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Division No. 1

CONTENTS

Aberdare, L.
Ackner, L.
Addington, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Avebury, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Biffen, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bridges, L.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carrington, L.
Chadlington, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Cuckney, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Deedes, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Ferrers, E.
Flather, B.
Fookes, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Geraint, L.
Goodhart, L. [Teller]
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Greenway, L.
Hanham, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Higgins, L.
Holderness, L.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Hylton, L.
Jellicoe, E.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kimball, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Kingsland, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Lindsay, E.
Liverpool, E.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lloyd of Berwick, L.
Lucas, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Montrose, D.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Naseby, L.
Newby, L.
Northesk, E.
Northover, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Patten, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Plumb, L.
Prior, L.
Pym, L.
Rawlings, B.
Redesdale, L.
Rees, L.
Rennard, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Roper, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sandberg, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Stevens of Ludgate, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wakeham, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Warnock, B.
Weatherill, L.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Willoughby de Broke, L.

NOT-CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alli, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Chorley, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Gilbert, L.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hardy of Wath, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Jones, L.
Jordan, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mitchell, L.
Morgan, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Orme, L.
Parekh, L.
Paul, L.
Pendry, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rooker, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Serota, B.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Slim, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stallard, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thornton, B.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

25 Jun 2002 : Column 1219

4.18 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 not moved.]

Lord Alton of Liverpool moved Amendment No. 10:


    Page 4, line 12, at end insert—


"( ) If the conditions referred to in subsection (2) relate to an offence involving the trafficking of people the court must order that sums payable under subsection (5) be paid into the trafficked persons fund."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendments in my name—Amendments Nos. 10, 40, 68, 129, 142 and 211—have been grouped. After the balloted debate in your Lordships' House on 13th March, in which several of your Lordships, including my noble and learned friend Lord Wilberforce, participated, we had constructive discussions with the Minister's predecessor—the noble Lord, Lord Rooker—and with officials. I would have preferred it, however, if, along with the other amendments that he tabled for today, the Minister had produced some proposals on the subject of people trafficking.

I am sure that the Minister will agree that it is an appropriate moment to return to the issue of trafficking and to consider how the recovered assets of those involved in the trade might be used to help victims and combat the crime.

People trafficking, particularly trafficking in women and children, is a contemporary form of the slave trade, causing misery for the victims and their

25 Jun 2002 : Column 1220

families and generating vast sums of money for the traffickers. It is worth commenting on the scale of the problem. Research commissioned by the Home Office on trafficking provides conclusive evidence that at a minimum, hundreds of women and children are being trafficked into the United Kingdom every year.

A report in the Financial Times published on 20th February stated that, according to the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention in Vienna, people trafficking has become the fastest growing facet of organised crime. Powerful criminal organisations are estimated to earn a staggering 4.3 billion per year from economic and sexual slavery. People trafficking is therefore considered to be the third largest source of profit for organised crime after the trafficking of drugs and firearms. The United States Department of State says that more than 175,000 women are trafficked annually.

There are numerous consequences. I should like to draw attention to the problems in West Sussex. Since 1995, 66 children who arrived unaccompanied in the United Kingdom have gone missing from West Sussex social services, the majority in the past two years. During Question Time in your Lordships' House on 13th June I sought information from the Government on the plight of those missing children and on reports that further children have disappeared this year. I have since been advised by the Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes that a further four young people have gone missing from that social services department in 2002. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, who is in his seat today, who responded to that question and arranged for that information to be provided.

Those disappearances took place in February. Of the four children, three were female and one was male. One of the females was Chinese and the other three young people were West African. The absence of comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation and adequate victim support services gives rise to such horrendous situations. I hope that the Minister will be able to say what more is being done to protect children in our care. It is an extraordinary state of affairs that children committed to care in this country, having been rescued from trafficking, should have gone missing on such a scale. I hope that the Minister will say something about their plight. What do we know of the outcome for those 70 missing children? Surely we must have some knowledge.

