Clause 2 - Human trafficking

Modern Slavery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:45 pm ar 2 Medi 2014.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of David Burrowes David Burrowes Ceidwadwyr, Enfield, Southgate 3:45, 2 Medi 2014

I beg to move amendment 41, in clause 2, page 2, line 26, at end insert—

‘(8) A person commits an offence if he is the Director, Employer, Employee, Occupier and/or concerned in the management of any premises or business and he knowingly permits or suffers any of the activities detailed in sections 1 and 2 to take place on those premises.”

Photo of Mark Pritchard Mark Pritchard Ceidwadwyr, The Wrekin

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 54, in clause 3, page 3, line 16, at end insert—

“(d) is in a situation where their employment could reasonably be constituted as slavery, wherever in the world they are employed, if their employment is related to services or goods for sale in the UK”.

Photo of David Burrowes David Burrowes Ceidwadwyr, Enfield, Southgate

It is me again. Amendment 41 is a probing amendment to elicit some assurances from the Minister. It seeks to amend the clause to ensure agencies and businesses that are involved in sometimes lengthy human trafficking chains can be held to account for their part in the process; we want to ensure they are covered.

I welcome the reference in subsection (3) to the variety of acts that comprise human trafficking. The clause recognises that the modern form of human trafficking involves a chain of people. The amendment would spell out more clearly that trafficking can involve many people at different stages, and is not confined to the simple case of a person physically transporting a victim from one place to another. With the clause, the Government seek to recognise, cover and catch everybody involved in trafficking. I recognise that the offence as it stands can, in theory, be prosecuted against legal persons—companies as well as individuals—so the Minister may reassure me that my amendment is not necessary. However, I am concerned that it may not be possible in all cases to demonstrate personal involvement. The amendment seeks to deal practically with how personally involved somebody is in a business, whether they are involved with the business to the degree required for an offence, or whether they simply have a relationship with the property where the trafficking is taking place.

Hope for Justice, an organisation I have mentioned before that does an excellent job throughout the country, told me it is increasingly coming across agencies and businesses that are involved with traffickers. However, there is some doubt about whether the full extent of a trafficking offence could be proven against, say, the director of a business that uses an agency to supply labour, even if the agency itself could be prosecuted. The amendment would allow for the prosecution of the key individuals in that business, and would allow for those involved in the operation and management of the business or its premises to be prosecuted for human trafficking offences where they have allowed trafficking to take place on those premises. The Minister talked about the issue of education, and the law can take a lead in providing education about responsibilities. The amendment would place a responsibility on employers and businesses, and also on landlords and tenants who allow their premises to be used for prostitution. We will have further debates about the procurement of those services when we come to clause 5.

The offence may dissuade disreputable companies. It may lead to a culture change that would prevent managers from turning a blind eye to human trafficking occurring in their premises or businesses and it may encourage companies to be more proactive in trying to eliminate trafficking within legitimate businesses. At the very least, I hope that the Minister can reassure me that managers of businesses where trafficking is found to have occurred can properly be prosecuted under the Bill, and that she, no doubt beyond legislative terms, is engaging in programmes with businesses to encourage greater responsibility and that proactive approach to seeing what is going on in their premises, and not turning a blind eye or walking on the other side.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 4:00, 2 Medi 2014

I support the aims of the probing amendment that the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate has set out. As has been said, modern slavery is an abhorrent crime. The hon. Gentleman has explained that anyone who in any way facilitates, commits or allows trafficking or servitude, even if they are not  directly behind it, should be guilty of organising an offence. That is a good aim and it will be important to hear what the Minister has to say in response.

The role of landlords needs to be considered, particularly the practice of making available space in houses and converting flats and residential properties so that they can be used as brothels. It would be interesting to explore the liability of the landlord or the managing agent in that context, given what is going on in the property. I welcome the fact that that matter has been brought up and I look forward to the Minister’s comments. Amendment 54 seeks to extend the scope of exploitation as defined by clause 3 to include the supply chains of UK companies in the UK and abroad. I do not suggest that is the only way to get companies to amend their behaviour or to behave better, but the Committee should consider that proposal. I should make it clear that I do not intend to press for a Division, because I understand that we will have an opportunity to debate the bigger issue of supply chains nearer the end of our sittings. However, I bring the amendment to the Committee’s attention to establish the principle that supply chains are an important part of our response to modern slavery, and they need to be a part of our deliberations.

