Clause 4 - Committing offence with intent to commit offence under section 2

Modern Slavery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:00 pm ar 4 Medi 2014.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Mark Pritchard Mark Pritchard Ceidwadwyr, The Wrekin

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 9—Facilitating the commission of an offence under Part 1

“A person who is concerned in, or who facilitates, the commission of an offence under this Part in relation to a second person or child commits an offence if that first person knows or ought to know that second person or child is, or is to be, held in or subjected to slavery, or exploited or trafficked.”

New clause 11—Commission of offence within or outside the United Kingdom—

“‘(1) A person who is a United Kingdom national or resident commits an offence under this Part regardless of—

(a) where the offence took place, or

(b) the country or territory which is the place of arrival, entry, departure or travel of any person in relation to whom the offence is committed.

(2) A person who is not a United Kingdom national or resident commits an offence under this Part if—

(a) any part of the offence takes place in the United Kingdom, or

(b) the United Kingdom is the country of arrival, entry, departure, or travel of any person in relation to whom the offence is committed.”

New clause 12—Penalties—

“‘(1) A person guilty of an offence under any section in this Part is liable—

(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life or a fine or both;

(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under section (Facilitating the commission of an offence under Part 1) is (unless subsection (3) applies) liable—

(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or a fine or both;

(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both.

(3) Where the commission of an offence under section (Facilitating the commission of an offence under Part 1) involves the offender kidnapping or falsely imprisoning any person, a person guilty of that offence is liable, on conviction or indictment, to imprisonment for life or a fine or both.

(4) In relation to an offence committed before section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 comes into force, the references in subsections (1)(b) and (2)(b) to 12 months are to be read as references to six months.”

New clause 13—Sentencing—

“‘(1) The Criminal Justice Act 2003 is amended as follows.

(2) In Part 1 of Schedule 15 (specified offences for purposes of Chapter 5 of Part 12: sentencing of dangerous offenders), after paragraph 63F insert— “63G An offence under Part 1 of the Modern Slavery Act 2014.”

(3) In Part 1 of Schedule 15B (offence listed for purposes of sections 224A, 226A and 246A: life sentences, extended sentences, release on licence of prisoners serving extended sentences), after paragraph 43 insert— “43A An offence under Part 1 of the Modern Slavery Act 2014.””

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Llafur, Slough

I will be brief as we are tired. Members know the structure of these new clauses. It was the shape of the Bill that was agreed by the pre-legislative scrutiny Committee. There are two key issues on which I hope the Minister can reassure us a bit. Perhaps if she can do that I will not push this further. First, there is the issue that is covered in new clause 9 concerning facilitation and whether someone is guilty if they are facilitating or assisting in this sort of offence. Then in new clause 11 there is the issue of committing an offence within or outside the United Kingdom. I know that she dealt with this to some extent in response to the hon. Member for Derry—[ Interruption. ] Gosh, I am getting this wrong. I meant, of course, the hon. Member for Foyle. I said I would be brief. What I meant was that I did not really understand the Minister’s answer to the point that was made.

It would be helpful for Members to understand whether the Bill has any extraterritorial impact. I ask that because in some of our child exploitation offences, child rape and so on, there is a clear extraterritorial effect that has helped in the pursuit of some of the worst and most egregious cases of child abuse. People who travel to countries where children are offered as prostitutes and so on can be prosecuted in the UK. The Committee would be interested to learn from the Minister about the international impact of the legislation as it is proposed. The Joint Committee felt that when it came to offences which the Minister described as the most heinous, in other words, slavery, they should have an extraterritorial impact. Can she tell the Committee about that?

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

Will the Minister explain why clause 4 will apply only to clause 2?

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

Given the way my throat is feeling at the moment, the thought of having to say extraterritorial too many times in the next few minutes does not fill me with me great joy. Anyway, I am grateful to the hon. Member for Slough for tabling new clauses 9, 10 and 12 which relate to facilitating the commission of an offence under part 1 of the Bill, the commission of an offence within or outside the United Kingdom, and penalties for committing offences under this Bill. I am grateful to the Chair for taking these amendments with the clause  stand part debate on clause 4. I intend to start by setting out the purpose of clause 4, and then dealing with the more or less related new clauses.

Clause 4 sets out the offence of committing an offence with intent to commit a human trafficking offence. That is why it relates to clause 2 because it is the intent to commit the offence of intending to commit human trafficking. I hope that makes sense. This offence is intended to replace the existing offence of committing an offence with the intent to commit a human trafficking offence set out in section 62 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. This separate offence ensures that preparatory criminal conduct for a lesser offence, such a stealing a vehicle to use to traffick an individual, can attract a higher penalty than if it were not linked to trafficking.

