Tony Blair says the government will consider extending the Gangmaster Bill to cover the construction industry

Tony Blair has promised proposals for the gangmasters legislation to be extended to cover the construction industry will be taken seriously.

Speaking at Prime Ministers Questions (PMQs), Blair said the government would “consider carefully” extending the regulations.

Labour MP Jim Sheridan introduced a 'ten minute rule' private Members Bill on Wednesday that will ensure an extension to the existing Gangmasters Bill is put before Parliament for consideration. Ten minute rule Bills allow a minister ten minutes to introduce a proposed change to legislation in the House of Commons. Introducing a ten minute rule Bill does not guarantee it will be made law, but it is a chance to communicate issues to the House.

During PMQs, Stephen Hepburn, also a Labour MP, posed a question in support of Sheridan’s Bill: “Is the Prime Minister aware of the terrible impact that gangmasters are having on the construction industry in this country, with intimidation, violence and illegal deduction of earnings? Will he join us in outlawing such activity?”

The Prime Minister responded: “We will certainly consider carefully what is in the private Member's Bill. My honorary friend will know that we have already introduced certain protections. It is fair to say that concerns remain about the activities of some gangmasters, and it is important that we keep the matter under review.”

Blair stopped short of committing to the Bill, but his support is likely to strengthen Sheridan’s proposal.

The Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 regulates the supply of workers to the agricultural, horticultural and shellfish industries. The trade unions say that unregistered gangmasters previously working in those fields have now moved into the construction industry.