Clause 44

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 20th March 2007.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 4:30 pm, 20th March 2007

I beg to move amendment No. 108, in clause 44, page 23, line 19, after, ‘17’ insert ‘and section 27’.

The amendment is designed to make the Bill more effective in one of the areas where I think there is no division on either side of the House and indeed it may be particularly appropriate that we debate this while in  the Chamber we debate the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. This amendment would make it easier and certainly quicker to attempt to stamp out the modern form of slavery which is people trafficking.

The effect of this clause is to add to the commencement section of the Bill section 27, the offences that relate to people trafficking. As currently drafted, only clause 17 of the Bill, support for failed asylum-seekers, comes into force the day the Bill becomes an Act. What we seek to do is to add a reference to section 27 so that we can get a move on with attacking people trafficking.

Everyone on the Committee has participated in debates about the despicable practice of people trafficking. The Government have signalled their intention to tighten up the law, indeed to sign the Council of Europe convention that will enable them to do so, and we welcome that and we support them in that move.

The Minister will recall that when we discussed our amendments to clause 17 we were keen that this House should send a very clear message that we are all serious about toughening up the law and we think that this amendment is a very clear and easy way of doing that. It would ensure that the provisions relating to people trafficking are brought in at the earliest opportunity. We believe this would act as a deterrent and it will also enable the conviction and punishment of as many people traffickers as possible. I am sure the Minister will agree that the sooner we can start on that course of action the better.

The earliest opportunity to start doing that is the day this Bill passes on to the statute book and that is what this amendment would achieve. I hope therefore that it will be regarded sympathetically by the Government.