Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab): May I just say to the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) that I am told the police are so good at monitoring calls from mobile phones in prisons that if a criminal does not have one, they will throw him one over the wall, because they will then know what crimes are going on. I was told by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, before it disappeared, that it used such monitoring

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to trace people’s criminality, their money and criminal attachments outside prison when they leave. The hon. Gentleman should therefore not worry about mobile phones, as long as the police have the numbers.

I turn to the Queen’s Speech and issues relating to the Home Office and, partly, to the Ministry of Justice. The debate has focused on two main Bills, but there is a context. I was disappointed when the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) mocked those who raised the question of the passports fiasco. The reality is that that fiasco demonstrates to people that there is something wrong with the Government’s policy on cuts if they are affecting people’s ability to get passports in the normal time frame.

It irritates my constituents greatly when they have given plenty of time and are told that if they pay more, they can still meet the deadlines. In the case of one of my constituents, the process started in March, and eventually they had to pay £70 to get their passport sent to them. There is something wrong with that. The Government must accept that in that context people see the Home Office as failing in the delivery of a day-to-day service—it is often the day-to-day things on which people will make judgments. It is a sign of a Department that is not coping.

Another issue that, sadly, is brought up regularly in my constituency is the abuse of the marital route for residence in the UK by people applying for spousal visas. Then, when they eventually get through the process and claim to have the documents—I have documents here that seem to have been bought rather than won by endeavour; people can buy documents to say that they have passed the test—unfortunately, young men appear just to abandon their spouse and child or children, and head for the big city. I know the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) would love them to stay in Scotland, but in reality they head for the conurbations of England. I have a case at the moment where that is happening and someone has recently abandoned their wife and child. It is a member of the Pakistani community, so I hope they take as dim a view of that as I do.

I also think there is something wrong with a Government who promise again and again that they will do something about the use of wild animals in circuses, and then abandon that in the last phase of their government. Many people have campaigned on that issue in my constituency for a number of years, but I think that those who claim to be Conservative voters will not be doing that in the next election, given that betrayal.

In reality, the context in which the Government are acting is one in which they are falsifying their credentials. Violent crime has risen and is up from 607,000 offences in England and Wales to 614,000, whereas the number of prosecuted criminals has gone down from 141,000 convictions to 134,000. That does not give the public any sense that the Government are serious about looking after people’s safety. Reports of rape, domestic violence and child abuse are up, but again, convictions are not matching those rising reports.

I wish to mention something that is not specifically this Government’s remit, but that of all Governments including the Scottish Government. At midnight last night in Glasgow there was a march of women to reclaim the streets. There have been three serious rapes in the public streets of Glasgow in the past week. I

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heard the police officer—just as we often hear from the Government—come on and give statistics, stating that numbers of crimes were higher last year and that clear-up rates are higher in percentage terms than in the year before. However, that does not convince people that they are safer on the streets, or convince women that we are changing society and policing it properly for them. If crime is not prevented entirely, the streets are not safe, and if all perpetrators are not convicted, the trauma and sense of betrayal remains.

The unacceptable fear of walking in the streets of a city cannot be endured in 2014. I know that because we are, unfortunately, a much blighted extended family. My young cousin, Agnes Cooney was murdered in 1981. They have never solved the crime; they have never found out who did it. One reason is that Strathclyde police lost the evidence box or the production box, and therefore could never use the modern technology of DNA. That trauma has never gone away from my family. My mother died with a photograph of Agnes on the mantelpiece, and her sisters berate me regularly for the failure of Governments, the police and the authorities to deal with that crime. That is what the women of Glasgow feel at the moment. It is not safe to walk in the streets of Glasgow, and all the statistics and all the little pledges will not be accepted. The Government have to accept that when they are not clearing up serious violent crime at that rate, something is wrong.

I have been involved with the Modern Slavery Bill for some time—[Interruption.] I see the Minister flapping on the Benches, but if the Government stand up and tell people that they are doing better on crime but statistics show they are not, they are clearly trying to mislead the public.

The Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims (Damian Green): The hon. Gentleman accuses the Government of misleading the public, but I gently point out that, as I think he acknowledged, policing in Scotland and Glasgow is not the responsibility of the UK Government; it is the responsibility of the Scottish Government. Drawing conclusions from that that the UK Government are misleading anyone is itself pretty disingenuous.

Michael Connarty: In fact I drew the conclusion from the statistics for England and Wales, which I quoted to the Minister and he will read in the record. Those are not statistics that the Government like to put out but they are the facts. Violent crime is going up in England and Wales, and convictions are going down. There is something wrong with policing under the Minister’s watch.

I would like to thank a number of people who put in so much effort on the Modern Slavery Bill. We have heard about Anthony Steen, and when he becomes Sir Anthony Steen I think he will be adequately rewarded for his amazing efforts in making this an issue that we all accepted. We all know about anti-slavery day in the UK, which everyone recognises.

There are many others I wish to thank. My hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) asked me to give her apologies because she arranged a study visit to another country before she knew the subject for debate today. She has done amazing work on this issue, including tabling the first ten-minute rule Bill

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on the supply chain issue, and she chairs the all-party group, which has now become much more inclusive.

I also wish to mention Andrew Wallis, who has not so far been mentioned, although my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field) mentioned the Centre for Social Justice. Andrew and the centre have done a lot of work to pull together the issue to make people in all parties realise that we cannot deal with slavery in a UK context; it must be dealt with in an international context. If the Wilberforce legislation had freed all the slaves in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, it would have freed only a couple of hundred. It was freeing slaves across the nations with which we traded—using slaves as barter—that changed the face of slavery from Africa.

I also wish to thank two colleagues, Jenny Marra, the MSP from Dundee, who has tabled a Bill on this issue in the Scottish Parliament, and Lord Morrow of Clogher Valley, who has made similar proposals in Northern Ireland. I also commend my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead, who took on the task of chairing the Joint Committee of both Houses and all parties—including the Cross Benchers—that considered the draft Bill. I hope that the Bill has been improved by our proposals.

I am pleased that we will have legislation on human trafficking and modern slavery, but it must be measured against what we aspire to see after 10 weeks of evidence-gathering, as set out in the Joint Committee’s report. Our proposals included a reoriented definition of the crime of slavery; a focus on children, with a specific offence of enslaving and exploiting children, and the introduction of guardianship for children; support for victims; and decriminalisation. The latter is important in the context of Northern Ireland and Scotland. The big criticism made when the draft Bill was launched in Scotland was that it could not deliver on its promise as long as the Border Force—it used to be called the UK Border Agency—criminalises people who are trafficked to this country and commit no offence other than breaking the laws on immigration.

The Committee went to meet a group of people who had been trafficked and were now being looked after by the POPPY Project. One young woman had been brought here in a ship without knowing where she was going. She landed in Liverpool and was forced into prostitution. She ended up in London, where she ran away. She went to a police station and told her story, but she was locked in a cell and accused of lying about how she came to Britain. Eventually she ended up in Yarl’s Wood to be deported. One of the people there knew someone from POPPY and introduced the young woman. POPPY investigated her story and found it to be true and undeniable, but the police treated her as a criminal. As she said, she thought she would get justice in the United Kingdom, of all places. People in her country, in Africa, thought of the British police as not corrupt, but they turned on her and she was traumatised by that experience. But people who work in the field say that experience has been repeated thousands of times.

We need to improve asset recovery, and we want an independent assessment of the performance of the Government under the legislation. We want an anti-slavery commissioner who is independent and not the Home

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Secretary’s poodle—I wrote that phrase myself. We also want something done about supply chain legislation. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead said, protection for migrant domestic workers does not need legislation, but it must be addressed. We want sentencing strengthened. Of those measures, five are in the Bill—I read a draft of the Bill while I was waiting to speak.

The evidence in the 2014 Human Rights Watch report “Hidden Away”, on what happens to people who are domestic servants in this country, often in very rich houses or with people involved in an overseas ambassadorial role, is unassailable. The report states:

“Most of the migrant domestic workers…described at least some of the elements that constitute forced labour under international law.”

The report makes a number of recommendations that it appears the Government want to ignore, for example, to

“Ratify the ILO Domestic Worker Convention and bring national laws and practices into compliance”

and to include a provision in the Modern Slavery Bill to amend immigration rules to defend these workers:

“Amend the visa rules to allow all migrant domestic workers, including those working in diplomatic households, to change employer.”

That is not allowed. Workers can be locked up and treated like a dog and go back to their own country, but they cannot seek a better employer in this country, which they used to be able to do under the visa arrangements we made.

What is missing from the Bill, and what it will be judged on—we will be able to debate in detail what is in the Bill on Second Reading—is, for example, the omission of independence for the proposed anti-slavery commissioner. Reading the clauses, it is clear that the commissioner is likely to be the Home Secretary’s poodle. The Home Secretary can decide what can be reported on and how it can be reported. There is no question of independence. Basically, the Bill will appoint a civil servant to work for the Home Secretary, who will decide what can be reported. The reports have to go through the Home Secretary before they can be published. There is no structure for independent assessment of Government performance—there is nothing at all on that in the Bill.

There is a failure to address slavery in the supply chains of UK companies. Luis CdeBaca, the US ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat trafficking in persons, said:

“We can’t prosecute our way out of this crime.”

Luis CdeBaca has prosecuted more traffickers than anyone else in the world. In his evidence to the Committee, he told us that he saw more benefit in the California law—statutory auditing and statutory reporting by companies in California of the whole of the supply chain—than in prosecution. Another supporter of that, and of my private Member’s Bill, was Andrew Forrest, who I understand is one of the richest men in Australia. He set up Walk Free when he found trafficked children in his own quarries in Nepal. Walk Free now has more than 2 million members and campaigns on this issue across the world. David Arkless of ArkLight, who was the former international president of the Manpower company, audited to the third level millions of suppliers to that company. He offers training to anyone who wants to do that for their own company.

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The Joint Committee will recommend what I think is a very moderate clause—the Committee did not recommend everything that was in my private Member’s Bill. It is a simple recommendation that should have been accepted and included in the Bill. Section 414C(7)(iii) of the Companies Act 2006 should be amended:

“Before ‘social’ insert ‘modern slavery’.”

The five elements of the California Act should be taken on by companies. They should: verify and evaluate supply chains; audit suppliers to certify goods and services purchased from suppliers; maintain accountability with regard to distribution; and train staff. That is not too burdensome, but none of it appears in the Bill.

That moderate move was not supported by everyone. My very good friend—I hope he remains my very good friend—and respected campaigner Aidan McQuade, the director of Anti-slavery International, argued, and still champions the idea, that we should use the Bribery Act model, so that knowing about and allowing modern slavery at any point in the company’s supply chain should be a criminal offence for the chief executive of the company. He stands by that as the solution that he wants.

But what is interesting is the people who now supported the proposal when it came before the Joint Committee who did not support the Bill that I put forward. The number of supermarkets that were reluctant to come forward was amazing. In fact, the chief executive of Sainsbury’s wrote to me to say that it was really a matter for the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, and it was not for his company to audit the supply chain. Now Amazon, Ikea, Marks and Spencer, Primark, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have all written to tell us that they would support legislation if it was not unduly burdensome. That is an amazing step forward from those companies. I hope that the House will commend them for doing that and encourage them to lobby the Government to get legislation that they can use.

I encourage our friends on the Government Benches and in the House of Lords; I assume the support of people on the Labour Benches. But if we really do want to modernise the anti-slavery principles of William Wilberforce’s legislation of 200 years ago, we should adopt the auditing and reporting of supply chains as a minimum. Slavery does not just happen in the UK; it happens for the UK in other countries.

4.31 pm

Mr Robert Buckland (South Swindon) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty), who has campaigned assiduously on the issue of modern-day slavery. I pay tribute to him for the work he has done and for the attention to detail he has shown, which is so important when it comes to landmark legislation such as this.

My experience of modern-day slavery stemmed from my own professional contact with people who at that time were still being treated as defendants, but whom we now know increasingly must be treated as victims. It first manifested itself when I started to see a number of cases involving young Vietnamese people who had come into this country unlawfully, having spent tens of thousands of pounds to get here through many different member states of the EU and further beyond, and who were now in effect the prisoners of those who had brought them

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here, press-ganged into work as gardeners looking after cannabis or other crops, or press-ganged into prostitution and other crimes. These people were treated as defendants; it is clear that they are as much the victims of the crimes of their gangmasters as wider society.

