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UK Parliament publishes first Modern Slavery Statement

20 July 2021

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The UK Parliament has published its first Modern Slavery Statement, which outlines the steps it has taken to understand potential modern slavery risks, and to prevent slavery and human trafficking within Parliament’s supply chains.

The UK Parliament is committed to tackling modern slavery, and fully supports the Government’s objectives to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking. The Modern Slavery Statement reinforces this commitment and details the steps Parliament has taken to ensure that there is no place for such abuse in its workforce and supply chains. A new statement will be published each year to report on the progress of work in this area.

Modern slavery is a serious and organised crime that can destroy communities and cause significant harm to victims. Through the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain, people can be coerced and forced into providing a service to others. It is a crime that affects people of all ages, genders and ethnicities, and is a violation of fundamental human rights.

It is estimated that there are approximately 40 million people living in slavery across the world, many producing the goods and services bought every day. In 2013, the Home Office estimated there were over 10 thousand potential victims of modern slavery in the UK alone. The Walk Free Foundation’s latest Global Slavery Index, released in July 2018, estimated there were 136,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK. Research has also shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of the prevalence of modern slavery.

Parliament is committed to ensuring that taxpayers’ money does not inadvertently fund this criminal activity and to protecting vulnerable workers in its own supply chains from exploitation or harm. The Speakers of both Houses have recognised this work as a significant area of importance for Parliament.

Parliament’s Modern Slavery Programme was established in 2020 to drive forward its commitment to tackling modern slavery. An External Advisory Group has also been set up to work with Parliament to share best practice and support its continuous improvement in relation to its work on modern slavery. Specialists on the group worked with Parliament to inform the content of the statement.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, said:

“Modern day slavery has no place in the House of Commons, our contracts or supply chains.

“It is an invidious, exploitative crime that preys on the vulnerable and those who do not have a voice. 

“I am very pleased Parliament is taking action to outlaw this awful practice which damages people and communities. We fully expect all our suppliers to ensure no stone remains unturned until they are certain this violation of human rights is outlawed.” 

The Lord Speaker, Lord McFall of Alcluith, said:

“Modern slavery is an abhorrent practice. That’s why it’s right that Parliament’s new policy will work to root it out at every part of the supply chain and at every level of the workforce.

“I’m pleased that the House of Lords, working closely alongside the Commons, will help play its part in helping eradicate it, by expecting nothing but the highest standards of practice from our suppliers.”  

Chair of the External Advisory Group, Lord Field of Birkenhead said:

“I am very pleased to see the work Parliament has undertaken to tackle possible slavery in its supply chains. This is a subject I first raised with Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle before the last election, and it is fantastic to see the work both Houses have done to recognise and address the issue of modern slavery over the past year. I fully support the work that has been done so far, and the publication of Parliament’s first Modern Slavery Statement is an important step in protecting vulnerable people from being exploited.”

The full statement can be found here. Constructive feedback on the statement and the work Parliament is undertaking is welcome and can be shared with modernslaveryinfo@parliament.uk.