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 Earl of Sandwich The Earl of Sandwich Crossbench 9:15 pm, 25th February 2015

My Lords, I know that the hour is late but I want to add a minute or two of support for my noble friend’s amendments. I, like many others, spoke of the evils of some supply chains and companies’ responsibilities, but on Report it is not necessary to go into case studies again, as we are now talking about minor amendments.

My noble friends are right: proper reporting is an essential element in the legislative response and should satisfy retailers and consumers at the same time. I am a firm believer in corporate social responsibility, although it is going out of fashion, and greater transparency. Generally, I have been impressed by the extent to which businesses have been ready to accept minimum requirements. Of course there is a balance to be struck, and these amendments respect that balance. Who could quarrel with the amendments of the noble Baroness, Lady Young? Companies will differ in their relationships with the supply chains, but Amendment 97A goes a little further than the Government’s amendment by requiring a statement while retaining some flexibility.

Amendment 98A, to which the right reverend Prelate just spoke confidently, simply requires the statement to be entered on the website. My noble and learned friend disagrees over whether the commissioner-designate is going to want to do all this for himself, but we must include a provision in the Bill that companies have to provide such a statement; we can work out later where the central website will be. The commissioner-designate has already indicated his agreement in principle, and I hope that the Minister will do so, too.