As my right hon. Friend the shadow Home Secretary said on Second Reading, the Opposition believe that the absence of any measure in the Bill to deal with supply chains is one of its biggest failings. I have had extensive discussions with the Clerks about this matter, and I record my thanks to the Committee Clerks, particularly Kate Emms, and the Clerk of Legislation, Jacqy Sharpe, for their advice about how to raise an issue that I think many members of the Committee feel it is important to address. As I said, I plan to come back to supply chains at a later date, but I am conscious that time is pressing and we may not have the opportunity to have that fuller debate later on, so I want to talk a little bit about the issue.

It is important to remind ourselves of some of the issues about supply chains and businesses. One instance relates to the discount clothing store, Primark. In 2008—some years ago—it was reported that Primark had sacked three Indian clothing supply firms after the BBC’s “Panorama” programme found refugee children slaving away in factories for as little as 60p a day making sequinned vests. It was reported:

“Last October, kids as young as 10 were found making clothes for Gap Kids in Delhi. And in 2006, children of eight were found working in Delhi sweatshops, attaching...sequins and beads to clothing destined for the UK and the US.”

One could say that was some time ago, but just this summer there was a report in The Guardian about Asian slave labour producing prawns for supermarkets in the US and UK. A six-month investigation showed that a large of number of men were being bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand collecting prawns destined for supermarkets, including Tesco, Aldi, Morrisons, the Co-op and Iceland. The company responsible is CP Foods, one of the world’s largest prawn producers.

I thought it would be interesting to remind the Committee of this story.

“Men who have managed to escape from boats supplying CP Foods and other companies…told the Guardian of horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style  killings. Some were at sea for years; some were regularly offered [drugs] to keep them going. Some had seen fellow slaves murdered in front of them.

Fifteen migrant workers from Burma and Cambodia also told how they had been enslaved. They said they had paid brokers to help them find work in Thailand in factories or on building sites. But they had been sold instead to boat captains, sometimes for as little as £250.

‘I thought I was going to die,’ said Vuthy, a former monk from Cambodia who was sold from captain to captain. ‘They kept me chained up, they didn't care about me or give me any food … They sold us like animals, but we are not animals – we are human beings.’

Another trafficking victim said he had seen as many as 20 fellow slaves killed in front of him, one of whom was tied, limb by limb, to the bows of four boats and pulled apart at sea.

‘We'd get beaten even if we worked hard,’ said another. ‘All the Burmese, [even] on all the other boats, were trafficked. There were so many of us [slaves] it would be impossible to count them all.’”

That example from June, just a few months ago, shows that the products that we buy in our stores come from a part of the world where slave labour is used. I was also shocked by the company’s response. Bob Miller, CP Foods’ UK managing director, said:

“We know there's issues with regard to the [raw] material that comes in [to port], but to what extent that is, we just don't have visibility.”

That is a damning quote from a company that makes billions in profit every year.

We need to consider such ongoing cases. Many members of the Committee will also have read the letter from the Ethical Trading Initiative, including the 80 corporate members, who are campaigning for legislation on supply chains to be included in the Bill.

When the Minister responds, will she deal with the fact that a clear 82% of the UK public believe that there should be legislation to govern supply chains? The charity sector is equally clear. The Joint Committee, which we have already referred to many times in our deliberations, supported action on that particular issue. I say to the Minister that many businesses including big ones such as Ikea, Tesco and Marks & Spencer want to see legislation rather than a voluntary code.

I know the Minister organised a business summit last month in an attempt to agree a voluntary code. As I understand it, businesses were still pressing the Government to introduce legislation to restore consumer confidence and to create a level playing field. We know that good companies are doing what they need to do, but they are going to be undercut by less scrupulous companies that do not seem to want to consider their supply chains or where their products are actually coming from.

We know that other countries have already started to address the issue, and there is a growing consensus on the need for legislation relating to large companies. I want to stress that I am talking about large international companies. I am mindful of the fact that the Minister is likely to respond by saying that any such legislation would be a burden on businesses, and I know that the coalition Government are keen not to add additional burdens on to businesses, but I am talking about large businesses that are already subject to a number of reporting requirements. I think that telling them that there will be an additional requirement for them to be very clear about their supply chains will make a difference, and it will also put minds at rest among the general public.

