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Sex Industry

19. Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): If she will make a statement on the Government's policy on tackling the trafficking of women for work in the sex industry under compulsion. [60692]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Meg Munn): The Government are committed to tackling effectively all aspects of human trafficking, especially trafficking for sexual exploitation. We are currently consulting on the draft UK action plan, which outlines what the Government have done so far and proposes areas for future work.

Mr. Bone: I very much welcome the Minister's response but, 200 years after we abolished slavery, there is still this despicable trade in young women, who face enormous violence and cruelty. One thing that the Government could do quickly to improve the situation
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is to sign the European convention on action against trafficking in human beings. I urge them to do that quickly.

Meg Munn: I have to disagree with the hon. Gentleman because signing that convention would make no difference to the actions that the Government are taking. The Government already have a comprehensive range of measures both to prevent and to deal with the problem of human trafficking. We are concerned about one aspect of the convention—that the automatic reflection period may be a pull factor in respect of immigration—but let me assure the hon. Gentleman that the case of every victim of trafficking is considered on its merits and that reflection periods are granted. We are further considering what needs to be done and I urge all hon. Members who are rightly interested in the problem to respond to the consultation.

Vera Baird (Redcar) (Lab): The convention is very important, of course, but the Government have launched an initiative to try to unite the travel industry, immigration services, police and port authorities in offering early contact for victims of trafficking who are arriving in our country without the language, without a friend and without a single contact, and are perhaps beginning to appreciate what their fate is. That is a laudable initiative, and I applaud it. What will happen to women who take the opportunity to make the contact that is offered? The Poppy project, which is a very good shelter and support project for women—

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. That is quite long enough. I think that the Minister will have got the point.

Meg Munn: When a woman makes it known that she is in that situation, the police need to become involved. Support is provided and her situation is considered, and then a plan is developed to enable her, with help and assistance, and in her own time—we recognise that the situation is often very traumatic and that women need
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time to reflect—to give her evidence so that we can track down the traffickers. We have a multi-agency taskforce in place and we will continue to work seriously on tackling this dreadful crime.

People Trafficking

21. Jim Sheridan (Paisley and Renfrewshire, North) (Lab): What discussions she has had with the Home Secretary on improving the support and assistance given to victims of trafficking who agree to help the authorities in a prosecution case against those who trafficked them. [60694]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Meg Munn): As a member of the ministerial group on human trafficking, I work closely with Home Office colleagues to ensure that provision for victims is sensitive to women's needs. That includes reflection periods offered on a case-by-case basis. Our consultation on a UK action plan, which covers labour and sexual exploitation, includes proposals that will further protect and support victims.

Jim Sheridan: My hon. Friend will be aware that today two people have been arrested in Glasgow for human trafficking. I congratulate the authorities on bringing them to justice and I hope that the law is reflected in the sentences. What training do the authorities, particularly the police, get on dealing with women and young girls who are traumatised by this horrible crime?

Meg Munn: The range of training is important. We are undertaking work to ensure that a wider number of police are aware of the issues involved and trained in such a way that they will respond sensitively. We also have groups of police officers who work with other people to ensure that they can respond appropriately as regards women being brought into the country and women who are already here working and being exploited.

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Business of the House

11.32 am

Mrs. Theresa May (Maidenhead) (Con): Will the Leader of the House give us the business for the coming weeks?

The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): The business for next week will be as follows:

Monday 27 March—Continuation of the Budget debate.

Tuesday 28 March—Conclusion of the Budget debate.

Wednesday 29 March—If necessary, consideration of Lords amendments, followed by consideration of Lords amendments to the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill.

Followed by consideration of Lords amendments to the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill.

Followed by consideration of Lords amendments to the Consumer Credit Bill.

The House may also be asked to consider any Lords messages which may be received.

Thursday 30 March—Motion on the Easter recess Adjournment.

Friday 31 March—The House will not be sitting.

The provisional business for the following week will include:

Tuesday 18 April—Second Reading of the Commons Bill [Lords].

It may also be of interest to Members to know that the business in Westminster Hall for April will be:

Thursday 20 April—A debate on the report from the Science and Technology Committee on forensic science on trial.

Thursday 27 April—A debate on the report from the Public Administration Committee on reforming the honours system.

Mrs. May: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving us the business for the coming weeks, which, as he announced, includes debates on the Budget. I understand that nothing will be said about the health service during those debates because there will be no speech from the Health Secretary. Last week alone, 2,000 NHS jobs were cut, including doctors and nurses, but the Chancellor had nothing to say about the health service. When I have raised these NHS cuts in the past, the right hon. Gentleman's response has been, "Don't you think financial management is important?". Of course it is, but we need a debate on what has caused the cuts.

Yesterday, the Royal Free hospital in Hampstead announced 480 job cuts and Geoff Martin, head of campaigns at London Health Emergency, said that that explained why the Chancellor had

I am interested in his comments, because I remember him when he was a Labour councillor in the London borough of Merton. Government targets and bureaucracy lie
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behind those cuts. That is why they are genuinely Brown's NHS cuts. Let us fill in the gap that the Chancellor left in the Budget and have a debate on the NHS.

Some cuts are also being made in mental health services. In the Adjournment debate on Monday, the Minister of State, Department of Health, the hon. Member for Doncaster, Central (Ms Winterton) stated:

Today there is a written ministerial statement on mental health legislation, but according to the radio this morning, the Government will scrap the Mental Health Bill, little more than a month after our debate on mental health, when no mention was made of scrapping the Bill. Again, we learn more about the Government's actions from the media than on the Floor of the House. The Secretary of State for Health should make an oral statement on mental health services next week, so that she can be questioned by hon. Members and held to account for her actions.

Today, the Prime Minister is making a written statement on an independent adviser on Ministers' interests. I welcome what appears to be his change of heart. However, we have called for an independent review of the ministerial code for four years. Indeed, I repeated that call yesterday in Westminster Hall. Will the Prime Minister make an oral statement on that and confirm that the Chancellor played an active part in Cabinet debates on the matter? It is another subject on which the Chancellor has been strangely silent.

Today the chairman of Capita, Rod Aldridge, who lent money to the Labour party, resigned. Last year the Chancellor appointed him to chair his commission on youth volunteering. Will the Chancellor make a statement on Capita's links with the Government?

The Chancellor mentioned equal pay yesterday. He said:

To follow up the questions that have just been asked to the Minister for Women and Equality, does that mean that the Chancellor will close the 49 per cent. pay gap that exists for that Minister? After all, there is still no Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and the Department for Transport is one Minister down, so the money is available. May we have a debate on levels of pay? During it, we could perhaps discuss the pay offer in a Labour party advert last week, offering £28,000 to £32,000 for

That individual will be

We all know what those are. It is time that that the Prime Minister came to the House and explained himself.

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