Clause 8 - Offence of illegal working

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 27th October 2015.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office) 2:45 pm, 27th October 2015

I am grateful to the Minister for that intervention. No, I am not going that far. Those offences are on the statute book. They are much wider than offences in the working environment. I am starting from the proposition that this group of people has been recognised as the most vulnerable and exploited in the workplace, and the least likely to be able to come forward and explain what has happened to them.

The Minister raises a different point, which is that it is often thought—I certainly think this—that new criminal offences should not be introduced in legislation unless there is a clear need for them and there is a gap in the current enforcement mechanisms that the new offence is intended to fill. For many years, there was criticism of Governments for simply introducing criminal offences as a response to a non-problem when there was no evidence of the need for the offence. This is an example of that. As we heard in evidence last week, the problem is the low likelihood of intervention, inspection or any enforcement action. There is no evidence that this offence, for employees, is needed. There are existing offences with which they can be charged. In those circumstances, the clause fails the fundamental non-immigration test that we should not be legislating to introduce offences when there is no evidence that the offence is needed because there has never been any evidence of a case where action could not be taken because the offence did not exist.