Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:20 am on 9th July 2020.

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Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 11:20 am, 9th July 2020

My  hon. Friend is so right to raise this point. The evil of modern-day slavery should not be underestimated. We were the first country to publish a Government statement on modern slavery setting out the steps we have taken to identify and prevent modern slavery in supply chains, and that was one of the great achievements of the former Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend Mrs May. The Home Office has launched a new single competent authority to handle cases of modern slavery and a new digital system, making it easier for those on the frontline to refer victims for support, and that has allowed us to identify more victims than ever before.

Last year, over 10,000 potential victims were referred—52% higher than 2018—and it is worrying in itself that there should be such a high number. A high number is an indication that we are introducing policies that help, but it cannot be an indication of success, because if there is any modern-day slavery, that is in and of itself not a success. Some 1,600 police operations are ongoing, which is not far off tenfold the number only four years ago, but we have to go further. Modern-day slavery is an evil, and my hon. Friend is right to highlight it.