Clause 7 - Confiscation of assets

Part of Modern Slavery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 9 September 2014.

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Photo of David Burrowes David Burrowes Conservative, Enfield, Southgate 10:00, 9 September 2014

I want to make a couple of comments about clauses 8 and 9, which I welcome.

The shadow Minister mentioned clause 8(1), which states:

“The Crown Court may make a slavery and trafficking reparation order”.

I welcome the orders, but will the Minister clarify how the reference to “may” rather than “shall” interplays with the court’s statutory duty always to consider compensation, which is provided for under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012? Given the statutory duty always to consider compensation, will the court always be obliged to consider slavery and trafficking reparation orders?

On the impact of the orders, clause 9(3) says:

“The amount of the compensation is to be such amount as the court considers appropriate having regard to any evidence”.

I would be interested to hear what evidence the Minister anticipates. There has been lots of debate about how far a victim impact statement can lead to effective compensation orders. In this instance, work could be done on how such statements can properly express the true impact of modern-day slavery on a victim. Ordinarily, when a matter comes to the court, the court looks at the impact of the immediate crime on the victim. Statements are taken, and compensation claims are made. With a victim of trafficking or modern slavery, however, the concern is that the impact is not just about the immediate time when they come before the court; there are long-term consequences, which can last a lifetime. It is important  that those are expressed, particularly when looking at the health consequences for a victim, and that victims receive adequate compensation. It is also important that those responsible for putting people in a state of slavery and for the long-term impacts of that make reparation over what could be a number of years. I therefore ask the Minister for assurance that the slavery and trafficking reparation order will really bite and reflect not just the immediate, short-term impact on victims, but the long-term consequences.