Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 3rd August 2020.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in establishing how BT verify Huawei’s denials of (1) the use of slave labour, and (2) the use of Huawei technology in oppressing Uighur people.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 made the UK the first country to require large businesses to report annually on steps taken to prevent modern slavery, including forced labour, in their operations and supply chains. BT are subject to, and comply with, those requirements.

The Act does not require organisations to certify that their supply chains are slavery free but asks businesses to be transparent about their assessment of modern slavery risks and measures taken to mitigate these. To improve reporting quality, we are developing a government-run registry of modern slavery statements to make it easier for consumers, investors and civil society to hold businesses to account. We have also consulted on proposals to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act and increase transparency and improve compliance.

We have been clear that China’s approach in Xinjiang is wrong and must stop. We regularly raise our concerns directly with our Chinese counterparts and are playing a leading role to increase international attention to the situation, including leading a Joint Statement at the UN Human Rights Council in June supported by 27 other countries, highlighting arbitrary detention, widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly those targeting Uyghurs and other minorities, and urged China to allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights meaningful access to the region.

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