Home Affairs Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 71

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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Home Affairs Committee

on Tuesday 15 May 2012

Members present:

Keith Vaz (Chair)

Mr James Clappison

Michael Ellis

Dr Julian Huppert

Steve McCabe

Alun Michael

Bridget Phillipson

Mark Reckless

Mr David Winnick


Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Corneel Koster, Director of Operations, Safety and Security, Virgin Atlantic, Andrew Lord, Director of Operations, British Airways, Colin Matthews, Chief Executive, BAA, gave evidence.

Q1 Chair: Order. This is an inquiry into the current position at the ports, particularly into the delays that have occurred in the past few weeks. I welcome Mr Koster, Mr Matthews and Mr Lord. We will be hearing later from the Minister as well as from others. We will also be conducting our usual inquiry into the UKBA. Are there any interests to declare other than those in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests? Clearly, Mr Matthews, Mr Lord and Mr Koster, we all have an interest to declare because we all use Heathrow airport and other airports and we all travel.

We have seen in the media and we have had e-mails from passengers about the delays at Heathrow in particular and also at Gatwick and Stansted. Is this a recent phenomenon or has it been going on for some time, and, is it in any way linked to the Olympics?

Corneel Koster: It is not a recent phenomenon. This has been a concern for us and our passengers for a few years. However, it has recently been brought even more to the forefront. It is also important to say that in 2010, the issue was discussed as part of the South East Airports Taskforce. The aim was better, not bigger, and border controls were raised as a serious concern. The UKBF had responded to SEAT by taking risk-based measures and new working and rostering processes.

So we have seen some improvement over time, but the last few months have been particularly bad.

Colin Matthews: May I say two very quick things? First, I do not want anything I say to contravene the fact that border security is the first priority, just like flight safety will be the first priority for my customers sitting on either side of me. Secondly, passengers at Heathrow benefit when airlines, ourselves and immigration collaborate; we do collaborate with the Home Office, the Border Force and the UKBA and we will continue to do so. That said, in answer to your question, passengers started noticing that inbound delays were getting worse from summer 2010. I have a graph here that lays out the monthly assessment-

Q2 Chair: So this has been going on for two years.

Colin Matthews: A steady deterioration over a period of two years, yes. That is consistent with what Corneel just said. It has been more noticed and more commented on in recent months, but you can see from the graph in front of me-I will send it to you if you wish-that there has been a deterioration since the summer of 2010.

Q3 Chair: It would be helpful to have the graph.

Andrew Lord: I echo the comments of Mr Koster and Mr Matthews. British Airways was also part of the South-East Airports Taskforce group, where we also raised the performance of the UK Border Force. It has been an issue for two years or more. We saw an improvement towards the end of 2010, but we have seen a severe deterioration over the last 12 months or so, and we have been trying to escalate that ever since.

Q4 Chair: Some of you may have seen the urgent question that was raised in the House last week, and the response of the Minister who will give evidence to us later. What has happened since his announcement of the deployment of mobile hit squads to try to clear the backlog? Has there been any improvement in the system since that announcement was made?

Colin Matthews: Yes, we can detect some improvement in the last week or so since that announcement was made, and I believe that that is because additional resources have been made available.

Corneel Koster: Yes, we have seen some improvements, and we think that adding 80 extra heads at Heathrow is a good start. It is about resources and how flexibly you deploy them. We also believe that the planned opening of the Heathrow Border Force control room at the end of this month will help actively to deploy the resources at the right place at the right time.

Q5 Chair: Mr Lord.

Andrew Lord: We have seen improvements on the days when they have been deployed effectively and proactively. The critical thing with any queue is to avoid it building up in the first place. Appropriate manning and flexible deployment is absolutely key to that. We are confident and hopeful that the new control room for Heathrow will make a big difference. We are actively, as are all airlines, providing information to the UK Border Force to enable it to use that information, and to deploy its resources most effectively, and proactively in advance of queues forming. We hope that the control room will make a big difference.