From the evidence given by the business community to the Joint Committee, it is clear that there is a belief that legislation could help. Companies already have to comply with conditions relating to due diligence under the Companies Act 2006, for example. What is the Minister’s view on whether such matters should be looked at again? As currently drafted, the Bill does not contain any provisions on supply chains, but it is important that we address the particular issues relating to slave labour.

Will the Minister accept the principle of an amendment relating to UK companies and the supply chain? There are four issues that we must address. I just mentioned how any new measures should cover only large companies, and the first issue is which companies we would want to be covered. I think we would all agree that it would be wrong to impose reporting requirements on smaller businesses or those under a certain size, but what does the Minister think?

Secondly, what exactly do we want companies to report on? Do we ask simply for a report on modern slavery issues? Do we specify the points that must be covered in an annual report, as the Joint Committee recommended? Or would giving detailed guidance to companies be a better way forward? That is what has happened with California’s transparency of supply chain requirements.

Thirdly, if we decide that there must be a stand-alone reporting requirement, how would that happen, and in what way should it be made public and consumers be given access to the information?

Fourthly, we must decide what enforcement action should be taken against companies if they do not comply. It is all very well getting them to report, but we need a mechanism to deal with companies that fail to do what the law requires of them.

I understand that we are likely to discuss this issue later in Committee, but I wanted to flag it up as we start to look at the offences so that we have regard to the need to address a gaping hole in the Bill. The Minister is listening very carefully to the suggestions of all members of the Committee and to the concerns about gaps or problems with the Bill as it is currently drafted; I hope that she is minded to consider opening up the issue of supply chains—if not at this stage, then perhaps on Report.

Photo of Andrew Stunell Andrew Stunell Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, Hazel Grove

I was very pleased by amendment 41, proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate, and amendment 54, to which the Opposition spokesman was just speaking. I very much hope that there will be an opportunity to debate the issue more thoroughly in Committee at some future date, or, if not, on Report, or perhaps in the other place. It is an important element of dealing with modern-day slavery.

It is extremely important that companies that trade and do business in this country should have processes in place that mean they are not inadvertently, or possibly even sometimes knowingly, supporting the modern slavery industry anywhere in the world. I know that consumers of all sorts in this country would be appalled, and have shown that they are appalled, when they learn that that has not been achieved.

I have done my best to be helpful to the Minister during the debate so far and I want to help her again by saying that I have been looking at the Companies  Act 2006 (Strategic Report and Directors’ Report) Regulations 2013 and section 414C(7) says:

“In the case of a quoted company, the strategic report must”—

Then there are various things that it must do—(a), (b) and (c), and 1, 2, 3. There are all sorts of things. However, I am sure that she will tell the Committee that those 2013 regulations placed an additional obligation, in section 414C(7)(iii), on quoted companies to produce a strategic report that included information about

“social, community and human rights issues”.

That is certainly a good step in the right direction, and the Minister might be inclined to tell us that until we have seen what sort of a footprint that step made we should not be adding to it.

However, I will amplify the remarks I made on Second Reading, when I somewhat optimistically said that a mere six words added to the Companies Act 2006 would do the job. I must concede that it is actually 14 words that should be added, and the brackets might be extra. However, if one has information about

“social, community and human rights issues”,

and add the words, “including the impact of the company’s supply chain of goods and services on them”, those additional 14 words put in play exactly what the spirit of amendment 54 is and gets us well on the way. I hope that I will have the opportunity to steer past the Table Office an amendment that is substantially in that form.

In responding to the debate, the Minister could reflect on the widespread views expressed on Second Reading. I think that there were 20 contributions by Back-Benchers from every part of the House, 16 of them positively in favour of consideration of the supply chain and the other four picking up on a variety of other issues and perhaps inadvertently failing to mention this issue. However, it is very much seen as a missing element of the current Bill and I hope that the Minister will respond favourably to say how we can achieve what she wants, what I know the Home Secretary wants and certainly what a widespread range of Members of this House want to see.

Photo of Michael Connarty Michael Connarty Llafur, Linlithgow and East Falkirk 4:15, 2 Medi 2014

I want to speak about amendment 41, but I will first commend the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate on his diligence and the precision with which he has tried to draft a number of amendments, giving us some substantive points to debate.

Mr Pritchard, I said earlier—when you were not in the Chair—that in fact there had been a cannabis factory in the house neighbouring mine. It had been a children’s home, but it fell into disrepute in a number of ways and eventually ended up with its windows permanently sealed up with silver paper. If anyone wants to know how to spot a cannabis factory, the central heating will be on constantly and when anyone eventually gets inside they will find that cables have been run around the meter and the factory is being run by using heat lights at great expense. If the house is rented, as was the case with the house next to me, the question that struck me was, “How come this home had been used for another previous doubtful use and then quite clearly been used as a cannabis factory?”

