Calais: Refugees - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:07 pm on 2nd November 2017.

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Photo of Lord Rosser Lord Rosser Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport) 4:07 pm, 2nd November 2017

I too congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Llandudno, on securing this debate. The Calais camp closed down a year ago, but reports suggest that some 500 asylum seekers and other migrants, some of whom are unaccompanied children, continue to be in and around Calais in appalling conditions, facing harassment from the authorities as well as from people traffickers.

The Government may say that what is happening now in Calais is a matter for the French. However, I do not think it is quite as simple as that. On 6 March this year, in answer to a Commons Oral Question, the then Minister for Immigration said:

“The UK Government are contributing up to £36 million to support the situation in Calais and ensure that the camp remains closed in the long term”.

The Minister went on to say:

“The site of the former Calais camp remains clear and there is ongoing work, supported by UK funding, permanently to remove all former camp infrastructure and accommodation and to restore the site to its natural state. That work will help to prevent any re-establishment of squats or camps in the area”.—[Official Report, Commons, 6/3/17; cols. 556-57]

Government involvement with the French authorities and the resultant present conditions in Calais would appear far from peripheral.

In this House, the Minister said on 29 June that,

“our doors are always open for local authorities to come to us and say that they can accommodate more children”.

How much money did the Government pay a local authority accommodating children under Section 67 of the Immigration Act in 2016-17, and for how many years following 2016-17 does that funding continue to apply in respect of those children accommodated in 2016-17, and at what level? How much money are the Government paying a local authority accommodating further children under Section 67 in the current year, 2017-18, and for how many years following this current financial year does that funding continue to apply in respect of those further children accommodated in 2017-18. and at what level?

On 29 June the Minister also said:

“We are working closely with EU partners to implement Section 67 of the Immigration Act and ensure that children with qualifying family in the UK can be transferred quickly and safely under the Dublin III regulations”.—[Official Report, 29/06/17; col. 551.]

How many of those currently in the Calais area in appalling conditions are children who would qualify or might well qualify to come to this country under Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016, and how many would qualify or might well qualify to come to this country under the Dublin III regulations? I would hope the Government know the answer to this question because some of the £36 million or so of our money being spent in and around Calais is for actively seeking out those, particularly children, who would qualify to come to this country and then ensuring that they do so.