. I care passionately about this issue, so the opportunity to play a part in shaping the legislation was extremely welcome.
Tragically, as others have said, slavery is all around us. It is hidden in our communities, yet is taking place openly on our streets, in our farms and in our factories. Daily we hear stories of more adults and children being denied their freedom by another in pursuit of profit and personal gain. As many have said, modern-day slavery is an evil trade and that is why there is strong support on all sides of the House for this Bill. It is a much needed piece of legislation that will rightly get the support of many in this House
There is, however, strong support for this Bill to go further in some areas, to make this the world-leading legislation that everyone wants to see. Given the time today, I will focus on four items. There are two areas that I want to see developed further. These are ensuring that this Bill gives the best protection it can to children, and the best support to businesses in their supply chains in the fight against slavery. The other two areas that I think need to be included are clauses to develop the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, and a change in the Immigration Rules for migrant domestic workers.
First, we must give children the best protection we can. From home and abroad, children are exploited in Britain by criminals every day. The Refugee Children’s Consortium has made it very clear to us all what it thinks needs to be made clearer in the Bill to protect children, and I hope that the Government will listen carefully to the arguments it puts forward. I want to focus on one of the specific areas it has highlighted: that the Bill should include a statutory principle of non-prosecution for children. Of the main children’s issues covered in the Bill, a strengthened non-prosecution principle for children who are detained and prosecuted for crimes they are forced to commit has received the least attention. Despite CPS guidance on the non-prosecution of trafficking victims, children are still being punished for offences that are a direct result of their slavery and exploitation. It cannot be right to prosecute a child who has been forced to commit a crime by their slave master. Enslaved children are victims of abuse: they need guardians, support and protection from repeat exploitation. Clause 45 sets out three elements to that defence. One of them is that a person needs to prove they were compelled to act. As UNICEF has stated, this clause is not in line with international law, which states that trafficked children do not have to prove they were compelled to commit a crime. These are the most vulnerable children. They invariably have little or no English, they are scared, have no family to protect them and are completely reliant on their trafficker. The burden of proof should not rest with the child.
The second area which needs further development is the very welcome new Clause 51 on transparency in supply chains. As other noble Lords have said, publishing the Bill without such a clause was a glaring omission and I am delighted to see it included now. We need businesses to help in the fight against slavery. Multinational organisations have the power to make a real difference to the working lives of millions and improve the working conditions of those enslaved by exploitative suppliers. They have the power to shorten their supply chains and to reform their business models so they are less reliant on outsourcing and suppliers who need to subcontract. They have the power to support good suppliers, encourage trade unions, and insist on proper inspection regimes. Fighting slavery and forced labour at home and across the world cannot happen without businesses playing their part. It is not their fight alone: the Government, the voluntary sector and, most importantly, the consumer—through the purchasing choices they make—have the real power to help eradicate slavery. Thanks to this clause, consumers will now have the information to make more informed choices about where they shop.
However, despite this clause being a huge step forward, there are five areas that need further consideration. First, it is essential that the Bill specifies a set of minimum criteria for disclosure in the organisation’s annual slavery and human trafficking statement. This is vital because we need this supply chain clause to act as a catalyst for change, creating public pressure and competition between businesses so more are encouraged to act. The minimum criteria in any organisation’s statement include the need to conduct risk assessments by product, industry and geography; the need to set out who has identified the risks; what action has been taken to mitigate the risks; and what has been the impact of those actions. Without these criteria, comparisons between companies will be impossible to make, the level playing field desired by good businesses will be difficult to achieve, and the Government will not get the transparency or the world-leading legislation they say they want.
Secondly, the statement needs to be a corporate—and therefore a CEO— responsibility. In his evidence to the Joint Committee, Andrew Forrest, founder of the Walk Free Foundation and chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, which has a supply chain of 3,000 suppliers, summed up perfectly why leadership from the top of the company is necessary. He said:
“The only reason that we found slavery in our supply chain was that it was mandated to be searched for by the chairman … without that leadership from the top, it just would not have happened”.
Thirdly, the Government also need to take leadership from the top and set out actions that allow for the monitoring, enforcement and review of this new clause. There should be a central government portal where all the annual statements are aggregated online, along with a commentary on or analysis of them, especially highlighting who is not complying with the new legislation. Will national and local government be expected to take responsibility for auditing their own procurement practices and supply chains?
Fourthly, the size of the business that will have to comply with this clause will be set out in regulations after a consultation. Given the importance of this issue, will the Government set out the timescale for this consultation and when we will see the proposed regulations?
I also want to discuss support for business in this clause. We all recognise that it will take a few years for businesses to successfully map, audit and evaluate every tier of their supply chains. As we discuss this legislation, it is important that the Government set out how they intend to help business to comply with this clause.
When considering how the Government can help businesses fight slavery we also have to look at the Gangmasters Licensing Authority—the GLA. I completely agree with my noble friend Lord Tunnicliffe that its work is vital in the UK’s fight against modern slavery. It can also play an increased role in supporting businesses in their efforts to eradicate slavery. Since 2006, it has done a great job in raising standards, controlling exploitation and driving out poor performance in the sectors for which it is currently responsible.
Ten years ago when the GLA was set up, limiting its sector focus made sense but now it makes little sense. Many high-risk sectors fall outside remit of the GLA—hospitality, construction, clothing, cleaning and social care. The Bill cannot ignore the exploitation faced by workers who fall outside its remit. There is huge support for a review of the GLA with a view to extending its role and remit, and I urge the Government to look again at this.
