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Clause 2 - Labour market enforcement strategy

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 27th October 2015.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 11:15 am, 27th October 2015

I think it is the latter of the two points that the hon. and learned Gentleman has articulated. We think it is covered by other means, but, for the purposes of defining the specific role, it is about lawful entitlement to be within the UK. For the reasons that I have outlined, there are other mechanisms and ways in which the issue is being addressed. It is about labour market enforcement and the lawful upholding of existing legislation. The amendment appears to take us in a direction that would apply new rights to those who are here illegally, whereas there are other mechanisms through the linkages, through the rights that the Gangmasters Licensing Authority will have, and through the consultation. It is about the extension of those aspects through other means. That is why I made the point about the specific role for the director in supporting this crucial work through a different mechanism, through the work that the Gangmasters Licensing Authority will take forward. The role concerns the lawful upholding of existing labour rights, rather than the extension of those rights, which the amendment appears to suggest. That is why we have not found the amendment attractive.

The director’s role that we have proposed supports our wider strategy on modern slavery, enhancing the response to labour exploitation. Crucially, it should not confuse or undermine the responsibility of the National Crime Agency and the national policing lead to lead the operational law enforcement response to modern slavery, overseen by the independent anti-slavery commissioner. Where an illegal worker is a victim of modern slavery, appropriate support mechanisms are available to them  via the national referral mechanism. Their status as a victim will be reflected in how they are subsequently treated by the immigration system, including the relevant reflection periods during which the person will be granted leave to remain. There are also crucial protections within the criminal justice system, which we will come to later.

Amendment 62 seeks to specify the content of the director’s annual report in the same way as amendments 57 and 58 did for the director’s strategy. I do not propose to repeat the same arguments that I made in respect of the earlier amendments, but I want to be clear that this amendment is unnecessary.

Clause 4 as drafted states that the annual report must include:

“an assessment of the extent to which labour market enforcement functions were exercised in accordance with the strategy”.

As we expect the director’s strategy to propose how the enforcement bodies should tackle non-compliance, seek remedies for victims and overcome obstacles to compliance,  it follows that the director’s annual report will set out how successful the enforcement bodies were at doing exactly these things.