« David Cameron champions green eating in speech to farmers | Main | Fox: 'Contract' with armed services is broken »


Human trafficking is not slavery. People being "trafficked" are doing so voluntarily and are paying for an illegal service. They are criminals not victims.

Thanks for the link to the Amazing Grace trailer, it looks like the most interesting film of the year!

Wonderful to see the Conservatives taking the lead on all this.

Kit, I suggest you read up on what is meant by human trafficking as I'm afraid your comment as it stands is at best cold-hearted and ignorant.

Human trafficking is the movement of people by means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them.

The UN describes trafficking as a form of "slavery". It knows of victims from 127 countries and of their exploitation in 137.

Major destinations for victims include wealthy countries in Western Europe, North America, and the Middle East.

Women are involved in 77% of trafficking cases worldwide, with sexual exploitation a factor in 87%. Forced labour is also a motive behind trafficking." - BBC guide to Human Trafficking

More "government by international treaty", then, as if we haven't already got more than enough of that grinding down our democracy to utter meaninglessness.

I share your lack of enthusiasm for meaningless international treaties Denis, but this convention has a clear and binding policy that will benefit some shamefully exploited people.

The Deputy Editor is exactly right, and I am very pleased to see the Conservatives taking a lead on this issue. This present day slavery has been ignored for too long. Since we're recommending films, I would suggest people see Lilya-4-Ever (2002). It's about a Russian girl forced into sex slavery in Sweden, and it's probably the most heart-breaking film I've ever watched.

Davis' proposals show that tackling traditional Conservative issues like crime and immigration does not entail being cruel or heartless. I hope this is a sign of things to come in DC's "modern, compassionate conservativism".

How fortunate for Cameron that Wilberforce was a Tory. The vast majority of anti-slavers were radical Whigs and without WW, Cameron's claim to ideological descent from the "good guys" would look rather thin.

I wonder what evidence there is to suggest that Wilberforce's ideas had any significent support among Tories of his day. Other than Samuel Johnson, nobody comes instantly to mind.

There is, of course, a major problem in defining "Tory". Pitt the Younger, always regarded as head of a "Tory" administration, always professed himself to be a Whig.

No membership cards in those days.

Sorry Deputy, I stand corrected.
Why trafficking with humans should have a different meaning from trafficking other goods is beyond me. I will make a mental note the modern term for slavery is human trafficking - I must be getting old!

Why trafficking with humans should have a different meaning from trafficking other goods is beyond me.

Presumably I spent an hour this morning being stuck in a slave jam?

Actually, thinking about it, perhaps I did....

No worries Kit, I probably should have defined it in the post.

Deputy Editor, every day I see more examples of how international treaties bind us in ways which were not generally anticipated when we signed them, often so that we end up having to do the most stupid things "to meet our international obligations". It's a fundamental principle of our constitution that one Parliament may not bind another, but that is exactly what has been happening through the mechanism of international treaties. By all means do whatever is needed to help people caught up in trafficking, but do not bind the hands of future governments and Parliaments by ratifying yet another international treaty.

A very welcome and well thought out intervention from David Davies both as regards the Convention and the need for better border security.
O/T if anything defines a troll the posting from Tory Loyalist above is a model. As wikipedia definition goes "posting messages that are inflammatory, insulting, or off-topic, with the intent of provoking a reaction from others"

Playing the man not the ball again, are we Ted?

Care to explain how my message is inflammatory, whom it insults, and in what way you consider it to be off-topic?

I consider it to be of very great historical importance to discuss how and why a Tory with many ultra-conservative personal views became the leader of the greatest progressive political movement of his day.

Sad that you apparently have nothing of value to contribute.

Delighted to see the Conservatives taking a strong and honourable lead by making ratification of the convention party policy. The government's procrastination over the matter has made it look indifferent to the plight of victims caught up in this trade. Human trafficking is primarily a human rights and criminal justice issue, not an immigration one.

Kit wrote: "Why trafficking with humans should have a different meaning from trafficking other goods is beyond me. I will make a mental note the modern term for slavery is human trafficking."

The reason why they have a different meaning Kit is because there are qualitative differences between human beings and 'other goods'(!). Goods do not have a will which can be duped or coerced into carrying out activities against their wishes.

One final point (and I do not wish to appear pedantic but it is important to make the distinction) trafficking is not the modern term for slavery. Trafficking is a form of slavery but slavery still exists in many other forms (e.g. bonded labour) throughout the world.

So the Royal Mail can have stamps on abolition of slavery and the politicians can get all self-righteous...............but where are the stamps for The Mines Acts and Factories Acts which prohibited Child Labour ?

