Points of Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:23 pm on 23 November 2022.

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Photo of Natalie Elphicke Natalie Elphicke Conservative, Dover 2:23, 23 November 2022

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. At Prime Minister’s questions, Olivia Blake referred to the channel deaths this time last year. She said:

“New evidence suggests that the boat reached British waters and that the French and British authorities knew that it was in distress for a very long time.”

That is not correct. Today’s Daily Mail and the French newspapers report that investigations by the French police have found that the French did not send help, following several calls while the boat was in distress in French waters, and furthermore that French officers may yet face manslaughter charges in relation to those tragic deaths. In relation to the reports about the boat entering British waters, it has been reported that Britain was not told that the boat was in distress at the time it entered British waters, that Britain acted immediately when notified, having saved a number of other people in small boats on the same day, and did everything it could to save those lives.

Many of my constituents work for Border Force or the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Some of them were on duty on that dreadful day. They work tirelessly, day in, day out, in difficult and exhausting circumstances, to pick up and rescue migrants in the channel. I am pleased that the hon. Lady is in the Chamber. I hope that she will join me in paying tribute to those who save lives at sea every day, including in relation to the channel migration issue. I hope that she will clarify the record and await the findings of the official reports before traducing the reputation of Border Force and the RNLI. Will she also take steps to ensure that she does nothing to damage this important investigation, which may yet lead to criminal charges?