Marlyn Glen MSP

Speech in the Scottish Parliament

Migration and Trafficking

23 February 2011

 It was over a year ago that the Equal Opportunities Committee decided to hold an inquiry into migration and trafficking.

During the inquiry we heard from more than 50 witnesses at 11 meetings and took evidence from 25 migrants, who had come to Scotland from all over the world.

We have published a report that runs to more than 150 pages and reached more than140 conclusions.

Despite that, we agree that we have probably only scratched the surface; these are truly huge issues.

A great deal of work continues to be done.

As we have heard, the Equality and Human Rights Commission is undertaking an inquiry into human trafficking.

Also, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People has commissioned research into the prevalence and nature of child trafficking.

It will be published next month.

We therefore suggest that our successor committee might want to take further evidence on those issues as an important follow-up in the next session of Parliament.

We hope that our report will help to inform work that will be done in the next session and has helped the debate on migration and trafficking more generally.

We hope that it will help make a difference.

Given what we heard in evidence, we hope that it will help bring people round the table to work together, because, unfortunately, it is clear that there are barriers to effective working between levels of government and agencies on both issues.

A lack of concerted effort and co-operation has an impact not only on individual migrants and the victims of trafficking but on our society as a whole.

I welcome the cabinet secretary’s recognition of the importance of partnership working.

As has been said, Scotland must be involved in developing migration and trafficking policies if we are to ensure that policies are well informed and we can deliver the services that we need for all our population.

We must have resources in place to provide information and support to those who choose to come to work or study here.

At the moment, many migrants are floundering because the services are not in place.

They tend to find out things from their local communities, because they do not know where else to turn.

Many migrants bring skills and experience with them to Scotland—and not only in football, which Stuart McMillan used as his main example.

Despite that, we are turning many away because we do not accept the qualifications that they already have.

Migrants therefore take unskilled jobs or they take their skills and experience elsewhere, and Scotland is put at an economic disadvantage.

We are also concerned about the lack of engagement between Scottish employers and the Migration Advisory Committee.

There needs to be much better engagement to ensure that the most accurate and up-to-date information is available, so that Scotland is best placed to address skills shortages.

How the media cover the subject of migration is also crucial, as Elaine Smith, Bill Kidd and others outlined.

As for trafficking, I echo Malcolm Chisholm and commend the report and findings of the anti-trafficking monitoring group, "Wrong kind of victim?", which the committee found most useful in its deliberations.

We agreed with much of the report, especially in relation to the national referral mechanism, on which we have made a number of recommendations.

I also want to mention the important role played by support agencies such as TARA and the Poppy project, which gave evidence, in identifying and supporting women who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Victims must be able to access support services in Scotland, and yet we heard evidence that suggested that some were having to go to England for such services because they are not available here.

Scotland must be able to provide appropriate services, which should include the provision of 24-hour residential services and the availability of translation and legal representation.

The report expresses the serious concerns shared by Jim Hume, Richard Baker and others about the complete lack of prosecutions for trafficking.

We hope to see progress on that in the near future.

I believe that the committee’s inquiry has made a major contribution to the on-going debate in relation to migration and trafficking.

I sincerely hope that it will help to eliminate some of the myths about migration.

As Christina McKelvie said, we politicians have a responsibility to ensure that people are aware of the facts and of the positive contributions that migrants make to our economy and our society.

We need to be aware of the issues and the facts, so that we can help and not hinder.

We also have a role to play in helping migrants in our communities engage with the political process, so that their voices can be heard and positive change can happen.

As has been said, we also need to do much more to tackle trafficking to ensure that Scotland is not seen as a soft touch for traffickers.

We need to ensure that we have the penalties and procedures in place to act as a deterrent, and we need the UK Government and its agencies to co-operate fully.

This has been a useful and timely debate, although it was rather short.

I sincerely hope that it helps to make a difference to people’s lives.


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