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Clause 2 - Labour market enforcement strategy

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 27th October 2015.

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Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Scottish National Party, Paisley and Renfrewshire North 10:45 am, 27th October 2015

My hon. Friend has highlighted the paucity of resources in this area, something that we will come back to time and again throughout this debate.

The resources question, raised by amendment 56, was also a cause of concern for Professor Sir David Metcalf, the chair of the Migration Advisory Committee. During our evidence session last Tuesday, Professor Metcalf raised concerns about the resources required to enforce measures and punish rogue employers who are  failing to abide by labour market enforcement. After we have gathered evidence on labour market enforcement, we cannot be put in a position where we cannot use that evidence effectively because of a lack of resources. Professor Metcalf stated that, as things stand, he does not believe that the director will have the resources to be able to effectively deal with the problem of worker exploitation.

Professor Metcalf also stated that when working on the implementation and enforcement of the minimum wage he estimated that an employer would get a visit from HMRC once every 250 years and there would be a prosecution once in 1 million years. Quite frankly, that is a ridiculous position for us to find ourselves in, and we cannot allow ourselves to be put in it when it comes to tackling the issue of workers who are being exploited. Amendment 56 would require that the resources required to tackle the problem should be set out and calculated.

As I have said, we broadly support the clause, but clarification is required on a few matters, not least resourcing for the position of director. In our evidence session last week, Professor Metcalf said

“I suspect we just do not have the public finances for sufficient enforcement” before going on to say that

“in the Bill, it does not actually set out quite what the resources are.”––[Official Report, Immigration Public Bill Committee, 20 October 2015; c. 18-19, Q33-36.]

I hope the Minister will go some way to answering that point today or else will support amendment 56, which would allow the new director the opportunity to assess the required resources.