Anyone would think these events took place as people lived lifes of conspicuous affluence in Britain rather than toil in mills and hope the Poorhouse was not their next home

I would like to point out that the Slave Trade Act of 1807 was solely an Act of the UK Parliament. It can be read here: http://www.pdavis.nl/Legis_06.htm

It did not "end the slave trade in the UK", as David Davis puts it, insofar as it had been established over three decades before, in 1772, that slavery was and always had been illegal in England, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Somersett ; it made it illegal to trade in slaves anywhere in the British Empire, with a range of penalties laid down by law.

If British courts later developed case law which interpreted that statute in ways which had never been intended when it was passed, and which were seen as damaging or undesirable, Parliament had the exclusive power to pass another Act to clarify the position and bring the judges back into line.

In contrast, the "Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings" is an international treaty promoted by the Council of Europe, and final interpretation of its provisions would be made by the European Court of Human Rights.

While it would need to be ratified by the UK Parliament to be implemented in British law, Parliament could not later go back and unilaterally revise the text of the Convention when it was found that the case law of the ECHR meant that it was now operating in damaging or undesirable ways.

So on the one hand we have Tories trying to pick up votes by saying that we should repeal the Human Rights Act and restore Parliamentary supremacy (although repeal of that Act would not itself have that effect), and on the other hand we have David Davis trying to pick up votes by urging that Parliament should be further bound by crazy decisions made by the judges on Planet Strasbourg.

The issue Denis Cooper raises is one which I anticipated when I advocated this policy elsewhere on this site recently. The stock of the ECHR is currently low amongst some sections of the public and there is a need to differentiate between it and the trafficking convention.

It should to be borne in mind that the trafficking convention deals with more than just victims' rights. It also covers measures to prevent trafficking and reduce demand, stipulations regarding substantive anti-trafficking law (the UK has already complied with this), investigation of trafficking crimes etc. There are also other provisions where the UK is leading the way in Europe, e.g. we recently set up the UK Human Trafficking Centre (ukhtc.org) which is the first of its kind in Europe.

Signing up to the trafficking convention will not alter the fact that we will continue to be subject to the decisions of Strasbourg judges and the provisions of the Human Rights Act. Issues surrounding the ECHR should not distract from the urgent need to protect victims of some of the most horrific human rights abuses taking place in Britain today.

You can check out the convention at:

I looked at it earlier, and it's clear that it would only be a matter of time before the ECHR started deciding that the UK was not applying it properly in this or that respect and should change its law, whatever Parliament or the electorate thought.

What's the point of voting in elections if politicians keep taking power away from the electorate and handing (or more exactly delegating) it to one international body or another? Why does David Davis even want to become Home Secretary?

And needless to say, this involves not only the Council of Europe, but also the EU. There's even this note attached at the end:

"Note by the Secretariat: See the Declaration formulated by the European Community and the Member States of the European Union upon the adoption of the Convention by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, on 3 May 2005:"

"The European Community/European Union and its Member States reaffirm that their objective in requesting the inclusion of a “disconnection clause” is to take account of the institutional structure of the Union when acceding to international conventions, in particular in case of transfer of sovereign powers from the Member States to the Community."


We should do whatever is appropriate to combat trafficking through UK law, passed by the UK Parliament, and subsequently unilaterally amendable by the UK Parliament, without tying the hands of Parliament by ratifying a Convention which will be interpreted by the ECHR and probably also the ECJ.

Surely the Conservatives are being hypocrital. In two recent House of Lords debates on modern day slavery and asylum and immigration, the Conservative benches were empty apart from one solitary spokesperson.

I would have thought it was obvious that if people are being trafficked across borders then you have to seek international co-operation and treaties to deal with this horrific problem.
In the days of slavery there was much cruelty in many countrys but I do not go along with TomTom when he seems to think that the cruelty that went on here in the factories etc is anymore cruel or warrants our attention more than the cruelty of slavery.

Yes, Jack, you do seek international co-operation, but not through treaties which effectively curtail the supremacy of Parliament and undermine our democracy. So by all means send the Council of Europe a letter explaining that the UK will seek to abide by the principles laid down in the Convention, but if anybody is going to judge its actions in that regard it should be British courts, without reference to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, or that of the European Court of Justice, and therefore the UK will not be formally ratifying the Convention.


It is important to recall how far we have come in a relatively short space of time.
FWIW my mother used to tell me tales of the poverty which people endured during her childhood: children coming to school with no shoes, the fear that you might end up in the workhouse; my father can still remeber Jarrow Marchers as they arrived in London.

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker