Calais Jungle Camp - Question

– in the House of Lords at 3:22 pm on 14th September 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Sheehan Baroness Sheehan Liberal Democrat 3:22 pm, 14th September 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the nature of their collaboration with France Terre d’Asile (FTDA), with respect to refugees in the Calais “Jungle” camp, and what assessment they have made of FTDA’s effectiveness.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

My Lords, the UK has jointly commissioned and part-funded France Terre d’Asile’s project to identify vulnerable people and victims of exploitation within the camps, directing them to protection and support within France and delivering training for French officials and volunteers on identifying victims. Performance is regularly monitored. The French Government have also commissioned FTDA to identify children within the camp with potential UK links. Staffing has been increased and the project extended to December.

Photo of Baroness Sheehan Baroness Sheehan Liberal Democrat

I thank the Minister for her reply. France Terre d’Asile is the only authority in the camp allowed to enter cases into the French asylum system, which is an essential first step for family reunification cases in the UK. But this falls at the first hurdle because there are not enough child protection guardians. In France you need administrateurs ad hoc, who are a prerequisite to initiating the process. Is it not the case that 66 of the 70 successful reunification cases to the UK have been completed by British NGOs and volunteers? So why are British taxpayers paying a French agency more than £500,000 to do a safeguarding job that it is patently unfit to carry out?

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

My Lords, this is a joint effort. These children are in France and therefore obviously under the jurisdiction of the French Government but we are very much involved. We have provided funding of more than £500,000 but the staffing has also been increased, which will hopefully bring an improvement in performance.

Photo of Lord Anderson of Swansea Lord Anderson of Swansea Labour

Does the Minister agree that the new directive given by the French Government to prefects in metropolitan France and its overseas territories to accept precise details of migrants is a significant departure? It is a recognition by France of her responsibilities and should be welcomed.

Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

I have no knowledge of the organisation mentioned in the Question, but is it not the case that there should be much greater co-operation between British and French NGOs and the two Governments, in particular to identify cases for family reunion and to ensure that there is adequate protection for unaccompanied children?

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

The noble Lord is absolutely right, and that is precisely what is happening with the partnership work between the British and French Governments. There is a steering group of the FTDA project, made up of representatives of the Home Office and officials from the French Ministry of the Interior, the Jules Ferry centre, the Calais prefecture and French law enforcement.

Photo of Lord Roberts of Llandudno Lord Roberts of Llandudno Liberal Democrat

My Lords, the Minister will remember that we passed the Immigration Act on 8 May this year. Under it, the Government will accept an unspecified number of child refugees in the coming year. How many children have been accepted under the renowned Dubs agreement? None. Not a single child has been accepted. Is it not time that we took our finger out as far as the children of Calais and Dunkirk are concerned? I am sorry if I am taking my time. Is now not the time to register the children and the families which will receive them so that when the nod comes that they can come, there will not be a rush as the information will already be known by the Government?

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

My Lords, 120 children have been accepted here under the Dublin regulations since the beginning of the year, 70 of them from France. There are 30 Dublin cases that meet the Dubs criteria, and most of them are here already. I must say that, whether a child is a Dublin child or a Dubs child, it is still a child.

Photo of Baroness Jowell Baroness Jowell Labour

My Lords, I thank the Minister for her remark in support of my noble friend’s intervention. Is she aware that last Friday the names of 387 children considered to be eligible under the Dubs amendment for admission to and care in this country were submitted to the Home Office? Will she bring forward to the House a detailed statement of progress on placing these children?

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

My Lords, I am aware that a list of children was brought forward. Obviously those children will go through the same process as other children. They may be the same children who are being identified. Certainly I am being tasked twice a week at the moment on progress on what is happening in Calais, and I expect that that will continue.