Last week I was delighted to welcome Oliver Letwin MP to Lancaster to meet with local business leaders.
As Minister for Government Policy, one of Oliver’s responsibilities is to look at ensuring there is a joined up government approach across different departments, while at the same time overseeing the development of new policies.
He was keen to discuss with representatives from a wide range of businesses what they thought would be helpful in terms of further deregulation and support because it is vital we get the right conditions for new and established businesses if we are to continue to grow the economy.
Last Saturday I spoke at Lancaster University to the North West Soroptomists on the Modern Slavery Bill, which I actually think would be better renamed the Modern Anti Slavery Bill!
The issue of people trafficking is something soroptomists have been campaigning on for some time and it was great to be able to explain that government was moving on this issue through the means of a bill.
This year should see increased penalties, better cross agency working, extra duties in terms of responding to this issue and more support for the victims. What is appalling is the scale of this problem.
The 2012 official figures showing 1,186 potential victims of human trafficking being referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), a 25 per cent increase on the number of referrals in 2011.
Of these, 786 were females and 400 were males; 815 were adults and 371 were children.
And of course these are only the ones we know about, so my thanks to the soroptomists for their ongoing campaigning to highlight this issue and watch this space as this important bill will come before Parliament this year.
As always, please contact me if I can be of any help.
I represent everyone that lives in Lancaster regardless of how or whether you vote.
My contact details are below.
Phone: 0207 219 7096 or 01995 672975
Write: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA or 59 High Street, Great Eccleston, Lancs, PR3 0YB.