Clause 20

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 15th March 2007.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Minister of State (Home Office) (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality) 2:15 pm, 15th March 2007

I will make one more point, with which, perhaps, the hon. Member for Ashford will help me. I understand that nobody, on any Bench in the House, is proposing the merger of the Army, Navy and Air Force. We recognise that different forces have different cultures, specialisms and traditions; those different capabilities and history are an important part of what makes them effective. Do we insist on integrated command and intelligence? Yes, we do. Does that require a full-scale merger? No, often not—different things can achieve the same effect.

The final example that I would give here is the United States, which was prayed in aid. The United States has had an interesting challenge with illegal immigration. Some papers, such as The New York Times, have estimated that the population of illegal immigrants in the United States has gone from7 million to 12 million in the space of a few years. Interestingly, during the same period the United States has been trying to introduce a single border force. Going around Dulles airport, one will indeed see a common primary line, but step into the second line and one will see the component agencies still organised in their traditional ways of working—that is five years on.

I was also interested in the reference by the hon. Member for Peterborough to European border forces. They are so effective that while this country has the  lowest number of asylum seekers not since 1997 but since 1993, asylum claimants in Europe in the last quarter of last year went up—not down—by 14 per cent.