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Archbishop questions government over human trafficking

Monday 26th March 2007

Speaking in the House of Lords, the Archbishop quoted from research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and asked the Government about its plans for taking on those involved in the exploitation of others.

The proceedings are reproduced below:

The Archbishop of York:

My Lords, does the Minister agree with one of the findings of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on modern slavery in the UK—namely, that trafficking into the UK for sexual, domestic or child labour involves hundreds or even thousands of women and children; that most trafficked people enter the UK legally but become subject to forced labour through a mix of enforced debt, intimidation, removal of documents and inadequate understanding of their rights; and that the UK has tended to address trafficking as an issue of immigration control rather than human rights?

If the Minister agrees, what plans do the Government have for taking a robust stance against the exploiters and providing proper resources for the enforcement agencies—given that, since passage of the 2004 asylum and immigration Act, there has yet to be a single prosecution for trafficking for labour exploitation?

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon:

My Lords, the most reverend Primate is absolutely right about our abhorrence of human trafficking, be it of women or children.

I am proud to say that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister signed the Council of Europe convention on trafficking on Friday, and we have issued a national action plan which is a very important step forward. Now we have to ensure that the convention is properly implemented.

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