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‘(1) The Secretary of State shall undertake a review of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority’s remit with regard to section 2 of the Act and the necessity and evidence for an extension of work covered by the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004, and lay a report in both Houses of Parliament within one year of this Bill obtaining Royal Assent.
(2) The Secretary of State may by order amend section 3 of the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 to include other areas of work where the Secretary of State believes abuse and exploitation of workers or modern slavery or trafficking may be taking place.”—(Mr Hanson.)
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
After that flurry of votes, we can have a moment of calm to consider another important issue. New clause 23, which I am speaking to on behalf of my hon. Friends the Members for Kingston upon Hull North and for Sedgefield, looks at gangmaster legislation. That legislation was introduced by the previous Government in 2006, following the Morecambe bay tragedy when 23 Chinese cockle pickers were killed. They were killed due to incompetence and criminal activity by gangmasters. The Gangmasters (Licensing) Act was brought in to try to provide a framework for regulation on a number of key industries, where sharp practices and poor performance had led to challenging circumstances, in that case fatal for those individuals.
The Gangmasters Licensing Authority has operated since 2006 and has done a reasonably good job. In fact, I would go as far to say a very good job, because it has issued around 2,500 licences and has revoked some of those for poor performance. It has undertaken around 70 successful prosecutions of people who have operated without licences. It provides a solid framework in a number of key areas.
The current key areas are agriculture, shellfish collection and horticulture, where there had been effective raising of standards, control of exploitation and driving out of poor performance. My argument in proposed new clause 23 is to extend the gangmaster legislation, look at other pressing areas and consider the matter not just now, but over the next few months, as the proposed new clause would instruct the Government to undertake a report for both Houses of Parliament within one year of Royal Assent. That report would look at increasing the extent of operations for the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.
The Government have undertaken a triennial review of the gangmaster legislation and helpfully published responses. As a result of that triennial review, the Government transferred political ownership from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to the Home Office, because this is effectively a criminal enforcement action matter. When we discussed the transfer in Committee, we welcomed it with some small reservations. The key point is that, on the agency’s move to the Home Office, the Government said in their response to the triennial review:
“There is no change to the remit or funding of the agency.”
I will put aside the funding of the agency, because that is a big issue. We could have a debate about it now with its current responsibilities, and were it to gain additional responsibilities, we would need to have further arguments about its funding.
We could have those arguments as part of the review that new clause 23 would elicit. However, I want to focus on the Government’s statement, which said:
“There is no change to the remit”.
My argument, which new clause 23 is the mechanism for delivering, is that there is a wide body of opinion outside the Committee arguing for an extension of the remit of the gangmasters legislation, for a fuller review and for the Government’s triennial review to stop, because it is not satisfactory that horticulture, shellfish and agriculture will be part of the agency’s remit, but other areas will not.
Four hon. Members present today—my hon. Friends the Members for Linlithgow and East Falkirk and for Slough, the hon. Member for Congleton and the right hon. Member for Hazel Grove—served on the draft Bill Committee, and I pay tribute to the thorough way in which they exercised their responsibility. They looked at a number of issues in detail, including the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. In paragraph 189 of their report—this is just the starting point for the debate; I hope there will be more evidence in support of it—they argued:
“There was consensus from our witnesses over the excellent reputation of the GLA. Sainsbury’s said that the system ‘is working’, while Anti-Slavery International told us that ‘across Europe, the GLA has been held in high regard as an example of good practice’”— good, I say; positive, I say. In paragraph 190, they state that they heard
“from the Authority itself that there are limitations to what the GLA can currently do. Its Chief Executive, Paul Broadbent told us”— the Joint Committee—
“that the GLA’s underpinning legislation was ‘good up to a point’, but did not provide for the GLA to carry out what he described as ‘hot pursuit’…on discovery of a licensed labour provider”.
Paragraph 191 states:
“Several witnesses made the case for widening the industrial remit of the GLA to other sectors where forced labour is prevalent.”
The members of the Joint Committee, including the four who are here today, concluded:
“The weight of evidence we received suggested that expanding the GLA’s powers and industrial remit would yield positive results. At the same time, we recognise that its resources are already over-stretched, and any expansion in its role would require additional resources.”
The key point the Committee made was that
“The weight of evidence we received suggested that expanding the GLA’s powers and industrial remit would yield positive results.”
