HC Deb 18 March 2002 vol 382 cc96-7W
Mr. Matins

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with the French authorities about illegal immigrants invading Eurotunnel property; and if he will make a statement. [43032]

Angela Eagle

[holding answer 14 March 2002]: Illegal immigration through the channel tunnel is a problem shared by France and the United Kingdom (UK) and we are working closely to prevent unauthorised access both to the tunnel and its surrounding areas.

There have been no large-scale invasions into the Eurotunnel terminal at Coquelles since December 2001 but a number of incursions have recently been made into SNCF's adjoining rail freight yard at Frethun. The Government is extremely concerned about problems over security at the Frethun terminal and the effect this is having on freight traffic and UK businesses and trade.

My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and the Home Secretary have all raised the problems at Frethun with their French opposite numbers. The French Government have now given a commitment rapidly to increase police presence at the Frethun site. For their part, the SNCF have embarked on a programme for improving security, representing an investment of £3 million, which includes new higher perimeter fencing with anti-intrusion devices, infra-red barriers, surveillance cameras, additional floodlights and a new surveillance post. These improvements aim to provide a similar level of security to that already put in place at the Eurotunnel site following earlier discussions. Joint work on the situation in Northern France and its underlying causes continues at both Ministerial and official level.