New Clause 20 - General function and powers of Commissioner

Modern Slavery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 14 October 2014.

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‘(1) The Commissioner shall—

(a) monitor trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour, the fulfilment of international obligations and the effectiveness of national legislation and policy;

(b) issue proposals, recommendations, statements, opinions and advice relevant to the fight against trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and to the realisation of the rights of victims;

(c) engage with international organisations on trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude, forced or compulsory labour, child protection, and other relevant issues;

(d) report annually to Parliament on trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude, forced or compulsory labour, and related issues;

(e) periodically review the offences and related policy of trafficking and slavery to ensure that they reflect the UK’s obligations under the Trafficking Convention and Trafficking Directive and that other international instruments are consistently applied to all trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons;

(f) periodically review public authorities’ compliance with their duties under international and national legislation and policy in relation to trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude and forced and compulsory labour; and

(g) provide an impact assessment on the trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour implications for government trade deals and trade and aid policy.

(2) The Commissioner is responsible for reviewing the practical implementation of the non-prosecution and non-punishment of trafficked, enslaved and/or exploited persons, and in doing so must have particular regard to women and children.

(3) The Commissioner shall, specifically in respect of victims—

(a) encourage persons exercising functions or engaged in activities affecting trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons to take account of the views and interests of victims;

(b) consult with and advise the Government on the views and interests of trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons;

(c) consider the operation of complaints procedures relating to trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons;

(d) consider any other matters relating to the services for, and interests and outcomes of trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons;

(e) be responsible for reviewing the practical implementation of the provision in this Bill for the non-prosecution of and non-application of penalties to trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons and victims of forced or compulsory labour, and in doing so must have particular regard to women and children; and

(f) publish a report on any matter in connection with trafficking, slavery, exploitation, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour considered by the Commissioner, which may include recommendations.

(4) The Commissioner must take reasonable steps to involve trafficked, enslaved and/or exploited persons in the discharge of his/her function under this section, and in particular to—

(a) ensure that trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons are made aware of the Commissioner’s function and how they may communicate with the Commissioner, and

(b) consult trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons, and organisations working with them on the matters the Commission proposes to consider.

(5) The Commissioner is not obliged under this section to conduct an investigation of the case of an individual trafficked, enslaved or exploited person. The Commissioner may, however—

(a) investigate a particular case and/or intervene as a third party in a particular case where the case raises issues of public policy of relevance to other trafficked, enslaved or exploited persons; or

(b) investigate any decision or recommendation made, or any act done or omitted, in respect of any trafficked, enslaved or exploited person.

(6) All public authorities must supply the Commissioner with such information in that person’s possession or control relating to those functions as the Commissioner may reasonably request for the purposes of his function under this section (provided that the information is information which that person may, apart from this section (6), lawfully disclose to the Commissioner).

(7) Where the Commissioner has published a report under this section containing recommendations in respect of any person exercising functions under any enactment, he may require that person to state in writing, within such period as the Commissioner may reasonably require, what action the person has taken or proposes to take in response to the recommendations.

(8) The Secretary of State must not take steps or impose measures that may impair, or may appear to impair, the Commissioner’s independence and shall ensure that the Commissioner is, to the extent the Commissioner is able, to determine, without limitation (other than as prescribed in this Bill)—

(a) the Commissioner’s activities;

(b) the Commissioner’s timetables;

(c) the Commissioner’s priorities; and

(d) the Commissioner’s resources and funding.”—(Mark Durkan.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 10.

Division number 15 Decision Time — New Clause 20 - General function and powers of Commissioner

Aye: 8 MPs

No: 10 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.