Meeting on 30th June 2014

 

Opening remarks from the Chairman (Anthony Steen)

The Chairman announced the APPG meeting on the 9th July, 5pm, with an address from the Home Secretary on the Bill.  Invitation by email to follow.

The Chairman also announced the new Home Office initiative to launch a Modern Slavery Helpline in conjunction with the NSPCC.

Rt Hon Sir John Randall MP

Date for second reading of the Bill confirmed for 8th July. There is a tight timetable to get through both Houses of Parliament prior to next General Election. The first reading was an introduction of the Bill in the House. The second reading will start the actual debate on the Bill, and will be open to the public to watch in the House of Commons. The reading should start at approximately 12.30pm and could finish at 7pm.

There will be a discussion about the general principles of the Bill; MPs will have an opportunity to raise possible shortcomings in general terms, similarly, they will also be able to praise certain aspects. Unlikely that there will be a vote on second reading.

Followed by, a couple of weeks later (i.e. September when the House returns after Summer recess), Committee Stage. The Committee members will be selected by the Whips’ Offices and allocation is based on Party representation, i.e. government majority (Cons/LibDem).

In theory, at Committee Stage, Members will go through the Bill line by line, clause by clause. This is an opportunity for the introduction of amendments/new clauses. However, a word of caution on lobbying at this stage - if amendments are voted down, then they cannot be reintroduced at Report Stage later on.

The Bill will then be sent back to House of Commons to reassess the ‘new’ contents at Report Stage. This is the stage where serious campaigning can begin, and where changes to the Bill are most likely to succeed. Once Report Stage is completed (including government amendments, which are also possible - further to pertinent discussions with the Home Office), we will have a Third Reading of the Bill (usually no debate) – and then it will go on to the House of Lords.  

The House of Commons have timetable of the stages – yet to be published.

It is likely that there will be an additional evidence session with the Minister, but who will be invited will be a decision made by the two front benches. John Randall advised NGOs to get early bid in, but that it wasn’t necessarily important.

Discussions going on with front benches on how long they think they need, e.g. ten/twelve sessions of Committee etc. Likely Committee will sit in September. Twice on Tuesdays, twice on Thursdays.

Report stage will probably only be given one (maybe two) days. Important thing is to get it to the Lords as soon as possible – by November. Lords more likely to put down ‘controversial’ amendments, which will then have to come back to Commons to be voted on.

Prof. Gary Craig, Durham University

Do NGOs need to make their views clear sooner rather than later due to time pressures?

Rt Hon Sir John Randall MP

Too many amendments will mean the Bill does not have enough time to go through the House. However, the 3 or 4 majors areas of dissention coming from NGOs, which the government is already aware about, e.g. child trafficking office, Commissioner, supply chains, will be looked at now and in the future weeks and months (outside the debate in the Chambers).

Chairman

Important that any changes or amendments must be focused and made in order etc. to comply with government.

Rt Hon Sir John Randall MP

Clarification - NGOs need to find an MP willing to put down amendments, and then the Speaker of the House will decide which amendments to bring forward. Therefore, the more unified, focused and coherent message coming from all NGOs, the better chance it stands. 

Lady Butler-Sloss

Unlike in the Commons, no one can stop a peer putting down amendment. First - second reading, then Committee (no time limit). Report stage with votes - can take as long as amendments.

Lords can get amendments through - support with crossbenchers/party affiliation different. But if there are too many amendments, the Bill will die, as all amendments have to be read and Parliament finishes last day of March. Amendments - best place to pass in Lords, but have to be selective. Need to get together to focus direction. Not going to get them all.

No 10 and BIS don’t want inclusion of supply chains clause.  EBS asked for amendment to Company’s Act – the clause on human rights to include modern slavery - to be put on company accounts.

Having a separate child trafficking consent is tricky. Lady Doocey pushing it still, as well as Christine Beddoe. Need to include ‘under 18’ - with ‘benefit of doubt’ for those victims not sure about age.

Jeremy Oppenheim (Home Office Director responsible for NRM Review) - expecting interim report next month, and final October/November, with a possibility of introducing measures before Bill finished.

Rt Hon Sir John Randall MP

During debate in the Commons second reading, if NGOs do want to use effective lobbying then try and get MPs to pressure Minster into giving commitments on the Bill (without actually tabling amendments). This will be useful for later proceedings.

Lady Butler-Sloss

Seizure of assets - being strengthened - money to use for reparations (i.e. compensation for victims - judges will be pushed on this).

Chairman

The Foundation is happy to advise NGO and individuals on the Bill and the procedure of lobbying for amendments.  

Unfortunately, there is no news regarding the Action Plan.  It is a pity that Home Office has failed to involve NGOs in its develop to date. Suspect Plan will be announced end of July.