I said earlier that eventually I spotted a four-wheel drive in the driveway, took the number down and, having reported it to the Scottish intelligence unit, I phoned the equivalent of the Serious Organised Crime Agency and told them about it. The question is: who is responsible? Amendment 41 refers to anyone

“concerned in the management of any premises or business”.

That is the question: exactly who is responsible, and should be taken to court and charged? In the case of the owner of the house next to mine, they were told by the local police and that weekend the cannabis factory equipment disappeared in a large vehicle, along with the poor woman who had been entrapped in the house as the farmer.

That is a common practice. The question for me was: was it the letting agent? It turned out that the 4x4 vehicle belonged to the letting agent. Did they know what the property had been let for? Did the owner know, or was the owner they innocent? I am told that the letting agent reported to the owner regularly that they visited the premises every month to check that it was in good condition, but I never saw them until the day that I spotted them and phoned. It is important to realise that there are people who are at one remove from the kinds of malpractice that we are dealing with in the Bill, and they may be the people who create the environment in which the exploitation can take place.

I do not know whether any other hon. Member joined in, as I did, with the “If you see something, say something” campaign, which ran during last year and analysed very well the use of bed and breakfasts, small hotels and flats let or purchased for the purpose of buy to let that became regular haunts for the grooming of young women. People were asked to record regular journeys back and forward by taxis dropping off men at such premises, after having dropped women off, for parties organised clearly for the purpose of selling sexual favours. All these things were recorded in quite some detail by the “If you see something, say something” campaign, which I believe was started in Leeds or Sheffield, to campaign against the creation of an infrastructure that could be used for the exploitation of vulnerable young women, who may have been exploited and enslaved without ever having been trafficked outside their own city. All this is relevant to amendment 41.

I hope that the Minister will take that on board, because we have to think about the people who profit from this trade. They do not necessarily eventually become the gangmasters or criminals who are bringing people into this environment, but they provide an infrastructure in which such people can operate, and at the moment they seem to be outwith the scope of the criminal process. Perhaps the Minister could get a researcher to consider the evidence of the “If you see something, say something” campaign. I put information about that campaign around all my local shops and other premises, including bed and breakfasts, small hotels and letting companies in my constituency, because it is clear that, without the infrastructure, it is much easier to spot what is happening. I hope that, although it is likely to be withdrawn, amendment 41 will be seriously considered.

Let me turn now to amendment 54, dealing with the worldwide nature of modern slavery, which hon. Members have heard me speak about on the Floor of the House a number of times. We do not complete the work of Wilberforce if we do not have an extraterritorial dimension to the Bill. It is clear that modern globalisation of the production of garments, foodstuffs and so on means that every pound spent by any organisation in the UK goes down a long supply chain—into the “murky depths” of the supply chain, as we were told in evidence—where it is often difficult to see exactly who is supplying the  first service or good that ends up in the retail or service outlets in our country. That has to be looked at. The best example of that is the Manpower organisation, which audited to the third and fourth level—we are talking about millions of sub-suppliers at that level—and trained people at those levels to audit and report back up the chain. There was a break clause for every one of them, if they were found not to be doing so, meaning that they would lose their part of the contract.

It goes deep in countries where people do not know that they have rights and where people think there is nothing wrong with taking their children with them while they carry out often difficult tasks in the most terrible environments. I am sure Committee members have seen photographs of children on tips, breaking up electrical equipment and melting it down. People in some countries do not know that there is anything wrong with that, because they do not know they have rights. It is up to the companies that eventually take and use those scrap goods in the supply chain in some way to stop that happening. It is our responsibility.

We heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North that things have changed since I put forward my private Member’s Bill. When I put forward a private Member’s Bill on supply chains, there was clearly quite a bit of resistance from the companies who are now signing up and who made it clear in their written evidence to the Joint Committee that they want to see a statutory obligation. We got evidence from people like Luis de Baca from the USA about how the California Bill was used. I know we have been discussing this in terms of definitions of crimes, but it was not seen as a negative thing: it was seen as a positive thing. It was seen as a benchmark—an attempt to get a high-level coding as an ethical company. It is a saleable product. That is what is changing, I believe. Good companies do not want to see bad companies undercutting them so the atmosphere has changed. I welcome that.