That increasing realisation on my part—as somebody playing a small role in the criminal justice system—has been added to by people from all parties and none and by people from outside this place with great knowledge and understanding of the experiences of those who are trafficked, culminating in us dealing not just with the issue of trafficking, but with the more general issue of slavery. The definition of what that means in the modern age is an important one. Unfortunately, the criminal mind moves very quickly and as soon as existing types of abuse are found and stamped out, new and ingenious ways to continue that criminality emerge. That is why, when the Bill has its Second Reading and goes into Committee, it is important that we make sure that the definition of slavery does not in any way end up being a victim of a lack of foresight. In other words, it has to be future-proofed so that the examples given within the statute are non-exhaustive and allow prosecutors and the police to take action to deal with developing forms of that criminality. That is vital. We in this place are pressed for time and we do not have the resources to continue to return to the criminal law. The best criminal laws in my opinion are those that stand the test of time and prove up to the task of fast-moving developments in criminality.

That brings me to a more general point. It is clear from my examination of Professor Jonathan Shepherd of Cardiff university’s annual study of accident and emergency admissions that, while violent crime seems to be declining in society, crime is increasingly taking place online. That online criminality is now entering the experience of thousands of our constituents—day in, day out—and they come to us with problems that sometimes seem to be beyond the police’s ability to deal with. That, to me, is the greatest challenge we face in the modern era. We are patting ourselves on the back about a society that seems to be becoming less violent, but at the same time we ignore the online risks at our peril.

I know that the Government understand the problem and that the police understand it, as the need for more training and greater expertise of police officers in dealing with online criminality becomes ever greater as the years pass. I see a role not only for this House in framing legislation to combat online criminality, but very much one for our police and crime commissioners and all those charged with the responsibility of meeting the needs of the people we represent.

I commend the Queen’s Speech in respect of measures on home affairs and justice. As a humble Back Bencher, I am particularly encouraged to note that my pleas are being listened to. I perhaps sound a little surprised when I say that, but it is encouraging to know that the ideas of Members of Parliament can find their way through the process and result in some action. To my mind, that certainly restores some of the faith I have in the ability of individuals in this place of whatever party to try to influence the process for the better.

I am particularly encouraged, too, by the fact that the Government recognise the challenge they face regarding the recovery of confiscation assets. It is disturbing that only 18% of confiscation orders worth over £1 million

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are, in fact, recovered. That is a huge amount of money. It is not only a huge resource that we are missing; it is a standing affront to the justice system itself. Why pass court orders at all if they will have no meaning in reality? Why do we go through the rigmarole of applying the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and its strong measures without clear results—not only for the taxpayer, but for society as a whole?

The justice of the situation is important, but it is also about good old-fashioned efficiency. That is why the package in the Serious Crime Bill to increase from 10 to 14 years maximum sentences for those in default on orders over £1 million, together with an increase in sentencing powers for orders worth over £0.5 million, is a wise one. The issue of automatic early release—we have heard it mentioned in other contexts—is particularly relevant when it comes to those who are serving sentences in default of payment. It has already been rightly established by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 that the liability to pay the order is not extinguished by the service of a term in default, but to allow an automatic early release for those in default seems to me not only an affront to common sense, but hardly any incentive whatever for the wrongdoer or criminal to pay the compensation made out in the confiscation order. In other words, we need more of a stick approach when dealing with offenders who are consistently in default of important court orders and think that they can just while away their time and hope that all will be forgotten. That is not good enough.

The 18% figure has to rise. I will carefully watch out in the years ahead to see how it improves and how we can change the law, while improving the way in which we undertake confiscation. I urge all prosecutors and those charged with this important responsibility to use their judgment carefully and not constantly seek huge theoretical figures of benefit, but to look for what is realisable and discover what can be converted into cash or an asset that can be confiscated for the purpose of further law enforcement.

I also want to see an end to the rather depressing catfights that I have sometimes observed between different arms of law enforcement in relation to their particular roles. For example, a certain type of forfeiture has required money to go into one pot rather than another. Division of that kind is unhelpful, and does not lead to a properly co-ordinated approach to the confiscation of criminal assets.

I was interested and stimulated by some of what has been said about immigration. I think it incumbent on all of us to show leadership when it comes to such issues. We hear a great deal on the doorstep, and read a great deal in the newspapers, about the myths of migration, but we do not hear or read enough of the facts and the truths. Over the centuries, this land has benefited from migration. We are a land of migrants. We are a rich mosaic of people whose blood comes from all sorts of lands, and we should rejoice in that. We should remember that it has made this country truly great.

At the same time, leadership demands that we listen carefully to those who have justified concerns. When people are scared, we should not fan the flames of fear; we should offer the hand of reassurance, the strong arm of guidance, and the leadership that I believe will take

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us through these difficult years and demonstrate that, as a country, we are not only tolerant, but welcoming and accepting of people who want to come here, to play their part in our nation story, to make their contribution—whether through work or by other means—and to be a responsible part of our communities. That is what we want. That is what everyone with an understanding of what it is to be British wants. We have heard today about British values, and I believe that a sense of acceptance and a rejection of separation are very much part of what it is to be British.

We cannot go far wrong if we start on that basis. Then we can talk about the issues here: then we can make proper distinctions between non-EU and EU migration, and talk in a reasoned way about what the free movement directive actually means. It is not an unqualified right for people to come here, fold their arms and do nothing, and it never was. It applies to people who fall into certain categories—who are workers, or are self-sufficient—and who have a right to remain here. That is the reality, and it is a far cry from the nightmare scenarios being painted by those who wish to whip up the flames of separation and to profit in some way from fear. The vast majority of the people whom I see coming here want to work and to make a contribution, and many, after they have done their work, will return home to their countries of origin.

Let us not forget that while 1 million people or more are coming here from other EU countries, an equivalent number of UK citizens are going to other EU countries. Where is the mischief in that? What can possibly be wrong with a free-market system that allows such movements?

Andrew Percy: I will tell my hon. Friend what is wrong with it. It means an uncontrolled influx into towns such as Goole, in my constituency, which has not been planned or prepared for properly, and which places a massive strain on public services. My constituents are very welcoming: they will even accept folk from Lancashire. We simply want to know how many people are coming, and we want the resources that will enable us to control the numbers properly. Unfortunately, the free movement directive does not allow us to control them at all.

Mr Buckland: My hon. Friend has made a fair point, but I am afraid that he is in error. The directive provides a power that allows member states to have a registration system for people who wish to stay here for longer than three months. Let us not propagate the myth that the directive is an open door. It is not, and, with domestic enforcement, it can be better managed.

My hon. Friend makes a proper point about planning and public services, but we must also remember that without some migration some of the jobs that need to be done in our economy are not going to be done, and the question we have to ask is, who will do that work?

I am a great campaigner for the rights of people with disabilities, and I passionately believe they have their role to play in our growing work force. I know that is what they want, and that is also what they deserve, but getting to that ideal stage takes time. It takes time for employers to start to understand the benefits of employing people who perhaps have more challenges than others. While I want to get there, I understand the pressure on employers who, for example, cannot collect their crop

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or who cannot find a suitable person to fulfil a care role. Working with employers to encourage more employment locally—more indigenous employment, as it were—is a laudable aspiration and is the right thing to do, but to try artificially to close a door is bad news for our country and our economy and is not a realistic approach to a problem that has deeply complex origins and should not be viewed through the prism of cheap headlines and political slogans. That is what happens far too often in the debate on migration, and it is time we stopped that misleading and unhelpful approach. Let us show leadership on that issue.

Turning to issues relating to the UK passport agency, may I thank it for having helped a constituent of mine reach the beaches of Normandy last week? Mr Harry Prescott is now 92 years of age. The last time he was in Normandy he was a 21-year-old Royal Marine in Operation Overlord. By an odd quirk, he was not classified as a British citizen. He was born in Canada to UK parents, and for various reasons never ended up with a British passport. He wanted to play his part in the 70th anniversary commemorations, however, but when the time came for him to apply for a passport, he encountered a number of blocks to his application—the sort of bureaucracy that I know drives Members of this House quietly round the bend and which was certainly causing him a degree of frustration. I was contacted by 47 Royal Marine Commando Association about his predicament, and together we were able to prevail on the passport service to pull its finger out and get on with the job of issuing him with a passport. He was therefore able to join his comrades and colleagues and play his part in commemorating the momentous events that took place in Normandy 70 years ago. I therefore offer my genuine thanks, via my hon. Friend the Minister, to those in the passport service who made that possible.

With the help of Action for Children, one of our leading children’s charities, and other parliamentarians, I have been campaigning for a number of years now for a reform to the criminal law of child neglect. Paul Goggins has been referred to in many other contexts, but it would be wholly wrong of me not to pay tribute to him for the work he did on this important issue. The Crime and Courts Act 2013 was in Bill form when Paul presented an amendment in his and my name which will, in effect, be the basis of a provision that will appear in the Serious Crime Bill. The argument is a simple one. The criminal law of child neglect was drafted way back in 1868—some 150 years ago. It served an important purpose in its time, but times move on. Just because a law is old does not mean it is a bad law—far from it—but with the knowledge and understanding we now have about the full effects of all types of abuse of children and young people, I think it was remiss, to say the least, that we had not before now updated the criminal law to keep pace not only with developments in science and understanding, but with the developing civil and family law that already recognises varying types of abuse, including emotional abuse, when considering issues of family protection and whether or not a child is at risk or has experienced significant harm.

Very often, emotional abuse does not come alone. It will be accompanied, sadly, by physical and sexual abuse. Daniel Pelka is one of many well-known cases in which the signs of emotional abuse were emerging before the physical abuse took its toll on that poor young lad. It pains me to think that the police, the

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prosecuting authorities and all those with responsibility for child protection did not have that extra tool in the box when it came to dealing with emotional abuse. I am not saying that it might have changed the course of young Daniel’s life, but it could have made a difference to his life and it certainly will make a difference to the lives of hundreds of children and young people in this country if and when we amend the law to include emotional abuse. The criminal law is an interesting thing for those who have been imbued with it for the past 20 years, as I have. I believe that a lot of people would have been shocked to realise that section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 covered only physical harm, but it was made crystal clear in a House of Lords case back in 1981 that that section was limited to the

“physical needs of the child and does not cover other aspects such as moral and educational”.

That meant that the door was firmly shut on emotional abuse.

A lot of people have asked me in the past few months how one defines emotional abuse and whether the new measure will not be a problem when it comes to parenting. Are we in danger of criminalising the firm but fair parent who deprives their child of an Xbox if there has been a misdemeanour in the household? Not a bit of it. It is not about firm but fair parenting. It is not about people who administer reasonable chastisement on their children. It is not about the millions of decent men and women who, like many of us in this Chamber, learn every day what it is to bring up a child. It is about the systematic abuse of children by people who either should know better or in some sad cases do not know better.

Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West and Abingdon) (Con): My hon. Friend has touched on an important point about this measure to protect children from neglect. Does he agree that it will be exceptionally important that the guidelines for the Serious Crime Bill define emotional abuse carefully so that statutory agencies are able to understand what they will be enforcing and parents understand the new legislation? Safeguarding sections on school websites will be a valuable resource to help parents to understand exactly what it is intended to protect against.

Mr Buckland: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Her point about guidance will be key to all this. While we may be good at passing a law, it is for the prosecuting authorities and child protection agencies to enforce it, so we would be failing in our duty if we did not explain through debates in the House what we mean.

Empirical research shows that emotional abuse may be the most damaging form of child maltreatment because those who are responsible for administering it almost invariably are those responsible for enabling children to fulfil their developmental milestones. What do I mean by emotional neglect? It can include forcing a child to witness domestic violence, scapegoating a child, inflicting systematic humiliation and enforcing degrading punishments.