The Bill needs to be amended to reverse the 2012 changes to the Immigration Rules for migrant domestic workers—changes which prohibit this vulnerable group of workers from leaving their employers, effectively putting them in an enslaved situation. No matter how they are treated, they have no right to leave. They have no right to withdraw their labour without being rendered illegal.
We are all aware that migrant domestic workers are vulnerable enough without the added burden of being unable to escape their employers. Research by Kalayaan has shown that migrant domestic workers tied to their employers are more likely to be victims of trafficking, more likely to have their passports withheld and twice as likely to report having being physically abused as those who were not tied to their employers.
Amending the Bill to go back to the pre-2012 visa arrangements introduced by Labour in 1998, which allowed migrant domestic workers the right to change employers, is the right thing to do. That has been recommended by both the Joint Committee on the draft Modern Slavery Bill and the Joint Committee on Human Rights. It is incongruous to seek to pass world-leading anti-slavery legislation on the one hand and on the other continue with an immigration rule that allows a vulnerable group of workers to be effectively enslaved by their employers. I urge the Government to look again at the domestic worker visa and the increased risks faced by these workers who are unable to escape.
With this Bill we have the chance to be bold and brave. It is an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Wilberforce and make him proud. There is much to be welcomed in the Bill. There is strong support, but there are areas for further development and I look forward to debating the issues in the House as we move forward on this legislation.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of Cradley, who I know has done so much on this Bill. I am also greatly looking forward to hearing the maiden speech by the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, who is someone I have known for many years. We were in the European Parliament at the same time.
Like so many of the previous speakers, I greatly welcome the Bill. It is an opportunity to protect some of the most vulnerable in society and to remove practices that really should have no place in 21st-century Britain. It is a highly complex subject which crosses over into immigration policy, employment law, trade and economic policy and, in the sense that so many of the issues arise from the source countries in the first instance, international development and foreign policy.
The process of pre-legislative scrutiny and the considerable number of concessions made on Report in the House of Commons are also greatly to be welcomed and in particular the concessions made on the supply chain. But it is extremely important to seize this opportunity to ensure that the Bill is exemplary and as world class as possible and where necessary to enable further progress as circumstances change in the future. We should remember that this is an excellent start, but it is only the beginning of a process in eradicating these appalling crimes.
My noble friend Lady Hamwee, as the lead spokesperson from the Liberal Democrat Benches, will cover the Bill in some detail in her speech and my noble friend Lady Doocey will concentrate on issues of child exploitation in her speech, an area in which she has a considerable amount of expertise. I shall limit myself to three areas of the Bill, where I believe that further clarification, probing and possibly further changes would be welcome—the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, issues surrounding the definition of exploitation, and issues of the accountability and independence of the Anti-slavery Commissioner.
Unlike many noble Lords who have spoken, I am not an expert on this subject. My personal interest stems from an interest and involvement in issues of homelessness and the spread of infectious diseases such as TB, particularly in London. It comes also from a concern for some migrant workers who have found themselves trapped in a spiral of exploitation that is very hard to escape.
I think particularly of a young Bulgarian homeless man whom I got to know earlier this year. One day he told me that he was extremely pleased to have been offered work on a building site in south London. He was especially pleased that accommodation was also being provided. I accept that it is perfectly possible that everything has worked out well for him, and that he has employment and accommodation now, but I would like reassurance that this Bill will result in it becoming much harder in future for someone like this young homeless Bulgarian man to be exploited by an unscrupulous gangmaster.
An excellent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation of June this year lists some truly horrific examples of forced labour and exploitation that should have no place in 21st-century Britain. The wages of some of these exploited workers are often tied to their living in pretty appalling, cramped accommodation, resulting in a very real risk of an infectious disease such as TB. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority is extremely highly regarded by the organisations to which we have had the opportunity to speak and may already be stretched to full capacity on its current resources. But it is worth exploring whether its remit can in some way be extended also to cover the construction, catering and hospitality industries where we know that risks of labour exploitation exist.
The second area where I hope that we can probe more deeply is in the definition of exploitation and whether there is a case for a separate offence of exploitation. I would like to seek reassurance that the current definitions do not accidentally result in loopholes.
My final point is about the independence and accountability of the Anti-slavery Commissioner. I would like us to explore in Committee whether there should be an annual report to Parliament.
As I said in my opening remarks, this is a good and welcome Bill, but we need to seize the opportunity to ensure that it is a truly world-class piece of legislation.
My Lords, I was privileged to be on the Joint Select Committee and I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bates, on his very positive introduction. I also express my appreciation to the Government for listening and being willing to negotiate and explore options as this legislation unfolds.
I remind your Lordships that this is not just a huge and wicked crime. It is, as the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, says, increasing as we talk, massively. It treats human beings as commodities to be traded. The challenge of this legislation is to stop this practice. I am delighted that the Government are committed to producing a slavery strategy to complement the Bill and I hope that many of our concerns can be refined through that strategy. I would like to raise three of four things that might benefit from further scrutiny and wider debate in our process.
The issue of supply chains, about which the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, has spoken, sparked a debate a few weeks ago. It is good that the Government have listened and have a genuine commitment to trying to tackle supply chains, which are key to this appalling crime. At the moment, the connection is not clear enough between the kind of information required, by asking companies to be more transparent about supply chains, and the accountability of directors for listening to that information and doing something about it. Many companies already put things about supply chains on their websites, but, as I have said, the crime is increasing. We must be more focused, sharper and tougher.
