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Clause 1 - Director of Labour Market Enforcement

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 27th October 2015.

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Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Civil Liberties) 9:45 am, 27th October 2015

The Scottish National party tabled the amendment with Labour because we believe that the primary purpose of the director of labour market enforcement should be to enforce the rights of workers and protect people from exploitation. Indeed, the Government’s background briefing states that the new labour market enforcement agency will be established to protect people against being exploited or coerced into work. The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association has said:

“Where those working or living in very poor conditions are deterred from accessing assistance because of their immigration status”— this will clearly make it harder for them—

“or because of their vulnerability to threats by unscrupulous employers in relation to their immigration status, agencies will be restricted in their ability to gather the intelligence needed to exercise their regulatory functions and protect against labour market exploitation. A lack of clarity over the protective function of the labour market enforcement agency may therefore undermine its aims.”

It would be good to have a little more clarity.

Last week, one of the Conservative Members really shocked me with a statement about illegal workers. On reflection, I wonder whether there is a genuine, fundamental misunderstanding about some of these people that might need to be addressed. The comment was that if people knew that the Bill was being introduced and that it was going be so much harder to work here illegally, they would be less likely to allow themselves to be trafficked. That really shocked me. We are talking about the most vulnerable people, who are taken from other countries against their will. They do not choose or allow themselves to be trafficked. They are used and abused. The Bill will make it so much worse for them. Does the Minister believe that people are trafficked here because they choose to be or not? If there is a belief that there is an element of choice to trafficking, I understand where the measures come from. I would like to know that the Minister intends to protect the most vulnerable people.