The effects of emotional neglect have been shown to be potentially lifelong and as profound, if not more so, than some of the physical effects on children. They can include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorder, aggression, dissociation, mental

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illness and even suicide. Children who experience rejection or neglect are less able to learn and achieve good educational outcomes than their peers, so in addition to the psychiatric evidence that we have of the harm caused by emotional neglect, there is growing evidence from neuroscience that brain development is inhibited as a result, which itself leads to significant harm. We cannot ignore the developing science; we would be failing in our duty if we did.

The language of section 1 of the 1933 Act is antiquated. It uses words such as “wilful”, which has been defined by the courts as meaning “reckless”. Well, why does the Act not say that? It would be so much easier if we amended the law to make sure that people given the task of interpreting it did not misunderstand “wilful” as requiring specific intent or as being more intentional than the law requires. Why should we put people through their paces in that way by relying on archaic language?

Similarly, terms such as “unnecessary suffering” were good for the time of Dickens, but are not necessarily appropriate now. The term “significant harm” is the one that I strongly advocate. It replicates the term already used in civil law and it is the threshold test used when child protection issues are dealt with. Why not just streamline the system by bringing the language into line with that already used? The term “significant harm” can be understood but still sets a high threshold, and it goes a long way towards allaying some of the concerns of those who say that this will open the floodgates to prosecutions of the firm but fair parents about whom I was talking earlier.

The police and those involved in social work welcome the proposed reform. As I said, there was concern about the inability of the police to intervene in cases of non-physical harm, and the dislocation between criminal and civil law was leading to problems in enforcement and in interpreting the role of the police. We are making the law clear not only for members of the public but for those in the law enforcement agencies who have to do this difficult and sensitive work.

We should look at what is happening overseas. Action for Children commissioned research from 31 jurisdictions across Europe, Asia, north America, Africa and Australia, including common law jurisdictions with which we can draw direct parallels. In 25 of those 31 jurisdictions, the criminal law explicitly encompasses emotional abuse. We can see from that trawl of other countries’ legislation that emotional abuse is already recognised in other parts of the world.

How emotional abuse is defined will obviously be important when it comes to presenting evidence in court, and assistance will be gained, as it is now, from experts in the field who are trained in understanding the intellectual and psychological capacity of children. There is concern in the community of expert witnesses that, with pressure on resources, their job will become more difficult. I understand that, and it will be important to acknowledge that during our debates and to work out ways in which the criminal justice system can accommodate expert testimony. It must do so in a way that is fair to all parties while serving the interests of justice and allowing objective expert evidence to be relied on by juries when discharging their duties and applying the high test of the criminal standard of proof. The combination of

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significant harm and the criminal standard of proof is protection enough for those who say they are worried that the floodgates will be opened upon responsible heads.

We therefore move away from words and phrases such as “neglect”, “wilful” and “unnecessary suffering” to the term “maltreatment”, which covers the gamut of different types of harm that are caused, sadly, to our children. At a stroke it makes clear the options available to the courts. It allows sentencers the ability properly to reflect criminality by those responsible for the care of children in sentencing them appropriately. Finally, it deals with a long-standing anomaly that I am surprised we allowed to continue for so long.

This law will not apply retrospectively. We cannot, and it is right that we do not, make something criminal that was not criminal at the time it happened. I know that for those people who contacted me and other colleagues in recent months about the enduring effects of the emotional abuse that they suffered that may come as a bitter pill, but it would not be right to try to change a well known and well respected principle of law, a principle that is recognised internationally. We have to look to the future, but in doing so we should not forget the victims of the past who until now have had to suffer in silence and who have not had the justice that they deserve.

I am proud to support a Government who listened to a consultation that was conducted in recent months and who listened to the calls from my hon. Friend the Member for Ceredigion (Mr Williams), who had a private Member’s Bill in the last Session, to my hon. Friend the Member for Erewash (Jessica Lee), to me and to Members of the Opposition and former Members, such as the late Paul Goggins. Let this stand as one of his epitaphs. Let it stand as an acknowledgement of the power of politics when people come together, recognise a wrong and seek to make it good.

I have said a lot about child neglect. It is something that I saw in my own working life, and I found those cases some of the most difficult to deal with. Hon. Members who have been in practice well understand what I say. However, I do not stand here on an emotional basis; I stand here on the basis of evidence, a sense of responsibility that we as legislators must always do what is right in terms of developments in science, and a genuine and steadfast belief that when it comes to the criminal law, not only must we try to keep pace with developments, but—to use the phrase that I used earlier in another context—we must do everything we can to future-proof it. I thank my hon. Friends on the Front Bench for listening and taking appropriate action.

I have mentioned human trafficking and slavery, but I want to finish on a positive note. Unless every town, city and village in this country wakes up to the reality of human trafficking and slavery in its midst, we are not going to solve the problem. We have an increasingly aware police force, which increasingly understands the challenge and is sourcing important training and support.

Graham Evans (Weaver Vale) (Con): Is my hon. Friend interested to know that Churches Together in west Cheshire, part of Weaver Vale, held a conference attended by churches from the whole of Cheshire West, as well as the police force and the local authority, to make sure that all the villages and all the communities throughout Cheshire are aware of human trafficking?

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Mr Buckland rose—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order. Before the hon. Member for South Swindon (Mr Buckland) resumes his speech, I gently point out that he has now been speaking for 33 minutes, it took the Home Secretary only 34 minutes to launch the debate, and other Members are waiting to speak. We are grateful for his tour de force across an area in which he has great expertise, but not necessarily over the entire Queen’s Speech.

Mr Buckland: I will bear your exhortation very much in mind, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am still a minute behind the Home Secretary so I will take that as a target and I will do my best.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Weaver Vale (Graham Evans). I just wanted to make the point that in Swindon we are doing exactly the same. The 100-plus people who came to St Joseph’s Catholic college to see the films about child slavery and trafficking shown by ECPAT UK, one of the leading charities, showed that there is a real interest, understanding and concern. It is through the work of local organisations, together with our police and crime commissioners, who are increasingly becoming involved in encouraging the training of police, that we will start to see a rolling back of the almost systematic blindness that we have had to the reality of trafficking in our midst.

Before I sit down, I pay a warm tribute to the Wiltshire police and crime commissioner, Angus Macpherson, who is recovering in hospital in Bath after a serious heart attack last week. He has been doing an outstanding job for the last several years as our PCC, and on behalf of everyone who cares about crime and policing in my neck of the woods and generally, I wish him the speediest of recoveries.

5.6 pm

Alison Seabeck (Plymouth, Moor View) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow what was a tour de force from the hon. Member for South Swindon (Mr Buckland). Opposition Members appreciate his comments about the late Paul Goggins, and it goes without saying that most Members here will recognise his contribution to the new Bill. I will try to limit my speech to under 15 minutes, which was your original instruction—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman may well gasp in horror, but his speech was a tour de force and it was interesting, so I think we can live with it.

This is a Government programme lite—what is not in it is as interesting as what is. Where are the measures designed seriously to address the concerns that were all too evident in the run-up to the last set of elections—concerns about the lack of affordable homes, especially in the south-west where the income to mortgage ratio is only just below that of the south-east, but where the incomes of people living full time, not in second homes, can be very low? The south-west is jam-packed full of second homes. Fewer new homes were started in the south west in 2013 than in 2012. Where are the measures to tackle the undercutting of wages and the need to ensure that people working regular hours, month after month, get a regular contract? People in Plymouth have on average £19 a day less disposable cash than a Londoner. Taking into account some variations in food and prices, but without including mortgages and rents, those people

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feel a little aggrieved about life in general. They feel out of the loop. London and the big metropolitan centres are where it is happening, and some of the dissatisfaction is feeding into the mood that we are sensing on the doorstep.

There is nothing in the Queen’s Speech to ensure that victims of domestic violence are not left in an unsafe property because of the bedroom tax rules, or to protect those in rental properties from landlords who do not provide adequate fire protection and fixed smoke alarms. On that point, I draw the attention of the House to my indirect interests in those of my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr Raynsford). The draft wild animals in circuses Bill has been dropped; people feel very strongly about that, and I have received a vast number of e-mails. They are deeply disappointed and we will need an explanation for that decision.

Some proposed Bills are to be welcomed, including, finally, one to provide some action to end the misery of human trafficking. Some hon. Members who have already spoken have played a key role in that, as did the former Member Anthony Steen, who represented a south-west seat and was a constituency neighbour of mine. He will be very pleased at last to see some of his hard work over many years leading to a measure on modern slavery, which I think will be interesting and have cross-party support.

I also welcome the changes on pubcos and on plastic bag use, although the changes on pubcos do not go quite far enough for some of my publicans. I also welcome the introduction of a power of recall, unlike some of my colleagues.

I was pleased to see that the Government have accepted the need for an ombudsman for the armed forces. The case for that was previously well made by my hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State for Defence, and the Government listening to Opposition proposals is naturally always welcome.

However, the nitty-gritty of people’s lives has largely been ignored. When times are hard, I think we all look for somebody to blame, or something that explains why we feel we are walking through treacle and getting nowhere: it might be immigrants, who are blamed for taking jobs; it might be people who are overweight, who are the butt of troll-like comments on social media such as, “They should go on a diet and save the NHS money”; or it might be people claiming benefits, who are vilified by the media and described as “scroungers”. Deep, underlying concerns are voiced in difficult circumstances, but of course rationally we know that people with weight issues cannot all simply go on a diet and everything will be fine. We know from the issues thrown up by the bedroom tax that not everybody claiming a benefit is feckless and that instead the majority of them are low-paid, hard-working family people or those with disabilities, who genuinely need the state’s safety net.

Equally, immigrants are not to blame for all our ills but actually contribute significantly to our country. We are a trading nation; we have been a trading nation for centuries. I was recently reminded of that by a member of our armed forces—somebody who is resident in Plymouth. He pointed out that we have travelled from these shores for centuries to colonise and conquer other

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nations, all in the economic interests of Great Britain, and that we have depended for our success as a nation on the movement of people to and from our shores.

Nowadays, we see students coming here from overseas but they are viewed as immigrants, despite the fact that they are paying for their courses, paying rent to a landlord, paying for goods and services in our local shops, and paying tax on most of those purchases. They are also supporting our higher education sector and essential research needs. Recent changes in their status have been damaging to the higher education sector, and notwithstanding the need to tackle the foreign students who overstay and the bogus colleges, we need to regard students generally as a positive and not as a negative in our cities. In Plymouth, we have two universities with a significant number of overseas students, and it is quite disheartening that those students are sometimes seen as more of a problem for our city than a benefit to it.

Of course, we should also remember that British people themselves have made up significant waves of immigration to other countries over generations and for a range of reasons. Some moved through choice; some to pursue an education in an international university; some because of persecution; and others for economic reasons. Indeed, I spoke today to a group of people from Plymouth, Massachusetts, as part of the plans for the Mayflower 2020 celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim Fathers heading out from Plymouth. Why did the Pilgrim Fathers leave this country? They chose to travel to somewhere else because they were being persecuted here in England. Movement of people to and from these shores has happened historically, and for a whole range of reasons.

None of the Bills being introduced addresses people’s concerns. It is particularly important to target those who bring workers into the UK and undercut local workers in terms of salaries and conditions. They are the agents and others who are actively recruiting people, and dishonestly telling them that they have a job and accommodation. Quite frankly, too little is known about where these people operate, where they are coming from and where they are housing and employing some of the people they ship into this country. Some of those who bring people into this country will fall under the human trafficking Bill, but a lot of them will not. I have been told that in Plymouth and the south-west there is a taxi firm that employs drivers in the EU. We would think, “Okay, that’s fine, they’re from the EU. That shouldn’t be a problem.” However, that firm is training those drivers in the EU and then bringing them to the UK. It is not clear how and where the vetting is done or what is the source of the information, which is vital for the safety of passengers, particularly women. Would it be considered adequate in the UK?

Frankly, I find it extraordinary that an employer would have to go overseas to find cab drivers, because there are people here who would very willingly do the work. Of course, the reason is startlingly simple: they can get the labour cheaper. That is the root of the problem that many people see with immigration. We need the measures proposed by the shadow Home Secretary to put a stop to this type of practice, which convinces people that all immigrants are here to take their jobs. If we can deal with the undercutting of

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wages, we will go a long way towards cutting out the benefits that some employers see in harvesting people from overseas and bringing them here to work.