It may be important to think about the Companies Act being amended, although I know that this is not popular and is continually sidelined. This is not least because the Government have admitted that they recognise that human rights reporting includes supply chain integrity. However, an amendment to connect our aspirations in this Bill with an amendment to the Companies Act would require shareholders and directors to be accountable for what the company was doing with supply chains, and it would be a model that other countries that have companies Acts but not legislation about slavery could easily follow and get up to speed on, and therefore it would be a world leader. It would create a level playing field for all companies, so I flag up the Companies Act as a way of strengthening what we are trying to do.
Also with regard to supply chains, I want to mention the issue of scale. The Government are committed to finding a level at which companies will be required to do some kind of reporting, but the way our economy is developing, with the devolution of much activity into very small-scale, local subcontracting enterprises, that is where much slavery happens, and it is well out of the purview of major operators, which have a vast scale of operation. My right reverend friend the Bishop of Norwich, who is in his place, has been talking to me about evidence from Norfolk that points to a strong connection between something as basic as a car wash and a traded group of people who are doing that labour. It is very difficult to catch that kind of gangmaster activity, where people gather a group of people, force them to do the job, pay them peanuts, often confiscate their passports and entrap them where they do not know the language and do not have connections.
That is why I welcome the suggestion that the Gangmasters Licensing Authority has it remit extended, because part of the problem is we have a very low level of inspection. If the GLA had a wider remit and a stronger base to do inspections, that could be helpful. Another case I referred to briefly in our debate a couple of weeks ago was that in Derbyshire the local police, with the GLA, are targeting companies that might be susceptible to trafficking in their systems and going out to do preventive work, to help them recognise the signs, take appropriate measures and improve their performance. If the GLA had more resources and a wider remit, it could do proactive preventive work as well as inspections and helping with challenging the crime more directly.
I also flag up an amendment in the Commons, which was unsuccessful, introduced by a member of the Select Committee, Fiona Mactaggart, about demand in terms of the sex trade. Although I do not think it would be suitable to have legislation in this Bill about prostitution and criminalising payment for sex, many countries, especially the Nordic countries, have done a lot of work to show that sexual exploitation flourishes through prostitution and that where there has been legislation to criminalise the purchase of sex—which is the commodification of other human beings—that has had a dramatic effect on the level of sexual exploitation and slavery.
I will briefly say something about the national referral mechanism. I congratulate Jeremy Oppenheim on his report and will just pick out a phrase that I think is very helpful for what we are trying to do. He says that we should not talk about first responders—who sound like some kind of St John Ambulance coming in from the touchline—but should call the people on the front line “slavery safeguarding leads”. Slavery is a safeguarding issue. It is about vulnerable adults being taken advantage of, and if we can use the word “safeguarding”, that makes sense to people in our culture and our society. I also endorse the very important point he makes, which we may want to pursue further, when he says that the 45 days, which we all know is inadequate for many purposes, is not a period for rehabilitation. We may need to separate out what space we need to make decisions about legal process and what space we need to try to support people, rehabilitate them and put them back on their feet.
Finally, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, mentioned the need to have a victim-centred Bill. We have to find a way of privileging victims because they are so abused and so sinned against. At the moment victims fall at many fences. Legal aid changes are beginning to put them in a disadvantaged place in trying to secure any legal support. With benefits systems, residency, housing, jobseeker’s allowance and all those kinds of things, the norms that we have for those bits of welfare activity are making it very hard for people who have been enslaved and have no documents or a settled address to access the welfare system. I wonder whether there is some way of privileging people once they have been recognised as having been exploited or enslaved, to give them a different way of accessing benefits and support because they have been enslaved and treated as commodities. That would make an enormous difference.
Finally, I welcome the nomination of Kevin Hyland as the first Anti-slavery Commissioner. I, too, have had the privilege of working with him and he is one of the great experts in our country. He has been at the forefront of putting victims at the front of this legislation and the work of the Metropolitan Police. He could be an exciting ally in this kind of work. I welcome the Bill and look forward to debating some of the big issues, but I plead that we think seriously about recognising how commodified people are in slavery and about whether they need a special prioritisation through the welfare system.
My Lords, I am really pleased to speak on this very important Bill. It is very important because we are speaking about victims of modern slavery. There is much in the Bill that I welcome: simplifying existing slavery and trafficking offences; increasing maximum sentences; creating civil orders and establishing a legal duty to report potential victims of trafficking to the National Crime Agency. All of these seem like sensible measures to improve detection, enforcement and punishment.
However, I am concerned that the Bill says very little about what will be done to help and support the victims of slavery. It is almost as if the physical, emotional and practical impact on those affected by this terrible crime has somehow been forgotten in the drive to bring the perpetrators to justice. I therefore speak on Parts 4 and 5 of the Bill today. We are told that legislation is not the only way that the Government will seek to tackle modern slavery and that there is a non-legislative programme of action but placing support for victims of slavery on a statutory footing would send out a very powerful message. It would say that victims of slavery have a legal right to help and that it is not being given as a concession or favour. The Government have recently announced their intention to introduce a law for victims of crime, so why should victims of slavery be excluded?
I know there is excellent help and support available for victims of slavery. Earlier this year, I saw for myself the work of the Salvation Army when I visited its safe houses. I would like to pay tribute to the Salvation Army for the outstanding work that it does in this field. I met a number of women who had been trafficked for prostitution and domestic servitude. One woman, Esther, left Nigeria with her mother when she was 14 to go on what she thought was a holiday. After a week, her mother left and she was forced into domestic servitude where she was beaten, starved and abused. After three years, she escaped but supported herself through prostitution and was too scared to go to the authorities. It was only when she was picked up by the immigration services several years later that she was referred to the Salvation Army. There, she has had counselling to help her come to terms with what had happened to her, as well as practical help to resolve her immigration status, find accommodation and prepare to find employment.
