Modern Slavery

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 17th November 2014.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

This Government are determined to stamp out the abhorrent crime of modern slavery. The Modern Slavery Bill will give law enforcement agencies the tools to tackle modern slavery, and enhance support and protection for victims. We will shortly publish our modern slavery strategy setting out wider work to tackle these terrible crimes. I was pleased to announce on Thursday the appointment of Kevin Hyland as designate independent anti-slavery commissioner.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

Does my right hon. Friend share my belief that Government alone cannot end modern slavery and we also need businesses to take a lead and play their part in this? What steps has she taken to achieve that?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I absolutely agree that dealing with this crime is about more than action by Government. That is why I am pleased that we have introduced into the Modern Slavery Bill a clause that requires larger businesses to show what they are doing to ensure that slavery is not taking place in their supply chains. We must all work together on this issue. I am pleased that we have been able to introduce that amendment, and I am sure that it will be supported throughout this House.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough

The national referral mechanism, which is one of the ways of identifying victims, is flawed—as, indeed, the Home Secretary’s recent report implies. What is she going to do to make sure that victims, whatever their immigration status, are identified and effectively protected?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The hon. Lady is right. Concerns about the national referral mechanism have been raised for some time. That is why the Government had a review of the NRM undertaken. That review has now been published, and we will set out our response to it in the modern slavery strategy that will, as I said, soon be published by the Government. We recognise the issues that have been raised in the review of the NRM, and I am pleased that it has taken place. We will of course put support for victims at the heart of what we are doing.

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes Conservative, Romsey and Southampton North

Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating Kevin Hyland on his appointment as anti-slavery commissioner designate and expand a little on how his role will help to stamp out this dreadful crime?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am pleased to join my hon. Friend in congratulating Kevin Hyland on his appointment. Many people in this House who have been involved in looking at the issues around human trafficking and modern slavery will know of the very good work that he did as a detective chief inspector in the Metropolitan police, particularly on human trafficking matters. As the anti-slavery commissioner, he will be able to ensure that the agencies, particularly law enforcement agencies, are doing what they need to be able to do tackle this crime. As right hon. and hon. Members may have seen, he has already said publicly that one of his concerns about identifying this crime is ensuring that when victims of trafficking and slavery come forward, the police are able to recognise that they have been victims.

Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Labour, Birkenhead

As the Government have been so open in getting outside views, as well as views from this place, in building up their Bill, might not the Home Secretary adopt the same strategy with the implementation of the Bill that she has promised us in December? Would it not be possible to make that a Green Paper and for her then to come forward with her final proposals when, I hope, she secures Royal Assent in February next year?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The right hon. Gentleman has given considerable time and effort to this issue. We are grateful for the work that he has done with the Government in challenging us on the Bill and on the measures we are undertaking. The strategy has been developed with outside input; the Government have not just developed it themselves. I am sure that when the strategy is published, and as it is implemented, he will be very willing to come forward and provide views to the Government on it.