Q6 Chair: I was at Stansted, which is one of your airports, Mr Matthews, on Sunday night at the peak time between 10 o’clock and midnight when 6,000 passengers arrived. Half were British citizens, and they were kept in queues that went all the way back to the aircraft. Can you comment on Government figures, or UKBA figures, that measure the delays in respect of those actually in the immigration hall as opposed to those whom I saw being held in queues just before they got to escalators, queues that went back all the way to the Ryanair aircraft-it is primarily a Ryanair airport? The public were very frustrated, but that kind of delay is not measured, is it?

Colin Matthews: My colleague from Stansted is with me. In the case of Heathrow, as of last summer, we started measuring queues ourselves, because we were so concerned about passenger reaction to queues. If the queues at Heathrow are way back in the corridors, we cannot measure them. We can only measure them once they have been segregated into queues for non-EU or EU. When passengers are queuing back into corridors, our measurements underestimate the length of the queue. That is true.

Q7 Chair: What I also saw was that half of the kiosks were not occupied by UKBA officials. Three of the 12 non-EU kiosks were personed, and only half of the ones for British and EU citizens were personed. Is that a normal occurrence?

Colin Matthews: I think you have put your finger right on the single key topic. Many issues have been raised in recent months, but the single key central one is having the right number of desks manned according to the flow of passengers. Stansted is the most punctual airport in Europe. It happens to have peaks, as any airport does, during the course of the day, but the large number of passengers you saw late two nights ago is not unusual. That is the schedule. Every single week, they come at that time.

Q8 Chair: And UKBA knows about it. It was aware that 6,000 passengers were arriving a week ago under the AOS system.

Colin Matthews: I have the data here for punctuality, and Stansted is phenomenally punctual. It is the most punctual airport in Europe. Heathrow has been more punctual this year than ever before. So punctuality is not perfect but, none the less, we know when the passengers are arriving-the data are available-and we can plan. The key issue for avoiding queues is having the right number of desks manned, not throughout the day, but there when the passengers arrive. Before necessarily debating the number of staff, the central point is to make sure that there is a plan which says, "We need this number of desks manned at these times during the course of the day." Armed with that, passengers would have a better experience.

Q9 Chair: Any other comments?

Corneel Koster: Yes, we would very much concur with that. In fact, the UK Border Force knows as much about our passengers six to 12 hours before they arrive into Heathrow as we do, so there is a lot of time to pre-plan. Airport schedules take peaks into account and are quite predictable in a way, plus the airports as well as the airlines and all the other service providers can deal with things if they go off schedule. So we believe that it is possible for the UKBF to plan accordingly and to adjust flexibly. We have recently been meeting with some senior players in the UK Border Force, to share expertise and to see if we can work closer together as an industry to make the plan more effective.

Q10 Chair: Finally from me, how damaging has all this been for the reputation of Britain as a major centre for aviation?

Colin Matthews: It is damaging. I was in the United States and Canada a couple of weeks ago and among those I met were senior people from companies that invest in infrastructure around the world. If such people come to the UK and have to wait for a long time in immigration, that will discourage them from coming back to London and doing business. Inherently, there is no more reason why that person should have a good customer experience than someone’s elderly parents who are standing in a queue-of course they deserve a good customer experience. Border security is the top priority, but we happen to think that a good passenger experience for elderly people, young people, important business people and everyone has to be delivered alongside it. Airlines have that obligation, we have that obligation with security outbound and the same should be true for immigration in London.

Q11 Chair: I assume you all agree with that.

Andrew Lord: Very much, Chair.

Q12 Dr Huppert: It occurred to me when you were talking about punctuality that most people, while they appreciate punctuality, do not find much use for it if they then spend a couple of hours queuing, despite the fact that their plane was on time. I think you have all suggested that things improved during 2010 and then got worse-if that is right, I would be very interested to see that graph-but what was better in 2010? What happened in that period that made things better and why did it stop happening?

