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Annas story is especially harrowing. Her nightmare began in eastern Europe when her father sold her into the sex trade when she was aged 18. Alone, frightened and very vulnerable, she was shipped to Italy, where she was kept prisoner for seven months. From there she was smuggled into the UK in a lorry and then transported to London. Her life became a living hell as she became a sex slave and was required to service 30 to 40 clients every day for five agonising years. She badly wanted to plead with her clients for help, but her traffickers threatened to kill her if ever she told anyone. To show Anna that they were serious, they beat her without mercy, breaking her arm, and then raped her repeatedly. Surely some of the clients must have sensed that she was there under duressbut they clearly did not care. Finally, Anna escaped, but she will never escape the haunting memories or the physical and emotional scars, which she will carry for ever.
It is reckoned that 50 per cent of this trade is fuelled by the demand created through adverts in our local newspapers. If the newspapers cannot put their houses in order, surely carefully crafted legislation should be put in place to outlaw such advertisements. Can the Minister comment on this suggestion?
Two years ago everything changed. I was trafficked by a man who forced me to work on the streets, beating me up, force feeding me and turning me into someone with no mind of my own. I had become like a frightened rabbit. I was terrified that he would kill me. Death often felt like my only way to escape. But I survived; I escaped and am now working for the campaign entitled Stop the Traffik. Trafficking isnt a distant crime. Its right here. Its on your doorstep.
Another tragedy concerns a boy of 12 called Masud. His parents were tricked into thinking that their son would have a better life and greater opportunities if he were taken out of his home country of Bangladesh.
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Then there was the gang of human traffickers, brothel keepers and pimps who received substantial jail terms over the ordeal of a teenage girl tricked into travelling to the UK for sexual slavery. Their Slovakian victim had cried in court as she described spending nearly a year and a half working in prostitution after being lured to Britain at the age of 16 with the promise of a job in a pub. She was sold from owner to owner, raped, beaten and threatened. Six men received sentences of up to 14 years each for what the judge called a terrible story of betrayal. The men were jailed for a total of 53 years for trafficking the Slovakian teenager into the UK. The judge said that the teenager, unable to speak English and in a strange country with no friends, would have been in terrible fear of what would happen if she did not co-operate.
Prostitution is on the increase, which may be one reason for the increase in trafficking. A recent estimate suggested that one in 10 men uses women in prostitution. I gave a lecture on this subject in Atlanta, Georgia, at the end of which I was asked whether I had any suggestions as to how these mens lives could be changed. The people in Atlanta had tried everythingbringing in laws and trying to persuade or shame the menbut nothing worked. I was not quite sure what to say; this was a secular audience. Then I remembered the noble Lords, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port and Lord Roberts of Llandudnogreat Methodist ministers. I remembered that John and Charles Wesley had visited Atlanta, Georgia and had had a profound influence on the activities of the people there. I also remembered what a significant change they had produced in this country. Peoples behaviour changed dramatically, turning a violent and unpleasant society into a rather wholesome and attractive land. So I left the people at the lecture pondering whether the same thing could happen today.
A reduction in prostitution should lead to a reduction in trafficking. A countrys response to prostitution has a direct effect, first, on the amount of trafficking and, secondly, on where the women practise. In the UK, they are mainly indoors but in Holland, Germany and Italy they are usually out on the streets. In Australia and Holland, the introduction of legislation has not succeeded in bringing prostitution within a safe, regulated environment because unregulated prostitution has persisted and unfortunately those countries have become more attractive for trafficking. However, Amsterdam is taking firm action and is now closing significant portions of the red light district in an attempt to tackle organised crime and human trafficking.
Following an initiative in the United States, the United Kingdom police have tried to reduce trafficking by a different approach to those caught soliciting.
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There have been some encouraging developments in countries such as Sweden, which was the first to criminalise the demand side of prostitution. Those who buy sex are prosecuted rather than those who sell it. The Swedish Government reasoned that prostitution reproduces gender inequality and they wished to promote equality of men and women and eradicate gender inequality. The Governments ultimate aim is to abolish prostitution altogether. The effect in Sweden is that human trafficking has been significantly reduced. Norway has now taken this approach as well.
