§ 9. Mr. Fabricant
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the current rules regarding residence rights for nationals of countries which are not members of the European economic area.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Nicholas Baker)
Rights of residence under the EC treaty apply only to EEA nationals and their accompanying family members. Our policy is to restrict severely the number of third-country nationals coming to live permanently or to work in the United Kingdom. We keep the effectiveness of that policy under review.
§ Mr. Fabricant
Will my hon. Friend join me in applauding the United Kingdom immigration service for the work that it does? Does he agree that other EU countries may not be quite so stringent as us on immigration? Does he further agree that Churchill's reference to the "soft underbelly of Europe" possibly still applies? Will he ensure that the immigration service continues to maintain controls on people entering the United Kingdom from outside and within the EU?
§ Mr. Baker
I echo my hon. Friend's praise for the immigration service. I assure him that the Government's position on immigration controls is clear. In line with our interpretation of article 7A of the EC treaty, we are determined to maintain full immigration controls at our ports and airports on third-country nationals arriving from other EU member states. Frontier-based immigration controls on third country nationals are supported by a light passport or identity card check on EEA nationals.