Colin Matthews: I have maintained a regular series of meetings with the UK Border Force since taking my role. We collaborate, we work together and we share data. In particular, the autumn period is always a challenge, with a very large number of students arriving in this country. So in the autumn of 2010 and the autumn of 2011 we had a lot of students arriving in the UK and that put extra load on the immigration procedures-we will have the same thing the day after the Olympics this year. Things are not constant through the year. We did manage to make some improvements, but every year you will see some ups and downs as a result of issues such as the students arriving in the autumn.

Corneel Koster: Before I add to that, I would like to stress that we, too, believe that security obviously is paramount, but that is not incompatible with a good passenger experience. In our opinion, things have got worse recently due to a combination of factors: historical changes to working patterns and organisational changes in the UKBA and the UKBF, staff cutbacks, a move away from a risk-based security regime and, no doubt, increased passenger figures, which have probably added to some queues. So a combination of factors, and we believe that that is very much what John Vine acknowledges in his report.

Andrew Lord: As an industry, we work very well with our key service partners and providers. We were frustrated towards the middle and end of 2011 that the information was available. If you take terminal 5 as an example-we were the only airline in terminal 5 until March this year, when Iberia came in with us-the UK Border Force has better and more data about the customers arriving in terminal 5 than in probably any other terminal in the UK, and we believe that more can be done to pre-plan and deploy the resource and then deal with it flexibly when problems arise. That has not happened over the last few months. There has been improvement in the last 10 days, but certainly for the first quarter and last quarter of last year, that did not happen.

Q13 Dr Huppert: Just to be clear, across all the airports in Britain, where do you think there is any problem at all? There is Heathrow. Where else?

Colin Matthews: It is worth recognising that Heathrow is different from other airports, because we have a huge proportion or relatively huger proportion of non-EU passengers, which puts a bigger burden on immigration services. Of course it does, so Heathrow is bound to be a focus of people’s concerns. In the case of Stansted, the schedule does have peaks-one of which the Chairman saw on Sunday evening-late at night. That has been the case for years and years. It has always been a challenge to manage immigration queues for the last wave of arrivals that happens very late every single night of the year.

Q14 Chair: It didn’t help that the e-gates broke down. There were no e-gates in existence on-

Colin Matthews: That is infuriating. On the e-gates, I should have said that if we look a little bit to the future-it is not for this afternoon, but a little bit into the future-automation will, we think, provide a route to a better passenger experience and a lower cost. We have made some progress on that, because the EU passengers can go through e-gates with their passport. For the most part, that works very well. We have had a faster take-up than had been predicted, at Heathrow in particular, and passengers like them. I have some data here that shows how much passengers prefer the automatic experience to going through a gate. It shows the take-up rate, which is terrific. What we have not yet got and what we need is the equivalent for the regularly visiting non-EU passport holder. BAA has invested £10 million in both sorts of gates, so we are willing to help out. We are not simply sitting back and saying, "It’s all down to you." We have invested money and we will continue to invest effort to make sure it works. Automation is part of the answer.

Q15 Chair: Mr Lord, do you want to answer Dr Huppert’s question?

Andrew Lord: In British Airways’ experience, although Heathrow has been the worst, our customers have had poor experiences at both Gatwick’s North terminal and London City airport, but not to the same extent, because obviously the volumes and the mix of customers are different. But certainly I am aware that there are issues at airports other than Heathrow.

Q16 Alun Michael: Can we go back to the question of the queue times and the figures that have been used in different places? We can start with Mr Matthews. BAA has its own queue time figures, which seem to be significantly different from the Border Agency’s figures. Why do you believe that your figures reflect a more accurate picture of queue lengths? That is what you have said, I think.

Colin Matthews: I suppose fundamentally because we also have a measure-this is the graph I was referring the Chairman to a little while ago-that shows that every month we ask passengers about their experience at Heathrow across a range of measures, including the wait at immigration, and you can see that it has been getting worse. Secondly, you can read the e-mails and tweets. I get inundated with these things, so I know that, over recent months, queue lengths have been two hours and higher, because passengers e-mail and say they are.

Q17 Alun Michael: Okay. That is the soft public-opinion sort of thing and it is quite clear to you. What about your measurements of the physical arrangements?