In London, 81 per cent of women in brothels are from abroad and it is highly likely that they have been trafficked, which means that most of the activity in these brothels constitutes rape. The Home Office recently piloted a poster campaign with a picture of a brothel and a slogan underneath:
One may debate whether criminalising prostitution is an infringement on the civil liberties of women in voluntary prostitution and their would-be clients, but there should be no debate at all about those who are not volunteers but are forced into prostitution. In the debate on the Queens Speech, the Leader of the House of Commons and Minister for Women and Equality said that the Governments proposal to criminalise men who pay for sex with trafficked women was needed because the sex industry had been taken over by serious and organised crime. Doubts have been expressed by a senior police officer, who said that the new law would be difficult to enforce, but is that a good enough reason for allowing the bias against women to persist, as it has done for thousands of years? The bias against women needs to be addressed and the Governments attempt to deal with it is to be welcomed. It will help to reduce human trafficking, which must be eliminated.
Lord Puttnam: My Lords, I apologise to the House for diving in and out all day. I have been attending and speaking at a government conference organised many months ago. I apologise and will not delay the House long.
I pay tribute to the extraordinary speech of the noble Lord, Lord McColl. For three years, from 2002-05, in my capacity as president of UNICEF UK, I did almost nothing but deal with issues revolving around child traffickingusually child sex trafficking. It changes you; it changes you a great deal as it is shattering. It left me with two overwhelming feelings. I have a problem even saying this but it left me with a kind of disgust at my own sex. Clearly it is 99.9 per cent a
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The other factor is the economic one. It is a vast business. I have looked at that UNICEF figure many times. Every 30 seconds, a child is trafficked. The other terrible thing is that I came to hate the name uncle. The House will be stunned by how much of this ghastly trade is carried out by relatives. The name uncle crops up time and again when looking for the perpetrator, the trafficker, the organiser or the profiteer. These are things that we all have to reflect on very deeply. I thought the noble Lords speech was marvellous. I am proud to have been here to listen to it.
That was not the subject that I was going to touch on. Noble Lords as old as me will remember that after Housewives Choice there was five minutes of a story, a hymn and a prayer. I will be speaking for about five minutes, and there will be no hymn and not much of a story, but there is a reflection and a question I want to put to the House and the Minister. We are living at a moment of extraordinary opportunity. One of the disappointments in reading the media in the past three or four months and in looking at a lot of the activity taking place is that there seems to be a feeling that if we could just push things back to the way they were in 2006, all would be well. I do not want things to go back to the way they were in 2006. Much of what was happening in 2006 was rotten. I hope that we can take advantage of the opportunity presented to us to reappraise, reassess and recalibrate what the future might look like.
One word becomes overwhelmingly important. It is trust. This is as much an issue for Her Majestys Opposition and the Liberal Democrats as for the Government. In politics, we are no longer in a position to afford one scintilla of mistrust creeping out from what we do, the decisions we make or the thinking that lies behind them. Trust has moved from being a desirable aspect of what we do to being the entire ball of wax. For the past 11 years, my job has been visiting schools up and down the countryI have visited more than 400 of themand engaging with teachers and young people. My question is, from where are we going to rebuild trust? On what basis are we going to create a new relationship with young people? How are we going to help teachers to encourage the children in their care to believe in civil society?
I made a short list as I was waiting to speak. The banks have turned out to be institutions we can no longer trust. I have recently had an incident, which I shall pursue elsewhere, with Barclays Bank, as a result of which I read the FSAs paper Treating Customers FairlyTowards Fair Outcomes for Consumers, which was published in July 2006. When read alongside the events of the past three months, that document takes on a Monty Python aspect. There is no relationship between what the FSA believed banks should do and what banks relationship with the public should be, and the reality that has unfolded during the past few months.
The police, who have at times behaved in the most extraordinarily intemperate way, as we all know, have done their job in terms of beginning to break down trust. I am not sure that I dare any more to say to a child, Dont worry about it. Just go and see a policeman, and if I say that to a teenager, I get a very old-fashioned look. The media have come up several times in this debate. The media treat trust as a fungible. It is a matter of convenience. The noble Lord, Lord McColl, asked a good question. What do they think they are doing running advertisements when they know exactly what the result of those advertisements is and exactly what they are encouraging punters to do?
