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Lord Hylton: Before the noble Lord replies, it seems to me that the Government should write to each Member of the Committee who has raised these points today. In addition to the points so far raised, they should say whether any of the children have been recovered in this country.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I appreciate the extreme concern that has been raised by Members of the Committee. Of course, I undertake to write to Members addressing the issues raised and to provide available information. I give that commitment.
Lord Alton of Liverpool: That would be helpful to the Committee. Following the meeting that we had at the Home Office, the noble and learned Lord provided some information at that time about the numbers. I want to put that on the record. My question is: do we have any further information about whether any additional children have disappeared? We are talking about approximately 70 children. The real point made by my noble friend, supporting the point made by the noble Baroness, is: what do we know about what has happened to the children? What can that teach us now about what to do about trafficked children? We cannot just lose 70 children who were in our care and learning nothing.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The noble Lord is right. He will also appreciate that I was not privy to the discussions that he had with my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer. Obviously, we shall continue to keep the noble Lord updated. That must be right. The noble Lord is also right that we should learn from this, as, no doubt, West Sussex County Council is learning a great deal from its experiences to date because it has an important responsibility.
Turning now to the point that I was making about support for victims, the whole point of the pilot project for adults, to which I referred, is to give women a safe environment in which they can make informed decisions about co-operating with authorities and
There have been calls today for an automatic reflection period for victims of trafficking. The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, in particular, made that point. The pilot project for adults includes a period to enable women to make an informed decision on whether to co-operate with police. Children have different considerations and will not be returned to their countries of origin unless robust arrangements have been put in place for their safety.
Obviously this is a difficult and highly sensitive area. It is true that the Government have consistently rejected proposals for a statutory reflection period for adults or children because we think that that is inflexible. Furthermore, in some circumstances it could act as an incentive for trafficking. We continue to be aware of and concerned about some of those approaches.
The police are already engaged in major operations to tackle traffickers. Alongside legislation, we have already put in place enforcement structures to support those operations. The Reflex task force co-ordinates intelligence and operations against trafficking and smuggling. Using intelligence to mount proactive operations can help to avoid an onus being put on victims to provide testimony, in recognition of the fact that often they are too intimidated to do so. The current high-profile Operation Maxim, which involves joint police and Immigration Service operations against trafficking in London, shows a high level of commitment to tackling this evil and exploitative crime.
I hope that, with the exception of some of our exchanges on West Sussex County Council, I have assured noble Lords, and in particular the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, that these new offences are much needed. I hope, too, that noble Lords will feel able to withdraw their opposition to Clauses 61 to 63 standing part of the Bill.
The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, asked about trafficking for purposes other than sexual exploitation. The noble Lord rightly deserves a response to his question. Work is in progress on developing an offence of trafficking for labour exploitation. As yet no legislative vehicle has been identified for taking that forward, but it is very much work in progress. We recognise the importance of the point made by the noble Lord, but as I am sure he will appreciate, it is outside the scope of the Bill we are now considering.
I hope that I have been able to address all the issues and concerns that have been raised. We recognise the seriousness and the sensitivity of this area. The Government have a policy and a strategy to tackle these difficult issues and of course we are extremely grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in this
Lord Monson: Further to a question I raised a few minutes ago, can the noble Lord kindly confirm that the clauses we are discussing, Clauses 61, 62 and 63, embrace the trafficking of adults and are not confined to the trafficking of children, as some noble Lords seem to imagine?
The effect, however, of Clause 64in particular subsection (1)(e)is to provide for anything done outside England and Wales and Northern Ireland. Paragraph (e) refers specifically to those two parts of the United Kingdom even though Clauses 61 to 63 extend to actions which arrange or facilitate trafficking into the United Kingdom, which could be anywhere within the United Kingdom; trafficking within the United Kingdom, which could be in Scotland; or trafficking out of the United Kingdom, which could be done from Scotland. Those are to be offences by virtue of having been committed outside
The matter goes further because Clause 64(2) applies to anything done in the United Kingdom by a body incorporated under the law of a part of the United Kingdomthat is to say it encompasses a company incorporated under the law of Scotland and an individual to whom subsection (3) applies. That of course extends to a British citizen. The word "British" appears throughout.
I fully understand and support the thrust of Clauses 61 to 63. It is intended to deal with an international problem which affects the whole of the United Kingdom and extends beyond its boundaries. I am concerned about the way in which the matter is to be dealt with by the criminal courts. In normal circumstances, where conduct is carried out within a part of the United Kingdom which has its own system of criminal justice, the courts there are seized of that matterthat is to say, it is perfectly possible for conduct of a kind which would fall within, for instance, Clause 62 to be carried out by a person who is resident in Scotland and who arranges or facilitates travel within Scotland by a person with the intention set out in the clause.
As I understand it, the effect of Clause 127, combined with Clause 64(1)(e), would make that an offence which would be justiciable not before the Scottish courts but before the courts of England and Wales or of Northern Ireland. The Committee will understand that the Scottish courts have their own system of criminal law and, indeed, of evidence in relation to that criminal law.
It would appear that what has happened is that what is sometimes called the "nationality principle" has been used to extend the criminal jurisdiction of the English and Northern Irish courts in a manner that I find unique. I may be corrected on this. I have always thought that offences which are intended to be dealt with on a United Kingdom basis and to extend to conduct abroad by British citizens or, indeed, by companies incorporated under the law of any part of the United Kingdom, would be dealt with according to where that conduct took place by the particular courts within the United Kingdom where that conduct took place. The noble and learned Lord will be aware that there are quite a number of cases in which Scotland has, as it were, been part of the criminal jurisdiction process by which such offences are dealt with in the United Kingdom.
Taking the matter further, I am certainly aware of circumstances in which, for instance, in a Bill which extends only to England and Wales, there may be an undertaking that complementary Scottish legislation will be brought forward to run parallel with the provisions for the similar offences in England and Wales or, indeed, in Northern Ireland. That is not apparently what is in mind. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord will let me know whether it is intended that the Scottish Parliament should pass similar provisions for offences of the character which are set out in Clauses 61 to 63 in order to enable the Scottish courts to have a similar jurisdiction to that which has been accorded the courts in England and Wales and Northern Ireland.
I think I have made it abundantly clear what my concern is. What appears to be done here is to arrogate to the English courts and the courts in Northern Ireland conduct which was not carried out within the boundaries of their jurisdiction by use of the subsection to which I draw attention and in a way which, so far as I can discover, is perhaps not necessarily unique but certainly unusual. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord will let me know about that. In circumstances in which one is dealing with the nationality principle, I find it very strange indeed that it has not been thought appropriate to bring within the content of Part 1 of the Bill offences which would apply to all the criminal jurisdictions within the United Kingdom but to only two out of the three. I beg to move.
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