My constituents are very clear that we also need an effective mechanism to tackle a problem that we have had for centuries but not yet resolved: monitoring who comes into the country and who goes out. We still have no reliable system for ensuring that people are properly chased when their visas expire. In my view, and that of my constituents, it is important that even those coming from the EU should be properly counted in and out. We need exit checks, even allowing for free movement. Clearly that should also apply to the movement of vehicles, as other hon. Members have said.

It is all the unknowns—the areas where information is not fully available and the facts are unknown—that naturally fuel people’s fears and insecurities. Why should the people of Plymouth have to rely on vague and inaccurate information about what is happening in their area? My hon. Friend the Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry) is right that we need practical measures of the type she described, not platitudes. We need truthfulness and reliable facts, as has been said on both sides of the House.

I will move on from immigration and talk about domestic violence. Women’s groups such as Women’s Aid, Paladin and the Sara Charlton Charitable Foundation have flagged up the need for legislation specifically to tackle coercive control and behaviour in difficult relationships. The issue cuts across two pieces of legislation in the Queen’s Speech. One is the Modern Slavery Bill, because many of the people unfortunate enough to find themselves in that situation are undoubtedly subjected to coercive behaviour. The other is the Serious Crime Bill. I ask the Government to look very closely at the work being done by Women’s Aid and other groups to see whether there is any scope for bringing forward a measure that would make emotional cruelty a criminal offence. Such behaviour is often a precursor to violence and other types of abuse, and there is a strong belief that if we can tackle it in some way, we will prevent worse behaviour further down the line and save money. I ask the Minister to look at that in due course.

I did not agree with everything the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) said, but I agreed with his comments on the social action, responsibility and heroism Bill. Having been a lifeguard for nine years, I used my skills mostly when people had heart attacks in the street or on trains. The hon. Gentleman’s assessment is that people find it difficult to intervene. I once stepped off a bus and found a lady lying on the pavement in front of me. There was a group of people around her, but none of them had done anything. Some of them said, “I don’t want to be sued.” I am afraid that our very British values of not crossing the road in such circumstances have been subsumed beneath an Atlantic, American, litigious attitude to everything. If, through this Bill, we can make people feel a little more confident, that could make a difference in their acting to save lives and take action where appropriate.

The biggest failure in the Queen’s Speech is in not bringing forward measures to reward hard work, to ensure new homes are built, to stop privatisation of the NHS, or to freeze energy bills. That says a lot about the ability of this lame-duck coalition Government to really deliver for the people of this country.

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5.20 pm

Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op): Before my main comments, I want to say a few words about the crisis in the Passport Office, about which some hon. Friends have already spoken. I was disappointed that at the start of the debate the Home Secretary did not seem to take this issue very seriously. It has attracted considerable media attention in the past few days, but I—and, I suspect, practically every other MP—have been grappling with it for weeks, as we have dealt with more and more people whose holidays and work have faced disruption and cancellation because their passport applications have been delayed and who are making inquiries but are unable to find out what has been going on, with the whole process causing great stress and worry. I could refer to many examples, but I will not go into them in detail given the pressures of time.

I have had more problems with the Passport Office over the past three weeks, as a Member of Parliament, than in the previous 13 years. Bluntly, the Government need to take action to sort this out, or lots of holidays will be ruined and business opportunities lost. This mess should have been sorted out months ago. If management and Ministers had been on top of their jobs, they should have realised there was a problem long ago and taken the necessary action. Let me be clear: this is not the fault of the front-line staff in the Passport Office, who have clearly been overwhelmed by a situation not of their making. They have been very courteous and helpful when my staff have made inquiries. The source of the problem is clearly at the very top, with, I suspect, cutbacks being a major contributory factor. I suspect that it is also the result of a Secretary of State whose focus, to put it kindly, has been directed elsewhere. I hope that the Minister will give some indication of taking this more seriously and ensuring that action is taken to deal with the problem and the backlog.

The main thrust of my comments is on the wider issue of immigration policy. I welcome the clear commitment given by my party leader and my Front Benchers to reject anti-immigrant rhetoric and promote policies that deal with the real issues of migration. Many people have concerns about immigration; I hear them frequently in my constituency. Some of those concerns can be well-founded, and they must be addressed. This debate should be based on facts, as many Members have said. The fact is that the many people who are immigrants, or descended from immigrants, make, with only few exceptions, a positive and beneficial contribution to our society and our community. They make a direct contribution through the taxes that they pay. They often provide key workers in sectors of the public service, such as the health service, and have proved vital to many private sector businesses as well. They have made, and still make, important contributions to our culture and our sporting life, to the academic world and research, and to much else besides—even, indeed, to our political life in this Chamber and beyond. That is not surprising, because, reflecting our history, our country has always been a country of migrants, whether from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean or many other parts of the world. That is the nature of our society and our country, and it is a source of strength, not weakness.

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Inevitably, the arrival in any part of this country—in any country of the world—of large numbers of incomers over a relatively short period, whether migrants from other countries or people moving from elsewhere in the same country, will have an effect on society and is likely to put pressures on social infrastructure and the employment market. The way to respond to those pressures and concerns is not to ramp up anti-immigrant rhetoric—or to set unworkable targets, as this Government have tried to do time and again—but to provide a real solution to real concerns and a positive response where possible. That can be done by recognising the need to improve social infrastructure and taking the necessary steps to put it in place, while challenging those myths and rumours that are not well-founded. It is also important, as my Front-Bench colleagues have emphasised today and elsewhere, to stop the exploitation of workers—UK citizens and those from elsewhere—which lies at the heart of many of the concerns raised by constituents.

One aspect of immigration policy—not just in the UK, but worldwide—needs to be considered as part of the backdrop to any debate on the issue. Given that the world population has been doubling over a relatively small number of decades and that many countries are suffering from war and conflict, it is not surprising that people seek to come to countries that are relatively wealthy, stable and secure. The UK is clearly too small to have an open-door policy, which is why it is right to have a firm immigration policy, but it is worth bearing in mind the overall context, because if we do not also do as much as we can to solve some of the underlying reasons that people want to migrate, we will, bluntly, always have pressures on migration, no matter what policies we or any other Government of any other country adopt. That is why we should be working to reduce conflict in the world and why we should seek to do what we can to support international development, to try to reduce the pressures on migration to the wealthier countries, of which we are one.

Perhaps the starkest indication of those pressures is the fact that, perhaps at this moment, somewhere on the southern shore of the Mediterranean a boat is setting off and over the next few days its occupants may well drown and die horribly in those waters. Thousands die each year on that journey, as do others on journeys across the sea to more attractive parts of the world, such as north America and Australia. Over the past 10 to 15 years, 25,000 people are known to have died in the Mediterranean sea when seeking to travel to the shores of Europe. That small number is probably only a proportion of those who have died making that journey, because many more will have died without anyone knowing anything about it, except for their grieving relatives back home.

Of course, people should not seek to cross borders illegally in the Mediterranean or elsewhere, but the fact that so many are in such desperate circumstances that they are prepared to take the risk should demand recognition from us of the forces that lead them to make the journey and of the need to tackle some of the underlying causes of migration. The situation also requires a humanitarian response from us as fellow human beings.

I understand that a European Union institution—probably the Justice and Home Affairs Council—will meet in the next few weeks to discuss the future direction

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of EU policy on borders and asylum. Amnesty International has made a number of proposals on the approach that the UK Government should take at that meeting, including:

“Safe routes to Europe for refugees from countries like Syria so they are not forced to take dangerous journeys, for instance, through resettlement quotas”.

The Government have made some moves on that, but they should do a lot more. Amnesty International also suggests:

“Increased search and rescue capacity in the Mediterranean to identify boats in distress and save lives”,


“Human rights at the heart of migration control agreements with neighbouring countries”.

Those seem to be a set of reasonable policies that not only reflect humanitarian concerns, but are practical.

I should like the Minister to tell the House in his closing comments how he and the Government will respond to the calls for a European-wide policy to tackle the crisis in the Mediterranean and off the shores of southern Europe. That tragedy is an issue not just for the countries involved, but one that must also be addressed in our national interest. The fact is that people who take that route to southern Europe may, in due course, also seek to travel to the UK. The situation requires a coherent response across the European Union, and I should like to hear what our Government are doing to make that coherent response possible.

5.29 pm

Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) (Lab): It is a great privilege to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Mark Lazarowicz) and the many other speakers. In many ways, the Queen’s Speech debate is the panorama of all debates, with so many different themes raised. Even within the framework of home affairs, a huge range of issues come into play, as they have today, such as human trafficking, immigration and much else. I totally understand why many hon. Members want to cover a range of themes in their speeches in such a debate, but I want to restrict my comments to one area that is very important for us as legislators—the crime of online paedophilia and how we handle it as a society. The crime is immensely serious, and we should reflect that in our laws and sentencing.

It is totally right, in the words of the summary of the Serious Crime Bill in the document issued with the Queen’s Speech, that

“we can continue to effectively and relentlessly pursue, disrupt and bring to justice serious and organised criminals, guard against the threat of terrorism and protect vulnerable women and children.”

If we cannot do that, there is precious little point in having a Government at all. I welcome the fact that the Bill will create a new offence of possessing paedophilic manuals and, critically, that it will clarify the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 to make it explicit that cruelty likely to cause psychological harm to a child is an offence. Several hon. Members have already expanded on that.

It is important to introduce measures to tackle child abuse and emotional neglect and, moving on from that, to recognise the growing dangers of online paedophilia.

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Legislation is necessary if we are to tackle how we deal with those who use the internet to target children. I want to propose that Ministers listening to the debate today should consider toughening still further the law in this area. We may need to use primary legislation to bring in mandatory custodial sentencing in certain cases for which at present there is no such requirement.

I want to share with the Minister and the House a recent case in my constituency in which, in my view and that of many of my constituents, what took place was an absolute travesty of justice. Members may not be aware of the case of Dennis Igo from Bronington in my constituency. So appalled was I about the outcome that I have referred the case to the Attorney-General and asked him to review the sentence awarded.

For seven years, Mr Igo viewed and made well over 250,000 indecent images of children. Some of the images were of children as young as five. Many were of children being abused, and some were category 5 images. One national newspaper has stated in print that he had 99 of the most serious level 5 images. The collection included 834 films. The police were able to retrieve 255,667 images, and they have been quite clear that there were many more images, but the sheer quantity made it impossible to retrieve any more from the computer. There were also extreme images of bestiality.

For this catalogue of the most heinous crimes, Mr Igo was sentenced on 23 May—in our country—to a grand total of 300 hours of community work, with some specialised counselling and a two-year prison term suspended for two years. He was ordered to register with the police as a sex offender for 10 years, and he was given a 10-year sexual offences prevention order to restrict his future conduct. Before sentencing, he was not put on remand, but was out on bail. The view was taken that he could be managed in the community; the community he lives in does not share that view, and neither, most certainly, do I.

The mitigating circumstances were that the accused was depressed, his wife had been ill and he allegedly had financial problems, although I do not know whether the latter point was independently verified or whether there is evidence of his having sold any assets to deal with that if it was the case. Nevertheless, I do not believe that depression, a wife who has been ill, alleged money problems and, I suspect, a very clever lawyer, add up to mitigating circumstances for a non-custodial sentence in such a case. That is why I have asked the Attorney-General to review it.

It is no wonder that Claudia Knights, the chief executive of the child protection charity Kidscape, said of this case:

“The sentence does not reflect the severity of the case. It must not be forgotten that each indecent image involves real children. We have to ask what message such apparently lenient sentences send out to both abusers and victims of such crimes.”

By comparison, let us take another case, the sentencing for which took place in Peterborough Crown court two days before Mr Igo was sentenced in Mold Crown court for the offences that I have listed. In the Peterborough case, the court heard how the accused made indecent images of children available for distribution via a file-sharing software programme. Officers discovered 242 indecent images and 495 films. In the case that I have been describing, Mr Igo was sentenced on 16 separate charges; in the Peterborough Crown court case, the accused was

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sentenced on 10 counts. Igo and the accused in the Peterborough case were put on the sex offenders register for an identical length of time: 10 years. However, in the Peterborough Crown court case, the accused was also jailed for 16 months. After sentencing in the Peterborough Crown court case, a detective constable said:

“I hope this sends out a clear message that anyone who thinks they can access and share such images will not get away with it… We will find out and we will catch up with you.”