On a lighter note, my wife wears a chain with three letters on it: OCD. It stands for Olivia, Carmen and Donnie, our grandchildren; but she says it is also about me: obsessive compulsive disorder. I cannot let this go—I am always going on about supply chains. I do not apologise for that. If we do not put something in the Bill to extend it, to make it extraterritorial and link in our massive reach as a country into other people’s exploitation in the world, then we will fail entirely to address what the public see this is about. They often do not see the minutiae of it.

As was said, 82% of people want us to do something about supply chains. The terrible thing is that it is probably because of Rana Plaza and the deaths by burning of women who were locked into garment factories in Pakistan and India that I have quoted in various speeches. That is what has made the public aware of it and it is shocking that that has to be the case because it has been going on for such a long time: we accept that the garments we get may be tainted with modern day slavery, contaminated with slavery. That is what it is about. If it takes that—I am sad that is has done so—to make people realise that we can do something about it and if we are willing to do it in this Bill, then I welcome it. It is timeous that we have tabled this amendment. I hope that it will be welcomed in its spirit as amendment 41 was welcomed in its spirit: we must do something in  our communities at the same time as with businesses and outside our communities and countries if we are really to make a change.

Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate for tabling amendment 41 and right hon. and hon. Members for tabling amendment 54. This group of amendments has given rise to an interesting debate about the responsibilities of those in business in relation to modern slavery, and when those responsibilities should result in very significant criminal liability. Amendment 41 raises the important issue of how best to deal with those who have a role in facilitating offences related to modern slavery. Specifically, it focuses on those who allow trafficking or slavery offences to take place within premises they have a role in managing. I share my hon. Friend’s concern that we take a tough approach to all those involved in trafficking or slavery of vulnerable people.

My hon. Friend asked whether the clause 2 offence covers legal persons as well as individuals. Yes, the offence applies to persons. In accordance with the usual legal principles, person includes both natural persons and legal persons. I hope that gives him the clarification he sought.

Amendment 41 provides a useful challenge and I welcome the chance to explain the Government’s approach to criminalising and tackling the facilitation of slavery and trafficking offences. It would introduce a new offence whereby anyone involved in the management of premises would be liable if they knowingly allowed slavery or trafficking offences to take place on those premises. The likely effect would be that those involved in managing premises would have to report any suspicion of modern slavery taking place on those premises to law enforcement authorities in order to be sure that they were not committing a very serious offence.

I have carefully considered whether amendment 41 is needed to capture those who facilitate slavery and trafficking offences. I believe that the Bill, working alongside measures proposed in the Serious Crime Bill, which is currently in the other place, and other established principles of criminal law, provides highly effective ways to tackle those acts which are clearly criminal. First, under clause 2(3), a person commits the offence of human trafficking where they facilitate a victim’s travel by recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving the victim. This is broad enough to capture those individuals who facilitate modern slavery or human trafficking by making their premises available for use by others involved in trafficking.

Secondly, such activity will often be caught by the provisions of the Serious Crime Act 2007. Specifically, clause 44 of that Act criminalises

“intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence”.

That would include clause 1 and clause 2 offences under the Modern Slavery Bill. A person can commit such an offence through

“an act capable of encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence”.

That could include a landlord knowingly letting his property to a person who uses it for the sexual exploitation of a victim of trafficking.

Thirdly, under the normal principles of our criminal law, those who facilitate an offence can be guilty of the main offence as a party to a joint enterprise or as a  person who aids and abets an offence. Fourthly and finally, the Serious Crime Bill, which is currently in the other place, contains a new measure specifically targeting those who participate in the activities of an organised crime group. I am sure that Members will carefully scrutinise that proposed offence in clause 44. I hope they will also consider how useful that would be in tackling those on the edges of organised crime groups who support or facilitate trafficking or slavery offences. Law enforcement authorities therefore have the offences they need to prosecute the facilitation of slavery and trafficking offences effectively.

The Government are also determined to raise awareness of the signs of modern slavery and human trafficking among members of the public and encourage greater reporting of suspected cases of these offences. As we discussed earlier, that is essential to discover and help victims, and that is why we have been running a multimedia campaign this summer using television advertisements and other social media to spread the message that modern slavery happens in the UK. I believe that is the best way to encourage reporting. With those points in mind, I hope that my hon. Friend will feel able to withdraw his amendment in due course.

