Clause 35 - General functions of Commissioner

Modern Slavery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:45 pm ar 9 Medi 2014.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 5:45, 9 Medi 2014

I beg to move amendment 50, in clause 35, page 25, line 1, at end insert—

“(c) the support offered to victims, including but not limited to, the operations of any Government agency and support offered in accordance with section 41 and section 42,

(d) any other area which the Commissioner feels is relevant to identifying and preventing human trafficking in the UK or elsewhere.”

Photo of David Crausby David Crausby Llafur, Bolton North East

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 111, in clause 35, page 25, line 1, at end insert—

“(c) the promotion and protection of the rights of victims of human trafficking and slavery.

‘(1A) The Commissioner must monitor the implementation in the UK of the Trafficking Convention, Anti-Trafficking Directive and other international obligations.”

The amendment extends the functions of the Commissioner beyond law enforcement and identification of victims and gives the Commissioner responsibility for monitoring the implementation of international obligations on modern slavery.

Amendment 51, in clause 35, page 25, line 4, leave out “permitted matter” and insert “matter pertinent to the prevention of human trafficking and forced labour in the UK or elsewhere”

Amendment 119, in clause 35, page 25, line 9, at end insert—

‘( ) Undertaking investigations and studies to monitor and identify trends in human trafficking and slavery;

( ) Requesting inspections to be carried out by statutory inspectors;”

The amendment extends the permitted activities of the Commissioner in carrying out the general functions.

Amendment 120, in clause 35, page 25, line 12, at end insert “, including relevant civil society organisations”

The amendment adds that the Commissioner may work with relevant civil society organisations.

Amendment 52, in clause 35, page 25, line 13, leave out subsection (3) and insert—

‘(3) Apart from under subsection (5), the Secretary of State must not take steps or impose measures that may impair, or may appear to impair the Commissioner’s independence and shall ensure that the Commissioner is, to the extent the Commissioner is able, to determine, without limitation (other than as prescribed in this Act)—

(a) the Commissioner’s activities;

(b) the Commissioner’s timetables;

(c) the Commissioner’s priorities, and

(d) the Commissioner’s resources and funding.”

Clause stand part.

New clause 20—General function and powers of Commissioner—

‘(1) The Commissioner shall—

(a) monitor trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour, the fulfilment of international obligations and the effectiveness of national legislation and policy;

(b) issue proposals, recommendations, statements, opinions and advice relevant to the fight against trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and to the realisation of the rights of victims;

(c) engage with international organisations on trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude, forced or compulsory labour, child protection, and other relevant issues;

(d) report annually to Parliament on trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude, forced or compulsory labour, and related issues;

(e) periodically review the offences and related policy of trafficking and slavery to ensure that they reflect the UK’s obligations under the Trafficking Convention and Trafficking Directive and that other international instruments are consistently applied to all trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons;

(f) periodically review public authorities’ compliance with their duties under international and national legislation and policy in relation to trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude and forced and compulsory labour; and

(g) provide an impact assessment on the trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour implications for government trade deals and trade and aid policy.

(2) The Commissioner is responsible for reviewing the practical implementation of the non-prosecution and non-punishment of trafficked, enslaved and/or exploited persons, and in doing so must have particular regard to women and children.

(3) The Commissioner shall, specifically in respect of victims—

(a) encourage persons exercising functions or engaged in activities affecting trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons to take account of the views and interests of victims;

(b) consult with and advise the Government on the views and interests of trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons;

(c) consider the operation of complaints procedures relating to trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons;

(d) consider any other matters relating to the services for, and interests and outcomes of trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons;

(e) be responsible for reviewing the practical implementation of the provision in this Bill for the non-prosecution of and non-application of penalties to trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons and victims of forced or compulsory labour, and in doing so must have particular regard to women and children; and

(f) publish a report on any matter in connection with trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour considered by the Commissioner, which may include recommendations.

(4) The Commissioner must take reasonable steps to involve trafficked, enslaved and/or exploited persons in the discharge of his/her function under this section, and in particular to—

(a) ensure that trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons are made aware of the Commissioner’s function and how they may communicate with the Commissioner, and

(b) consult trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons, and organisations working with them on the matters the Commission proposes to consider.