Colin Matthews: The measurement technique is quite different in the case of the Border Force and ourselves in one particular measure. We simply measure the queue every 15 minutes, provided that we can get to the end of it-it is within the immigration hall. We have a problem if it is stretching down the corridors, as the Chairman has already pointed out. But every 15 minutes we take a measure. I think-you will have to ask them-that the Border Force procedure is to measure once every hour, if they have resources available to take such a measure. We have entirely independent resources taking a measure every 15 minutes, and I do think it gives a better representation of passengers’ impression of what is happening at the front end.

We have had experience of queue-measuring techniques since the liquid bomb attack back in 2006. Security queues were a big issue for a time. We had to develop the queue-measuring techniques around that and we continue to measure the queue. We simply measure the immigration queue using the same approach as we use to measure the outbound security queues.

Alun Michael: You have underlined the issue of hearing what members of the public are saying about the experience. That is interesting.

Corneel Koster: May I add to that? We believe that the measurement should be in terms of maximum time, rather than averages. Otherwise, poor performance at the peak can disappear. Waiting for two hours 20, as we saw at T3 in April, is obviously not acceptable. It has improved slightly as a result of the recent focus on it, so we are encouraged, but even last week we saw queue times up to 1 hour 47 for non-EEA travellers at Terminal 3. We have seen about 50 minutes for what is called the fast-track, so clearly the issue has not disappeared. Next to measurements, as Mr Matthews explained, is the passenger experience, and the Chair was alluding to it earlier. There is nothing as frustrating as queuing up and seeing desks unmanned. If there is a big queue, all the desks are manned and the Border Force is working as effectively as it can, then it is not such a big issue. Desks being unmanned is the issue. I would also like to iterate that most of our passengers actually say that the Border Force staff across the UK are courteous and helpful-it is important to stress that point.

Q18 Alun Michael: That is helpful. May we go back to the point that Mr Matthews mentioned of measuring how long people are waiting before they get to the arrivals hall? You said you found that difficult. Do you mean difficult or impossible?

Colin Matthews: We don’t measure it. That means that our measurement will, in those cases, underestimate the queue length.

Q19 Alun Michael: Have you tried to get agreement with the Border Agency on a consistent method of measuring so that everybody is measuring the same thing? It should be accurate, in taking the public into account; and deal with that issue of measurement before they get into the arrivals hall.

Colin Matthews: I agreed with the Home Office last week to do that. I would be delighted to have a single measure.

Q20 Alun Michael: Why didn’t it happen before last week?

Colin Matthews: I think because, from my point of view, that measure was not available. We had the impression, starting in T4 in particular but then in other terminals as well, that the queue lengths were unacceptable. In my experience, to manage such an issue you have to have the facts-you can’t manage something if you don’t have the facts. So absent a decent measure, and I couldn’t get my hands on a decent measure, we said we would bear the cost of measuring this ourselves. So we now contract with an outside provider to have staff who are simply doing that.

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Q21 Alun Michael: A final question from me. If you look at the points that have been made about the information that is fed in, which should provide an indication in advance of likely build-up, and the fact that you have been working on measurement, why is it that things have continued to deteriorate? If you are providing that information on arrivals, numbers and all the rest of it, then surely that is to a purpose?

Colin Matthews: I have the impression that the Border Force needs to develop its planning capability. On the two recent strike days, we used our planning resources to support that and we ended up with rosters that were well adapted to the actual flow of passengers. It is one thing to have the data, but you need to have the resources, the people, who can turn those data into useful roster patterns. That is the key thing that would be constructive and take us forward.

Q22 Alun Michael: Just one thing about impression, it has come out in our evidence that the Border Agency isn’t an agency; it is an integral part of the Home Office. When you are having dealings with it, does it feel as if you are dealing with a part of the Home Office in which the hierarchy of the Home Office takes an interest, or as if you are dealing with a separate body that is nothing to do with the Home Office?

Colin Matthews: I have had a constructive dialogue with the people currently responsible for the Border Force and the previous people in UKBA. We have always been very focused on the business of improving things for passengers, and it has been a constructive relationship.