My hon. Friends may wish to contribute in due course, but they recommended reviewing several other things. The first are the GLA’s powers—good. The second are its
“industrial remit, which might include risk-based analysis of sectors”— good; I will come back to that point in a moment. The third are its “funding models and levels”—I accept that they are bigger challenges that we will need to look at in the longer term. The fourth is its “sponsoring Department”, which the Government looked at, changed and accepted, and the fifth is its “collaboration with other agencies.” The Joint Committee made the following recommendation:
“The review should be completed in time for any necessary amendments to the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 to be made before the Modern Slavery Bill receives Royal Assent.”
There is still time, even if in another place.
I am suggesting that the Secretary of State should review the remit of the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004, look at section 2 and at evidence for extending the work covered by the Act, and lay a report before both Houses of Parliament within one year of the Bill receiving Royal Assent. The new clause would also give the Secretary of State power by order, rather than using primary legislation, to amend section 3 of the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act to include any other areas of activity in which, after the review, the abuse and exploitation of workers, any modern slavery or trafficking might be taking place.
The cross-party Joint Committee consisted of Members of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons, including the right hon. Member for Hazel Grove, the hon. Member for Congleton, and my hon. Friends the Members for Linlithgow and East Falkirk and for Slough. The Committee’s recommendations indicated that it wanted to increase the powers under that piece of legislation.
I am not one to reach for the unattainable, although on occasion the unattainable can be reached by gradual, glacial progress. The new clause would make some such glacial progress in the development of what the Joint Committee sought. The new clause would not require a snap decision today and add the extended areas to the Bill; it would not require us to look at increasing the funding; it would not require us to look at how the Bill works with other aspects of Government policy. What the new clause says is: “Let us not have the triennial review stop this; let us have a further review within one year to look at why this case should be made,” given that recommendations made on a cross-party basis by Members present today indicate that direction of travel.
The great work of a cross-party Committee of Members and of Lords should be sufficient argument for the Minister to treat the new clause as a means of further review and bring back particular examples for consideration accordingly. If it were only that cross-party Committee and its weight of evidence, that would be considerable, but if we look that work in detail, we see that a range of trade unions, voluntary sector agencies and academics have also suggested that there is a real gap, which needs to be examined as part of the approach to legislation on modern slavery. There is also a real reach-over into some of the challenges now being expressed in communities such as Clacton, Heywood and Middleton and, possibly, Rochester and Strood about the impact of European migration and individuals taking employment. As well as the slavery issue, if such individuals are exploited, as well as the indigenous work force, that creates tensions that could affect community cohesion. That is extremely important.
I pray in aid the TUC—not affiliated to my party, but an independent body of trade unions coming together—and its report, “Hard Work, Hidden Lives”, which says:
“Vulnerable workers have little knowledge of their rights and find it hard to get advice,” and
“while advice and legal agencies are under-resourced,” that is
“creating employment rights ‘advice deserts’ in parts of the UK.”
The TUC report made it clear:
“The research we undertook with employers and employment agencies operating in low-paid sectors” found that many of them favoured greater resources to the GLA—we accept that that has to be in the longer term—but they also gave examples of being undercut by smaller agencies that were reducing costs through illegal practices. The TUC concluded:
“The GLA needs to be extended to hospitality, construction and catering as these are usually small businesses that are open to abuse.”
In a report released after the introduction of the gangmaster legislation, Oxfam, a well-respected international charity, said that
“a significant number of unlicensed gangmasters continue to exist, and exploitation of workers is still reported. The GLA’s efforts to reduce exploitation are fundamentally thwarted by the workers’ fear of blowing the whistle, particularly during a recession. Furthermore”— this is the key point—
“gangmasters have diversified into sectors beyond the remit of the GLA where there is less regulation of labour standards.”
The report continues:
“Specifically, exploitation in the sectors of construction, hospitality, and care was found to be endemic. Oxfam therefore recommends”— supporting the recommendation of hon. Members present today—
“that the GLA’s remit is immediately extended to cover the sectors of construction, hospitality, and care.”
I would not want to go “snap” on those areas, but I am strongly attracted to that proposal. Part of new clause 23’s benefit would be to fully examine the concerns of the TUC and Oxfam.
Oxfam’s research found that
“exploitation by gangmasters was widespread in construction, hospitality (hotels, catering, and cleaning) and care. Exploitation within these sectors bears a striking resemblance to that found in the GLA-enforced sectors: underpayment of wages, debt bondage, excessive hours, spurious deductions, dangerous and unsafe working conditions.”
