To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that garment companies in Leicester comply with their responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
The Government expects UK businesses to act according to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the authoritative, voluntary international framework, which steers all businesses worldwide on these matters and sets expectations that they should respect human rights.
The UK was the first country in the world to produce a national action plan, in 2013, to respond to the voluntary Guiding Principles and subsequently we were also the first to review and update our national plan, in 2016. Our action plan confirms the expectation that all our businesses should comply with all applicable laws; identify and prevent human rights risks; and behave in line with the Guiding Principles, including in management of their supply chains here and overseas.
Following the increase in COVID-19 infections in Leicester and fresh allegations of links to unsafe working conditions, labour exploitation, and potential modern slavery in textiles factories, the National Crime Agency have launched an investigation into these serious concerns. If evidence of wrongdoing and illegal exploitation comes to light, the perpetrators will face the full force of the law.