So, we cannot trust the media, we are having problems with the police, and we can no longer trust the banks. Thank God for head teachers and doctors, although they survive purely on the fact that their reputations are so strong that they are able to deal with the worst depredations of the media; the media take plenty of pot-shots at doctors and head teachers. What can civil society do? My noble friend Lord Griffiths mentioned that the Government intend to give new powers to teachers and head teachers. They do not really need powers; they need the support of the whole of civil society to create a bedrock from which they can begin to produce a generation of young people who will reject the values of the past five, 10 or 20 even years and build something better. Why? Because the world that these young people will inhabit will be infinitely more difficult than ours. They will deal with problems, such as climate change, that we have barely scratched the surface of. It will be a completely different world. Equipping young people with the agility, flexibility, imagination and courage to deal with that world is an enormous task. It is not a question of giving teachers the powers to do that; it is a question of civil society getting behind those to whom we look to do that and to give them the encouragement, the self-belief and, most of all, the sense that we all know what we are asking of them and that we will back them to the hilt.
CORESS is a private initiative that is shortly, I hope, to become a charity. It was originally conceived by a group of surgeons who are or have been aviators, and is modelled on a successful and well established body in the aviation industry. Its purpose is to receive entirely anonymous reports from surgeons of near misses in their surgical procedures where an accident has fortunately been avoided. The one condition is that there must be no litigation or criminal proceedings. If the condition is met, an advisory panel examines the report and issues its own comments on the case. These comments are then placed in the public domain and the anonymityor, to use a word that is fortunately not yet in the English dictionary, disidentificationof the surgeon is preserved. This enables the reporter to share his experience with colleagues.
CORESS is still in its early stages, but the feedback is that members of the surgical profession find these shared experiences to be of considerable value. I should
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I could not be present for the start of the debate because, as chairman of CORESS, I was hosting a seminar that brought together other near-miss bodies, representing such diverse activities as aviation, to which I have just referred, marine and civil engineering, and outdoor activities such as rock climbing and potholing. I suggest that surgery is a valuable addition to this near-miss culture, for want of a better word, and I hope that the Minister will welcome this initiative when he replies.
Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope: My Lords, it has been a fascinating day. The prize for capturing the essence of the days debate must go to the noble Lord, Lord Baker of Dorking, and his use of the epithet mingle-mangle. He is a poet, so he has an advantage over the rest of us, but he has obviously been deeply psychologically affected by his strict disciplinarian times in the Cabinet of the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher. Modern Liberal Democrats speak about four things at once, so it is natural practice. Indeed, they normally all speak at once while discussing four things at once, so mingle-mangle is a way of life. I would therefore like to think that I have no difficulty trying to summate a debate of this kind.
The noble Lord, Lord Darzi, started off the debate well by setting out four themes that the Government are trying to pursue, and I shall try to follow them in the course of my short remarks. I have to say, however, that the oxymoron of the debate came from him when he described himself as a humble surgeon. I have never met a humble surgeon in my life, but the more I get to know him the more I think that he might just qualify. It would be an exceptional position for him to hold, but he is an exceptional person and we are grateful for the way in which he started the debate.
I should be careful, however, because the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, will follow me and therefore has a right to reply. I have come to know and love him over many hours in the welfare reform area of public policy. Recently, when I introduced him at a conference, it came to me in a moment that the noble Lord is the Duracell bunny. He is the long-life toy that never stops. As your Lordships watch Christmas advertising and the Duracell advert comes on the television, you will always think of the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie of Luton. You are welcome to that observation, which is the least he deserves.
This has been an extraordinarily good debate. The conjunction of the four subjects, important policy areas that they are, captures what successful, multidisciplinary modern government should be about. If we cannot as a House look at these things across a broader canvas, how can we expect government to be effective in delivering services? If quality of public services, which was the first test and theme suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Darzi, is to be developed, we have to expect departments to work together in a complex way.
The noble Lord, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, made a powerful contribution. He said that the disjunction between policy, the legal statutory process and provisions differs a lot in many cases from the practice at the sharp end. We must not forget that implementation of public policy is just as important as the legislative starting point. Legislation has to be right, but even successful legislation can go wrong in its implementation. This House will have to spend more time, if that is possible, looking at some of those practicalities.