The staff at the Salvation Army house were nothing but short of incredible yet a vast amount of their time was taken up with dealing with the bureaucratic processes relating to immigration status, benefits and other practical issues. I appreciate that decisions about someone’s right to remain in this country cannot be made overnight, but I ask my noble friend the Minister to think about what it might feel like to be Esther, who has escaped years of abuse and is now safe. What must it feel like not to know whether she will be sent back to Nigeria and what might await her there? She does not know whether her mother was complicit in her being trafficked or what she could do to support herself if she was returned. This will clearly make her vulnerable to further abuses, including the risk of being retrafficked.
Delays in decision-making do not mean just that an organisation has not met its targets; it also means that somebody’s liberty, security and safety are at stake. I ask my noble friend the Minister to ensure that all government departments work smarter together to ensure that victims of slavery receive that emotional, physical and practical support in a much more co-ordinated, consistent and timely manner. We need local authorities to take responsibility for supporting recognised victims of human trafficking as “vulnerable adults” and to provide suitable housing for them. The sad fact is that very few local authorities do this. Victims of slavery also need support if they are to provide evidence against their abusers in court and they must not be abandoned afterwards. Using victims for our own purpose of securing a conviction and then failing to support them afterwards risks abusing them all over again.
I welcome the steps being taken to reduce the prosecution of victims where the criminal act has been intrinsically linked to their enslavement. I welcome the review of the national referral mechanism, particularly those recommendations related to victims who are moving on from Salvation Army safe houses. I know that the Salvation Army is confident that its subcontractors make every effort to ensure the safety and well-being of victims leaving the service. Many of them provide programmes and “drop-ins” while others provide an “open door” to those who still wish to remain in contact for occasional advice and support. Some of this post-exit support has been funded by the Salvation Army’s victim care fund, but otherwise this funding has had to be found by the subcontractors. We must ensure that support for victims is adequately funded.
The recently announced Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of human trafficking. I wish him well in taking up this new role. However, apart from a statement that the commissioner will act strongly in the interests of victims and potential victims by making sure that the law enforcement response to modern slavery is focused, co-ordinated and effective, there is very little substance on what support will be made available for the victims. As Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, I look forward to an early meeting with the commissioner to see how best both our roles can complement each other to ensure that each and every victim gets the help and support that they need.
I know that every one of us in your Lordships’ House feels angry and sickened by the existence of this wicked trade in what we call a “modern society” and that we all agree that detection, prevention and prosecution are important. However, it is just as important to include provisions for emotional, professional and legal support for these victims of crime lest we forget that behind every statistic on modern slavery is a human being in grave danger and in a lot of pain.
My Lords, I rise for the first time in your Lordships’ noble House, and in so doing I respect the normal courtesies of thanks and recognition. But this time it is so very different.
I seek no support, no sympathy in what I am about to say, because it is a matter of fact—though, to me, of huge significance. Three days before I was introduced to this noble House, my partner of 31 years, and husband of eight years, Paul Cottingham, died after a ferocious battle with cancer. Before he died, I spoke of maybe postponing my introduction to another time. We spoke, too, of him attending with the necessary medical assistance. It was not to be. But his insistence was that I enter this House, this noble House, and nobility it has shown me and Paul’s family. Kindness and understanding have come from all quarters: the catering personnel; Mr Phipps and the doorkeepers; the staff and officers; Nicola Rivis in Black Rod’s office; and your Lordships. That is why my thanks today are not part of the usual courtesy: they are as urgent and sincere as any I have ever felt. This is public life at its best. I thank the leader of the Opposition, my right honourable friend Ed Miliband, and his staff, particularly Anna Yearley and Rachel Kinnock, for the love, care and deep affection they have shown me; and—if noble Lords will allow me—the all-embracing care of my Labour Party family. I have found this truly humbling.
My journey to this House has been, in comparison to the lives of others, good. Yet I am fully aware that I have not achieved a place in your Lordships’ House on my own. Thousands of generations of people before me have made possible what I have today by their sacrifices and through the challenges, discrimination and persecution that they faced; minorities of all different hues, but all experiencing one thing in common—inhumane and degrading treatment.
As a gay man who grew up in the fifties—and after the ray of hope of decriminalisation in the 1960s there followed new legislative discrimination in 1988—I can never forget the sacrifices of LGBTI people, and the sacrifices they are still making, despite progress, today. It is through them and because of them, and other much maligned and misrepresented minorities, that I am here today. I do not take that responsibility lightly. Indeed, I am deeply honoured to have recently been appointed as the leader of the Opposition’s global envoy on LGBTI issues—a challenging task.
Of course, at times I will fail. However, if to succeed is our objective, then to fail in trying to do so should be understood. All human beings who imagine a better future, which we do with this Bill, and seek to achieve it, will fall short. It is the intention, the persistence and the weight of time and respect for it that matter most, especially when giving a voice to those who otherwise would remain unheard and unnoticed. That is why I wanted to speak in this debate today, because central to the issues we are discussing are human rights and civil liberties—or rather the denial of those rights.
