Immigration

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 1st November 2010.

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Photo of Stephen Mosley Stephen Mosley Conservative, City of Chester 2:30 pm, 1st November 2010

How many immigrants entered the UK in the most recent period for which figures are available.

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Minister for Immigration

A total of 528,000 long-term migrants entered the UK in 2009, according to the most recent figures from the international passenger survey. Of these, 437,000 were non-UK nationals. IPS figures do not include asylum seekers, those who have arrived from Northern Ireland, and those who change their original intentions and therefore alter their length of stay. Final detailed figures for 2009 will be published on 25 November.

Photo of Stephen Mosley Stephen Mosley Conservative, City of Chester

I understand that my hon. Friend has recently been to Heathrow to see our front-line border controls in action. Will he give the House his assessment of the quality of our current systems to detect illegal entry into the UK at the first port of call?

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Minister for Immigration

We do have a comprehensive border protection framework, provided not just by the UK Border Agency but by the police and other agencies. The whole House will recognise that there will be an increase in passenger journeys and freight volume, and in the use of ever more sophisticated technologies by those who have malicious intent of either illegal immigration or, even worse, terrorism. That is one reason why we are setting up a new border police command within the new national crime agency, which will enhance our existing capacity to protect our borders.

Photo of Phil Woolas Phil Woolas Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth

I thank the Minister for that straightforward answer. On 27 February, he told the House in relation to border control that we would become increasingly dependent on technology. In table A.6 in the spending review document, we see that there is to be a 49% reduction in capital investment in the Home Office's budget. Is he confident that he has the resources to provide the kit needed to protect our borders at airports and ports from illegal immigration and, given the events of the past few days, from potentially dangerous weapons and other attacks?

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Minister for Immigration

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on being appointed to my old job by the Leader of the Opposition. I did it for four and a half years and I can say with complete sincerity that I hope he does it for even longer.

Yes is the answer to the very serious question that the hon. Gentleman asks. He has been intimately involved in this subject for some years, so he will be pleased to know that the e-Borders system will continue, I hope in an improved way, under our new arrangements, and that other areas of capital spending such as the integrated casework project will also continue so that we use technology and the experience of our border officers to keep our borders safe.