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Government rejects series of BEIS Committee recommendations to prevent Xinjiang slave labour in UK supply chains

10 June 2021

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has today [Thursday] published the Government’s response to the BEIS Committee’s Uyghur forced labour in Xinjiang and UK value chains (which was published on 17th March 2021).

The Government’s response refuses to commit to clear timeframes and substantive actions in response to the majority of the original BEIS Committee report’s recommendations on areas such as strengthening the Modern Slavery Act 2015, enhancing the transparency and accessibility of modern slavery statements and developing options for civil penalties in the event of non-compliance.

These issues are picked up in a letter from Darren Jones, BEIS Committee Chair, and Nusrat Ghani MP (Conservative MP for Wealden and lead BEIS Committee member for the Forced labour in UK value chains inquiry) to Paul Scully, BEIS Minister, expressing the BEIS Committee’s disappointment that the Government has rejected many of the Committee’s recommendations.

Nusrat Ghani's comment

Commenting on the Government response, Nusrat Ghani MP (Conservative MP for Wealden and lead BEIS Committee member for the Forced labour in UK value chains inquiry) said:

“The Government’s response to the BEIS Committee’s forced labour report is deeply disheartening. Given the horrifying evidence of abuses, it beggars belief the Government is dragging its feet in bringing forward the tough action needed to help to tackle the exploitation of forced labour in Xinjiang.

“The BEIS Committee’s original report [in March] brought forward a series of practical recommendations to ensure every effort is made to stamp out profiteering from these abuses. There continues to be a disturbing lack of coherence and urgency in the Business department’s work on forced labour. The Government’s response fails to provide reassurance to customers that they aren’t contributing to supply chains tainted by modern slavery and lets down British businesses who are trying to do the right thing and ensure their supply chains don’t profit from forced labour. At the very least you would expect the Government to ensure that its procurement process is free of slave labour and I will push for a Uyghur genocide Government Procurement black-list.

“I urge the Government to think again, revisit the report's recommendations, and give these serious matters the prominence they deserve.”

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