I recognise that there are differences in the two cases, but there is also clearly a massive discrepancy when 242 indecent images and 495 films mean jail for one person, yet, in the same jurisdiction, more than 255,667 indecent images and 834 films do not mean jail for another. That is why I hope that, following this debate, Home Office Ministers will look at the need for new primary legislation. Do they honestly believe that online paedophiles, especially those who have made and viewed such a huge number of indecent images, should seriously be out on bail before sentencing?

I believe that it is crucial that we look seriously at mandatory custodial sentences. Recently, we have heard many accounts of child abuse in the 1970s and 1980s and about how a previous generation of abused children went through hell. Sometimes, they spoke out and no one believed them; many times, they did not even feel that they could tell anyone. Whether it is true or not, we like to think that things like that belong to a past era and that they could not happen in quite the same way today. However, as we have that debate and as we debate the Queen’s Speech, let us not forget the world of online child abuse, where images are taken, used and abused; images of real children, wherever they may happen to live; images that are viewed and manufactured electronically.

The issues involved are serious for Governments and for us as legislators. As we speak, as we have done today, about paedophilic manuals and the emotional and psychological abuse of children, I hope that Ministers will seriously review and consider the need for new primary legislation in this area.

5.39 pm

Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab): It is a privilege to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones), who spoke so eloquently and passionately on a vital issue of deep concern.

Last week, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said that one of the tests for a Queen’s Speech is whether it responds to the anxieties people feel in their communities. Many of us will recognise that one such anxiety expressed by some of our constituents is about immigration. We should be able to debate immigration, both in Parliament and with our constituents, because it has a vital place in the history of our country. Our success as a nation was built on being outward-facing and welcoming, and over centuries, immigration has made Britain the country we are proud of and it has an important role in our future. However, it must be controlled and managed to ensure that the system is fair and works in the interests of everyone, and of course that it has public confidence and support.

Despite its importance, immigration did not get a single mention in the Queen’s Speech. This Government’s policies over the past four years have not promoted an open and honest debate, or delivered the progressive

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and fair approach that this country needs. Instead we have seen the use of irresponsible “Go Home” vans and heard a lot of tough talk, while at the same time the ill-conceived targets for net migration that the Government set have been missed by a mile. The Prime Minister promised to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, but it has actually risen to 200,000.

Indeed, it is worse than that. Not only are the Government failing to tackle some of the very real issues affecting our communities—such as the way some employers exploit cheap migrant labour to undercut local pay and conditions, or the impact of cuts to our vital public services—but their policies on immigration are damaging the future prosperity of cities like Nottingham by discouraging bright overseas students from coming to study at our universities. Back in March I met the pro-vice-chancellors with responsibility for international students from Nottingham Trent university and the university of Nottingham. They were extremely concerned about the impact that Government changes to visa applications and post-study work entitlements are having on the recruitment of international students, and about the implications of that for the economic success of our city.

Higher education is one of the UK’s most important export industries. There are currently around 11,000 international students in Nottingham across our two universities, and there is monetary value to their being there. Nottingham Trent university estimates that the total spend of their international students—fees plus accommodation and living costs—is around £60 million. The corresponding figure for the university of Nottingham is £160 million. Those universities estimate that when we take into account the multipliers—the extra value of that expenditure for the local economy—the combined value of international students to the Nottingham economy is somewhere in the order of £374 million per year, supporting hundreds of jobs in our city and the wider east midlands region.

The concern for our universities, which are operating in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, is that the Government’s rhetoric and policies are putting students off coming to the UK to study. Higher Education Statistics Agency data show that the total number of international students studying at higher educational institutions in the UK has declined for the first time since records began in 1994. The biggest drop off in visas is for students from the Indian subcontinent, with India, Pakistan and Bangladesh seeing reductions in the year to March 2013 of 38%, 62% and 30% respectively. That is particularly alarming as those are among the countries forecast by the British Council to have the biggest increase in outbound student mobility up to the year 2020.

The ability to work in a country after study is one of the most significant factors that students consider when deciding where to study. A recent survey by Universities UK found that 56% of respondents cited the possibility of obtaining post-study work experience as a factor they considered when applying to the UK. According to a 2011 survey by the UK Council for International Student Affairs, the abolition of the post-study work route has had the greatest negative impact of all recent visa changes on students’ decisions to study in the UK, especially at postgraduate level. If the Government do not think again—I hope the Minister will respond to

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these issues in his closing remarks—Nottingham and other UK cities could face an immediate impact on their local economies, risk missing out on some of the brightest overseas students, and lose the wider cultural benefits of hosting students from across the world.

There is also a longer-term impact because we know that young people who study here are the Government, business and cultural leaders of the future, and therefore we are also losing out on the opportunities for international influence and inward investment that educational opportunities in the UK can foster and encourage.

Let me turn to the issues that the Government are simply failing to address and which concern many of my constituents. The Government have said that a key priority is to

“continue to build an economy that rewards those who work hard.”

Unfortunately, for many people in Nottingham that does not reflect their experience of the last few years. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) noted last week, 5 million people in Britain—one in five workers—are low paid, and for the first time ever most of the people in poverty are in work. Yesterday, the Nottingham Post reported that 16,000 people a year rely on food banks in our county, and charities tell us that low wages and insecure contracts are contributing to the huge increase in that number. That is why I raised the need for financial security in employment with the Prime Minister last week. Unfortunately, he failed to address the concern I was expressing on behalf of my constituents about the quality and security of the new jobs being created and about their ability to earn a decent living wage.

As we are a trading nation, a “close all the doors” approach to immigration cannot work, but neither can a laissez-faire right-wing approach to free movement that allows employers to exploit cheap labour. It is bad for the migrant workers being exploited, it is bad for local workers whose wages are undercut and it is bad for responsible employers who want to offer fair rewards. Labour is the only party offering practical solutions to stop this exploitation in the workplace. Instead of remaining silent, the Government should have included an immigration Bill to stop workers being undercut.

In a Labour Queen’s Speech there would be measures to strengthen minimum wage enforcement by giving councils a new role and increasing the maximum fine to £50,000.

Nicola Blackwood: In the light of the hon. Lady’s comments, does she welcome the fact that the Government have raised the minimum wage, and will legislate in the small business Bill to help enforcement of the minimum wage and remove exclusivity from zero-hours contracts?

Lilian Greenwood: Of course I welcome the measures that the hon. Lady mentions, but they are not enough. Banning exclusivity from zero-hours contracts does nothing to help people who are working regular hours week in, week out but never have the security of a proper contract. That is why we are asking the Government to go further.

A Labour Government would ban employment agencies that only recruit workers from abroad and would make

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serious exploitation a crime, to prevent dodgy gangmasters exploiting migrants to undercut jobs and wages. We would also strengthen border controls to tackle illegal immigration and stop abuse, but welcome overseas students coming to the UK and immediately remove them from the net migration target. We would act where the Government have not and strengthen checks on short-term student visitor visas which are open to abuse.

We would also introduce a “make work pay” Bill to reward hard work, raising the national minimum wage to a higher proportion of average earnings and guaranteeing a regular contract to those on zero-hours contracts who work regular hours month after month but have no security for themselves or their families.

Fifteen years ago I worked as a trade union officer in Derbyshire. Many of the low-paid home care workers had a small number of contracted hours but regularly worked many more hours. We reached a deal under which those hours were gradually incorporated into their contracts. I recognise that employers and employees sometimes need flexibility, but people also need financial security, and we are proposing a workable option that would provide that.

Labour would encourage businesses to pay the living wage with “make work pay” contracts. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Labour local authorities that are leading the way on this, ending poverty pay among their own staff and only contracting with those employers who pay a living wage. I also pay tribute to organisations such as Nottingham Citizens, which is working in our city to demonstrate the value of a living wage to employers and holding us politicians to account.

The message that we heard loud and clear in the recent elections is that people want politicians who listen to their concerns, talk to them and are not afraid of debate. People are worried but we should not stoke those fears. Hostility and division are not the way forward. Britain needs fair and practical solutions. That is what a Government should offer. The coalition is not offering what people need, but a Labour Government will.

5.49 pm

Andy Sawford (Corby) (Lab/Co-op): One of the pledges I made when I was elected was to put local people first; to listen to my constituents all year round and to take what they say seriously. I was grateful in that election for the help of my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood) and it is a pleasure to follow her. Many of the issues she will have heard when she campaigned in Corby and East Northamptonshire are the same as those raised by her constituents, as she illustrated in her speech in which she made incredibly important remarks on immigration.

Every Friday, I send out an e-newsletter that is read by thousands of people across Corby and East Northamptonshire. I asked recently what my constituents would like to see included in the Queen’s Speech. I received nearly 100 responses. I wish that I could put all the contributions on the record. I assure my constituents that I have read and taken on board their views. I offered three priorities that I wanted to see in this year’s Queen’s Speech: an end to the abuse of zero-hours contracts, a guarantee of GP appointments within 48

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hours and a freeze on energy bills. I was pleased to see mention of zero-hours contracts in the Queen’s Speech, but I agree with my hon. Friend that the Government will not take the action that is really needed to stop the exploitation that is so prevalent in my constituency. I was disappointed that there was nothing in the Queen’s Speech on the NHS, and that there was nothing on tackling the rip-off gas and energy prices that my constituents face, when bills have gone up by £300 a year under the coalition Government.

My constituents told me that they want action to build more houses, and action on skills training and better quality apprenticeships. They told me they want help for families, particularly action to make child care more affordable.

Nicola Blackwood: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Andy Sawford: I will give way. I can anticipate the hon. Lady’s remark.

Nicola Blackwood: The hon. Gentleman is aware that apprenticeships have more than doubled under this Government.

Andy Sawford: What my constituents want is real quality apprenticeships. They want level 3 apprenticeships and beyond. They want real pathways into employment. They want people to have the opportunity to become skilled tradespeople.

My constituents want more rights for fathers. They want to look at the impact of the abolition of crisis loans. They want action to support the wider implementation of the living wage. I, too, welcome the leadership that has been shown by Labour local authorities around the country, but I want to see a much more widespread take-up of the living wage, including by the private sector. They want the bedroom tax to be scrapped, because they recognise it is unfair. They want action on care for the elderly and more support for people with dementia. They want a more progressive tax system and the reversal of the tax cut for millionaires. My constituents told me they want a Bill that will allow for votes at 16. They want to end the use of unqualified teachers in classrooms. They want investment in green energy. They want to close the loopholes used by large corporations to evade tax. They want more scrutiny of the defence cuts that are being pushed through. They want to end the dogma-driven privatisation of public services. They want to really get banks lending, particularly to small businesses. They want to improve the condition of roads and they want a Bill on street lights.

Some of my constituents told me that they want a balanced and practical debate on immigration. Migration plays a big part in the history of Corby and East Northamptonshire. Over the generations, people coming from across the UK and around the world have mixed with Northamptonshire people to create a distinctive, incredibly strong and proud community. People coming to the area have contributed enormously both economically and culturally, and they will continue to do so: Scottish people, people from Ireland and Wales, Serbians who came and helped to build the pipeline under the ocean that got the fuel across to the allied troops landing on D-day, the Bangladeshi community that has become established in the past 20 years or so—I was very proud

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of our first Bangladeshi Muslim mayor last year—and the recent development of the Zimbabwean community. There has also been significant migration of people from countries new to the European Union who, like migrants before them, have brought new ways of life, new languages and new shops on our high streets.

All of these changes can be unsettling. They can cause anxiety and they do raise questions about the impact on local services and the labour market. Part of the issue is that people feel that the Government are just not working for them. People in my constituency are being exploited at work, they are struggling to access housing, they are facing problems accessing health services and they are finding it difficult to get a school place for their child. The problem is partly about demand, with a growing population—people coming to Corby and us having the highest birth rate in the country—and people living longer.