(5) The Commissioner is not obliged under this section to conduct an investigation of the case of an individual trafficked, enslaved or exploited person. The Commissioner may, however—

(a) investigate a particular case and/or intervene as a third party in a particular case where the case raises issues of public policy of relevance to other trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons; or

(b) investigate any decision or recommendation made, or any act done or omitted, in respect of any trafficked, enslaved or exploited person.

(6) All public authorities must supply the Commissioner with such information in that person’s possession or control relating to those functions as the Commissioner may reasonably request for the purposes of his function under this section (provided that the information is information which that person may, apart from this section (6), lawfully disclose to the Commissioner).

(7) Where the Commissioner has published a report under this section containing recommendations in respect of any person exercising functions under any enactment, he may require that person to state in writing, within such period as the Commissioner may reasonably require, what action the person has taken or proposes to take in response to the recommendations.

(8) The Secretary of State must not take steps or impose measures that may impair, or may appear to impair, the Commissioner’s independence and shall ensure that the Commissioner is, to the extent the Commissioner is able, to determine, without limitation (other than as prescribed in this Bill)—

(a) the Commissioner’s activities;

(b) the Commissioner’s timetables;

(c) the Commissioner’s priorities; and

(d) the Commissioner’s resources and funding.”

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

As drafted, clause 35 sets out the general functions of the commissioner. It does that in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1), which state:

The Commissioner must encourage good practice in—the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of offences under sections 1, 2 and 4; the identification of victims of those offences.”

That is the extent of the function of the commissioner. Amendment 50 would add a paragraph (c) and a paragraph (d) to that subsection. Paragraph (c) states

“the support offered to victims, including but not limited to, the operations of any Government agency and support offered in accordance with section 41 and section 42” and paragraph (d) states

“any other area which the Commissioner feels is relevant to identifying and preventing human trafficking in the UK or elsewhere.”

We tabled the amendment because we feel that the current function as set out is too narrow and we need to widen it for the anti-slavery commissioner to have real effect. Paragraph 158 of the Joint Committee’s report states:

“Several of our witnesses called for the Commissioner’s role to go beyond simply encouraging the prosecution of specific offences and for it expressly to be extended to representation of, and advocacy for, victims of modern slavery.”

The Modern Slavery Bill evidence review recommended that the commissioner

“should represent and give a voice to the concerns and best interests of victims and survivors of modern slavery.”

It made reference to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who concurred, arguing that such an extension would be an important step in the fight against trafficking. Again, it is important for the Committee to pay regard to what the Joint Committee said about the functions the anti-slavery commissioner should have.

I agree with the Minister that we all want there to be more prosecutions and more convictions for human trafficking and slavery offences. However, it is quite clear from examining all the evidence that we need to work with and alongside victims to encourage them to be witnesses, so as to enable prosecutions to succeed. All this is connected together. The evidence that both this Committee and the Joint Committee heard shows that, and that is why we have tabled amendment 50.

We have also tabled amendment 111, which is similar to amendment 50. Amendment 111 is a probing amendment, because we wanted to test with the Minister the commissioner’s role in implementing the UK’s responsibilities under the trafficking convention, the anti-trafficking directive and other international obligations, including the Palermo protocol. We tabled amendment 111 to ensure that the commissioner would deal with those international obligations.

Clause 35(2) sets out all

“The things that the Commissioner may do in pursuance of subsection (1)”,

which include

“making reports…making recommendations…undertaking or supporting…the carrying out of research…providing information, education or training…consulting people”.

Because of the very narrow way in which subsection (1) is drafted, the commissioner may end up having to put off or curtail work that they wanted to carry out, because doing that work would be outside the tight remit set out in subsections (1)(a) and (b). That is why widening the remit, as set out in amendment 50, would help the commissioner to do the best job possible.

I turn to amendment 51, which would omit the words “permitted matter” in clause 35(2). That is important because a “permitted matter” means a matter that the Secretary of State has authorised the commissioner to report on, or a matter that has been approved by the Secretary of State in the current strategic plan. Again, that is too restrictive, and the amendment suggests a better wording. It would insert the expression:

“matter pertinent to the prevention of human trafficking and forced labour”.

That would widen the commissioner’s remit, so that they could deal with the many issues and matters that may arise. We know that this is a very fast-moving area, and what has been agreed with the Secretary of State about what is a “permitted matter” may change quickly if new forms of trafficking, slavery or forced labour are discovered. It should be open to the commissioner to have the discretion to examine, as amendment 51 sets out, whatever matter is

“pertinent to the prevention of human trafficking and forced labour”.