If the system is good enough for farm workers, shellfish operatives—cockle workers—and those working in the horticultural sector, my case today is not that we go “snap”, although I am sympathetic towards that, but that we consider, through new clause 23, a year’s worth of serious investigation based on the evidence provided and give the Minister the power to bring forward proposals. We cannot predict the outcome of the general election, but the proposal would give whoever the Minister is after that 12-month period the power to bring matters forward by order.
Moving on to social care, Oxfam found
“evidence of significant exploitation in the social care sector. This sector has historically had high staff turnover and low rates of pay; as a result increasing numbers of agencies are looking to employ migrant workers in addition to the local workforce.”
What is happening is what has historically happened in areas now regulated by gangmaster legislation. Migrant workers will come to the United Kingdom because the wages on offer are higher than they would get in their home country, but those wages are lower than the minimum wage and are then subject to deductions for travel, uniforms, equipment and accommodation. Therefore, unlicensed gangmasters operating are not only driving down the conditions of people working in regulated sectors, but undercutting small businesses across the country that are paying the minimum wage and obeying all relevant legislation. The problem exists not only in my constituency; I have discussed the operation of gangmaster legislation with Government Back Benchers from London, Cambridgeshire and Boston, where activities are undertaken by unscrupulous gangmasters.
If it was just Committee members, Oxfam and the TUC, that might be sufficient evidence for the Government to say, “Let’s look at this again,” but the Salvation Army, which was awarded the adult human trafficking victim care and co-ordination contract in July 2011, released a report on 13 October stating that forced labour cases grew at a faster rate last year than sexual exploitation for the first time. That forced labour is happening in areas of domestic servitude, such as construction and catering. Only last month the National Crime Agency looked at serious organised crime in relation to human trafficking: 29% of the victims of human trafficking were working in block paving and tarmacking, with a further 2% working in general construction.
It will not surprise the Committee to learn that Mr Murphy, the general secretary of the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians, said:
“There is growing evidence about the level of exploitation that exists in the construction industry. The common sense solution to end exploitation is for the GLA to be extended to construction as soon as possible.”
Trade unions and voluntary agencies are all important, but let me pray in aid Mr Andrew Boff. He is not a member of my party; he is the leader of the Conservative group on the London Assembly. He has produced a report, here in this capital city, called “Shadow City: Human Trafficking in Everyday London” It is a comprehensive report that focuses on the high level of human trafficking occurring in industries that use a large amount of casual labour, such as construction and catering. I did not use my helpful vote in London a couple of years ago to vote for Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, but Mr Boff's recommendation to him, which he is minded to accept, is that:
“The mayor should call for the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to be extended into the hospitality and construction-sectors so that it effectively tackles labour trafficking in London.”
There we go; that is the headline for tomorrow: “Delyn MP supports Mayor of London.” That strikes me as being an important action. This is not about a party divide—it may be, but I hope it is not. Rather, it is about achieving an objective that says we should look at how we stop exploitation. Why are Andrew Boff and the Mayor of London supporting that? They know that in a difficult market if people are gangmastering care workers, hotel workers or construction workers, the legitimate businesses in London who are trying to make their living will be undercut by exploitative labour. They know that leads to challenges which mean the increased use of employment agencies and rising levels of exploitation.
“Many have called for extending the authority and the resources of the GLA to cover all industries where there is known risk of exploitation and forced labour associated with labour providers. The evidence from JRF’s programme points to the same recommendation.”
Finally, the TUC General Secretary, Frances O'Grady, said:
“Rather than reducing the GLA’s ability to protect vulnerable workers the government should be looking to extend its licensing powers to other industries such as construction.”
There is a very strong case for the Government to revisit this issue. The Government looked at it in their triennial review and—I come back to where I started—there is no change to the remit. That was the Government’s conclusion. New clause 23 gives them an opportunity to look at that again. This matters. It matters to the individuals who are exploited; it matters to the businesses that are trying to work in a difficult environment in a proper way, obeying minimum wage regulations; it matters for the cohesion of communities where people see people coming in taking low wages; it matters to the Committee.
This is not saying to the Minister today to go “Snap!” It is telling her to do a 12-month review, to look at this in detail, to look at all that weight of evidence and to bring forward proposals. Ministers would have the power under new clause 23 to implement this measure without further legislation. It could be passed by order and therefore we could do something good by achieving those changes. I commend the new clause to the Minister and look forward to hearing her positive response.
