Clause 8 - Offence of illegal working

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 27th October 2015.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Labour, Sheffield Central 3:45 pm, 27th October 2015

My hon. Friend will not be surprised to know that I agree. The quotation adds very much to the case that I seek to make; perhaps it makes the point more clearly than I was doing.

I want to move on and talk about international examples. I have challenged the Minister and I am confident that he will come back with examples later. I have challenged him to give comparisons, but let me share one that was shared with me yesterday when I met representatives of the Council of Europe convention on  action against trafficking in human beings—GRETA. They shared with me the example of Italy. They had done some work and talked about the amendments made to the Italian Consolidated Immigration Act in 2002, the so-called Bossi Fini law, which was aimed at regulating migrant worker flows by introducing a system of entry quotas, and which was supplemented in 2009 by the criminalisation of irregular entry and stay. Their concern was that the requirements of a formal employment contract in order to obtain a residence permit exposed migrant workers who were already at risk of labour exploitation because of their irregular migration status. They were worried that irregular migrants would be afraid to report cases of exploitation to the authorities because they were concerned about being detained and expelled. The United Nations special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, reported on the negative consequences of the criminalisation of irregular migration for victims of trafficking.

In response to points made to them by GRETA, the Italian authorities indicated that there were 14 convictions for trafficking in human beings in 2010 and nine in 2011. GRETA was concerned that those conviction rates were very low and urged the Italian authorities to strengthen their efforts to ensure that crimes related to trafficking were proactively investigated and prosecuted promptly and effectively. They asked the Italian authorities to study the implications of their immigration legislation, particularly the offence of illegal entry and stay. As a consequence, in January 2014, the Italian Senate approved Government measures to decriminalise those aspects of illegal immigration. They had recognised that the approach of criminalisation was not only unhelpful and policy-neutral but actively counterproductive.