We have looked at equality of public services. A number of distinguished speeches captured the importance of that, particularly in public health. All I would add is that I hope that the department and the Government will pay careful attention to the groundbreaking report produced by Dame Carol Black earlier this year, to which the Government have just responded. It weaves so well into the rest of the health agenda that was so ably set out in the Ministers opening speech.
Noble Lords talked about well-being in a wider sense and said that a holistic, less medical model is the way forward. There were some powerful speeches about worklessness. Well-being in worklessness is one of the easiest ways to get people back into work because their confidence increases. It is not about just the skills agenda, to which I will turn later, it is also about the health support mechanisms that people often need to get them to the starting line of the labour market. We need to introduce this as a result of this Queens Speech if we can.
The second theme suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Darzi, was help for the deprived. There were some powerful speeches, including that of my noble friend Lady Thomas. Welfare reform is very important. My noble friend asked some important questions on the deployment of welfare reform. Creaming and parking in some of these new innovative contracts that are just coming through with the flexible New Deal will need to be watched carefully, not because the policy is wrong, but because implementation could hurt people if it is not discharged properly. We need to focus on that powerfully.
The right reverend Prelate made a compelling speech about low pay. The no pay, low pay cycle is a very destructive one for households to get into. We have a very bad record of low pay in this country compared to our sister European nations, despite our new Prime Minister who, for all his political life, has tried to make a point about high productivity and higher pay. After even 10 years of our Labour Government dealing with low pay, we have a very bad record. The cycle of people falling out of benefit into low pay, back into benefit, back into low pay, is very destructive on the confidence that you need to get to establish the well-being I was talking about a moment ago.
Another point about the welfare-to-work proposals that was not directly alluded to is the need to support people in work. Once they have a contract of employment even for temporary, low-paid work, employers need support so that they can help their employees need to develop talents and creativity and so get sustainable, fulfilling work. This is something our American colleagues call the ABCany job, a better job, a career. The acronym describes exactly what the policy needs to achieve if it is to be successful in the long term.
There was some discussion from colleagues about child poverty and the three measures for it, two of which are absolutely relative. They rise as the economy grows, should it ever do so again in the near future. Colleagues often forget that the uprating system used year after year, although unusually not this year, links benefit increases close to price rises but always leaves the benefit community a few fractions of a percentage point behind. Our system of uprating builds in relative inequality and reduces the efficacy of policies designed to deal with child poverty. We need £3 billion in the next uprating statement to get anywhere near the Governments own target by 2010. That is a serious challenge in the current financial circumstances.
The theme of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Darzi, was rights and responsibilities. I am not an expert in the area, but the equality Bill is welcome. My noble friend Lady Walmsley made a powerful point when she said that we must ensure that the under-18s are covered by the legislation. She is absolutely right because it is a potentially powerful tool for dealing with multiple deprivation. Such deprivation compounds the problems encountered by households in financial distress. If the Bill is framed properly so that it can be used as a powerful lever, it could help enormously in dealing with the agenda of inequality. I look forward to embracing the under-18s in the provisions of the Bill when we come to consider them.
The provision of personalised services is an important new dimension in the delivery of public services. The older I get, the more I think that a one-size-fits-all policy does not work. The textbook says that you should put a public service in place and assume that everyone is equally capable of taking advantage of it. That is not true because many people in communities with multiple deprivation just do not get to the starting line in terms of taking up some public services. Educated middle-class people always can, and that is good, but I put the rhetorical question: is it safe simply to put provisions on the statute book and assume that everyone will be better off? I am coming to the conclusion that, while it is a hard thing to do, positive discrimination for the disadvantaged parts of our communities in each public service area might be something we look at. If that is what the Government mean by personalised support, I agree absolutely that it is worth trying to achieve such an aim in the short to medium term.
The powerful speeches of the noble Lords, Lord McColl and Lord Puttnam, both strayed slightly beyond the strict agenda of the Queens Speech, but were none the worse for that. Trust is something we should all be concerned about, and it is not at all a party political point. It is a reputational issue for the House. Actually, since I joined it, this House has been doing quite well. Perhaps I should not go as far as saying that. However, we can take a leading role in addressing the reputational issue for politics, and indeed I hope that we will do so in the coming year. The year after next will be a political year because there will be an election. In my experience, no one does anything sensible in an election year. We have the next 12 months in which to try to sort out these issues. There is no point in hiding from them.
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