I enjoyed the speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn. He quoted from many good sources that we have very much come to know in the past five or six years from working in the field of anti-slavery and human trafficking. Geraldine Smith, the then Member of Parliament, helped by my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Jim Sheridan), brought forward the Gangmasters (Licensing) Bill that established the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. The organisations referred to by my right hon. Friend saw great benefits from that, but they have expressed grave concerns that the scope and role that they hoped the GLA would have was not expanded.
I do not want to follow the line of my right hon. Friend in quoting trade unions, charities and people who, if you like, wear their hearts on their sleeves. I want to quote the British Retail Consortium. For many years, we had a hard time getting the ear of the British Retail Consortium on the question of the Bill, its supply chains and its companies. It was concerned, not having heard the business case very well. The Ethical Trading Initiative is another organisation that moved—more quickly, by the way—to a position where it began to realise that a Bill such as this, and my right hon. Friend’s proposed new clause, is in its financial interest. The Ethical Trading Initiative and the British Retail Consortium made the following submission to the Prime Minister on 28 August 2014:
“Second, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) is an example of an effective body that UK industry helped establish to manage and mitigate risks of slavery in the food and agriculture sector. We would like to see this model extended to other high-risk areas such as fisheries, apparel, construction, cleaning, care and hospitality”, all of which were mentioned by my right hon. Friend.
We have had letters on other issues, but it is clear that this combination was the final support that we required in respect of the work going on in the charitable sector and among trade unions worried about labour exploitation, and in respect of the evidence received by and the deliberations of the Joint Committee. We have seen that the Minister is willing to respond to the shift in No. 10’s position. We have heard that the people in No. 10 were advising the Prime Minister to take a different direction from that which the people in the Home Office were advising the Home Secretary to take.
The new clause is astonishingly moderate and builds on the Joint Committee’s report, which was a compromise document: it did not take the most extreme view, but attempted to bring together all the various forces, thoughts and principal positions into a document the Government could use. Sadly, a lot of it has been ignored, but we are beginning to see some moves towards listening to it. It is clear that the Ethical Trading Initiative and the British Retail Consortium, speaking for the biggest section of industries in this country, want not a survey, a report or an investigation, but an immediate extension of this model. I would go for the British Retail Consortium’s position, but I am sure that my right hon. Friend would be willing to accept the compromise of a serious study.
The purpose of the amendment was to entice the Minister to look at the changing position in response to the Joint Committee’s report on the Bill. I want this looked at as a matter of urgency. I am willing to find a compromise if the Minister wishes to bring it back, but it is important that we look at how we extend this in due course.
I take it that there was a bit of levity there. I was saying that we were seeking compromise. The retail industry is provoking a clear demand for change now, without any survey. Having dealt with them over the last three or four years and talked these points through, I have no doubt that the British Retail Consortium and the Ethical Trading Initiative have been doing that kind of survey and research and have been finding again and again the very points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn in their industries and the industries to which they want this to be extended. The offer from the Front Bench made by my right hon. Friend is very fair to the Government. I hope that the Government might sign up and say that they take the surveys and studies done by the British Retail Consortium as evidence and will move straight away to bring forward an amendment to extend the Gangmasters Licensing Authority’s operation into the sectors suggested by the British Retail Consortium and the Ethical Trading Initiative.
I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Delyn and the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk for tabling and speaking about new clause 23, which concerns the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. I appreciate their concerns about the exploitation of workers by unscrupulous gangmasters and the important contributions made on all forms of labour exploitation. I share those concerns. The Government are committed to tackling exploitation in the labour market, whether it pertains to workers who are migrants or UK residents.
I want to take this opportunity to set out important steps that the Government are taking to deal with this problem. That will help the Committee to understand why I do not believe that this specific amendment is the most appropriate way to deal with this important issue, even if it comes as a surprise to the right hon. Gentleman to hear a Minister turn down the opportunity for more Executive powers.
