People Trafficking

Women and Equality – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 19 June 2008.

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Photo of Anthony Steen Anthony Steen Conservative, Totnes 10:30, 19 June 2008

What further steps the Government plan to take to assist women who have been trafficked.

Photo of Barbara Follett Barbara Follett Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Government Equalities Office

The Government will build on the positive measures that we have already taken as a result of acceleration of our plans to ratify the Council of Europe convention on action against trafficking in human beings. More than 322 women have been supported by the POPPY project since March 2003.

Photo of Anthony Steen Anthony Steen Conservative, Totnes

The worst thing for a young woman who has been trafficked is to feel that no one cares anything about her, her welfare or her future. Does the Minister agree that it is essential for us to give such women identity papers, as set out in the Council of Europe convention, which the Government have signed but still not ratified? Women experience a sense of belonging and security if they have identity papers. Given that it is not necessary to wait for ratification to provide them, what is preventing the Government from getting a move on?

Photo of Barbara Follett Barbara Follett Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Government Equalities Office

As always, the hon. Gentleman has brought a new slant to a problem on which he has done a great deal of work. We are speeding up our ratification of the convention, and doing as much as we can to move it along. I will raise his point with Home Office Ministers.

Photo of Stephen Hesford Stephen Hesford PPS (Vera Baird QC, Solicitor General), Law Officers' Department, PPS (Mr Michael Wills, Minister of State), Ministry of Justice

May I bring to the attention of the House my early-day motion 1755 on the Women Leaders Council, a new international body for women only put together to combat the crime of human trafficking? Will the Government do all they can to liaise with the new council to prosecute and eradicate human trafficking?

Photo of Barbara Follett Barbara Follett Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Government Equalities Office

I commend my hon. Friend on the EDM and I particularly commend the work of the Women Leaders Council. Some will have seen the imaginative installation by Emma Thompson in Trafalgar square to publicise it. We need imaginative things such as that, but we also need hard work on human trafficking. Straight after these questions, I and the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend Mr. Coaker, and my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General, will be going to Holland to explore what is being done there on human trafficking, on which, frankly, much more needs to be done.