Draft Modern Slavery Bill - Draft Modern Slavery Bill Joint Committee Contents

8  The Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly

229. We welcome initiatives in the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly to tackle modern slavery. The draft Bill currently extends to England and Wales only, and we are pleased that the White Paper recognises that, as modern slavery is an issue which affects the whole of the UK, the Government will work with the Devolved Administrations to secure a Bill with a broad UK-wide effect.[342]

230. Responding to a proposal for a Member's Bill presented by Jenny Marra MSP,[343] the Scottish Government announced on 17 March that, following consultation, they will bring forward legislation in this session of the Scottish Parliament to:

    consolidate and strengthen the existing criminal law against human trafficking; enhance the status of and support for the victims of trafficking; and give statutory responsibility to relevant agencies to work with the Scottish Government and implement a Scottish Anti-Trafficking Strategy.[344]

231. A Private Member's Bill on Human Trafficking, proposed by Lord Morrow MLA, is currently being considered in the Northern Ireland Assembly.[345] Separately, the Department of Justice Northern Ireland launched a consultation on Human Trafficking and Slavery: Strengthening Northern Ireland's Response[346] in January 2014. These proposals largely mirror those contained in the draft Bill.

232. The Welsh Government responded to the report of the Cross Party Working Group on Trafficking of Women and Children in Wales, Knowing No Boundaries: Local Solutions to an International Crime,[347] by appointing an Anti-slavery Co-ordinator in March 2011.[348] In addition a number of groups have been established in Wales, such as the Wales Anti-Slavery Leadership Group and local anti-slavery fora. In February 2014, a TV and poster campaign was launched in Wales to raise awareness of slavery and human trafficking. There are no separate legislative proposals for Wales as the draft Bill extends to Wales. The Welsh Government broadly supports the aims of the draft Bill, and told us that they will monitor its progress with interest, as well as maintaining regular contact with the Home Office on matters of detail.[349]

233. Aspects of modern slavery that are devolved matters in Scotland and Northern Ireland are rightly being addressed by the Devolved Administrations in ways that suit their particular circumstances.[350] But modern slavery straddles borders without respect for jurisdiction: the UK government must work closely with the devolved institutions as they produce their own legislative responses.

234. We noted the enthusiasm of the devolved institutions to work together with the UK Government in tackling modern slavery. As expressed by the Scottish Government, "Given the cross border nature of the crime, it is appropriate that a partnership approach to tackling it is appropriate, within the UK and internationally."[351] There are some areas of the draft Modern Slavery Bill which were highlighted where it may be best to adopt a UK-wide legislative approach. For example the Scottish Government indicated in that, as an issue that may require extra-territorial powers, Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders would be "best delivered through UK-wide legislation."[352]

Anti-Slavery Commissioner

235. We heard evidence in favour of both a UK-wide Anti-Slavery Commissioner and a network of people appointed to similar roles by each administration. David Ford MLA said:

    What I believe we would benefit from by having a UK-wide commissioner operating in Northern Ireland is that they would be able to examine the operation of all the agencies operating in Northern Ireland, whether devolved or agencies of UK Government bodies.[353]

Joyce Watson AM, chair of the National Assembly for Wales Cross Party Group on Human Trafficking, said that the relationship between the proposed Anti-Slavery Commissioner and the existing Anti-Slavery Co-ordinator for Wales "requires further discussion."[354] Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Local Government and Government Business, concurred, adding that the Commissioner's interaction with local authorities and other stakeholders in Wales also merited consideration.[355]

236. We recommend that the proposed Anti-Slavery Commissioner should work across the whole of the UK, in co-ordination with any existing or future commissioner, co­ordinator, or similar persons that any of the Devolved Administrations may wish to appoint.

National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland

237. David Ford MLA highlighted that the National Crime Agency is not fully operational in Northern Ireland. He told us:

    the Assembly has not agreed that the NCA should have operational powers within Northern Ireland except in the reserved sphere. They can deal with things like revenue and customs matters, but they cannot deal with ordinary organised crime, including many trafficking offences.[356]

Mr Ford said this is "producing difficulties where the PSNI [Police Service Northern Ireland] has to devote resources to deal with issues that would be the responsibility of the NCA in any part of England and Wales or Scotland".[357]

238. The Home Office must consider and discuss with the Northern Ireland Executive the effect in Northern Ireland of any potential increase in the use of the National Crime Agency to tackle modern slavery on a UK-wide basis, given that in Northern Ireland the Agency has operational powers only in the reserved sphere.

342   Cm 8770, p8. Back

343   The Human Trafficking (Scotland) Bill. Back

344   Written evidence from the Scottish Government Back

345   Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Bill. Back

346   Department of Justice Northern Ireland, Human Trafficking and Slavery: Strengthening Northern Ireland's Response, January 2014  Back

347   Cross Party Working Group on Trafficking of Women and Children in Wales, Knowing No Boundaries: Local Solutions to an International Crime, 2010 Back

348   Originally titled Anti-Human Trafficking Co-ordinator. Back

349   Written evidence from the Welsh Government Back

350   Written evidence from the Scottish Government, and Q996 (David Ford MLA) Back

351   Written evidence from the Scottish Government Back

352   Written evidence from the Scottish Government Back

353   Q 996 (David Ford MLA) Back

354   Written evidence from Joyce Watson AM Back

355   Written evidence from the Welsh Government Back

356   Q 991 (David Ford MLA) Back

357   Q 990 (David Ford MLA) Back

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2014
Prepared 8 April 2014