Clause 8 - Offence of illegal working

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 27th October 2015.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 4:00 pm, 27th October 2015

If I may finish this point, I will be happy to give way to the hon. and learned Gentleman.

The provisions of the Modern Slavery Act aim to encourage victims of modern slavery to come forward and give evidence, and to provide them with the confidence to do so, without fear of being inappropriately prosecuted or convicted. However, section 45 was carefully drawn to avoid inadvertently creating a loophole through which serious criminals could avoid justice, such as if they had been a trafficking victim at one point, but eventually became a member of an organised crime group and, motivated by profit, victimised others. There is always a balance to be struck, as was the case when framing the defence under section 45, and that balance applies to the defences that will operate under the Bill. This issue needs to be seen in that context.

As the hon. Member for Rotherham will understand—I know the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras understands this, given his experience—the statutory defence acts as an additional protection on top of guidance from the Director of Public Prosecutions on whether prosecution is in the public interest. It is also in a court’s powers to stop an inappropriate prosecution for abuse of process. Although we need to think about the relevant section of the Modern Slavery Act, it is also important to bear in mind the DPP’s guidance. The normal decisions that the Crown Prosecution Service takes are equally relevant to these issues.

I said that I would give way to the hon. Member for Blackburn, so I will; I apologise for not doing so sooner.