Border Management (Calais)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:36 pm on 24th June 2015.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 12:36 pm, 24th June 2015

As the Home Secretary rightly says, the situation in Calais has been caused by a wider humanitarian issue across the whole of the Mediterranean and north Africa, which is in turn caused by hunger, civil war, political instability and the movement of people across the Mediterranean. Alongside the strike and the problems in Calais last night, the situation there has been causing problems for some time, as I saw on a visit in November last year, and it remains a real challenge.

Will the Home Secretary tell us what steps she is taking, following her discussions with the French Interior Minister, to ensure that the French Government assess, process, identify and take action on those at Calais? She has rightly said that they are the victims of people traffickers, but they are also in France and the responsibility of the French Government. Will she resist the calls from some quarters in France to end the UK Border Force presence at Calais, given that it is extremely important in maintaining the integrity of our border?

Will the Home Secretary tell us whether, at the European summit this weekend, the Prime Minister intends to raise the points he made at Prime Minister’s questions about the situation in Italy and southern Europe? As he and the Home Secretary have said, that situation plays a key role in determining the intentions of the people who come to Calais. Will the right hon. Lady also tell us what proportion of the £12 million that she and the Prime Minister have mentioned has been spent to date? She will recall that the £12 million relates to a three-year programme, and we are now in year one. I would like her to stop talking about the £12 million and tell us what has been spent to date, and whether further resources are required to meet the challenges.

Will the Home Secretary and the Transport Secretary advise hauliers, train operators and the public on the assessments that they should be making, and on whether compensation claims could be made in the light of yesterday’s incident? Will she also ask the Transport Secretary to make an assessment in due course of whether Operation Stack operated as an effective response yesterday in southern England?

The Home Secretary has announced a new taskforce today. Will she tell the House more about its remit and resources, and explain how she would measure any success that it might achieve? Will she also make a further commitment to tackle the scourge of people trafficking through working with our European partners and their police forces? I would like her to make a commitment to report regularly to the House on the success of the taskforce in achieving its objectives.

This is a humanitarian crisis and the Home Secretary will have the support of Her Majesty’s Opposition in dealing with it. It is important that we do so not only on behalf of those victims of the crisis, but for the integrity of our borders. The French need to take further action to ensure that they support us in both of those objectives.