When the Scots arrived in the inter-war years, there was a need to ensure that the effect on existing residents was managed, that tensions were overcome and that new services and facilities were provided to meet the needs of a growing town. That challenge has been met by each generation. It has been met by those determined to make our community work, not by those who want to channel people’s anxiety and concern into blaming people who seem different—who sound or look different, maybe worship a different god or speak a different language.

In my constituency, everybody comes from somewhere else—including me. I can trace my family on my father’s side back eight generations, but what of the ninth? On my mum’s side, my nan is of Irish descent and my granddad Scottish. People in Corby remember the discrimination. They remember the signs saying “No Blacks. No Irish. No dogs.” When the Government sent around vans saying “Go Home”, I found graffiti outside the mosque in my town that said “Go Home”. I felt ashamed of my Government. When I hear about the bullying of children in school because they look or sound different, I wonder where those attitudes come from and why our Government have given them succour.

We should debate the changes in our society, including the effects of immigration, in a way that actually helps us positively to address the issues. I have pushed for practical policies to deal with people’s concerns, such as the way the local labour market is being undermined by the exploitation of migrant workers. We need more action to enforce the minimum wage; we should double the maximum fine. I want councils to be given the power to enforce the minimum wage and I am pleased that that commitment has been made, in the event that there is a Labour Government next May.

I want to see the scope of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority extended, not necessarily to regulate in ever more sectors or to license, because those things can be costly and may not be necessary or practical. But where the authority recognises problems in other sectors—for example the car wash industry—it should be able to take action and to follow the intelligence. We should strengthen the law so that recruitment agencies cannot discriminate against UK workers in applying for jobs. We need housing laws to stop migrant workers being exploited and crammed into beds in sheds, undercutting local workers. A Polish constituent came to see me recently to describe his experience of arriving in Corby,

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his passage having been facilitated by an agency. When he got here he found that the house he was promised was appalling and the job he was promised amounted to a few days’ agency work.

We need to make sure that we give people here the skills they need for the future by ensuring that large companies offer apprenticeships for local workers when they are at the same time bringing in workers from outside the UK. We need more stringent border checks, which is why I have opposed cuts to border control. On these critical issues of access to services and housing, when my constituents say from time to time—other hon. Members will have heard this—“Migrants are given the housing,” I say, “Well, it is very difficult for anybody to access housing. The waiting lists are incredibly long. The issue is that we simply have not been building enough housing for a long time.” The real issue is housing supply, not the recent wave of migration into my community.

Concerns about crime have come to the fore in my constituency recently. After a long period when crime has been falling, it is deeply worrying to hear of an increasing number of violent crimes. I am concerned that there is complacency in Corby and East Northamptonshire about the level of crime and the challenge we face. I know that the police based locally—operating in East Northants from their base in Thrapston, and in Corby—do their absolute best. I also know, because they tell me, that they have been diverted away to other areas.

Crime has been falling over recent years. I am concerned that the police commissioner is now taking resources from Corby to put them into Northampton, Kettering and other towns. I would ask him directly about this but I have not found him open to a proper and honest dialogue about the impact of his policies. It is proving difficult to hold him to account. This has been part of the weakness of the police commissioner model. I have concerns about the costs and the politicisation that we have seen. The first act of the Northamptonshire police and crime commissioner was to appoint his campaign manager and three other political allies to the posts of deputy commissioner on salaries of £65,000 a year, the equivalent of 11 constables on the streets of Corby and East Northamptonshire.

A special report published recently by the Northampton Chronicle and Echo found that the number of staff employed by Northamptonshire’s police and crime commissioner has almost trebled and the wage spend nearly doubled in the 18 months since he started his job. He now employs 34 staff at a cost of £1.4 million. The office of the police and crime commissioner in Northamptonshire has 10 more staff than the West Midlands commissioner, who covers an area five times as large. Will the Minister look into this spending and whether it represents value for money? It does not give me confidence that the police force in Northamptonshire has the leadership it needs.

The police commissioner intends to close Corby police station. I recognise that the Elizabeth street station is ageing, but the answer is to improve it or to look for a new operational base in Corby. The police commissioner has already begun downgrading the station. The cells are now no longer used. That has not been made public

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but I know this from police officers and, in fact, had it confirmed in a letter from the chief constable about a month ago. The police now have to go out of the area when they make an arrest or to take people into custody, wasting valuable time and resources by going to the opposite end of what is a large county to travel across. When the commissioner talks about a “police presence” in Corby when the police station goes, I hear alarm bells. A shop window is okay, but it is not a replacement for an operational police base. The House of Commons Library figures show that Corby will be the largest town in the whole country without a police station if the Elizabeth street station closes in a few years’ time and is not properly replaced with an operational base.

High-profile crimes in Corby, such as the recent sexual assault on Oakley road and the two violent attacks in successive weeks on the land behind Stephenson way, have caused widespread concern. I recently attended a big public meeting in town and found that people were appalled to hear that the police station was being downgraded and could close altogether. They want a fair share of policing resources and they want street lights turned back on, because they feel unsafe as a result of this short-sighted policy by the Tory county council.

There are concerns, too, in the rural areas about acquisitive crime and antisocial behaviour in some of the small towns. Some brilliant PCSOs are doing good work. I recently attended the JAG—joint action group—team about crime across East Northamptonshire, but resources are again a challenge.

We now have in Northamptonshire the highest reported number of rape cases, which leads to the concern in my community about recent sexual attacks. We have issues about referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service. We have a cloud hanging over the future of Corby magistrates court. Our probation service—one of the best in the country—is being closed down because of another of this Government’s dogmatic privatisations. We have cuts to resources for dealing with domestic violence and to women’s refuges as a result of cuts arising from the reorganisation of the PCT and probation. I want to pay tribute to the campaign led by Sally Keeble in Northampton and Corby councillor Mary Butcher to save the refuges. They won a temporary reprieve of six months, but the future still looks uncertain and I hope that the Home Secretary shares my concern and will look into it.

I hope that Ministers hear the warning alarm I am sounding about police and crime issues in Northamptonshire. I really hope that they will look further into them and will in due course make a proper response to the concerns I have raised.

6.2 pm

Chris Evans (Islwyn) (Lab/Co-op): It is indeed a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Andy Sawford) who speaks with such great passion about his home area of Northamptonshire.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, who can start again in a moment. Let me explain the practice relating to speakers. Where Members have notified the Chair in advance, they will obviously participate in the debate. If Members wish to contribute once a debate is

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a good way through, they may approach the Chair, but take a lower priority. The hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood) was unable to be present earlier and has indicated that she would like to speak. I intend to call her at the end. I hope that that is clear to Ministers. I am not being unfair to the hon. Lady; I am following normal practice.

Chris Evans: Thank you for your patience this afternoon, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have had to be in and out of the Chamber, trying to balance my attendance with my duties on the Finance Bill.

The Queen’s Speech contains three new Bills that relate to criminal justice. For a Government who argued while in opposition that the Labour party over-legislated in this area, these Bills join seven others on criminal justice since they came to power in 2010. The previous seven Bills have created in total 619 new criminal offences, many of which carry custodial sentences.

With our prison population stretched to maximum levels, now is the time to question the role that prison and criminal justice play in society. In the past year, the prison population in England and Wales has reached record levels and stands today at 85,228 prisoners—a 90% increase since 1993. In 2012-13, the overall resource expenditure on prisons in England and Wales was just under £3 billion. Each inmate costs the taxpayer an average of £36,808 per prison place a year—money that the general public would no doubt think better spent on health, education, improving the roads and many other projects that hon. Members have mentioned.

With the UK having the second highest incarceration rates in western Europe and the prison estate suffering from overcrowding since 1994, we are facing a crisis that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. There is no doubt that prison works for some people. For the victim of crime and those who live in fear of it, prison gets criminals off the streets, reducing the risk they pose to the rest of society because they cannot commit an offence when they are locked up. Sadly, we all know that some individuals pose such a threat to other people that there is no option other than keeping them under lock and key for a very long time. However, prison is not the answer in all cases, and I want to concentrate on that in my speech.

According to the executive summary of the latest figures on releases, about 590,000 adult and juvenile offenders were cautioned, convicted or released from custody between July 2011 and June 2012, and 25% of them reoffended within a year. According to the “proven reoffending” tables, the reoffending rate among persons released from a custodial sentence was 45.5% for adults and 67.4% for juveniles. Those statistics should be balanced against the fact that between 1997 and 2010, under a Labour Government, crime fell by 43%, and violent crime fell by 42%.

Although I represent the Labour party, I will say that it seems that when in government we were very good at locking people up, but did not address the inherent problem of reoffending. Now, as more criminal justice Bills appear before Parliament, I see that we are still not tackling that problem. If Governments have a duty to society to protect their citizens from criminals, that means they also have a duty to ensure that those who are released from prison do not drift back into a life of crime.

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The National Offender Management Service manages 17 public prisons in England and Wales and the contracts of 14 private sector prisons, and is responsible for a prisoner population of about 86,000. However, it must make cuts of £650 million in its £3.4 billion budget by 2015. Now, with the prison population reaching almost unmanageable levels and the Government intent on making cuts in the resources available to prison staff, it is of the utmost importance that rehabilitation be looked at seriously. That approach needs to begin in the prisons themselves. Just 36% of people leaving prison go into some type of education, training or employment.

People often leave prison ill equipped to deal with day-to-day life. Statistics show that 43% of offenders have numeracy skills below GCSE standard, while 37% have reading skills below the same measure. Moreover, no one can agree on the number of offenders who have learning disabilities such as dyslexia. For many prisoners who are released, unemployment is a familiar scenario: 67% of the prison population were unemployed before being locked up, and many will face the same situation when they are released.

Alison Seabeck: My hon. Friend is talking very sensibly about the problems faced by people in prison and the work done there, but will he acknowledge that some of the changes in the probation system will not help, given that there are already signs that they are not bedding down easily?

Chris Evans: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There have been many severe cases in which the probation service has been stretched to the maximum. I am thinking of one in particular, in which an extremely violent crime had been committed. I do not want to mention it, but it was reported in the national press. That violent individual was released, and the probation officer never reached him because of the extent of the work load.

Is it any wonder that people who leave prison only to be faced with the unemployment that they experienced before should return to the way of life that sent them to prison in the first place? I think that that problem is more acute in the case of short sentences, which many of the 600-odd new offences will attract. At present, 60% of prisoners serving sentences of less than 12 months are reconvicted within a year, which is a sad reflection on society. Those who are in prison for less than a year have no access to offender management programmes, and are not subject to supervision by the probation service following their release. The Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 seeks to address that by ensuring that all offenders are supervised in the community for 12 months after their release. Given that the probation service is already strained, we must await the outcome of the Act, but in the light of my experience of membership of the Justice Committee, I do not hold out much hope. [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. I hesitate to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but it would be unfair to allow him to continue when there is a noise going on. There is something wrong with the speakers. I have asked for it to be fixed, and I hope that neither the hon. Gentleman nor those who are listening to him will be too distracted.

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Chris Evans: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I was aware of it, but I was trying to block it out—but that sort of thing happens a lot in this job.

The lack of education available in prison to short-term offenders makes gaining employment after prison difficult. Having a criminal record is an obvious stumbling block for someone trying to get their life back on track. The Institute of Leadership and Management published an article in April 2014 on employing ex-offenders. It states that fewer than 50% of businesses would interview someone with a criminal record, despite 80% agreeing that ex-offenders should be given a second chance. Those going into prison often suffer from the disadvantage of a lack of any formal qualifications. Over half of men in prison have no qualifications. Upon release, the situation is often unchanged, despite the availability of prison education. Even those who serve longer sentences and gain well-recognised qualifications while inside are damaged by the perception of prison education. How can we expect somebody with no previous work experience and no formal educational qualifications outside the prison environment to turn up to work on time every day and conduct themselves appropriately? It is my belief that a prison education system designed in conjunction with businesses and employers may help to change the perception employers have of the worthiness of education inside prison, and in the process reduce the likelihood that people will reoffend.

