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Commonwealth Immigration and Visas — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:24 pm on 27th January 2015.

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Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:24 pm, 27th January 2015

I thank my hon. Friend for his comments, but perhaps I can clarify the situation. This is about having information and knowledge about people who come into the UK to ensure that they will not hurt our citizens. Within the EU, there are information exchanges for criminal records, such as the European criminal records information system, and data are available about criminals’ past activities. As the Minister with responsibility for serious and organised crime, I am determined that we have that same level of information exchange with other countries. Actually, I would like that same level of information exchange across the world.

I have attended meetings with Caribbean Community countries in which I have encouraged them to adopt the kind of criminal information exchange that we have in the EU. If they had that, we could start to have some certainty about how we deal with people travelling to the UK from those countries because we would then have any relevant information about criminals’ past activities.

This process is about the practicalities of how we ensure that people coming into this country are not coming here to do us harm, but so long as we do not have such information about travellers from certain countries—I do not wish to single out Jamaica, but it is the largest source country for foreign national offenders—we must put the security of the British people before anything else. However, if countries meet the eligibility criteria for the registered traveller scheme, travellers from those countries are welcome to join that scheme, as travellers from Australia, New Zealand and Canada have already done, which means that they can access the e-gates that are available to people from members of the European economic area.

Having seen the e-gates in action, I know that they are a good tool for finding any EEA national who is marked as being wanted, a criminal and so on, meaning that UK Border Force can stop them at the border and go through the necessary checks. We are stopping many EEA nationals who try to come through the border via e-gates because those e-gates have great technology that allows digital information to be used to find criminals.