Amendment 54 relates to those who employ slaves anywhere in the world where that employment relates to goods or services in the UK. I take the issue of global modern slavery very seriously, and am working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for International Development to tackle abuse across the world. While I do not believe that we can police the entire world or should seek to do so, I highlight that the Bill contains a strong measure to tackle UK citizens who enslave and traffic people anywhere in the world. Indeed, strictly speaking, the amendment would not have a significant impact on the Bill because of the broad way in which exploitation is already defined. The trafficking offence already captures those who facilitate or arrange the travel of a person with a view to exploiting them, as set out in clause 3: subsection (2) defines exploitation as including slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour anywhere in the world. A UK citizen commits a trafficking offence where he or she arranges or facilitates the travel of a slave, serf or someone subject to forced or compulsory labour anywhere in the world, including where the victim is being forced to produce goods or services used in the UK. If the trafficker is not a UK citizen, the offence still applies where any part of arranging or facilitating travel or any part of the travel itself takes place in the UK.

Photo of Michael Connarty Michael Connarty Llafur, Linlithgow and East Falkirk 4:30, 2 Medi 2014

It has never been my approach that we are here to criminalise someone on the basis that they would sell a good. However, the Minister seems to be implying that we should accept that the Bill somehow prevents someone from buying a good that is made by someone locked in a factory, as they were near the Rana Plaza, where workers burned to death. I am trying to follow her logic, but if someone does not actually do it in the UK, but buys goods made by someone they know is doing it, does the Bill have any application to them?

Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am talking about the specifics of the amendment. I understand that the shadow Minister has tabled the amendment so that we can start the debate  about transparency of supply chains. The amendment is unnecessary, because it would provide that someone guilty of the offence would come under the trafficking offence in clause 2, with the possibility of life imprisonment, but that is already the case under the Bill. Anyone who knowingly traffics an individual with a view to exploitation, because they want to use that person to make goods for exploitation, and so on, would be guilty of the clause 2 offence; therefore, we do not need the additional wording in the amendment.

I shall come on to the more general issue of transparency in supply chains—

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

I am grateful to the Minister for taking us through potential problems in relation to the drafting of the Bill and the amendment, but as she will understand I am interested in what she is now likely to say about her approach to the supply chain, and whether it will be possible to make it specific in the Bill.

Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

As I have said, I was trying to be clear about why the amendment is not necessary, although I understand the thinking behind it and the discussion.

Trafficking is a global phenomenon where it is reasonable for us to take extra-territorial jurisdiction, which gives us a powerful weapon to tackle serious wrongdoing. I urge the shadow Minister to withdraw the amendment, because I do not believe it adds anything to the Bill.

Going beyond the offences in the Bill, and the issue of transparency in the supply chain, I am determined that Government and business should work together to help to eliminate modern slavery from supply chains. Addressing the issue of transparency in supply chains is not something that should be seen simply through the lens of legislation. Human rights reporting requirements already exist under the Companies Act 2006; my right hon. Friend the Member for Hazel Grove has referred to section 414C, the requirement for companies to report on human rights in their annual report. He pre-empted me; that change was made in October and we have yet to see how it will work.

The point I want to make to the Committee is that the problem is not a simple one that we can solve with one item of legislation. It is extremely complicated. The shadow Minister said that legislation could help and raised several questions about how we would proceed. The work I have been doing with the Home Secretary and with business, including the Ethical Trading Initiative, is an attempt to get the right result. I want an effective way to deal with things.

It is not right that consumers should be put in the position of feeling forced to buy goods produced through slavery, and we must make sure it does not happen; but a problem that companies have, which we will explore later, is how we assist them effectively in spotting the signs of slavery, servitude or forced labour in their supply chains. Until we have the evidence we need, so that we know we can do that in an effective and appropriate way—and I assure the Committee that I am working closely with business and others to reach that point—  I would not want to pre-empt anything by suggesting that the right approach might be x, y or z. I want an open mind.

Photo of Andrew Stunell Andrew Stunell Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, Hazel Grove

I appreciate that the last thing any Minister wants to do is to pre-empt a decision, and I do not want to take her in the direction of doing so—but as a Back-Bench member of the Committee I am happy to do so. I am talking about a low-cost way of making a start. The main start, to echo the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich North, is to do with awareness. We need companies to have an awareness and understanding that they must take an interest. I welcome the step forward last year regarding quoted companies—so we have a size and a scope limit—required to report on social, community and human rights issues. I just want some simple wording to be added that says, “including the impact of their supply chain on those issues.” That is not onerous. I do not want to transgress on intervention time, but if we are not careful the good companies will comply with the code and have higher costs than those that are unscrupulous or uncaring. That is exactly the reverse incentive to the one we want from the Bill.

Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I thank my right hon. Friend for his contribution and I understand exactly what he is saying. I would like to continue the dialogue with business and the other Departments and to ensure that whatever we do actually works. The idea that we spend time putting our hearts and souls into the Bill and then do not solve the problem is not attractive. We want to see this issue resolved in an appropriate and effective way.

Photo of Michael Connarty Michael Connarty Llafur, Linlithgow and East Falkirk

I suggest that the Minister gets one of her researchers to look at the experience of the Apple company. It is bound by the California Bill, and because it was going to come under discussion in the US legislature—there was talk of a possible federal law—it did 360 audits, which were reported. I got a live tweet from Apple when I was speaking on the issue at the Council of Europe. It had discovered that part of the iPods and iPhones it sells involved child labour in China. It then said, “This is a programme we will institute to eradicate that entirely”, so it is not beyond likelihood that anything we do in the UK with a similar aim—it is not a punitive act—would generate that kind of change. That a company such as Apple is willing to take to heart the need to eradicate that murky part of its supply chain in parts of China is massive progress.

Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his contribution. Anybody directly or indirectly involved in buying goods and services on behalf of a business has a responsibility to put effective policies and practices in place to ensure that the supply chain is clean, audited and there are no abuses. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the conversations I have had with all businesses indicate that that is what everyone wants to achieve. The question is, how do we do it in an effective way to ensure it works? I am working on that to ensure that we have an approach that enables business to take the action that we need in a way that works. It would be a waste if  we spent a lot of time doing something that does not get the result we want. That is what I am working on. Obviously, we will discuss the matter of transparency in supply chains later in the Committee. I look forward to doing that and, if any of the amendments are put to a Division, I urge members of the Committee to reject that Division while we are still working on the evidence we need.

I firmly believe that the offences set out in the Bill are effective. Clause 1 captures any offence of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour in England and Wales. Clause 2 captures any offence of human trafficking into, out of or within the UK. It also covers any human trafficking offence committed anywhere in the world by a UK national, or a foreign national if the arranging or facilitating took place in the UK or if the trafficking victim’s travel involved the UK. Given that clarification, I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate feels able to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of David Burrowes David Burrowes Ceidwadwyr, Enfield, Southgate

I welcome the response and the debate involving the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North, my right hon. Friend the Member for Hazel Grove and the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk. I particularly appreciate the Minister’s response and the clear assurance that the Government have a tough approach to all those involved in trafficking, and was reassured that the Bill also gets down to the detail of those involved at the business end, as it were, of trafficking. I recognise and appreciate her assurances that clause 2 covers natural persons and legal persons, which means that companies are covered, as well as the ordinary individual. I also recognise her assurances on the extent of the coverage of clause 2(3) and the Serious Crime Bill provisions within that, along with her assurances on the ordinary principles of criminal law on joint enterprise.

The hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk mentioned campaigns and the importance of their continuing. It was good to hear evidence from the latest campaign, which was referenced. What was its name?

Photo of Michael Connarty Michael Connarty Llafur, Linlithgow and East Falkirk

The campaign, which I hope we all support, is called, “If you see something, say something”. It has good materials to give out to local businesses.

Photo of David Burrowes David Burrowes Ceidwadwyr, Enfield, Southgate

It will be interesting to see what further campaigning opportunities arise from this Bill, as well as the cultural and campaigning change in our communities as this continues. It was also helpful to hear early salvos on the transparency of supply chains debate and to see how we are inching along in that direction. I look forward to an earnest debate when scrutinising that matter, and what the Government come back with when we get to it. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. —(Damian Hinds.)

Adjourned till Thursday 4 September at half-past Eleven o’clock.

 Written evidence reported to the House

MS 02 Peter Carter QC

MS 03 Nadine Finch


MS 05 Dr Andrew Rowland


MS 07 Unseen

MS 08 British Medical Association

MS 09 Law Society

MS 10 Liberty

MS 11 Amnesty International UK

MS 12 Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association

MS 13 ShareAction

MS 14 Justice

MS 15 Restore

MS 16 Peter L. Talibart

MS 17 Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group