HC Deb 27 October 2003 vol 412 cc113-4WS
22. Laura Moffatt

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will make a statement on the development of UK border controls in Northern France. [134179]

Beverley Hughes

The introduction of UK Border Controls in northern France should be viewed in the context of a wider package of measures, developed in close co-operation with the French government, aimed at reducing illegal immigration. The closure of Sangatte, for example, which 67,000 people passed through in the last three years, has also had a major impact, reducing illegal immigration into the UK and ensuring that fewer potential illegal immigrants are drawn to Northern France.

In this context we are pleased with the further steps we are taking, in co-operation with the French, in extending UK Border Controls in France. Such controls have proved effective in the past in relation to rail routes, stopping many illegal immigrants before they reach the UK. Since August 2002 we have had UK immigration officers in Calais acting in an advisory capacity to the Police Aux Frontieres, and in February we agreed a treaty which will enable these officers to exercise their full powers at Calais and Dunkerque. This treaty will be implemented shortly. Boulogne will follow when services to the UK begin in spring next year.

In addition to juxtaposed border controls we are also loaning UK personnel-detection technology to Calais port. As a result the port now has the capacity to screen 100 per cent. of freight traffic embarking to the UK. We intend to roll out similar technology to other UK-serving ports in northern France in the New Year.