Border Exit Checks

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 5th January 2015.

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Photo of Jennifer Willott Jennifer Willott Liberal Democrat, Cardiff Central 2:30 pm, 5th January 2015

What progress her Department has made on implementing exit checks at borders.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Government are on track to deliver their commitment to introduce exit checks on scheduled commercial international air, sea and rail routes by April 2015.

Photo of Jennifer Willott Jennifer Willott Liberal Democrat, Cardiff Central

It is clear that exit checks, which were scrapped by the previous Labour Government, are a critical part of any competent immigration system. I know that progress has been made, but how sure is the Home Secretary that she will hit the target of 100% exit checks by March?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

As I indicated in my original answer, we are on track to ensure that we have exit checks in place by April 2015. My right hon. Friend is absolutely right to mention the significance of exit checks in the immigration system, and I would like to pay tribute to my right hon. Friends the Minister for Government Policy and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Minister for Schools who have together been supporting the Home Office to ensure that we can meet our commitment.

Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Labour, Stockton North

Given the situation at our border in Calais, does the Home Secretary regret scrapping fingerprinting, which used to help us to identify and deport those who were trying to enter our country illegally night after night?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

We are doing a great deal of work with the French authorities in relation to the situation at Calais. The hon. Gentleman mentions fingerprinting, and it is important that those who are coming to Calais and trying to get across to the United Kingdom should be fingerprinted when they first enter the European Union. In most cases, they are coming in through Italy.

Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Shadow Minister (Health)

But what is the Home Secretary doing to identify the 50,00 failed asylum seekers that the Public Accounts Committee has said her Department has failed to identify?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I think it is a bit rich for Labour Members to stand up in the Chamber and complain about the immigration system when many of the problems that we are dealing with have been inherited from the last Labour Government’s failed immigration policy.

Photo of James Paice James Paice Conservative, South East Cambridgeshire

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the problem of illegal immigrants does not exist only in the locale of Calais? There is ample evidence that many of them are getting into lorries as far afield as Spain, and this is particularly affecting lorries bringing fresh food into this country, as their whole load has to be condemned when the immigrants are discovered. Is she aware that our retail sector is becoming increasingly worried about fresh food supplies? Will she meet me and representatives of the industry to discuss ways of getting on top of this issue?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am certainly happy for either I or the Immigration Minister to meet my right hon. Friend and representatives of the industry. We are aware of this issue, and we are looking to introduce an improved ability to identify people in lorries when they pass through our juxtaposed controls in Calais, but as my right hon. Friend has said, the problem is that those people are often getting into the lorries further afield. Also, even if we find them at Calais, the load is still considered to have been damaged and contaminated.