Of course, even talking about this issue will leave any politician open to the charge of being soft on crime. On particularly slow news days there is always a journalist with a case up their sleeve, telling the world how criminals are again living the life of Riley. However, as I said at the beginning of my speech, we are at crisis point, with a prison population that is simply running out of control. With public finances stretched, it is obvious that the increasing prison population, together with high reoffending rates, means something has to be done urgently.

This is not an easy debate to have, especially when we have a media intent on peddling the myth that criminals get away with it. In this age of austerity we now find ourselves living in, we have an opportunity to talk candidly about the future of crime and punishment, and I hope we will begin to do so in the coming months and years.

6.12 pm

Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West and Abingdon) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans), and I hope he will not spend the next few minutes trying to block me out. I want to welcome certain measures in the Modern Slavery Bill and the Serious Crime Bill, and I apologise for being late, but I was coming from the Select Committee on Home Affairs.

As many Members have mentioned, trafficking and exploitation is a despicable crime whereby organised criminals prey on the most vulnerable in our community for profit. It is important to recognise that the victims are not just those who are trafficked as migrants, but also include British citizens, who are perhaps vulnerable due to learning disabilities or poverty. It is exceptionally important that, as we raise awareness of trafficking and exploitation, we do not stereotype either the perpetrators or the victims and thereby risk making certain types of criminal or victim effectively invisible to our criminal justice system or the wider community. For that reason,

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I hope the anti-slavery commissioner will have a role in both commissioning accurate data-gathering and raising awareness of the true nature of trafficking and exploitation in the United Kingdom.

I also welcome the measures that increase the tariffs for trafficking and introduce trafficking prevention orders. They mirror the sexual risk orders that we have already legislated for as part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to tackle child sexual exploitation. I have spoken to police officers up and down the country and they have made it clear to me that these orders will be invaluable tools in disrupting the deeply destructive activities of child sexual exploitation and trafficking gangs.

I also ask that we look at reforming abduction warning notices. At present they are split into two different orders: victims in care are protected up to the age of 18, but victims who are not in care are only protected up to the age of 16. This is discriminatory and unacceptable and it would be a perfectly simple reform for us to equalise the warning notices so that all children were protected up to the age of 18 and any breach of such an order carried a penalty.

As the relevant Minister is in his seat, I also ask him to consider court reforms for victims in all these areas. We should not force victims who have been abused in such appalling ways, even if they have managed to have the bravery to come forward and go through the trauma of a police investigation, to suffer our current adversarial court system and the indignity and anxiety of its procedures. I particularly suggest that we consider the pre-recorded evidence pilot and extending the age limit up to 24, as many victims do not get to court until they are much older, even if they are abused as children. We should also consider mandatory training not only of prosecutors but of all judges and defence barristers in cases involving sexual abuse and exploitation.

Similar measures have been included in the Serious Crime Bill, with gang injunctions and serious crime prevention orders. The Home Affairs Committee inquiry that I have just come from is part of an inquiry into gang and youth crime. It is disappointing that robust data on gangs and gang-related crime are sparse. In 2012 the Metropolitan police identified 259 violent youth gangs in 19 gang-affected boroughs. The Children’s Commissioner has estimated that 12,000 children are at risk of gang-related violence. The conclusion is that urgent work is needed to improve data gathering so that we are able to assess properly where progress has been made as a result of the Government’s strategy. Despite a strong commitment from the Government, demonstrated by the ending gang and youth violence strategy, which has made progress in many ways, it is difficult to assess progress when the database is not robust enough.

A recent Centre for Social Justice report on girls and gangs found that

“the daily suffering of girls goes largely unnoticed. They live in a parallel world where rape is used as a weapon and carrying drugs and guns is seen as normal.”

Those giving evidence this afternoon to us were clear that more progress needed to be made in protecting the most vulnerable girls and on utilising better the expertise of the voluntary organisations working in this field. To that end, can I ask that, along with the reforms of stop and search, which will help to build confidence among gangs and in the community, the measures in the Bill

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should include steps to integrate the ending gang and youth violence strategy with the ending of violence against women and girls strategy and the new action plan on child sexual exploitation? If those are not properly integrated, we will fail to leverage the improvements that we should be able to achieve.

Finally, in our Committee session we heard that such was the fear and hostility to the establishment among many who were caught up in gang life that many who suffered domestic abuse, rape and violent assault never sought formal help. The natural consequence of this and the extreme trauma that they experienced was high levels of mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder among gang members. One study conducted by Professor Coid found that 85.8% of gang members had antisocial personality disorder, 25.1% had psychosis, 58.9% had anxiety disorder and 34.2% had attempted suicide. I hope that Ministers will consider what steps can be taken to address these truly horrifying statistics, each of which represents an individual living in truly desperate circumstances.

The Serious Crime Bill and the Modern Slavery Bill together do much to offer hope to some of the most vulnerable victims of crime in the United Kingdom today, but I hope that as they progress through the House they can get even better and improve the lives of those vulnerable victims even more.

6.19 pm

Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury) (Lab): We have had a very interesting debate this afternoon. I have been sitting here for most of it and have learnt a great deal and been very glad of the opportunity to hear the contributions.

The hon. Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford) put it on record that he is not a creep, something that Members in all parts of the House know in any event and which he really did not need to do. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough (Mr Blunkett) gave a very interesting analysis of UKIP in which he talked about the financial meltdown, saying that many people felt there was no control of such major issues by traditional politics. He felt that the public are looking for answers and that that had a lot to do with the rise of UKIP. He put some interesting matters before us, including a discussion of the biography of Jenkins.

The hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) made a bold speech on the benefits of immigration and started listing all the things that the Liberal Democrats would like to have done if the Tories had not stopped them. In doing so, he ran the gauntlet of the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) and his friends, but he kept going. The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) talked about the pressure on services created by immigration and the fact that Dr Clare Gerada had said that doctors should not be a type of border agency, a sentiment that he supported. He was concerned about how we can ensure access to services for the right people.

The hon. Member for Peterborough seemed to be unclear about whether he believed there should be a limit on the number of Brits going to Spain, and he accused the Scottish National party of narrow chauvinistic attitudes. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham West and Penge (Jim Dowd) gave us the benefit of his

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22 years’ experience and told us that no matter how slim the Queen’s Speech is, even those who find it bordering on anorexic may find something worth welcoming. However, he regretted the fact, as did many Members, that the Government seem to have dropped the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, as it was not included in the Queen’s Speech, although legislation on plastic bags was.

The hon. Member for Erewash (Jessica Lee) gave a very thoughtful speech about the Modern Slavery Bill. The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) treated us to one of his best “Braveheart” speeches. It seems that the rest of us in Westminster are picking on him. The hon. Member for Warrington South (David Mowat) spoke knowledgably about energy policy and in favour of fracking, telling us that the rest of the world was doing it and that we need to do it to be competitive. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field) paid a worthy tribute to Anthony Steen and the work he has put into the Modern Slavery Bill. I know that Members of the House would want to thank Anthony Steen and all those who have put so much work into the thinking behind the Bill.

The hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) spoke about police cuts and a great deal about immigration. My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty) talked about crime rates and how reported crime is going up but conviction rates are not matching that, which has a particular impact on women. He spoke very movingly about his relative, Agnes, who was murdered, and how the rest of his family remain to this day victims of that crime. He talked about the Modern Slavery Bill and his thinking on it, listing what he had been expecting, or hoping, to find in the Bill and explaining how it fell short of expectations by saying what was missing. I commend to the Home Secretary the Hansard report of many of the contributions about what else should be included in the Bill.

The hon. Member for South Swindon (Mr Buckland) made a welcome appeal for political leadership on immigration, asking that we do not fan the flames of prejudice. He also gave the very powerful example of a 92-year-old constituent who had struggled to get a passport to go back to the Normandy beaches that he had fought on as a 21-year-old. My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Alison Seabeck) talked about job insecurity, low wages and the house crisis in the south-west, and asked where the measures were to address those core problems for her constituents.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Mark Lazarowicz) made an intelligent and thoughtful contribution to the immigration debate and expressed concern that the Home Secretary seems not to be taking seriously the concerns expressed by many Members about backlogs at the Passport Office. My hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones) spoke with great passion about a case which she believes has been a travesty of justice, and showed her real campaigning zeal on that matter.

We then heard from my hon. Friends the Members for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood) and for Corby (Andy Sawford) who made important speeches, particularly on immigration issues. They had clearly listened to the concerns that their constituents have expressed over the past few weeks and months when my

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hon. Friends have been knocking on doors and standing on doorsteps listening. They had given the issues thoughtful consideration, particularly in relation to what we should do about gangmasters, problems with housing and undercutting of wages. They proposed solutions and again drew the comparison between the ideas that are bubbling under among Labour Members and the lack of any solutions in the Queen’s Speech.

My hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans) made a passionate speech about prison overcrowding and penal policy. He showed himself to be a consummate professional, and despite being heckled by rattling speakers, kept going and silenced them. Finally, we heard from the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood), who talked about data gathering and about gang and violent crime. She said that the daily suffering of girls who were on the edges of crime seemed to go unmentioned and ignored. It is important that she raised the issue in the House, and that girls who are the victims of crime and are on the edges of these gangs are not ignored. We need to address the relevant policy issues.

The Queen’s Speech contains a number of Bills relating to home affairs which are linked by themes. My concern is that although they sound marvellous and can be talked up beautifully in the press, the Bills often disappoint when we look at the nitty-gritty. For example, on the confiscation of criminal profits, the National Audit Office report was a call to arms as it showed that only 26p of every £100 of profits a criminal makes is confiscated. Some £1.5 billion has eluded the authorities because the assets have been hidden, siphoned away overseas or eroded by third-party claims.

The report focused our minds as never before on what we should do. Labour has pledged to introduce a raft of measures which would strengthen the confiscation regime. Although on the whole we welcome the Serious Crime Bill, we wonder whether it will deliver everything that is promised. Will it live up to its rhetoric or will it ultimately be disappointing? We will look carefully at whether there are serious measures in relation to the disclosure of third-party claims. We particularly believe that they should be at the restraint order stage and not too late. We are quite happy to share our ideas if Ministers will listen to, for example, our proposals that costs should be recoverable by defendants in freezing order applications, and that when defendants ask for their costs in freezing order applications, the amount they get back should be only at legal aid rates. We are happy to share our ideas on how to put pressure on defendants to bring their assets back to the United Kingdom.

The Home Secretary was so busy fighting with the Secretary of State for Education that she may not have noticed all the details that I put into my speech at the Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association annual general meeting. If she has not seen the speech, I would be happy to send it to her. It went into some detail about what we believe should be done so that criminal assets can be confiscated properly. We wish to give the Home Secretary some advice. One of the most important ways of seizing the profits of crime is to foster better relations with overseas jurisdictions, because once those assets

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are overseas, they are very difficult to get back. We need to foster better relations to ensure that overseas jurisdictions will co-operate with us.

It is extraordinary that since 2008, £200 million-worth of assets have been frozen by the UK courts in response to overseas requests for legal assistance, but not a single penny of that money has been repatriated to the countries that asked us to seize and freeze those assets. If we do not co-operate with overseas jurisdictions, how can we expect them to co-operate with us? This is not something that requires legislation, but it needs clear policy drivers and it needs to be led on.

On professional organised crime, we will be watching carefully to see whether the measures announced with such trump will be a rehashing of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. We are concerned that David Thomas, the former head of the Home Office financial intelligence unit, recently told journalists that too often the Government dragged their feet in responding to foreign freezing requests, if they responded to them at all, because they consider them too much of a headache. We really need to be serious about reciprocity if we want to seize criminal assets.

As for the child abuse provisions, the extension of the definition of child cruelty is welcome, but it must be seen against the background of child cruelty conviction rates having fallen. In 2009, the rate was 720, and in 2013 it fell to 553. It is important to extend the offence, but it is also important to use the current law and ensure that there are proper prosecutions and convictions. With regard to the law on female genital mutilation, we ask the Government to consider the call from the Director of Public Prosecutions for anonymity of victims. We do not believe that that is in the current legislation, but it needs to be considered.

