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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Filkin): My Lords, on behalf of my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, I beg to move the Motion standing in his name on the Order Paper.
Clauses 1 to 3, Schedule 1, Clauses 4 to 6, Schedule 2, Clause 7, Schedule 3, Clause 8, Schedule 4, Clause 9, Schedule 5, Clause 10, Schedule 6, Clause 11, Schedule 7, Clauses 12 and 13, Schedule 8, Clauses 14 to 20, Schedule 9, Clauses 21 to 34, Schedule 10, Clauses 35 to 50, Schedule 11, Clauses 51 and 52, Schedule 12, Clause 53, Schedule 13, Clauses 54 to 71, Schedule 14, Clauses 72 to 102,
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Schedule 15, Clause 103 to 107, Schedule 16, Clause 108, Schedule 17, Clauses 109 to 111.(Lord Filkin.)
This Bill has been produced by the Law Commission jointly with the Scottish Law Commission and makes progress in the modernisation of the statute book. I am sure that the House will wish to join me in expressing appreciation for the work of the two Law Commissions on this Bill.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I have tabled Amendment No. 1 to give the Government the opportunity to put on the record their reconsidered response to earlier amendments that I tabled in Committee and on Report. Those amendments reflected the concern that had been raised with Members of this House by the Refugee Children's Consortium.
The concern can be simply stated. Is Clause 4 sufficiently broad to cover all cases involving children? Does the clause, which deals with trafficking, cover the situation where a request or inducement, force, threat or deception, is made to person A, an adult, but person
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B, a child, is exploited? Does it cover situations where the child may not be conscious of what is happening to them?
To be guilty of trafficking under this clause, a person must arrange or facilitate the arrival of another person in the United Kingdom and intend to exploit that person, or believe that another person intends to do so. Thus the definition of "exploitation" is central to proving the offence.
I have always accepted that the Government do not intend that there should be any lacuna. We have been working as one on this matter. However, it appeared that the gap was as follows. Children may not be subject to treatment amounting to slavery or forced labour. They could therefore not satisfy the definition of exploitation in Clause 4(4)(a). Children may not be trafficked for their organs; thus they may not satisfy the definition in subsection 4(b). As for subsection 4(c), the threat of violence may not be made to the child: the parent may be told that the child will be harmed. The parent may be asked to agree that the child become involved in an activity, and no one may ask the child anything at all. Thus it would appear that those who traffick in children may escape prosecution under this clause.
Following our debates on Report on 18 May, I understand that the Government have had further discussions behind the scenes with the Refugee Children's Consortium. I understand that the Minister may now be in a position to put on record the Government's further statement on their understanding of the term "inducement" in the context of this clause.
If the Minister is able to do so and can demonstrate that the clause makes it clear that children do not need to be conscious of what is happening to them, then I anticipate that I shall most certainly, and with great pleasure, be able to withdraw this amendment. For the time being, however, I beg to move.
The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): My Lords, I certainly hope that I can satisfy the points made by the noble Baroness. As she said, Amendment No. 1 relates to the circumstances in which a person is exploited for the purposes of Clause 4 and, in particular, the meaning of the words "induced" and "inducement" in subsection (4)(d).
The definition of "exploitation" in subsection (4) is crucial to these offences. We have already had substantial debate on the drafting of this subsection, to ensure that the clause captures all the cases where a person is truly exploited.
The debates have been very useful and constructive. I did not participate in them but, before assisting my noble friend, I was fully updated and briefed on what was happening to the Bill. There is no difference between us that it is important that the offence covers those who prey on the vulnerable. That is why we amended the clause on Report in another place to add subsection (4), which states that a person is exploited if,
Amendment No. 1 seeks to ensure that the terms "induced" and "inducement" in subsection (4)(d) are broad enough to cover the circumstances where the victim is not aware of what he is being encouraged to do. This is very important in the case of young children, who may not understand what they are being encouraged to do but who may nevertheless be susceptible to persuasion.
We are satisfied that the ordinary meaning of the word "inducement" is such that a person may be induced to do something notwithstanding his not being fully aware of what he is being induced to do. We therefore consider that subsection (4)(d) as drafted can apply in cases involving very young children, who may not be fully aware of the situation, of their actions, and of what it is they are being encouraged to do.
Amendment No. 2 also deals with the rights of victims of trafficking. As we understand it, the concern here is that Clause 4 offences may, as drafted, allow for the prosecution and conviction of the victims of trafficking in cases where a person arrives in the United Kingdom believing that another person will exploit him, but who none the less, in an attempt to escape his own country, agrees to come.
I am aware that there has been some constructive correspondence on this issue between my noble friend Lady Scotland and the noble Lord, Lord Hylton. I am happy to be able to offer the same explanation and reassurances which my noble friend has given in that correspondence.
We are absolutely in agreement that the offence in Clause 4 should not be used to prosecute those who themselves are victims of trafficking. However, we consider it to be implicit in the drafting of Clause 4 that the accused and the victim must be two different people. The wording of Clause 4 is not appropriate to describe arrangements made by oneself for oneself. Further, it should be borne in mind that criminal offences are strictly constructed in the defendant's favour. We therefore consider that the clause as drafted is sufficiently clear to ensure that the victims of trafficking will not be prosecuted for or convicted of the offences in the clause. Consequently, we do not consider that Amendment No. 2 is necessary.
I hope that explanation, together with the correspondence which has passed between the Home Office, the concerned bodies, and noble Lords is sufficient for the noble Baroness to feel that I have met the obligations and that she does not need to proceed with this amendment.
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