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Clause 1 - Director of Labour Market Enforcement

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 27th October 2015.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Labour, Sheffield Central 9:30 am, 27th October 2015

It is a pleasure to serve on the Committee with you in the Chair, Mr Bone. I echo the comments made by my hon. Friends, save that I have one caveat in relation to the point made by my hon. and learned Friend the shadow Minister. I hope that we do not need to push the amendment to the vote. I hope that there can be agreement, because we are on the same page on several of these issues, in the wider sense in relation to an effectively managed immigration system, and particularly on labour market enforcement. Many Opposition Members commended the Government on their work on the Modern Slavery Act 2015. We had differences on points of detail, but very much agreed with the main thrust of that legislation. There is strong support for the principle of more effective labour market enforcement. The Prime Minister spoke powerfully about that when he spoke, at that stage, not about a director but about the establishment of a labour market enforcement agency. Clearly, the Bill has a slightly different, but nevertheless welcome, approach to seek to co-ordinate the efforts of those agencies dealing with more effective enforcement in the labour market.

However, it does not sit comfortably that our debate about labour market enforcement is in the context of an immigration Bill—so there is perhaps a point of confusion. At the heart of this clarificatory amendment is the desire to be absolutely clear on the role of the director of labour market enforcement. The post—the function—should do what it says on the tin: it should be focused on labour market enforcement. My hon. and learned Friend the shadow Minister has cited international examples. It is useful to learn from other countries, though we do not do it as often as we might. There are powerful examples of where confusion between labour market enforcement and immigration control and enforcement is counterproductive. It neither supports effective immigration enforcement—because it drives undocumented workers underground and out of the way of the authorities—and does not help with labour market enforcement either.