Clause 30 - Cross-border enforcement

Part of Modern Slavery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 9 September 2014.

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Photo of Michael Connarty Michael Connarty Labour, Linlithgow and East Falkirk 3:45, 9 September 2014

We are on the cusp of a political change in the United Kingdom. Whether we get a yes or no vote on 18 September, if we continue as we are I think we will eventually end up with a yes vote, because I do not think that the Scottish people want to continue with what they sometimes see as a role of subservience to the laws of the rest of the UK. Despite people’s lack of understanding, I believe that Scotland does have a social structure and set of moral aspirations that are different from those held by many of the people who appear to accept the way we do things through the UK in England.

I hope that Scotland will one day take a decision to take the kind of approach that was taken in Italy. International criminal organisations are massively international and flexible, and they do not recognise Governments, borders or politics. The only way to deal with the mafia was to pass a law such that suspicion meant that a person was immediately beyond the pale, their assets were seized and their ability to carry out criminal transactions was halted because it was their assets that gave them power. If anyone would like to study the mafia battles, which included, of course, the killing of quite a few prominent judges—it was a very violent organisation as well as being very large, with links to America and many of the drug-producing countries of the world—they will see that the only way to deal with that kind of organisation was to say, “If you are suspected, you are immediately removed, particularly in asset terms.” Nothing in the Bill takes that stance. I would hope that some courage might be shown in a debate in Scotland and that that would be the stance, because it is the only way to deal with it.

I have been to the Serious Organised Crime Agency and seen the model it has created of international criminality in people trafficking, which is like a multi-dimensional, multi-layered spaceship to look at because it is so tortuous. To deal with that, we have to unplug it from its power source, which is money and assets. It is money that makes those people tick and function. The orders are useful, but they will not deal with the problem. Is the Minister willing, in cross-border enforcement and the meek, mild-mannered approach to crime that I see in England and Wales, to take a lead from Scotland? Is she willing to take the lead from a country with a different moral stance and approach?

I read the provision as one that will be enacted in reverse, in the sense that Scotland will be expected to line up with the orders and not show the way. I would hope that it would show the way and the UK would follow. There is a lack of vision in the English approach. It is unfortunate, but I do not think they are offering to take a lead from another country and bring a much bolder approach to English law to tackle that massive criminal organisation that exploits children and other people in society.