My Lords, I rise in support of Amendment 98A of the noble Lord, Lord Alton. If the requirement for those companies in the category whereby they are obliged to prepare and submit a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year of the organisation is to be meaningful and effective, a central repository for statements makes infinite sense. The office of the Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner—the commissioner-designate, Kevin Hyland—is fully supportive of this proposal. A central repository for companies to be able to upload a human trafficking and slavery statement would be an effective way in which to assist with monitoring compliance and public accountability, and it is to be welcomed.
In order for leadership in companies to take this seriously, this amendment is important. It would require companies to include a fair summary of the statement and the web address of the full statement to be included within the directors’ report. This would not be unduly onerous for companies. The upside for companies is that such a duty would prove their due diligence and that it is a matter of real ethical concern to them. That makes for a more attractive proposition to investors and encourages a healthy competition to eradicate the blight of modern-day slavery, which can only be a good thing.
I hope that the Minister, my noble friend Lord Bates, who we all know has been working tirelessly on the Bill for many weeks, will be able to accept this amendment. It enjoys cross-party support as well as support from wider civil society and the commissioner-designate.