Megan Stewart (formerly Thames Reach, now independent expert)

What actually constitutes an amendment? Is there a possibility of having minimum sentence included?

Lady Butler-Sloss Don’t need to worry - judges will not let trafficker get short sentence.

Rt Hon Sir John Randall MP

Amendments - can either add or take away (as little as a comma into a sentence!!)

Klara Skrivankova, Anti-Slavery International

Encouraged by Lady Butler-Sloss’ comment on supply chains. Anti-Slavery International with others have been actively campaigning for a mandatory provision on supply chains in the Bill. Especially in procurement - both national and international matter. Issues for SMEs - larger businesses can absorb costs. ASI was behind the Guardian investigation on Thai sea food scandal recently in the news.

Anti-Slavery International and FLEX are organising an event on supply chains with Baroness Young of Hornsey - specifically on forced labour on 16th of July.

David Camp, Stronger Together

What can we do to put forward amendments on this?

Rt Hon Sir John Randall MP

Trying to persuade Government (particularly BIS) who are resistant at moment to give in now rather than be forced into it. Likely to have amendment in Committee or Report stage. A year before the General Election, the most effective campaigning tool is getting individual constituents to write to their MPs, rather than large organisations, e.g. 48 degrees. DO NOT use standard letter. Whips would then get pressure from backbenchers.

Robin Brierley, Consultant, West Midlands RAT

You mentioned that 10 Downing street do not want supply chains included - why?

Rt Hon Sir John Randall MP

Not completely opposed, but concerned about burden of regulation on business. One or two big major enterprises saying would welcome the measures, therefore, we need to press these. But, it will be that one or two other big organisations will have the ear of Downing Street and are anti-supply chain measures.  

Chris Beddoe

We need to look at details of the Bill more closely to realise their implications. E.g. Advocates - progress, yes, BUT wording changes intention - government ‘may’ introduce… leaves it up to discretion of the Home Secretary, rather than ‘must’.

Lady Butler-Sloss

The government will not consider inclusion of mandatory child advocates in Bill until the conclusion of the pilot Barnardo’s advocate schemes. Think will get somewhere on supply chains, and Commissioner, but not children. Therefore, use of word ‘may’ rather than ‘must’.

Zaiba Qureshi, Housing for Women

Post-45 days - impression that not effective for legislation- what can we do?

Rt Hon Sir John Randall MP

MPs can table a ‘Probing Amendment’ – this would allow a debate, but the Member would then withdraw before the vote, so as not to delay the progress of the Bill. This method would be useful for policy issues such as this (see previous comments about getting Ministers to commit to policy on floor of the House).  Try to get backbenchers to debate and support policy issues.

Lady Butler-Sloss

Not just issue of increasing from 45 to 90 days. Much bigger picture. Politicians need advice from NGOs as to what we need to do for victims, and those giving evidence. Please give guidance to us via the Foundation.

Gary Craig

Would like to have contacts of the NGOs specifically interested in Forced Labour to coordinate efforts and the message. Issue of forced labour within Bill - GLA can do and should do more, but resources need to be appropriate to respond effectively.

Pauline Monk, Purple Tear Drop Campaign

Soroptimist clubs in UK are a powerful lobbying tool to reach out to MPs. Does legislation apply to Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales??

Rt Hon Sir John Randall MP

Debate about GLA - yes, can be raised at second reading (not much coverage), but all can be raised in adjournment debates or Westminster Hall Debate – both of which the Minister is obliged to respond to.

The Bill will apply to England and Wales only.

Rebecca Thomas, Equality and Human Rights

Jenny Marra MSP – introduced a Human Trafficking Bill in Scotland this year which was taken on by the Scottish Parliament, though the details and timings of plans are not known. But will share if receive information.

Chairman

It appears that Scottish Bill is far more victim centred compared to the Westminster Bill which is focused mostly on law enforcement.

Introduction of John Cameron of NSPCC, following recent announcement by the Home Office to launch a Modern Slavery Helpline by July 31st.

John Cameron, Director of Adult Services Help Line, NSPCC

Current services include: 24/7 free phone number mainly driven for members of public to report concerns for children; recently launched FGM Helpline; also Helplines for Anti-gang activity, radicalisation of children, and adult abuse.

The Home Office approached NSPCC at the beginning of June, saying they would like public and community to have access to report concerns about trafficking, and needed somewhere that people could come for advice. NSPCC already have child experts, and operational lines and significant structure. Need to achieve a number of things to be successful - identification; advice and assistance; effective information for response; and raise awareness of modern slavery across whole of UK.

Plan to go live 31st July.

Currently working with Home Office about how they will get message out and campaign, as well as operational procedure. However, we will have to ask Home Office regarding NGO Stakeholder input. A number of practical issues and information issues still need to be discussed and agreed, including the stakeholder engagement, but the deadline is pressing

David Camp, Stronger Together

Will information about forced labour cases be passed on to GLA or appropriate body directly?