The amendment aims to widen the commissioner’s remit in that way.

Amendment 52 would amend clause 35(3) by inserting a new subsection (3) that reiterates the independence of the commissioner in terms of their “activities”, “timetables” and “priorities”—that is, prioritising the issues they feel are important. That is also vital to ensure that the commissioner’s role functions properly.

Amendments 119 and 120 are grouped together, and are about the role of the commissioner in collecting data. Both, particularly amendment 119, would be helpful in that regard. It is vital that we know numbers and how trends are developing around slavery or forced labour. That will help us work out where resources and assistance need to go to secure prosecutions.

Paragraph 161 of the Joint Committee’s report states:

“We note that the draft Bill includes no clear or specific mention of data collection. Our evidence suggests that this is a weakness: we heard of how the long-run statistical reports produced by the office of the Dutch national rapporteur had enabled authorities to make an informed assessment of the changing nature of modern slavery.”

The Joint Committee was keen that that issue was addressed. Paragraph 164 says:

“Accurate and comprehensive data is an essential element in the prevention of modern slavery.”

That fits with the first requirement of the function of the commissioner, which is about prevention. The report adds:

“It can also play an important role in prosecution by identifying trends in modern slavery crime. An independent Commissioner is ideally placed to act as a focal point for the collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination of information and statistics. The Commissioner’s functions should reflect this.”

That supports amendment 119. Amendment 120, on working with civil society, is a sensible amendment that would assist the commissioner.

New clause 20, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Foyle, is excellent. It sets out everything that we are concerned about comprehensively to ensure that the anti-slavery commissioner can do their job. It is well drafted and clearly covers all the areas where we think the clause is deficient. I support that new clause and look forward to hearing what he has to say. Overall, this group of amendments is about trying to improve clause 35 to give a wider remit to the anti-slavery commissioner to cover everything that would be useful for that person to have regard to in making that job a success.

Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Ceidwadwyr, Congleton 6:00, 9 Medi 2014

I will speak briefly to amendment 50 and then to amendments 119 and 120. Regarding amendment 50 and widening the commissioner’s remit, when we looked at that issue in the Joint Committee, we concluded that including oversight of victim protection in the role of the commissioner was

“fundamental to achieving the Government’s aim of improved law enforcement.”

The importance of that connection was made clear to us by holders of similar positions in other countries, including the US ambassador-at-large and the Dutch national rapporteur who said:

“protecting victims and prosecuting criminals are two sides of the same coin.”

I recognise that we need a commissioner who is appropriate to our situation in this country, but we would be wise to learn from individuals who have experience of such positions. That is why I ask the Minister to carefully consider the comments on amendments 50 and 111.

The concerns about an overlap with the role of the Victims’ Commissioner, which the Government have raised in their response to the Joint Committee report, deserve to be taken seriously. However, the different circumstances of the victims of human trafficking should also be taken into account. Provision of assistance under the victim support programme, in accordance with international treaties, is not something provided to other victims. It has a separate process for eligibility, the National Referral Mechanism, and many other unique aspects, so I ask the Minister to reflect on whether the Victims’ Commissioner cab promote best practice in that sort of support, which is so different from the experience of other victims and witnesses and does not directly involve the criminal justice system. There could be a gap here and action may be better taken by the anti-slavery commissioner who would have specific expertise in understanding the experience of victims of human trafficking and slavery.

It also seems sensible that the commissioner should be responsible for monitoring the implementation of international treaties to which we are a signatory, as amendment 111 requires. The same level of critical reflection on the implementation of international treaties is required as with the critical reflection on law enforcement, which we have already discussed. The reports published by the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking over the past two years have provided a helpful overview of the situation of human trafficking in this country. However, as a ministerial body it cannot, by its very nature, be politically neutral. The work of the ministerial group and all Departments with responsibilities in this area would be enhanced by the independent analysis that could be offered by the commissioner.

I turn now to amendments 119 and 120 in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate, and to amendment 51. As we have heard, amendment 119 allows the commissioner to undertake “investigations and studies” to evaluate the nature of trafficking and slavery in this country. I am concerned that clause 35(1) is limited to the commissioner encouraging good practice in the investigation of,

“offences under sections 1, 2 and 4”.

