Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Hylton: My Lords, we now know where we are. It is not sufficient for the Minister to say that she utterly deplores these practices. We are seeking from the Government some means of preventing such practices from happening--by spot checks, by many different means, I do not know.

As for saying that my amendments would place people in a privileged position, after what they have endured that is small recompense. As for repeating what has been said over and over again, that while they are here with the first employer they enjoy the protection of the law, that is a dead letter. It is just not enforceable. It is not available to the people who are suffering these abuses.

1 Jul 1996 : Column 1288

As for extensions of stay, that may provide some opportunity to exercise legal rights, but I am much more interested in preventing abuses from ever happening. I should make it clear that when I moved Amendment No. 7, I spoke also to Amendment No. 8. I wish to take the opinion of the House.

8.19 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 7) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 90; Not-Contents, 76.

Division No. 3


Addington, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Avebury, L.
Barnett, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
David, B.
Dean of Beswick, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Ewing of Kirkford, L.
Falkender, B.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Fisher of Rednal, B.
Gallacher, L.
Geraint, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Grey, E.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howell, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hylton, L. [Teller.]
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kennet, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lovell-Davis, L.
McCarthy, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNair, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Methuen, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Monkswell, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Ogmore, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Rea, L.
Richard, L.
Robson of Kiddington, B.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Russell, E. [Teller.]
Sandwich, E.
Seear, B.
Sefton of Garston, L.
Sewel, L.
Shepherd, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thurso, V.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
White, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Winston, L.


Addison, V.
Ailsa, M.
Aldington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Biddulph, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Blyth, L.
Boardman, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chesham, L. [Teller.]
Clark of Kempston, L.
Courtown, E.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B.
Digby, L.
Dilhorne, V.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Downshire, M.
Dudley, B.
Elton, L.
Feldman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Gibson-Watt, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Harlech, L.
Harmsworth, L.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Henley, L.
Hertford, M.
Hesketh, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Howe, E.
Inglewood, L.
Kimball, L.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Leigh, L.
Lindsay, E.
Lucas, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Macpherson of Drumochter, L.
Marlesford, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monk Bretton, L.
Mountevans, L.
Napier and Ettrick, L.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Peel, E.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rawlings, B.
Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Rodney, L.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Strange, B.
Strathclyde, L. [Teller.]
Tebbit, L.
Teviot, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trumpington, B.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wakeham, L.
Wise, L.
Wynford, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

1 Jul 1996 : Column 1289

8.27 p.m.

Lord Hylton moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 6, line 24, at end insert--
("(1A) Nothing in this section applies to an employee who was employed as a domestic worker and in respect of whom a police officer, doctor or solicitor has certified that he has previously suffered substantial physical abuse or deprivation, or serious economic exploitation, arising from previous bonded employment.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 9 not moved.]

Earl Russell moved Amendment No. 10:

Page 7, line 13, at end insert--
("( ) Any employer who invokes this section in order to refuse employment to a person protected by subsection (2) shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
( ) Any employer who invokes this section in order to refuse employment to a British subject shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, Amendment No. 10 deals with the effects of Clause 8. Throughout we have argued that it will be a severe deterrent to employing people, especially black British people. If there is a threat put on employers one way, which I do not welcome, there must equally be a threat the other way; otherwise it will produce all the types of case I have already outlined of failure to employ black British and a worsening of race relations. I beg to move.

1 Jul 1996 : Column 1290

8.30 p.m.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, perhaps I may say at the outset that I have an enormous respect for the noble Earl and I suspect that noble Lords opposite will support him on this amendment. However, I wish that noble Lords opposite had been as much against racketeering in the United Kingdom as they appear to be against racketeering abroad. I have spent a great deal of time at the Dispatch Box trying to persuade noble Lords to support us in our attempts to take measures against racketeering in this country.

These amendments before the House create new criminal offences in Clause 8 which seek to take extra-territorial jurisdiction.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Minister must not make assumptions about what Members of the Opposition think. We have not spoken on the amendment and I did not propose to do so. She must make no assumptions about our attitude.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, perhaps I may be forgiven for making those assumptions because at previous stages of the Bill the noble Lord has shown some sympathy for measures which provide extra-territorial jurisdiction. This is not the first time that this matter has been before the House.

As I say, I should have more respect for the amendments had the noble Earl supported the Government in their attempts to deal with racketeering. Frankly, racketeering, wherever it takes place, is something up with which we should not put.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I have pressed the Government hard for proper financing of the Serious Fraud Office and I have not got it.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, we have put two very practical measures in the Bill designed to do something about those who exploit the most vulnerable people in this country. We could not look to the noble Earl for support of that nor could we look to other noble Lords opposite for their support. Therefore, I find the amendment before the House very strange indeed.

The amendment would create two further criminal offences within Clause 8. It would become an offence: to invoke Clause 8 in order to refuse to employ a person "protected by subsection (2)"; and to invoke Clause 8 in order to refuse to employ a British subject.

The intention behind the amendment, as I understand it, is to deal with the concerns outlined by the noble Earl during Report stage--not today because he seems to be in something of a hurry--about cases where employers have, in recent years, misunderstood the entitlement to work of a range of people who were in fact entitled to work in the United Kingdom.

I certainly do not want to deny that mistakes have been made by employers in assessing eligibility to work. However, I do think it is misleading to suggest that those errors imply that employers will not be able to carry out the checks which they may wish to make as a result of the provisions of Clause 8.

1 Jul 1996 : Column 1291

At the moment there is inevitably some confusion. However, common sense suggests that the position will be very different once Clause 8 is enacted. It will be a straightforward matter for all employers to make any necessary checks of documents in the future because the Government will be providing employers with written guidance and a helpline facility, neither of which exists at present. The sorts of misunderstandings about eligibility to work which sometimes occur at the moment without such advice should not be taken to mean that employers will not be able to understand passport endorsements, where this is necessary, when clear guidance is available to them.

I find it difficult to envisage that employers will in the future refuse jobs to people who have provided them with one of the specified documents because of Clause 8. Clause 8 will provide a reason for asking for some documentation from all potential employees. And failure to provide any of the specified documents will provide a reasonable justification for refusing to take on a potential employee. But, when relevant documentation has been produced, there is no reason to refuse employment because of Clause 8. The guidance and helpline facility should guarantee this.

Even those who are British need to be prepared to produce one of the specified documents to back up their claim to be able to work. A documented National Insurance number, a British passport, a British birth certificate or a certificate of registration or naturalisation would all be satisfactory documents to establish that no offence would be committed in relation to the holder of the document concerned. It would be entirely unreasonable to render employers liable to a criminal offence if they are not prepared to offer employment to British people who do not produce one of the specified documents and who cite Clause 8 as the reason. Noble Lords opposite profess to be concerned about employers. In view of that, I find these amendments quite outrageous.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page