Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by Fresh Produce Consortium

  1.  The Department of Trade and Industry has existing legislation that regulates Employment Agencies. Whether this legislation could be amended to regulate gangmasters or whether a new Act is required is we believe a matter requiring legal advice and beyond our competence.

  2.  In developing our position on this matter we have worked on the assumption that a new Act is required and we have detailed below our comments on the type of areas we would like to see covered by such an Act.

    (a)  Given that there is no existing legislation there would have to be a definition of what constitutes an Agricultural Gangmaster, this issue of scope is important as the evidence indicates that Gangmasters supply labour to other industries such as catering and food processing as well as to the agricultural industry.

    (b)  We envisage that the scheme would work in the following manner:

    —  A code that defines best practice as well as the evidence required to demonstrate compliance with that practice would be developed.

    —  A public register of Gangmasters would be established.

    —  Gangmasters wishing to secure listing on this register would have to have their compliance with the code independently audited and would have to support their application of listing with an auditors certificate of compliance.

    —  The industry: Supermarkets, Packers and Growers will support a policy that prescribes the use of registered Gangmasters and proscribes the use of unregistered ones.

    (c)  Having defined the criteria for registration the Act would also have to define the arrangements for auditing and enforcement.

  3.  The following additional information may be helpful:

    (a)  The FPC has a Guide for the Use of Temporary Packhouse Labour. We envisage that the Gangmaster Code of Practice would be compulsory to this publication and could be developed using it as a template.

    (b)  Defra have seconded a member of their staff to work with Gangmasters and industry to develop a Gangmaster Code of Practice.

    (c)  Defra are examining the issues relating to competition and restraint of trade that such a code might create.

12 May 2003

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