If the commissioner is to promote good practice in enforcement of the law on human trafficking then he or she will need to have a detailed and up-to-date understanding of the nature of modern slavery, and how trends and patterns in forms of exploitation or strategies used by the criminals are developing. That knowledge will be essential to identify good practice and ensure that operational approaches are informed by the latest analysis of the wider landscape.

It is this wide remit for investigation that amendment 119 seeks to address. The ability to undertake such investigations and studies will enable the commissioner to establish this information if analysis is not available elsewhere. I am aware of similar roles in countries such as the Netherlands that operate very successfully with a wider  analytical remit, not to mention the role of a national rapporteur or equivalent position set out in the EU directive.

Amendment 119 gives the commissioner the power to request statutory inspectors to undertake inspections. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North mentioned that the Joint Committee referred to the need for data collection in this regard. The Centre for Social Justice also made that recommendation in its report, “It Happens Here”. That report specifically suggested that there may be cause for the commissioner to ask Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to assess the ability of a particular police force to respond to issues of modern slavery. The Committee has already heard concerns about variations in the capacity of different police forces to address this issue. Such inspections might also be useful in the Prison Service, where it is known that many victims of trafficking are not being successfully identified, as we have already heard. Both those examples would work towards meeting the commissioner’s primary functions of promoting good practice in identifying victims, and the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of offences.

Amendment 120 concerns engagement with civil society and highlights the importance of the commissioner engaging with NGOs and other civil society groups. The charity Hope for Justice commented that the relevant functions of the commissioner should reflect article 21 of the trafficking directive, which includes,

“carrying out of assessments of trends in trafficking in human beings, the measuring of results of anti-trafficking actions, including the gathering of statistics in close cooperation with relevant civil society organisations active in this field”.

While the need for this kind of interaction is established in the EU directive, it is more importantly a matter of common sense. The Minister may comment that engagement with civil society is so much a matter of common sense and so obvious as to be implicit in the Bill. Why not then make it explicit in the Bill?

The role of civil society in this area of concern is vast. NGOs, community groups, and think-tanks are all involved in raising awareness, training front-line officers, providing support and assistance to victims and monitoring the effectiveness of the law and its implementation. Indeed, over several years organisations such as Stop the Traffik, Hope for Justice, CARE, and many others already mentioned in this Committee, have highlighted this issue and I wonder whether, but for this work, we would be here today at all. It is vital that the Commissioner can work collaboratively and productively with these groups. I thank the Minister for adding reference in the clause to the commissioner’s co-operating or working jointly with others, but feel that the role of civil society should be expressly mentioned. In his evidence to the Committee, Andrew Wallis from the charity Unseen spoke of the need for a “collaborative” approach and of the commissioner as a “focal point” to foster that collaborative working across law enforcement, charities, business and so forth.

Amendments 51 and 52 relate, again, to the commissioner’s independence, about which there has been so much comment already. Restricting the commissioner to reporting only on matters previously agreed with the Secretary of State could impede their ability to respond, for example, on an urgent or topical  matter and, again, would have rather an impact on the appearance of the commissioner as an independent voice.

The Dutch national rapporteur told the Joint Committee:

“'if you are directly under the Minister, he or she will not really be amused when you criticise their policies. If you want to be an effective rapporteur, you have to criticise, too, because that is the important part. It is not criticising for the sake of criticising, but it is very important not to cover up everything with nice political words.”

We must not create a position where the independent commissioner is unable to be independent-minded and provide an independent voice, irrespective of the individual responsible, during their tenure.

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

I hope when the Minister reflects on the question of independence, she will go back and reads the evidence that we were given by two gentleman in positions with titles that both contain the word “independent”. David Anderson QC, who is the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, at Brick Court Chambers and John Vine CBE QPM, independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, who both gave evidence to us, stated that when their titles were first put into the public domain they did not contain the word “independent”. They argued strongly and were given approval by the Home Affairs Committee to put “independent” into their title. I will mention some of their evidence about how they perform their duties, which shows that they have, in fact, won the battle for independence. They also state that in Australia—in what might be called a more modern situation—they call the relevant person “independent”.

We keep referring back to the habits, legislation and behaviour of the 20th century. We moved into the 21st century 14 years ago, and we have to start thinking about the reality. If someone has to fight for their independence—

Karen Bradley rose—

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

I will give way when I have made my point.

