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Slavery: Textiles

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 21st May 2020.

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Photo of Lisa Cameron Lisa Cameron Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Mental Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the implications for his policies on tackling modern slavery in the textile industry globally of the UK's commitments under the 2017 UN Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The UK Government is committed to the eradication of all forms of forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking worldwide by 2030 as set out in Sustainable Development Goal 8.7. Building on the 2017 Call to Action to end forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking, which has now been endorsed by 92 countries, the UK jointly launched the 'Principles to Combat Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains' with the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand at the UN General Assembly in September 2018. These Principles commit governments to implementing a range of measures that help address modern slavery in global supply chains. The UK is now focused on implementation of the Call to Action and encouraging member states to devise national action plans and deliver on their own commitments. Currently we are working across Government with partners to assess the impact of COVID-19 on modern slavery including in the textile industry.

The UK is the first country to require businesses to report on the steps they have taken to tackle modern slavery in their operations and global supply chains. The landmark 'Transparency in Supply Chains' provision in the Modern Slavery Act requires certain businesses with a turnover of £36m or more to publish annual modern slavery statements and applies to all sectors, including textiles.

In addition, the Department for International Development funds two programmes which seek to tackle modern slavery in the textile industry. The UK's contribution to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery seeks to trial new approaches to tackling modern slavery in the apparel sector in India and Bangladesh, among other sectors. One of the objectives of the Work in Freedom programme is to reduce the vulnerability of women and girls to forced labour in the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries of South Asia.

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