Clause 4

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:30 pm on 6th March 2007.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Minister of State (Home Office) (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality) 6:30 pm, 6th March 2007

As the hon. Gentleman knows, it is not a cut, but a flat real-terms settlement in the Home Office. He will also know that tax revenue is not the sole source of finance for the immigration service, which  draws some fraction of its income from the visa fees that we impose on foreign nationals. There is a timely debate to be had in the future about whether those visa fees are set at the right level or whether those who benefit most from coming to Britain and deciding that it should be their long-term home should pay slightly more for that privilege.

I want to return to two matters that are relevant to this debate. The problems that the hon. Member for Ashford identified should be solved not by additional powers, but by early investment. It is worth bearing in mind that policing at railway stations in the UK is already provided by a fine force called the British Transport police, which provides the service at Waterloo, and juxtaposed controls in Coquelles. Special branch maintains a presence, particularly to carry out terrorism work.

I am happy to reflect on the evidence that the hon. Member for Ashford can provide on this very serious issue. Border defences along the channel need to be as strong as possible. They have always needed to be strong in our history, and there is no reason why they should not need to be strong in the future. The amendment could safely be withdrawn as there are operational solutions that might be the remedy to the problem.