In human trafficking, there are often a number of steps and a number of individuals involved in the facilitation, movement and exploitation of others. We know that in many instances individuals are involved on the periphery of human trafficking and play an important part in facilitating and organising the trafficking of others. The clause provides an important tool for law enforcement and the courts to deal with those involved in human trafficking, through an offence that carries an appropriately long sentence to reflect the seriousness of their actions. The maximum sentence, set out in clause 5, is 10 years, if the case is heard in the Crown Court, but if the offender has committed kidnap or false imprisonment the maximum is life imprisonment. The provision is one of a number of ways in which those who help others to traffic people can be prosecuted and convicted, and complements other wider offences, such as conspiracy to traffic or aiding and abetting trafficking.

I turn now to new clause 9, which also relates to facilitating modern slavery offences. I share the concern of the hon. Member for Slough that we take a tough stance on those who are on the periphery of, or who facilitate, the abuse and suffering of others. New clause 9 seeks to capture the activity of those who know or ought to know that a person is to be trafficked, held in slavery or exploited.

Although I share absolutely the sentiments behind the new clause, it is not needed. Prosecutors already have at their disposal wider criminal offences that capture such conduct effectively. For example, clause 2 is already sufficiently broad to capture those who facilitate trafficking by recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a victim. In addition, provisions in the Serious Crime Act 2007 criminalise those who intentionally encourage or assist an offence. Those provisions apply to clause 1 and clause 2 offences in the Bill. Offenders on the periphery can also be found guilty of aiding and abetting an offence or conspiracy to commit a substantive offence.

The Government also propose legislative action in this Session to take a tougher line with those who participate in organised crime groups, even at their periphery. Clause 44 of the Serious Crime Bill proposes a new offence of participating in activities of organised crime groups. I hope that when Members give that proposal careful scrutiny they will consider how useful it would be in tackling those on the edges of organised crime groups who support or facilitate trafficking or slavery offences.

I hope that the hon. Lady will be reassured by those remarks and so will not press the new clause.

New clause 11 raises the interesting question of extraterritorial jurisdiction and how offences that apply in England and Wales should be applied to those involved in slavery and trafficking, both in the UK and elsewhere. The new clause seeks to extend extraterritorial jurisdiction to all offences related to modern slavery.

Clause 2(6) already applies extraterritorial jurisdiction to trafficking offences, so that UK nationals can be convicted regardless of where a trafficking offence takes place. In addition, clause 2(7) ensures that non-UK nationals can be convicted if they arrange or facilitate trafficking in the UK or the travel of a victim into, out of or within the UK.

The new clause would extend extraterritoriality to the offence of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour. I fully accept the hon. Lady’s good intentions in tabling the measure, but do not believe it would be effective or desirable. There are particular reasons why we have taken the unusual step of extending extraterritorial jurisdiction to the trafficking offence, reflecting the nature of trafficking as a global phenomenon that often involves travel between jurisdictions. It would not be appropriate to apply the same extraterritoriality directly to slavery offences committed in other jurisdictions.

Practically, it is simply not possible for the UK to police activity across the rest of the world, although I absolutely agree that we must do all we can to influence others to apply their laws diligently. It is more appropriate for offenders committing slavery in other jurisdictions to be dealt with by local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, who know and understand the specific laws applying in that jurisdiction. But it is important that we continue to work, including through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development, to tackle modern slavery globally.

New clause 12 deals with the issue of penalties and is essentially consequential to the hon. Lady’s other new clauses on offences; for example, it seeks to include a penalty for the proposed offence of facilitating the commission of an offence under part 1. In many respects the new clause mirrors those penalties already set out in the Bill.

I agree that we must apply the harshest penalties to those who traffic and enslave others, including the potential for a life sentence. As we have already set out the toughest possible penalties in the Bill, the new clause is not necessary. On that basis, I hope that the hon. Lady will agree not to press the new clause. I also hope that Members will agree that the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Mark Pritchard Mark Pritchard Ceidwadwyr, The Wrekin

Before I put the Question, with the leave of the Committee I suggest that, if the Minister is so minded, she could use the letters “ET” for “extraterritorial” or “extraterritoriality” until such a time as her throat is better, if the Clerk, Hansard and the Committee are happy with that idea.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 4 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.