I welcome the Government's commitment to legislate in this area. The stop-gap offence of trafficking in prostitution in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill is an important start and one that I hope will be followed shortly by comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation as the Government have promised. People trafficking is included in the list of lifestyle offences in Schedule 2 to the Bill before your Lordships today. The offence referred to is in Section 25(1) of the Immigration Act 1971.

25 Jun 2002 : Column 1221

I am concerned that it is a relatively toothless provision. In a Written Answer, the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, acknowledged that,


    "At present there is no specific offence of trafficking in human beings and so no data exist about the confiscation of assets of those engaged in this practice".—[Official Report, 18/6/02; col. WA 70.]

That will not do. Following that admission, I tabled two further Written Questions. The first highlights my concern that the offence of people trafficking in Schedule 2, paragraph 3 is wholly inadequate in combating it. The second seeks clarification as to whether the Proceeds of Crime Bill will be amended when new offences of people trafficking are introduced in forthcoming legislation, particularly the new offence of trafficking in prostitution in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill, which received its Second Reading yesterday.

Yesterday we debated one piece of new legislation that creates an offence of trafficking in prostitution, because the current legislation in that area is, as the Government admit, wholly inadequate. Yet today we are scrutinising another piece of legislation that refers to a specific lifestyle offence of people trafficking which is already in existence, which has been acknowledged to be ineffective in tackling the problem and which will be superseded in due course. To have such ambiguities in two pieces of legislation currently before your Lordships' House does not strike me as a good example of joined-up Government.

Despite those misgivings, the fact that the Proceeds of Crime Bill includes people trafficking as one of the lifestyle offences allows me to focus on the need to apply assets recovered towards anti-trafficking initiatives and support services for the victim. The Metropolitan Police Clubs and Vice Unit in London has seized over 275,000 from traffickers this year alone. Despite the growing scale of the people trafficking problem, support services for the victims of trafficking, both here and in the overseas countries from where women and young girls are taken, remain chronically underfunded. To the best of my knowledge and that of those working in this area, there is at present no central Government funding of services that seek to support and protect the victims if trafficked in the United Kingdom.

In a Written Answer dated 9th January, the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, advised me that Her Majesty's Government, in conjunction with the United Nations, national governments and non-governmental organisations, were working to address the problems of people trafficking and to provide support for the victims of this serious crime. I welcomed then the programmes currently underway in the Western Balkans region, in Southern Europe, and in the Greater Mekong region that covers parts of Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam and in West Africa. They are vitally important in helping potential trafficking victims in their countries of origin to escape the cycle of poverty and desperation that forces them into the hands of traffickers.

25 Jun 2002 : Column 1222

A fortnight ago, my noble friend Lord Hylton and I, together with the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, were in Azerbaijan looking at the problems of the million displaced people there. We heard firsthand accounts from people who had been offered work in so-called slave bazaars at the rate of 2.5 dollars per day for the most menial work. Is it any wonder that people trying to escape such destitution either arrive here as so-called economic migrants or are sold into the cycle of despair that becomes human trafficking?

I also wish to draw attention to the lack of funding for organisations based in the UK that seek to support and protect the victims of trafficking, perhaps better than we have been able to do in social services institutions such as the one I mentioned, from which 70 children disappeared. A housing association called Eve's Housing is the only organisation providing any help with accommodation for victims of trafficking. It has dealt with six cases in the past six months, all of whom were Albanian women.

Today I spoke with a lawyer who recounted the story of one Albanian woman. She was originally kidnapped, raped and forced into prostitution in Albania. She was then rescued by a man who fled with her to London, whereupon he forced her into prostitution. Her vulnerability was such that it took her four months to realise that the person she believed to be her potential saviour and protector was in fact simply out to exploit her.

Eve's Housing has taken upon itself to look after such vulnerable women by accommodating them in properties it manages. However, Eve's Housing receives no central government funding for doing this and so is clocking up bad debts as it helps those women. As far as the system is concerned, the women are asylum seekers and so are liable to be dispersed to different parts of the country without any regard for their special needs. The National Asylum Support Service does not have any system in place to offer specific advice and assistance to victims of trafficking.

