Stirling SNP MP Alyn Smith has called on the UK government to audit UK companies who may be involved in – or profit from – slave labour.
The call comes following revelations from the BBC of the extent of Uighur slave labour in the cotton farming industry in China.
In a statement, the UK government indicated that UK businesses had a responsibility to carry out their own due diligence over how their operations do or do not profit from slavery. In the Commons, Mr Smith welcomed the remarks but urged the government to go further, saying:
“The BBC has shown up the Government’s inaction in auditing UK companies’ involvement in and potential profiting from slavery, so I repeat my call for a Government audit of UK companies involved in this.”
Commenting, Alyn Smith MP said:
“We have found that there is common ground within the Commons – across all parties – for serious action to be taken to ensure that UK businesses do not profit from slavery, and that UK consumers do not unwittingly buy into it.
“The BBC has begun to reveal just how serious the slavery situation is in China, and the need for much more decisive action.
“Whilst I recognise that there are plans to strengthen the laws around. Requiring businesses to report how they identify modern slavery, clearly more has to be done.
“A full government audit would give us a better understanding of who profits out of what and where.
“My constituents would want to know if the cotton products they were wearing came as a result of barbaric slavery in China, and knowing that would give government the chance to impose sanctions on such companies, and consumers the chance to ‘vote with their feet’.”
Exchange between Alyn Smith MP and Foreign office minister Nigel Adams: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2020-12-16a.291.0&s=speaker%3A25848#g294.2