I make no pretence at being an expert on the minutiae of the Bill, but since when has that ever stopped anyone offering their opinion? However, I have listened carefully to those who are experts and it is clear that there is room for improvement—as noble Lords have already outlined—in particular, in relation to overseas domestic workers; migrant workers; specific offences of child and adult exploitation; measures relating to the supply chains of UK companies; and coherence with the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.
It is worth reminding ourselves that these practices are not happening in some remote part of the United Kingdom or on the other side of the world; they are happening in our cities, our towns, our villages, in the things we buy, the services we employ and the people we subcontract. It is all around us: the exploitation of women, children and men—women, children and men who dare to imagine a better life, and seeking that better life are impoverished and subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment. It has always happened in our society, and it has always happened to migrants in particular. It happened to generations of migrants who made their way to this beacon of democracy, fleeing wars, famine, persecution and wanton discrimination—like my own family, who crossed continents and then the Irish Sea—arriving not welcomed but abused. It is happening still.
Those of us in public life should always be careful about the language we use. Each and every time migrants and minorities are defamed and misrepresented, there are consequences. If we dehumanise people, is it any wonder that others feel they have a licence to treat them as subhuman? The search for the scapegoat has happened for centuries and never more so than in times of economic downturn. However, I sense I am straying into the used bathwater of controversy so I merely say this. I have every hope that the Bill will address these abhorrent injustices. I therefore also hope that the Minister will take on board amendments to deliver effective and dissuasive measures across the board. Now is not the time to reinforce a hierarchy of equality.
Before I pay my final thanks, let me quickly put the Bill into a broader context. I believe that at the heart of everything we do, we should reinforce the concept of civil liberties and responsibilities, and universal human rights. The Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights were both born from the ashes of the Second World War—so too was the concept of the European Union—ensuring that all citizens would have a basic set of transferable rights; that borders would not inhibit those human rights; nor would one group, nationality or minority be bartered away for another’s short-term gain or short-term freedom.
I state that because it has become all too fashionable to argue for change without knowing what you actually want to achieve. The EU, born out of the ashes of the Second World War, has at its heart a small set of fundamental principles that must not be diluted. To do so, especially in times of economic downturn and crisis, would once again raise the ugly face of narrow nationalism, pitting nation against nation, minority against minority. In the end, it is always the individual who suffers.
Finally, I cannot help but reflect that I was born in Limehouse, east London, three weeks before my time, primarily due to my mother attempting to defend my father in a street fight outside Stepney East station. It has been a long road, with many a fight along the way, metaphorically, and I am sure that there are more to come, but the results have been worth it. So, as I began, I thank my dear friends Lady Turner of Camden and Lady Kinnock for agreeing to sponsor me into this noble House. They are two noble ladies whom I have had the comfort and privilege to work with and admire and whom I hold in the highest esteem. I thank your Lordships.
My Lords, I am sure that I speak for the whole House when I say that the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, has the sympathy of the whole House for the loss of his partner of 31 years at such a crucial time in his life.
It is a pleasure to speak following the noble Lord and a privilege to thank him, on behalf of the whole House, for his brilliant maiden speech. He became a household name in 1986, when he was cast as Colin Russell in the BBC programme “EastEnders”. I have no doubt that he is destined to become famous again in a different programme, or House. I have to disappoint him, however, because I have never watched the programme. My excuse is that by the time I was ready to watch it, he had departed the programme, so there was not much point.
As the noble Lord mentioned, he has championed the cause of human rights and civil liberties all his life, and no doubt we will continue to hear him do that. Following the controversy of Section 28, together with Ian McKellen he founded Stonewall. In this House, we heard a lot about Stonewall during the passage of the Bill on gay rights.
As a Member of the European Parliament, elected in 1999, he also used that position to defend human rights and civil liberties. He was successful in introducing legislation in the European Parliament. He served on the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee between 1998 and 1999 and again between 2001 and 2012, serving as chair in his last year. Following that, I wonder whether he is destined for high office on the Front Bench in this House in due course.
Michael received a special service award, I am pleased to say, from the American Association of Physicians for Human Rights—they do not give awards lightly—and an honorary doctorate from Staffordshire University for his work in the field of human rights. We look forward to hearing him many times, and I thank him today for his maiden speech.
I turn now to the Bill to make my small contribution. Before I do so, I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord McColl, and to the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, who have both championed the cause of trafficked children and modern slavery for some time. It is in no small measure due to them that we have this Bill today.
I listened very carefully, and with great respect, to both their contributions and I listened to the caution the noble and learned Baroness gave about us not striving to get too much in the way of changes to the legislation. However, I also listened to my noble friend Lord McColl—the fraternity of medicine and friendship goes well beyond the politics of the House, so I refer to him as my friend, my senior friend. I listened very carefully to his plea for trafficked children in particular, and that we make sure that the legislation protects them.
I also congratulate the Government on bringing this Bill forward. It goes a significant way to eliminating in the UK the modern form of slavery, which is, as the Explanatory Notes say, a brutal form of organised crime that treats vulnerable human beings, mostly women and children, as commodities. However, the Bill is more about prosecuting those who traffic, and it goes a long way towards doing so. However, it is light in legislation that would provide victim support, and in this area the Bill could be strengthened.
I recognise the Government’s commitment to tackling slavery, child trafficking and exploitation. However, the Bill misses an opportunity to afford better protection for child victims. The fact that there has not been a single prosecution for child trafficking proves the point, I think: it may well be linked to poor victim support. It is despite the 600 to 1,000 children who, it is estimated, are trafficked. The Bill needs to include a specific offence of child exploitation and trafficking. I look forward to the arguments of the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, as to why that might not be necessary—if she agrees—in Committee.
Given the vulnerability of children, current law relating to the offence of human trafficking fails children, in part due to those charged with protecting them not fully understanding the law. That may well be the cause of the lack of prosecutions. On Report in the Commons, the Minister indicated that she was minded to consider the issue of consent as it applies to children. The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, also referred to that: children held in slavery, servitude and required to perform forced labour. If that is the intention, why not include it in the Bill by amending Clause 47, as part of the new offence of child exploitation? Children will then get justice, where they currently seem not to.
Legislation also needs to go further in relation to child trafficking advocates. The noble Lord, Lord McColl, has championed this for many a year, if not for decades. While the amendment introduced in the Commons to what is now Clause 47(5) makes it clear that advocates must act in the best interests of the child, legislation needs to be extended to give child trafficking advocates legal powers—powers that include holding authorities to account and instructing solicitors on behalf of the child, in order to truly represent their best interests. An advocate acting as a friend—even a litigation friend, as suggested—does not fulfil the need to instruct solicitors nor compel local authorities to act to enable children to access the services that they need.
An amendment to Clause 47 should also be extended to include the provision of legal advocates for all separated migrant children, as recommended by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Evidence shows that separated migrant children are often trafficked and the vulnerability of these children is already recognised in international law—and, within the United Kingdom, by Scotland and Northern Ireland. Why would it therefore be inappropriate to do the same in the rest of the UK?
Perhaps I may speak briefly about the role of the so-called independent anti-slavery commissioner. If the Government are to meet their ambition of truly making the UK free from modern slavery, the anti-slavery commissioner needs to have wider powers—powers that include true independence from the Government by reporting to Parliament, and powers to monitor victim assistance measures, to collect data from a wide range of other bodies and to monitor the impact of policies and legislation. The current powers of the commissioner, as stated in the Bill, are too narrow and will not deliver the improvement in prosecution and conviction rates that the Government wish to have. In her recent statements, the Home Secretary recognised the need for victim support and the protection of victims. Why should we not then have those in the powers of the commissioner? The argument put forward by the Government—that the role of the anti-slavery commissioner should not duplicate the roles of other commissioners—is weak. That argument was rejected by the Joint Committee on Human Rights and should be rejected by this House.
The victim protection provision in Part 5 also needs to be further strengthened to include, as has been mentioned, a duty on public authorities to assist victims and to include protection for migrant domestic workers on the overseas domestic workers’ visa. The current rules relating to employment and visa renewal end up with these workers being treated as modern-day slaves. If the legislation is different in other parts of the United Kingdom, my one question to the Minister would be: how would a commissioner whose responsibility goes throughout the United Kingdom be able to deliver efficiency unless the legislation is similar in all parts of the United Kingdom?
My Lords, first, I declare an interest as a vice-chair of the All-Party Group on Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery. I, too, served on the Joint Committee that looked at the draft Modern Slavery Bill. The dedication and sense of shared purpose with which members of all parties carried out the committee’s work is a testament to the excellent leadership of our chair, Frank Field MP. It is therefore regrettable that the Government chose to ignore many of the committee’s recommendations.
I, too, applaud the Home Secretary for bringing forward the long-overdue Bill. However, a number of issues need to be addressed to turn this into a Bill which would set the standard for the rest of the world. My key interest in the Bill is in offences against children, an area which is not adequately covered. Part 1 requires evidence of forced or compulsory labour. However, this should not be required in the case of children. A child can be controlled far more easily than an adult—in many cases, without force or compulsion—so we should accept this and include in the Bill a separate offence for child exploitation. There are a number of circumstances where children are being exploited but which would not be deemed an offence under the Bill, as drafted. Let me give just three examples.
The first is of children being exploited for benefit fraud. A regular scam being used is for a female so-called relative to claim that a child’s mother has been killed in her home country. She then claims asylum for the child, whom she says she is now looking after. If officers allow the child to stay with the woman, she will receive asylum support until the child reaches the age of 16. The same child is then passed from one person to another for the sole purpose of making multiple claims for the same child in various parts of the UK.
My second example concerns children being brought in from baby farms for the purpose of illegal adoption. The CPS has continually failed to demonstrate how it will prosecute anyone for the trafficking of babies and infants. Because infants cannot, by definition, give evidence, these cases simply cannot reach the threshold for slavery, or forced or compulsory labour. An offence of child exploitation would be an unambiguous solution to this problem.
My final example concerns children being exploited for criminal purposes such as begging. Children cannot consent to being exploited, but in most cases they will accept what they are being asked to do by family members without question, because doing what adults tell them is considered normal. Exploiting children is big business. The Metropolitan Police estimates that each child used for begging in London can bring in up to £100,000 per annum for their gangmaster. The committee on which I sat recommended a specific offence which says simply that it is illegal to exploit a child, or to obtain benefit from the use of a child, for the purpose of exploitation. That is simple, yet, for reasons which I fail to comprehend, the Government do not agree. However, those charities that work daily with vulnerable children, including UNICEF, the Children’s Society and ECPAT, believe that the case for a separate child exploitation offence is overwhelming. They are right.
I will briefly mention one other area of the Bill which I believe needs to be enhanced. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of Cradley, I, too, have concerns about Clause 45, which provides a statutory defence for slavery or trafficking victims who are compelled to commit a criminal offence. This does not go far enough to protect children, because to be able to use the protection of this defence, an already traumatised child needs to prove that they were compelled to commit an offence and, in addition, that it was a direct result of slavery or trafficking. This is an unnecessary burden and goes against our human rights obligations, because we are required to ensure that trafficked children are protected and not treated as criminals when the crimes they commit are integral to, or consequent on, their trafficking or exploitation.
