SNP Shadow Foreign Secretary, Alyn Smith MP, has welcomed today’s confirmation from the UK government that firms profiting through slavery in China will be liable for hefty fines.
The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, set out the measures, which introduces punishment in the form of fines for companies that turnover more than £36 million who fail to publish what action they have taken to ensure slavery plays no part in their supply chains.
The move comes after widespread reports of Uighur enslavement in Xinjiang, including forced sterilisation, slave labour, and mass internment.
Commenting, Alyn Smith MP said:
‘I welcome this action, which follows harrowing reports of extreme abuse and human rights violations that have come out of Xinjiang. These practices have no place in a modern world, and countries and firms who turn a blind eye should be held to account.
‘Whilst I welcome the commitment to imposing fines on UK companies that do not take seriously their obligations in this area, there are assurances that we need from the Foreign Secretary. Consumers will expect these fines to be sufficient in order to focus corporate minds, and deter negligence leading to supporting slave labour.
‘I also welcome the move to exclude firms that aren’t compliant from government contract procurement. However, these measures must also reach out to umbrella groups of companies, as often this is how individual firms operate internationally.
‘This is about championing human rights and fighting against modern slavery. It’s also about the integrity of our market, and the confidence that UK consumers can have in purchasing goods here.
‘I will continue to work constructively with the UK government on matters such as this, and I do welcome the firm action that has been announced. However, there is room for these measures to go further, and I hope that the Foreign Secretary will consider that carefully.’