The scope of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority is specified, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, in the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004. When Parliament passed that Act, it was with the intention that its effect be limited to the supply for, and in certain circumstances the use of, labour in agriculture. As hon. Members will no doubt know, that includes livestock and dairy farming, horticulture, shellfish gathering and the processing and packaging of produce derived from those sectors. The scope of the Act was limited to those circumstances because the problem of illegal activity by labour providers was understood to be most prevalent in those sectors. That was emphasised by the tragic case of the Morecambe Bay cockle pickers some 10 years ago.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority underwent a triennial review earlier this year as part of the process introduced by this Government to ensure that public bodies remain accountable and fit for purpose. The review found that the functions of the GLA are necessary and that the GLA remains the right body to deliver them. It also concluded that the GLA should remain as a non-departmental public body and continue to deliver reforms already under way to reduce unnecessary financial and administrative burdens on compliant businesses while focusing effort on enforcement action against the highest-harm offenders.
As the Committee has discussed, the review also indicated that the sponsoring Department should be reconsidered and that the planned reform of the GLA board should come forward as soon as possible. In the light of the review, in April this year the GLA was transferred from DEFRA to become a Home Office body. In the Home Office, the GLA will benefit from closer operational links to the wider law enforcement family. It is already working in partnership with the National Crime Agency, regional crime hubs, local police forces and immigration enforcement teams. It is able to strengthen its intelligence-gathering capabilities and focus resources on enforcement, while reducing burdens on compliant business. We are working closely with the GLA to embed it into Home Office systems and enable it to benefit from direct access to the National Crime Agency’s and other agencies’ considerable intelligence resources. We are ensuring that its operational tasking and co-ordination framework is targeted at tackling the highest-harm offenders.
I can also confirm that the GLA is one of those bodies that is most closely working with me as the Minister with responsibility for modern slavery to make sure that we use its considerable knowledge, expertise and skills to tackle the forced labour exploitation that we are seeing more and more. The Salvation Army figures released yesterday show just how important this is, because the biggest increase in the number of slaves is in the labour exploitation of men.
Joint operations, such as the recent one against traffickers in Devon and Cornwall, which involved the police, the National Crime Agency, local authorities, the GLA and others, illustrate the importance of partnership working. We are working to ensure that information sharing and collaboration is as effective as we can make it. On my visit to Devon and Cornwall earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to meet the two migrant worker police community support officers who work full time in Devon and Cornwall police. I learned about their close working with the GLA, which enables them to have close relationships with the legal gangmasters, the others that they have concerns about and, in particular, the migrant worker communities—the Hungarian community and the Polish community, for example—and gives them the ability to get into what is happening and to stamp out exploitation at the earliest opportunity.
As the right hon. Member for Delyn knows, because we were there together, legislation to enable reform of the GLA board was agreed by Parliament before the summer recess and is set to come into force once the recruitment exercise has identified suitable candidates and new board members are appointed in the new year. The Government will keep the scope and remit of the GLA under review. Licensing can be an appropriate response to particular problems in particular sectors, but that does not mean that it is appropriate in all cases. It is important to remember that regulatory safeguards are already in place for all agency workers, whichever sector they work in, and that the Government are strengthening enforcement.
One point that the GLA made explicit to me was that, although it is licensing in certain sectors, that does not mean that it is not looking at the other sectors in which those gangmasters operate. Where a licence is given to a gangmaster operating in the agriculture sector who also operates in other sectors, the GLA looks to ensure that there is no exploitation of any of the people employed by that gangmaster, even if they are not working in the sector relating to the licence.
Whenever I speak to the GLA, part of the message—it is loyal and internal and all that—is that it does not have the resources to deal with the extent of the problem in the sectors it already has. The Minister seems to be saying that it can somehow influence what happens in sectors beyond those for which it is responsible, but how does it have the resources to deal with that?
I am reporting to the Committee the information given to me by the GLA. We have to look at the GLA in the context of the wider strategy on modern slavery, to see how it fits into that strategy and to ensure that we are using its skills, expertise and that licensing ability in the best way we can. For example, we are already taking action to increase compliance with minimum wage legislation. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs investigates every complaint made to the pay and work rights helpline and conducts proactive enforcement in high-risk sectors.
The Government announced in August that we are investing more than £1 million to increase the number of national minimum wage inspectors, who will respond not only to tip-offs, but proactively go after the worst offending employers. We have also made it simpler to name and shame employers that break the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and have quadrupled the maximum fine for breaches of it. Furthermore, agency workers outside the sectors regulated by the GLA will still be regulated by the Health and Safety Executive and will benefit from a wide range of legal protections under general employment law.