If someone has to fight for their independence and to get the word “independent” put into their title, it shows that their original title did not cover the necessary remit and give the necessary name and direction to the person in post. I will come to some other evidence—again, not the main evidence, because that was covered in clause 34—from people who said how important it was that they were independent and called themselves that.

I wonder why we do not move into the 21st century. The Minister said earlier that she would be thinking about it. I do not need to get into another debate about that, but I hope she thinks seriously about it and considers how these gentlemen made their tasks work by being independent and then made sure that the title was there, too, to underline their position.

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

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He would agree that “independent” does not feature in the statute that set up the independent chief inspector of borders or the independent reviewer of terrorism  legislation, and that those roles were set up without that word. I also hope he will understand that it would be negligent of me, as a Minister, to agree to put the word “independent” in the Bill until I have checked—as I have committed to doing, because I understand the strength of feeling in Committee—that to make such a change would have no unintended consequences. I am sure that he will accept that that is the responsible approach.

Photo of Michael Connarty Michael Connarty Llafur, Linlithgow and East Falkirk 6:15, 9 Medi 2014

I take the offer in good spirit, and I hope that the Minister will show us that she is someone who wants to live in the 21st century rather than the 20th century.

On the question about staffing and whether the commissioner may appoint staff, David Anderson said that the need for the commissioner to appoint his or her own staff might be reduced if they will, in fact, be

“more of an adjunct to the law enforcement process”.

As I have said repeatedly, I worry that that is all that the commissioner will be—a prosecuting assistant and not a commissioner. David Anderson made this point:

“It depends very much on whether you are looking for a watchdog or a tsar.”

I think that we need a tsar, rather than just a watchdog, to tackle the problem of human trafficking. I hope that the Minister will be influenced by looking at the evidence about what works, and that she will decide accordingly.

I commend the hon. Members for Congleton and for Enfield, Southgate on the amendments that they have tabled. I have before me article 19 of EU directive 2011/36 on preventing and combating the trafficking of human beings. Originally, the Government had to be dragged screaming and kicking into implementing the directive, although they have now done so. It is good that hon. Members have noticed that the Bill contains a serious omission. The directive states that the Government should be

“carrying out…assessments of trends” and

“gathering…statistics in close cooperation with relevant civil society organisations”.

I hope that the Minister will put that into the Bill so that we get what we need.

If there was time—I realise that there is not, because we have had some serious debates—I would have taken people back to the Joint Committee’s recommendations. Many people who read this debate will not realise what was in the Joint Committee’s recommendations and thus why the proposals for the commissioner in the Bill are so lacking in spirit and content. The Office of the Children’s Commissioner—the Children’s Commissioner has been mentioned a few times—submitted some evidence to us in November 2013. Paragraph 9 sets out the powers that should be given to an independent anti-slavery commissioner; I note the use of the word “independent” in the submission. According to the evidence, the anti-slavery commissioner should, first,

“monitor and assess measures adopted by the Government to tackle modern day slavery with a power to require public authorities/those exercising public functions to provide information, and to research and publish reports on any connected matter.”

The words “any connected matter” are important, because they would take the commissioner’s role far beyond the Bill’s definition of general functions, which are basically prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of offences. That shows us that the main focus of the role is to be a prosecuting assistant for the Secretary of State.

Secondly, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner states that the anti-slavery commissioner should have:

“Formal oversight of the National Referral Mechanism”.

That would not simply be a review; we were promised a review a year ago and told that it would take six months, and it has not reported yet. That is one of the things that the Government can kick into touch. A commissioner in that role would not have the same problems with politics as the Government do, so they could get on with the job and provide a serious assessment through the national referral mechanism.

The evidence states that, thirdly, the commissioner should

“report annually to Parliament on the success of the Government’s efforts to tackle modern day slavery”.

That is an interesting suggestion, because such a report would not be filtered out by the Secretary of State. The Minister commented earlier about the Secretary of State interfering in which reports come forward. The Opposition have tabled amendment 51 to deal with clause 35(3), under which the Secretary of State can authorise the commissioner to report on a “permitted matter”. How much more constrained could that be? We might as well tie their hands behind their backs and dictate to a typist what we want the commissioner to say. It is as though the Home Secretary is afraid the commissioner will say something about the Government getting things wrong. That is a serious worry.

