Small Boat Channel Crossings

Defence – in the House of Commons on 21st February 2022.

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Photo of Ellie Reeves Ellie Reeves Shadow Minister (Justice)

What role the Royal Navy has in tackling migrants crossing the channel in small boats.

Photo of Ellie Reeves Ellie Reeves Shadow Minister (Justice)

The Government have spent more than £200 million on deals with the French authorities and £780,000 on two Navy vessels, and have not intercepted a single boat. Now they are insisting on push-back tactics, which the Navy has rightly said it will not use. The human cost is harrowing. In November, 27 people, including children, died when their boat sank. Instead of wasting more taxpayers’ money on unworkable initiatives, will the Minister finally back the solutions that will fix this crisis—opening safe routes of passage, meaningfully engaging with the French authorities, and implementing a proper plan to tackle people smuggling?

Photo of James Heappey James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

I am not sure that those elements are mutually exclusive. I absolutely agree with what the hon. Lady said at the end of her question—her suggestions for a solution—but I think that the measures she advocates must sit alongside a robust and resilient effort in the channel to ensure that even when they are in place, we are still able to protect our borders and stop people landing here on their own terms.