The Bill that has perhaps been praised the most is the Modern Slavery Bill. It is generally to be welcomed, but, again, we must look at the enforcement record. We know that the law on human trafficking has a bad enforcement record. In 2013, there were just 28 prosecutions for trafficking for sexual exploitation, and only 11 convictions. In relation to child protection, 300 children who had been trafficked were rescued from their traffickers and placed in care but then went missing. We have been calling since 2010 for legal guardians, and we are impatient that the legislation contains only enabling powers and that we must await the results of trials. We welcome statutory defence of victims of trafficking to ensure that they are not prosecuted for crimes that they are forced into, and we welcome the fact that there will be statutory guidance on victim ID and victim services, but we are concerned that the national referral mechanism is not working properly and needs review. Again, I discovered recently in a freedom of information request from the Crown Prosecution Service that it usually does not go to the national referral mechanism until after someone has been prosecuted and sentenced. In those circumstances, the data base is hardly doing the job it is supposed to be doing.

Nicola Blackwood: As I understand it, the NRM has been under review since April, and it is well known that that was a necessary process. Does the hon. Lady not welcome the prevention orders that are proposed in the Modern Slavery Bill, which will be a key tool for police in disrupting the very trafficking networks that she is talking about?

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Emily Thornberry: There are measures in the proposed legislation that will work, but it does not go far enough. We are quite happy to work with the Government to ensure that it does. For example, on supply chains, we do not want products in our country that are the result of slavery. We are concerned that the Bill will not address that specific issue. There may be some disruption, but it will not happen to the extent that is necessary, so we need to work together on this. We give a partial welcome to the legislation, but we cannot welcome it wholeheartedly because it does not go far enough. We are also concerned that the domestic workers visa means that 60% of those on the new visa have no salary at all.

The worst piece of legislation, however—the one that seems to promise so much but really we do not know what on earth it means—is the social action, responsibility and heroism Bill. According to the Lord Chancellor, it will protect

“the responsible employer who puts in place proper training for staff, who has sensible safety procedures, and tries to do the right thing.”


“someone injures themselves doing something stupid or something that no reasonable person would ever have expected to be a risk”,

that employer is sued. I have some news for the Lord Chancellor. Under the present law the employer would not be sued. A person would be sued only if there had been negligence. Our concern is that the Bill may be only a piece of fatuous and confused legislation, which will waste parliamentary time. If that is all it is, fine, but our concern is, to coin a phrase, that it may be a Trojan horse. And it may be a Trojan horse that will in fact be yet another attempt to limit access to justice. This Government have form on that. It may be a piece of legislation that claims to do one thing, but in fact it will mean that people injured at work through no fault of their own end up being unable to take their case to court, and yet again it will be another piece of assistance to the insurance industry. We are concerned that it will be sold on one basis while the nitty-gritty of the legislation will show something else.

In the end, the part of the Queen’s Speech on home affairs will be about what we all believe—that is, it will be about the difference between Labour and the Government in terms of what are British values and what are not British values. We believe that we should do more than simply try to legislate by way of headlines. In this country, there is still a great deal of unfairness and injustice. We have legislation that needs to be passed urgently, but it needs to have real substance and it should be more than simply spin.

6.36 pm

The Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims (Damian Green): I, too, thank all those whom the shadow Attorney-General, the hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry), thanked for participating in this debate. Even by the standards of debates on the Queen’s Speech, it has been wide-ranging and instructive in a number of fields. We have covered fracking, pensions, parliamentary recall and—at some length—plastic bags. However, I hope that the House will be happy if I seek to respond within the limits and scope of the debate on home affairs and justice matters.

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There is a good deal of important legislation in this area, covering both the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. The Modern Slavery Bill, which is the first of its kind in Europe, will substantially strengthen our powers to tackle this appalling crime, by ensuring that perpetrators can receive suitably severe punishments, creating an anti-slavery commissioner and enhancing protection and support for victims.

The Serious Crime Bill will disrupt all those who engage in, support and profit from all forms of organised crime, guard against the threat of terrorism and protect vulnerable women and children.

The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which is carried over from the previous Session, is the next stage in this Government’s significant reforms of the justice system, to ensure that serious and repeat offenders receive suitable sentences, to improve court processes and to reduce the financial burden on the taxpayer.

The social action, responsibility and heroism Bill will reassure the public that if they act for the benefit of society, demonstrate a generally responsible approach towards the safety of others, or assist someone in an emergency, the courts will always consider the context of their actions in the event that they are sued for negligence.

In the first four years of this Parliament, the Government have made great strides to transform and strengthen the country’s justice system, improve support for victims, rehabilitate offenders and make prisons more effective while reducing the cost to the taxpayer.

I should pause on the point about prisons to address what I thought was an interesting and thoughtful speech by the hon. Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans), and assure him that the Offender Rehabilitation Bill, which was introduced in a previous Session, is precisely designed to transform the system and address the point that he rightly identified about reoffending and particularly those reoffending who had only short sentences in prison. For the first time, they will now have rehabilitative help both while they are in prison and when they come through the prison gate. He was absolutely right to have identified that weakness in the previous system, and the Bill will address precisely that weakness.

At the same time as making those reforms, we have strengthened the immigration system, making it fairer for British citizens and legitimate migrants but tougher on those who abuse it.

Crime has continued to fall. We continue to implement our programme of bold police reform, and we have set up the National Crime Agency to tackle the evils of organised crime and further protect our country.

Let me turn to the substance of the debate and the details of the legislation that we intend to introduce this Session. I am glad that the Modern Slavery Bill was broadly welcomed, not least by the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field) and the hon. Member for Lewisham West and Penge (Jim Dowd). We all agree on both sides of the House that modern slavery is an appalling crime. It is completely unacceptable that traffickers and slave masters are able to operate in this country, coercing and deceiving individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

This Government are determined to take action against modern slavery. The Modern Slavery Bill will give law enforcement agencies the tools that they need to tackle

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modern slavery. It will ensure that perpetrators can be severely punished for these awful crimes, and it will improve support and protection for victims. Clearly, we will need to address a number of detailed points, some of which are very important, as the Bill passes through the House and the other place.

The right hon. Member for Birkenhead and others, including the shadow Attorney-General, talked about the importance of transparency in supply chains. Of course we are committed to tackling exploitation in private sector supply chains, and we support businesses to tackle the issue. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is meeting business leaders tomorrow as part of the Government’s commitment to work with business to develop the most effective approach, because it is clear that businesses that take no action risk both their reputation and, in the long run, their profits. I do not think that that should divide us in this House. We would prefer to persuade businesses that it is in their interests to take action, rather than placing additional legal and regulatory burdens on them. Clearly, that will be a matter for continuing debate.

Michael Connarty: I just wonder whether anyone in the Home Office has read the evidence that was put before the Joint Committee. Everyone, including the people running the California rules, said quite clearly that it is not enough to have a voluntary code and that statutory obligations are needed, because otherwise it will not work.

Damian Green: The hon. Gentleman, who follows these matters closely, will be aware that changes to UK company reporting arrangements that require disclosure on human rights issues came into force last October. It is sensible to look at the effect of that change before coming to a firm conclusion. It is also sensible to let such reforms bed down before reaching a firm conclusion, which he seems to have reached already.

The shadow Home Secretary and several other hon. Members talked about domestic workers and visa abuse. The Government are taking action to help stop practices that exploit vulnerable workers and undercut local businesses that play by the rules. Various provisions in the Modern Slavery Bill will help to end that kind of exploitation, which frankly runs into slavery.

Mr Frank Field: The Minister might suggest to the Home Secretary, who is sitting next to him, that when she meets business leaders tomorrow she brings the article that she wrote in The Sunday Times in which she stated that she wished supply chains to be included in the Bill. A large number of people in both Houses of Parliament will support her wish.

Damian Green: I do not feel the need to transmit that message to my right hon. Friend, who has no doubt heard it. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman.

I am grateful that there is broad support for many of the provisions in the Serious Crime Bill. It will make a significant contribution to the Government’s continuing fight against serious and organised crime, of which the National Crime Agency is perhaps the most visible manifestation.

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Several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) and my hon. Friends the Members for Erewash (Jessica Lee) and for South Swindon (Mr Buckland), both of whom have great records of campaigning in this area, talked about the child cruelty clauses. I am sure that the whole House recognises that child cruelty is an abhorrent crime that needs to be punished. Every child should be able to grow up in a safe environment. The changes that we will take forward in the Serious Crime Bill make it absolutely clear that cruelty likely to cause psychological suffering or injury is covered under section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. We are modernising the language used in that section to help the courts to implement it more effectively.

A number of other matters have been raised, including the fact that the Serious Crime Bill will create a new offence targeting people who possess any items containing advice or guidance that could be useful to someone committing or preparing to commit a sexual offence against a child—so-called paedophile manuals. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford) not just for his kind remarks about ministerial action on this, but for the long-running and extremely effective campaign that he has carried out in this field, of which, as he said, this is one small step forward. I am delighted to have his support in this matter.

The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which is a carry-over Bill, delivers the vital next stage in this Government’s mission to deliver a more credible justice system. Much has been achieved to date. Prisons are now places of hard work and discipline; we have implemented fundamental reforms to transform rehabilitation by bringing together the best of the public, private and voluntary sectors; and all community sentences now contain an element of punishment. The Bill builds on those achievements, by ensuring that criminals are properly punished, young offenders turn their lives around through education and modern courts run efficiently and effectively.

Mr Blunkett: Will the Minister acknowledge that the probation service faces a very serious position with the changes from 1 June? Will he, with the Home Secretary, make representations to the Justice Secretary to take a look at exactly what is happening on the ground?

Damian Green: As the right hon. Gentleman would expect, the Justice Secretary and the prisons Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Kenilworth and Southam (Jeremy Wright), take a close interest in what is happening on the ground. I hope the right hon. Gentleman would acknowledge that the purpose of the changes in probation, as I explained to the hon. Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans), is to make rehabilitation more effective than it has been in the past. Reoffending rates have not fallen despite the great efforts made by the National Offender Management Service and those who work in the probation service. We need change to get those reoffending rates down. The vast majority of crime is committed by a very small number of people, so if we can get the reoffending rates down, we can continue to get overall crime down. That is the most effective thing we can do.

As I said, this is a carry-over Bill. I am grateful for the work the House has done to progress this important piece of legislation. There has been very thorough and

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lively scrutiny of the Bill during its Commons stages, and I am sure that the quality of debate will continue as it completes its second day on Report. I should inform the House that we have today tabled an amendment to introduce an offence of police corruption, because it is untenable that we should be relying on an 18th-century common law offence of misconduct in public office to deal with serious issues of compliance in modern policing. We tabled the amendment to establish a statutory offence of police corruption to supplement the common law offence and to focus on those who hold police powers.

A number of references have been made to the social action, responsibility and heroism Bill. I am particularly grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) for his speech, not least because he was reporting from the front line as a first responder and, as he told us, a regular snow clearer in his constituency. He knows what these situations are like, and he said precisely why this Bill is necessary. [Interruption.] The shadow Attorney-General is expressing some cynicism—or, to be fair, scepticism—about the Bill. My hon. Friend knows that legislation is necessary, because people are worried about doing something that their conscience wants them to do. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr Slaughter) is chuntering from a sedentary position.

Emily Thornberry: He’s yelling!

Damian Green: The hon. Gentleman is yelling rather than chuntering—I shall take the shadow Attorney-General’s word for it. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should talk to my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Goole, who knows what he is talking about, whereas the hon. Gentleman does not, as is, regrettably, so often the case.

Mr Donohoe: Will the Minister give way?

Damian Green: I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows what he is talking about, so of course I will give way to him.

Mr Donohoe: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. My intervention has nothing to do with what he has just said. He is more than halfway through his speech, but he has not said anything about the enormous dissent across the country about the problems in the Passport Office. Just this afternoon, I was told of another problem, so will he give a commitment that he will beef up that department so that Members of Parliament can at least get answers for their constituents?

Damian Green: I will say two things. First, the department has been beefed up, as the hon. Gentleman puts it: there are now more people working there than ever before. Secondly, if he can contain himself for less than 10 minutes, he will be able to listen to and contribute to the Adjournment debate, which is on that very subject and will be responded to by my hon. Friend the Minister for Security and Immigration.