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Clause 2 - Labour market enforcement strategy

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 27th October 2015.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office) 10:15 am, 27th October 2015

I should have said earlier that it is, of course, a privilege to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bone—better late than never. If it is convenient for hon. Members, I will deal with all the amendments in one go. On the other hand, if that is not the best way forward, I hope that somebody will indicate that.

The amendments address the strategy that it is envisaged that the director will set out. Amendment 57 would ensure that the labour market enforcement strategy would include an assessment of the threats and obstacles to effective labour market enforcement, and the remedies secured by victims of labour rights infringements and labour market offences.

The Bill requires the director to make an assessment of non-compliance in the labour market, but does not require him or her to assess the threats or obstacles to effective enforcement, including, for example, powers and resources, or to examine remedies secured by victims of non-compliance in the labour market. The amendment would oblige the director to incorporate those considerations into his or her strategy—in other words, to add value to what the labour inspectorate is already doing. The director needs to look at how enforcement could be done better, as well as the extent of non-compliance.

We want to build on the victim-focused legacy of the Modern Slavery Act, so we suggest that the director should look at the remedies for victims of labour exploitation as part of his or her strategy. Let me point to some gaps in the data. Recorded data on compensation for infringements of labour market standards are limited. For example, HMRC does not keep data in a format that enables the provision of statistics on the amount of arrears paid or not paid to workers. Data on civil claims brought by victims of trafficking and damages awarded are not available.

During the financial years 2010-11 to 2012-13, no prosecutions by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority resulted in compensation orders for victims of human  trafficking. Data on compensation secured through the criminal injuries compensation scheme for victims of human trafficking for non-sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery and servitude are not being recorded, so there are clear gaps. Why does not the Bill make provision for the director to assess why non-compliance is at its current level, as well as an assessment of non-compliance within the labour standards? How can the Government know whether they are making progress on meeting the needs of victims of exploitation if they are not collecting data on remedies?