Saudi Arabia: Festivals and Special Occasions

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills written question – answered on 2nd July 2015.

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Photo of Jo Cox Jo Cox Labour, Batley and Spen

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, if he will take steps to tackle Hajj and Umrah tour and travel operators who break UK law and exploit people seeking to undertake a religious pilgrimage.

Photo of Jo Cox Jo Cox Labour, Batley and Spen

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what steps he has taken to ensure that law enforcement and other agencies have the necessary expertise to deal with businesses who exploit people booking Hajj and Umrah tours.

Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Minister for Universities and Science, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Jointly with the Department for Education)

Exploitation of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims by rogue tour operators is addressed both by consumer protection law (notably the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992) and the laws on fraud and deceptive practices. The relevant enforcement agencies are already taking steps to improve their ability to tackle such exploitation.

National Trading Standards has made enforcement in this area one of its national priorities and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, operated by the City of London Police, is running a Hajj Fraud National Awareness campaign designed to inform consumers and to encourage reporting of crime in this sector. Birmingham’s Trading Standards Department which has taken the lead role in tackling non-compliance, on behalf of National Trading Standards, has seen significant success in its area in both prosecuting rogues and encouraging and ensuring compliance in the legitimate trade. They are working hard to ensure that their enforcement colleagues in other parts of the country benefit from their experience and are better informed of the problems in the sector.

Key to that success has been engagement with the Muslim community so that those who are planning a trip are aware of their rights and the legal responsibilities of organisers, and those that suffer at the hands of the rogues are willing to report their experiences to the relevant authorities.

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