Organisations such as Eve's Housing deserve central Government support. If assets seized from traffickers were properly applied towards services for the victims of trafficking, it would not only allow the victims to rebuild their shattered lives but could also help tackle the trafficking problem as it might lead to greater co-operation with the police.

We already have a precedent in transport where certain police forces are able to reinvest fines recovered from speed cameras into other traffic calming measures. Could we not achieve something similar in the Bill? If the Treasury has given the green light for reinvestment of resources from traffic offences involving motor cars, surely when it comes to trafficking in human beings we could apply the same approach—or is reinvestment in traffic calming to assume greater importance than investment in measures to prevent trafficking in young women?

A multi-agency group has been established in London involving police forces, the Immigration Service, social services, the Home Office and NGOs, which is seeking to achieve better co-ordination of

25 Jun 2002 : Column 1223

operational activities and more effective support for victims, including the provision of safe houses. I have entered into correspondence with the Home Office on the matter and met with the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, and other Home Office officials on 20th May. They then advised me that the Recovered Assets Fund—RAF—can use seized criminal assets, including funds retrieved from traffickers, for a number of initiatives. Presently, the RAF is used, among other things, to support anti-drug initiatives through the funding of projects linked to the drugs White Paper, Tackling Drugs to Build a Better Britain. I understand that the police would support the direct use of recovered assets to establish a fund for victims of trafficking, but recognise that that would require a change in legislation. The police would therefore support appropriate applications to the Recovered Assets Fund as a means of benefiting victims of trafficking in lieu of a change in legislation.

In a letter dated today, the Minister of State, Beverley Hughes, says in relation to the RAF:


    "Consideration will be given to including a specific reference to anti-trafficking initiatives",

in future RAF funding rounds. But as a minimum, could not the Minister underline that assurance and ensure that the Recovered Assets Fund could be used to support anti-trafficking initiatives and specifically to fund agencies to provide secure accommodation, advice and assistance to victims of trafficking in the future?

I also raised with the Home Office how much it spends on anti-trafficking initiatives and what percentage of total Home Office expenditure that represents. The Minister was unable to give me any figures in her reply. Although she stated:


    "We are currently looking at appropriate funding for all these strands",

it is difficult for us in your Lordships' House to have an informed debate about what is needed when the figures are simply not forthcoming. Perhaps today the Minister can tell us what Her Majesty's Government are spending on anti-trafficking initiatives and what percentage of total Home Office expenditure that represents.

Perhaps it is too simple, but if assets are being recovered from trafficking gangs, why should not they be utilised to help the very same people who have been exploited by those gangs? The Home Office have advised me that people-trafficking victims can claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, yet so many of them have irregular immigration status, false documents, false passports and so on that that really is not possible. Irregular immigration status means that unless they immediately co-operate with the police they will be subject to deportation; hence they are not in a position to instruct a lawyer to prepare a CICA claim. That is wholly unrealistic and I am sure that the Minister knows that.

25 Jun 2002 : Column 1224

In conclusion, the organisation to which the victims will be looking for support must be adequately funded to meet an ever-increasing need. My amendment seeks to achieve that without seeking recourse to the hard-pressed funds of taxpayers. I beg to move.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, I rise to support the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Alton and in doing so want to draw attention to the needs of those who have been trafficked. Some will be discovered in this country possibly by the police or immigration services. Others will have escaped—perhaps not a large number—and therefore may not yet have come to the attention of the special services. It is widely agreed that all those people require a period of reflection so that they can become slightly established in this country, can recover from their bad experiences and, one hopes, will be able to give evidence against those who transported, exploited and abused them.

In order for such a period of reflection to be effective, safe houses are required; places where people can live for a short period and sort themselves out. That is the kind of use which my noble friend is indicating as being highly appropriate for the money that has been or will be recovered. I hope that those comments reflect the strongest possible support for my noble friend's amendment.


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