On the question of the minimum wage, let us take the case of an employee who signs a contract in another country, and the contractor is paid the minimum wage per person. Is it not a breach of the National Minimum Wage Act if the money is not given to the employee? My understanding is that the contractor signs them up from another country and takes money at the minimum wage at least, but the employee receives a lot less than that. Before we get into deductions for travel or subsistence, the actual wages in their hand do not match the minimum wage.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. He highlights a problem that I am sure the enforcement teams at HMRC and elsewhere will be keen to look into. It is clear that we need to tackle labour exploitation in the round and look into all aspects of it.
Just to help the debate, and for the Committee’s benefit, could the Minister define what she regards as a gangmaster? It would be helpful to know the difference between her definition of a gangmaster who deals with agriculture, fishing or horticulture and of somebody who has the same characteristics and responsibilities who deals with another sector.
The important thing is how we use the GLA and its remit in the most effective way possible. The GLA was set up, as the right hon. Gentleman well knows, because a licensing arrangement was needed in certain sectors, and it has worked very successfully. Under the definition of a gangmaster set out in the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act,
“A person (‘A’) acts as a gangmaster if he supplies a worker to do work to which this Act applies for another person (‘B’).”
The Act continues:
“For the purposes of subsection (2)”, which we have just discussed,
“it does not matter…whether the worker works under a contract with A or is supplied to him by another person…whether the worker is supplied directly under arrangements between A and B or indirectly under arrangements involving one or more intermediaries…whether A supplies the worker himself or procures that the worker is supplied…whether the work is done under the control of A, B or an intermediary…whether the work done for B is for the purposes of a business carried on by him or in connection with services provided by him to another person.”
I never ask a question I do not know the answer to. I know the answer to that question. The question is, then, what is the difference between somebody working in the agricultural sector and somebody working in the care home sector with the same conditions?
As I have said, we need to look at how we use the licensing arrangement in the most effective way to tackle modern slavery. The licensing arrangements have worked successfully in the agricultural and other industries. With the GLA coming into the Home Office and becoming more closely connected with law enforcement, we are looking at how our overall strategy on modern slavery can best be implemented using the GLA’s expertise.
Michael Connarty rose—
I am also conscious of the time, but the Minister has not answered my question. I want her to tell the Committee the legal definition of the minimum wage for a person who comes to work in this country. What do they receive in their hand before deductions? That is the problem people have. If the minimum wage, or more, is paid to the person who recruits them in their home state, is it that, or is it the money someone receives in their hand? What is the legal definition? If a minimum wage inspector finds someone being paid in this country, what do they expect to find? Do they expect to find people receiving the £6.80, or whatever it is, per hour in this country or in the country they left?
In order not to detain the Committee on this issue, which I can see is important to the hon. Gentleman, may I offer to write to him? In that way, we can make some progress, but also deal with his concern about the national minimum wage. Although that is not within the remit of what we are talking about, it does impact on labour exploitation, so I understand why it is important to him.
The Government are determined effectively to tackle labour exploitation. The GLA is doing work to tackle high-harm activity within a specific remit focused on areas potentially vulnerable to exploitation. We are working with the GLA to improve its effectiveness even further through joint working with other law enforcement bodies. The Government are taking action to tackle wider labour exploitation.
The case has not been made for extending the GLA’s remit at this stage beyond the core areas the Act sought to address. However, I have committed the Government, and I repeat that we will continue, to keep the GLA’s remit under review to ensure it meets the needs of the modern slavery strategy. I therefore hope the right hon. Gentleman will feel able to withdraw his new clause.
The previous Government, with help and support from Back-Bench Members who brought the matter forward, initiated the gangmaster legislation in the three areas we have discussed. Those were the areas where gangmasters were operating, leading to exploitation, forcing down wages, undercutting legitimate employers and, ultimately, leading to the deaths of 23 people in Morecombe. That is why the Labour Government backed my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Jim Sheridan).
It is clear, from the evidence presented to Committee members and the evidence from outside agencies that I have presented today, that gangmasters have moved from those sectors to work unscrupulously in other sectors such as catering, construction and care work so as to continue to make vast profits at the expense of the people who work for them and of the businesses that operate legitimately in those fields.
Our suggestion is to have a modest and speedy review—not the triennial review, which has been completed, with the Government saying no—and to give the Secretary of State powers to bring new sectors of work under the GLA’s remit, for the reasons we have given. It is important that our measure is progressed. I want to test the will of the Committee on this matter, which I hope we can put to bed by giving a proper indication of its importance, so that people who work in other sectors are not exploited by the very same people whom the Bill is meant to crack down on.