HC Deb 06 June 1996 vol 278 cc705-6
5. Mr. David Evans

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many false documents were discovered per week in 1995 in the United Kingdom being used by people trying to enter the United Kingdom illegally. [30365]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Timothy Kirkhope)

During 1995, a total of 4,486 forged or falsified travel documents were detected by immigration officers at United Kingdom ports and airports of entry, an average of 86 detections each week.

Mr. Evans

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. Is he aware that the British people are sick and tired of immigrants who pay nothing and take everything? Does he agree with me that it is time that immigrants paid tax for five years before they can use the health service or take social security benefits? After all, students have to take out loans and pay for their education. Why cannot immigrants do the same? We know that the lot opposite, if they ever got into power, would let everybody in, and the taxpayer would foot the bill.

Mr. Kirkhope

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his robust remarks. It is important to remember that people who come to this country legally find it highly offensive that some people use bogus documents to try to enter the country and thereby take social security benefits and jobs that should be available for those who are here legally. I also congratulate members of the immigration service's national forgery section and the national intelligence section on their work. Many people come from all over the world to see how they work because we have an excellent detection service to prevent abuses of the system.

We are concerned about forged credentials of all kinds. Indeed, we should all be concerned about the Labour party's forged credentials on crime, because, frankly, with such credentials, no one can trust it.

Mr. Henderson

Does the Minister not think that there is a contradiction between his stated desire to get rid of bogus documents and his reply to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans), and the Government's policy in the Asylum and Immigration Bill, clause 8 of which introduces provisions that mean that employers will have to recognise up to 40 new documents when they make their checks? Will that not create a forgers charter, in that all the people who are currently making money out of preparing forged immigration documents will now be forging employment documents? The Government should withdraw clause 8 if they genuinely want to get rid of forgery in the context of immigration.

Mr. Kirkhope

If only the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues had been a little more supportive of the Government in this vital aspect of legislation, we might be able to deal with some of the abuses rather more effectively. We want to ensure that people who do not have the proper documentation that entitles them to work should not benefit from the economy of this country. I hope that the Labour party will start to think more carefully about what benefits from the economy should be available to people who are in this country legally and to good employers.

Mr. Whittingdale

Does my hon. Friend agree that it will be possible to detect people who are attempting to enter this country using false documents only if we continue to check such documents at the point of entry? Will he confirm that the Government will not in any circumstances accept any attempt by the European Commission to remove our border controls?

Mr. Kirkhope

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. We are extremely effective in detecting forged documents, but it is vital that we maintain our present controls to make sure that illegality is stamped out.