Parliamentary Briefing: Immigration Bill Lords Committee Stage

January, 2016
Caroline Robinson

This briefing covers three key areas relating to Part One of the Immigration Bill
1.    The Director of Labour Market Enforcement
2.    The Offence of Illegal Working
3.    New Government amendments in response to the Consultation - ‘Tackling Exploitation in the Labour Market’ 

FLEX believes that labour inspection and enforcement is key to preventing modern slavery. Whilst FLEX supports the establishment of a Director of Labour Market Enforcement to coordinate labour inspection efforts, the central role of the UK labour inspectorates in preventing exploitation risks being undermined by a politically motivated Director who lacks a clear mandate. The victims of modern slavery with whom FLEX works express deep fear and distrust of authorities as well as a real concern for immigration repercussions should they come forward. The Clause 8 Offence of Illegal Working will exacerbate such fears and play in to the hands of traffickers who seek to exploit and coerce vulnerable individuals in to exploitation. Finally the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority is recognised as a best practice model worldwide. The Government is now proposing reducing its licensing role by introducing ‘flexibility’ in licensing despite just 19% of respondents to a recent Government consultation on labour exploitation supporting such moves. Further amendments requiring the GLA to carry out its functions in accordance with the Director’s strategy mean that its role as a Non-Departmental Public Body and the expertise it has developed as an independent authority is severely threatened.