Clandestine Migrants (Harwich)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 3:35 pm on 8th June 2015.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 3:35 pm, 8th June 2015

I thank my hon. Friend for the manner in which he has approached this issue. I know of the direct stance he has taken in visiting the port and ensuring that he represents his constituents effectively. He makes a powerful point about the pitiful sight of those discovered in these four lorries and about how those seeking to exploit migrants really have no care or consideration—even at times as to whether these people will live or die. That is the callous and harsh reality of the organised crime groups to which we are responding. That is also why it is right that we have enforcement activity both in this country, leveraging with the work of the National Crime Agency, and with other European partners.

My hon. Friend highlights his concerns about the immediate aftermath of the detection, and this has certainly been a very significant detection of illicit migrants, although we have worked hard across the whole of the juxtaposed and other port controls, with just over 39,000 detections being made last year. That shows the vigilance and hard work of Border Force—both in country and elsewhere.

My hon. Friend highlights the need to work internationally, which is certainly what we are doing with the Dutch and others, and asks why people are claiming asylum here rather than in other countries. I would point to that fact that, last year, there were 200,000 asylum claims in Germany—much more than the approximately 30,000 we saw in this country—and 81,000 in Sweden and 63,000 in France. A large majority of asylum claimants are thus going to other European countries rather than here. I can certainly assure my hon. Friend on the work that Border Force is undertaking and the work we will continue to do to secure our border, using technology and flexibly deploying our resources in respect of intelligence where we need it, and ensuring that we are doing all we can to secure our border.