I am sorry for those who believe this is a half-full glass, but I believe we have a glass and we have still to assess how half-full or quarter-full it is. In reality, when it is all put together into action, we will have to work out whether this will improve things or not. I have seen many things already. People will think it is such a guddle—a lovely British word; I do not think we use it in England. It means getting tied up in knots and never moving forward. I am still one of those people who want to see how much is in the glass at the end of the day.

The amendments are very sensible. They try to ease out the role of the commissioner, to help the Government succeed in the things that they set out to do. The comments of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner were salient—it could come back to give us even more advice. In addition, we were given an overview about

“developing a better understanding of modern slavery; supporting better identification (of perpetrators and potential victims); gathering and using data and intelligence to inform investigations; effective investigative techniques; disruption of organised criminal networks”— that seems to be the whole focus of the Government’s thrust— and

“increased prosecutions and convictions.”

They are in the overview, but they are not the main point. It went on:

“We want to ensure that the Commissioner has the authority and autonomy they need to carry out their functions effectively, whilst at the same time ensuring that their remit is clearly focused.”

That seems to be the way the Government should have designed the clause. It is what was in essence the recommendation, without going into detail, of the Joint Committee, but it was not effected in the writing of these clauses, and that is a worry.

The Centre for Social Justice gave evidence. It was quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North. It was about the enhancement of knowledge. It was worried about the paucity and fragmentation of data. That is one of the things we came across again and again. People do not have good data about what is happening in the human trafficking world and in terms of tackling it. The CSJ believes absolutely that the anti-slavery commissioner should be independent of the Home Office, and Government as a whole, as the brief is likely to be interdepartmental, and most organisations outside Government will work much more effectively with an independent body.

I met on various occasions the ombudsperson from the Netherlands. Although they had been appointed by government, they were clearly outside the system, gathering their strength from a huge network of NGOs—the biggest I have ever seen outside the Human Trafficking Foundation. They brought that power in to help the Government. They did not see themselves as being opposed to the Government, and the Government worked with them and moved forward sensibly.

The other model is the one in Finland. The commissioner there had been a Member of Parliament for years and a Minister for two years. She was clearly inside the system. We met her in the serious organised crime office when we went there with Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking. She was embedded there, and she worked closely with it. She worked in the system, but bringing in other forces that the system allowed her to bring in—not interfering with prosecution in any way, but conscious of prosecution from her previous position as a Minister.

Those are two different models, but they both drove their own ship. In the evidence they gave us, they said that quite clearly. There was a good dialogue between my hon. Friend the Member for Slough and the Finnish commissioner, which can be looked at in the evidence of Thursday 6 March 2014. Asked clearly about the Children’s Commissioner describing the anti-slavery commissioner as a Home Office civil servant, the Finnish commissioner became quite heated. She said:

“If I may be blunt, no.”

If the new commissioner is seen as an extension of the Government, a civil servant, it will not work. She said:

“If it was a national co-ordinator, it would work. I think there is also a need within Government to co-ordinate the work that is done in different Ministries”— having been a Minister, she is looking at things from the inside. She continued:

“To be able to look at it without this kind of need to compromise is important”,

and that is the point. If the position is in any way compromised, it will not be effective.

We therefore had good evidence that led us to think that we should have a different structure, with a different set of tasks, from the one set out in clause 35. The Labour Front Benchers and Government Members have tabled sensible amendments. I hope that those amendments will be looked at seriously.

I will end with what Andrew Wallis said. He is from Unseen UK and chaired the Centre for Social Justice report, “It Happens Here”, which alerted so many people across the political divide to the fact that we should have a joint approach, which worked its way into the Joint Committee. He said in evidence that

“the profits—not the turnover—of slavery is $150 billion per annum”— it is a big criminal organisation. Part of what we have to do

“is having someone that can galvanise and focus because this issue goes right across Government. It is not just a Home Office issue...Unless you have got someone who can focus with real  precision right across the issue and who also has the representation of victims, then good luck.”––[Official Report, Modern Slavery Public Bill Committee, 21 July 2014; c. 27, Q56.]

What he meant was, “I think you will fail.”

I hope that the Minister will take on board the amendments of the Labour Front Benchers and her own colleagues and realise that we have to move away from the general function of the commissioner as set out under clause 35 if we are to have an effective commissioner to help the Government and the victims of human trafficking.

Ordered, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Damien Hinds.)

Adjourned till Thursday 11 September at half-past Eleven o’clock.

 Written evidence reported to the House

MS 18 Kalayaan