§ 3.19 p.m.
§ Read a third time.
§ Clause 4 [Trafficking people for exploitation]:
( ) For the purposes of subsection (4)(d), inducement includes situations where the person may not be aware of what he is being encouraged to do.
§ 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,he is requested or induced to undertake any activity, having been chosen as the subject of the request or inducement on the grounds that—671
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.
- he is mentally or physically ill or disabled, he is young or he has a family relationship with a person, and
- a person without the illness, disability, youth or family relationship would be likely to refuse the request or resist the inducement".
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.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, with the leave of the House, may I ask the noble Lord to enlarge a little on what he said about Amendment No. 1?
He seemed to imply that the word "induced" means that the subsection covers people who do not understand what it is they are being induced to do. I 672 do not understand that. We all know what "induced" means. The grounds on which subsection (4)(i) and (ii) rely do not include what the noble Lord has said. They do not include the possibility that the person does not understand what they are being induced to do. I think that it is stretching language a little far to say that the clause actually says that. Is the noble Lord certain of that? If he is not, will he make certain before the Bill goes back to the House of Commons?
§ Earl Attlee
My Lords, may I take the opportunity to remind the House that we are at Third Reading?
§ Lord Rooker
My Lords, I am more than happy to take advice on that. Since the debate started, this matter has been looked at by lawyers. We are satisfied that the ordinary meaning of the word "inducement" is such that a person may be induced to do something, notwithstanding the fact that that person is not fully aware of what it is he is being induced to do.
That may sound convoluted, but that legal jargonߞif I may put it that way without being pejorative— would stand up in court in the way I have explained. The Bill will obviously go back o the other place, but this is Third Reading in this House.
§ Baroness Anelay of St Johns
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. My noble friend Lady Carnegy was right to try to make even clearer the commitment the Government are giving today.
It may look to some outside the House as if this is angels dancing on the head of a pin, but we do need to get the number of angels right. The interpretation of this clause must be robust enough to stand up to legal challenge. I am grateful to the Minister, and I hope that is what he has managed to achieve in his further explanation today.
The Minister has referred to Home Office letters which have been whizzing round. They did not whiz round the ordinary Post Office system because some have still not arrived. However, with the good will of the Bill team, they have certainly been whizzing their way round the electronic systems by email. Perhaps I may put on record my thanks to the Bill team for doing that over the weekend. It has meant that we have been able to foreshorten proceedings today. Yesterday I was able to withdraw two of my amendments that otherwise might have taken some considerable time in a list that is already rather long for today. So, with that explanation, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 2 not moved.]
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ After Clause 8, insert the following new clause—