Modern Slavery Bill — Report (2nd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:15 pm on 25th February 2015.

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Photo of The Bishop of Derby The Bishop of Derby Bishop 9:15 pm, 25th February 2015

My Lords, I support this group of amendments. I, too, welcome government Amendment 97, because we need a framework that people can inhabit flexibly and that sets out the framework very clearly but gives room for manoeuvre.

As for Amendment 98A, the modern tool for transparency is the website. A website is accessible to everybody in a very equal way. The Bill needs to balance two kinds of transparency. We are looking for transparency where there is bad practice—we want to shine a light on the oppression and abuse of people. We are also looking for transparency where there is good practice, especially good business practice in terms of employment and working conditions. We have to get both sides of the transparency issue up and running.

There is a serious point about resourcing the website. If it is located in the office of the Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner, that will give a clear message about what it is for. With a website, we can imagine that if people do not find what they want, or do not think that something has happened after it has gone up, they will send in their requests or their complaints, and that will be a big resourcing task to monitor, to respond to and to manage. Therefore, if it is to be run by the anti-slavery commissioner—I can see the value of that—it will, as others have said, need proper targeted resourcing, having measured the task. There may be other models for providing such a website. Whether one can have some equivalent of the Salvation Army and find someone to designate and manage it, there must be a public space that is accessible to everyone, which looks at what is going on and being achieved, shares good practice and exposes those who are falling short.

Finally, I again endorse use of the Companies Act 2006 because that gets into the DNA of how we expect companies to operate good practice.