In conclusion, the National Crime Agency estimates that more than 600 children were trafficked into the UK in 2013 for the purposes of exploitation. This is, on average, almost two children every day. Girls were exploited predominantly sexually and boys largely for criminal or labour purposes. These are shocking statistics, but there is a general consensus among all the agencies that work in this field that the true figure is likely to be significantly higher. People trafficking is the second or third largest source of income for organised crime, up there with drugs and the arms trade. We must do everything in our power to enable the police to prosecute these criminals.
The way we treat our children defines us as a society. It is almost beyond belief that child slavery and exploitation is still happening in this country. A separate child exploitation offence would make a fundamental difference to the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of children who are being exploited daily. This is a golden opportunity. Let us not waste it.
My Lords, it is an honour to be standing here today, but I stand with some trepidation knowing the history and experience that precede me. This is indeed a place full of expertise. My journey over the past few weeks from Robing Room to maiden speech has been made a great deal easier by the overwhelming kindness shown by your Lordships, the officers and staff and my supporters, my noble friends Lord King and Lady Jenkin, and my mentor, my noble friend Lord Mancroft. This is indeed a welcoming place, especially as it serves crumpets and Marmite for tea. My father, John Egremont, introduced a debate on 13 July 1965 on the Motion that,
“speeches in this House should be shorter”.
Being well brought up, I have of course always taken careful note of any advice given to me by my father, so I will not keep your Lordships long.
I speak for the first time in your Lordships’ House with a sense of how much I would like to contribute to the quality of legislation and seriousness of debate that is so important to our democracy. I have chosen this debate for my maiden speech because over many years as a registered nurse and a former leading Samaritan and, more recently, given my involvement with a drug and alcohol treatment centre in Gloucestershire, I have real concerns about vulnerable people in our society.
I have told your Lordships a little about myself but now I turn to the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking and the growing number of victims being moved across the globe, robbed of their liberty and forced into a life of servitude. As a former nurse and charity worker, I have seen vulnerable people used by manipulative criminals to promote their illegal profiteering. Modern slavery and human trafficking is recognised as one of the most financially lucrative crimes committed domestically and internationally. For the organised crime group it is a low-risk and high-profit pursuit, but for the victims it is a harrowing and traumatic experience and one they will never forget.
As I stand here before your Lordships, there are men, women and children in the UK who have no life at all. They are trafficked into this country and duped into a life of prostitution, labour exploitation, petty crime and domestic slavery, and they are kept in conditions that would seem unimaginable to anyone lucky enough to enjoy hot food and a bed. The key drivers are lack of education, poverty, limited opportunities, an unstable home, unstable Governments and conflicts. It is difficult to estimate how many victims we have in the UK, but in 2013 more than 2,500 cases of slavery were reported to UK law enforcement agencies. We can assume that this is a gross underestimate because this is a crime that all too often goes unseen, and the criminals who trade in human beings work underground.
Nearly two years ago the Centre for Social Justice published a report, It Happens Here, which made a number of recommendations. I am proud to be a supporter of a Government who have subsequently brought forward a modern-day slavery Bill. However, this is just an opening chapter of a horror story which, sadly, is fact, not fiction, and has more chapters to go before we can feel comfortable enough to close the book.
I have said that I come from a nursing background. I would like to see more victims identified and treated, not just for the visible scars derived from beatings and coercion but for those mental scars that run more deeply and last much longer. We all of us have a part to play in helping victims of modern-day slavery and human trafficking: communities, local authorities, the educational establishment, health workers—the list is not exhaustive. Law enforcement has a key role to play in working with all groups to ensure that we have a joined-up approach.
Catching more criminals will surely lead to fewer victims. Importantly, we need to provide the kind of services that help victims to become survivors. It is imperative for the victims to have the right support from the moment that they are identified. The evidence that they give is helped by the effectiveness and quality of support that they receive.
Liz Hales from the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University said, “You’re being processed along a conveyor belt and unless you have someone to hold your hand, you are lost”. We must ensure that the victims are never again vulnerable to the evil slave drivers who will commit any act, however inhumane, in the name of profit.
I thank your Lordships for the opportunity to speak today, but mindful of my father’s views on the length of speeches, I feel I should now stop. I look forward to contributing to your Lordships’ work in the future and will consider it an honour to do so.
My Lords, it is a great pleasure and privilege to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Chisholm of Owlpen, on her superb maiden speech. It was a powerful, moving and very constructive response to the important Bill before us today. As someone with a nursing background myself, it is an especial delight to welcome another former nurse to your Lordships’ House. As the noble Baroness was speaking, I thought that perhaps the fundamental values underpinning her commitment to a major caring profession, were reflected in the sensitivity and compassion of a truly memorable maiden speech. I look forward very much to sharing nursing interests in the Chamber and, in nursing parlance, off duty. However, I am sure that every noble Lord here today looks forward greatly to benefiting from the noble Baroness’s distinctive contributions very soon and very often.
I warmly commend the Government for introducing this path-breaking legislation to endeavour to eradicate the barbaric phenomenon of slavery, which continues to inflict indescribable suffering on millions of men, women and children in our world today. I welcome many of the provisions in the Bill. As time is limited, I will focus not on those which I strongly endorse but on three ways in which I sincerely hope that the Bill will be amended in order to achieve its worthy aims.