NSPCC

Need to clarify how information exchange to law enforcement, social care agencies etc. Still being worked on at the moment.

The Helpline will not be used as an anti-immigration activity and this has been made clear with Home Office. The Helpline is about identifying victims and those at risk.

Lady Butler-Sloss What about language difficulties?

NSPCC We have already existing services with foreign language speaker and interpreters.

Chairman What will be difference with MET helpline?

NSPCC

People are reluctant to go to law enforcement agencies. Service with some independence will encourage people to come forward with information. Hope that NSPCC brand will encourage people to report suspicious cases.

Chairman

Experience shows that victims don’t usually call Helpline, either because they are not aware of them or because have no access to phones. But members of public will call. What knowledge and advice will NSPCC be able to provide?

NSPCC

The operators will undergo specialised training. We have got experience with child trafficking issues through Child Line portfolio. We are not expecting to be inundated with calls immediately, but something is better than nothing.

Klara Skrivankova, Anti-Slavery International

Received follow up email from Home Office about the communication strategy and campaign which used stern wording to describe the image of modern slavery. The message is unclear. The NGOs are not happy with the proposed campaign. Hope that NSPCC will request stakeholder engagement from Home Office to put things right.

Immigration status - will there be legal advice? Lack of willingness to engage with non-EU victims. Need to be certified to provide legal aid on immigration advice.

NSPCC

We are aware of legal limitations, not hoping to give immigration advice, will redirect to relevant organisations. There is always a risk that people will misuse service, but current service is very experienced to determine misuse.

Continuous awareness raising of modern slavery – we have made it clear that this must stretch beyond July 31st and must have engagement with stakeholders. There is a possibility to develop an advisory group, but timeline is very tight.

Peter Cox, Croydon Community Against Trafficking

The problem of the MET helpline that people do not know about it!

What will you do if you get a call from a person giving you some suspicious indicator, but not any clear fact on the situation?

NSPCC

Need clear identifying factors, otherwise cannot do anything. The operators are trained to ask for further information to build up a picture. Then will pass any information to appropriate agencies.

Deighton Peirce Glynn Solicitors - Adam Hundt and Dan Carey

We work with victims of trafficking - get referrals of cases from organisations who provide support to victims. Currently there are concerns about legal aid (see attached a briefing on future changes and their implication.

There are often concerns over victims slipping through net during 45 days. We are conducting a review of adequacy of support during 45 days. Request to gather information, need to gain clearer picture of what NGOs telling them (Brief outline of the review and contact details attached in a separate document)

Phil Clayton, City Heart Liverpool

New legislation introducing changes to accessibility of housing benefits for EU nationals negatively affects assistance post-45 days, as many EU survivors, both men and women, are not eligible for housing benefits anymore and therefore end up either being homeless or forcefully returned to their home country. Some even choose going back to their traffickers. Have any other shelters had the same issue? What can be done?

Lady Butler-Sloss

This issue needs to be raise with Jeremy Oppenheim at the Home Office. HTF can help.

Danny Smith, Jubilee Campaign

Currently together with the A21 Campaign we are successfully implementing “It’s a penalty campaign” against child sexual exploitation during World Cup.

Short films shown on flights, special bracelets produced, strong social media outreach campaign. Thanks to everybody for support.  

David Camp, Stronger Together

Stronger together is a collaborative initiative to support and help businesses to tackle forced labour.

Nicola Darling, Restoring Hope

Restoring Hope is a new provider of move-on accommodation based in Kent. It runs intensive programme for follow on support, particularly for women coming from sexual exploitation. Open for referrals.

Tamara Barnett, Greater London Authority

New project TRAP (Trafficking Reduction Advisory Partnership) is based on a recommendation from Shadow City, after the report found concerning evidence that there was a lack of data sharing, a lack of trust between agencies and agencies were working in silos. The project aims to support agencies who handle trafficking cases, allowing them to coordinate their work, improve intelligence and assist in identification of trafficking trends.  Multi agency network will be piloted in three London Boroughs. NGOs working with adults - want referrals for local authorities.

Cristina Andreatta, Human Trafficking Foundation

Introduction of trafficking survivor care standards (‘toolkit’) - to improve victim support across country. Due to be published in next 10 days, launch TBC.

Approached by UKHTC - want to use a version of the standards.

Tatiana Jardan, Human Trafficking Foundation

Anti-Slavery Day preparations are underway. Encouraged everybody to share plans so can put on official anti-slavery day website (see the form attached), and share with anti-slavery day working group. Media Awards have been launched – deadline for nominations 15th August. To nominate get in touch with Tatiana (Form attached).

 

Close of meeting.

 

END