HC Deb 06 June 1996 vol 278 cc711-2
11. Mr. Dykes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he next intends to discuss developments in the Schengen agreement treaty procedures with his EU counterparts from the relevant participating member states. [30272]

Mr. Howard

I frequently discuss developments in Schengen when I meet my European Union counterparts, and I make it plain that the United Kingdom has no intention of signing the convention as it would be inconsistent with the maintenance of our frontier controls.

Mr. Dykes

Will my right hon. and learned Friend bear in mind the fact, that, once we have the strict original entry control procedures for the common Community frontier and the proper Europol arrangements for intelligence information sharing, he will have no reason to have such a lack of self-confidence in his attitude to the excellent Schengen agreement? This country should keep an open mind about the agreement and join it. Pending that, will my right hon. and learned Friend reconsider the bureaucratic, cumbersome and slow entry procedures for many entrants at our ports, especially Dover, where it is much slower for foot passengers than for motorists?

Mr. Howard

I certainly disagree with the first part of my hon. Friend's question. We have natural advantages in frontier control because we are an island, and we have absolutely no intention whatever of dismantling those controls or doing away with them, whatever improvements may be made in the external frontier of the European Union. Our intention is in sharp contrast with the policies of the Liberal Democrats especially, and also with the Labour party.

On the second part of my hon. Friend's question, the present procedures that are in place in Dover are no more than are necessary to ensure the existence of effective controls.