The first issue relates to the Bill’s failure adequately to tackle slavery in supply chains, as has already been highlighted by many other noble Lords. Forced labour and slavery are flourishing in our global supply chains of raw materials and manufactured goods. I myself may inadvertently be wearing clothes and eating food rendered cheap by slave labour. Every day, millions of modern-day slaves are forced to work in appalling conditions for derisory or no pay. Their suffering is too often hidden at the bottom of long, complex international supply chains which allow some big companies to abdicate responsibility and ignore the suffering involved in the manufacture of many low-price products. The majority are in the private sector, particularly in manufacture, construction and agriculture.
Excellent research by a number of NGOs has exposed the routine use of forced labour in the supply chains of some of the biggest British high-street stores and supermarkets. According to the International Labour Organization, this form of slavery generates an annual profit of $150 billion. Therefore, legislation to ensure scrutiny of the exploitation and working conditions of those at the very bottom of the supply chain is crucial. I join other noble Lords in welcoming the Government’s agreement to include measures to address this issue in this Bill.
However, it is essential that minimum measures of disclosure will be specified. This will not only meet the Government’s aspirations for greater transparency but provide a level playing field for business. Therefore, requiring big businesses to state publicly what action they have taken to eliminate slavery from their supply chains is a significant step forward.
But the devil is in the detail. It is essential that minimum measures of disclosure are specified, particularly the requirements, as mentioned by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby, that such information be published in each company’s directors’ report and that this reporting should be annual and progressive. This will demonstrate that businesses are operating ethically and that those which eliminate slavery from their supply chains will not be disadvantaged. This has been welcomed by many business leaders, such as one who said, “We warmly welcome this legislation as it will level the playing field for us. We are free of slavery in our practices here in the UK and we want our global competitors to be, too”.
The second issue I wish to highlight has already been emphasised by a number of other noble Lords. I refer, briefly, to the plight of overseas domestic workers, who remain excluded in spite of strong recommendations from the Joint Committee on the draft Bill. It found that the current visa system, introduced in April 2012,
“unintentionally strengthened the hand of the slave master against the victim of slavery”,
and recommended the restoration of the pre-2012 visa. All the evidence shows that migrant domestic workers remain in a situation of vulnerability, which is morally unacceptable and which undermines the intentions of the Bill. The protections for migrant domestic workers promised by the Minister, such as handing them an information card on entry to the UK or clarifying the contracts submitted with applications for the visa, are welcome, but they cannot replace the basic rights of changing employer and renewing a visa. I hope that the Minister will be able to give assurance of sympathetic consideration of amending the Bill to solve that problem.
The third area where I wish to see the Bill amended relates to the global perspective of slavery. The title of the report from the Modern Slavery Bill Evidence Review, Establishing Britain as a World Leader in the Fight against Modern Slavery, reflects the laudable aspirations of the Government. However, while tackling modern slavery in the UK—including human trafficking—is a moral imperative, it may not impact what is truly a global issue and may also move the problem to other areas of the globe. The Global Slavery Index estimates the number of slaves in the UK to be between 4,200 and 4,600. While that is 4,200 or 4,600 too many, and nothing can lessen the tragedy for each individual, it is a drop in the ocean compared with the global estimate of nearly 30 million.
In my humanitarian work with victims of oppression I have been involved with the redemption of hundreds of slaves in Sudan, abducted by the regime in Khartoum; I have met victims of sexual slavery and forced labour in Burma; children and teenagers abducted by the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, who were subjected to indescribable brutality; and devadasi, or temple prostitutes, in India. I have heard, too often, their anguished, heart-wrenching stories. Their experiences also highlight the need for appropriate aftercare, which is currently inadequate in this country, but which is sadly all too often completely lacking for victims in other countries.
We have a moral responsibility to work on behalf of those who are exploited, wherever they are in the world. To be a truly global leader, Britain must give a rallying call to all countries and work with as many countries as possible to tackle slavery wherever it happens. The Bill provides an opportunity to address slavery and the suffering it inflicts on its victims wherever it exists, and it would be shameful not to take that opportunity now.
While recognising the limitations of legislating on global slavery in the same manner as slavery in this country, three actions could be taken. First, a statutory statement within the Bill which recognised modern slavery as a global issue requiring a global solution and which committed the United Kingdom to assist with exposing and tackling it wherever it exists would be an important signal and declaration of intent. That would need to be followed by Britain taking the initiative in launching collaborative programmes with business, NGOs, public bodies and local communities, sharing expertise, knowledge, intelligence, resources, best practice and political leadership which would engage every sector of society in the fight against slavery.
Secondly, there should be a requirement for all British embassies, high commissions and consulates to assess the prevalence of slavery in the countries where they are located, regardless of whether there is a direct link to the UK, and to support collaborative programmes, especially on-the-ground anti-trafficking and anti-slavery initiatives. Thirdly, the publication of an annual report would assess the extent of modern slavery globally, the progress of measures to address the issue, give an overview of initiatives undertaken by the FCO, DfID and other UK departments, as well as by UK-based NGOs, and would identify actions that would still need to be taken.
If the Bill is to achieve the Government’s stated intention to establish Britain as a,
“world leader in the fight against modern slavery”,
the UK must be at the forefront of making everywhere in the world a “no-go zone” for human trafficking and slavery, shining a light on modern slavery wherever it is taking place and facilitating the sharing of skills, expertise and resources to expose and eradicate slavery in all its forms, everywhere. Only then can Britain truly claim to be a world leader.