Chair: Thank you.

Q23 Michael Ellis: Gentlemen, I appreciate this is perhaps going to be a challenge to your corporate loyalty, but how about taking some responsibility yourselves for your airlines and for the delays that might, at least in part, be occasioned by, for example, the accuracy or otherwise of flight schedules, the scheduling of flights to arrive en masse at peak times, or passenger manifests that are occasionally inaccurate? I have been listening to you allocate blame left, right and centre, but I wonder if you accept that the airlines themselves have some responsibility for the efficiency of queue operations?

Corneel Koster: I would not agree that we are allocating blame left, right and centre. We have always wanted to work with the UK Border Force, and we have certainly worked very closely with the BAA on this topic over the years. The flight schedules are taken into account when scheduling terminal operation and slot allocation. Peak periods can generally be predicted. Last-minute changes are possible, but the airlines and airports deal with those changes quite well. Why could the Border Force not do the same?

There is evidence that queue times have actually lengthened recently. You talk about the information that we provide but, as I stressed, before the aircraft even take off the UK Border Force knows everything about our passengers. We believe that we are doing our bit, and if there is any other way in which it would like the information to be provided, we will certainly work with it to make the provision of information even more-

Q24 Michael Ellis: Is that information unfailingly accurate? You have pointed out that you provide it several hours beforehand, but if it is not accurate it is not going to help.

Corneel Koster: We understand that passenger data must be accurate. The integrity of the passengers on board is crucial to the safety of our aircraft, so we take it very seriously. When Virgin Atlantic provides flight manifest, there could on average be one or two mistakes in those data. Those are mistakes such as Mr Michael Ellis instead of Michael Ellis.

Chair: Or Sir Michael Ellis.

Corneel Koster: Or Sir Michael Ellis-apologies. Those are tiny mistakes that do not affect what the information can be used for.

Andrew Lord: I would echo Mr Koster’s comments. From a British Airways perspective, we provide hundreds of thousands of data about all our customers, day in, day out, to agencies all over the world. The best example is the United States where, if we do not have accurate information, the aircraft is not allowed to depart with the customer on board. I have every confidence that the information we provide is accurate. In terms of operational performance, as Mr Matthews has already said, our performance at Heathrow has improved year on year for the past five years. Heathrow is operating at full capacity. There is no capability for aircraft to bunch or for passenger loads to arrive in bunches because an aircraft lands or arrives there every 90 seconds, and the Border Force knows that in advance.

Q25 Michael Ellis: Let me come back to something that you said a few minutes ago, Mr Koster. Three of the four points that you raised about why there were queues and delays involved increased numbers and working patterns-I presume that by that you mean such things as the roster and flexibility of staff. There is room for improvement. It is not necessarily a question of just hiring more people; it is also a question of ensuring that the right people are on duty at the right time. Do you all agree with that?

All witnesses: We do.

Q26 Michael Ellis: You also said there had been a move away from risk-based security. Is that another way of saying that what is sometimes referred to as profiling would be more appropriate and more efficient?

Colin Matthews: That is entirely a question for the Home Office. We do not have the competence, or the desire, to tell the Home Office what procedures should be used to manage immigration. Border security is the most important priority, and it is entirely up to it to decide how best to exercise that.

Q27 Michael Ellis: I raise the issue because Mr Koster pointed it out as one of the reasons why he thought there were delays. Do you have anything to add to that, Mr Koster or Mr Lord?

Corneel Koster: It is definitely something that John Vine also registered in his report.

Q28 Chair: Can I have a quick answer, because we will come to these matters later?

Corneel Koster: To answer your question, we believe that there is room to develop outcome-based security further. We are not going to tell the UK Border Force how to do its job, but it is a fact that more outcome-based security gives a higher focus to high-risk groups, and a lower focus to low-risk groups such as schoolchildren returning to the UK. It is also a way of allocating recourses to ensure that security is as robust and efficient as possible, and the UK Border Force would probably agree that there is work that could be done.

Chair: Thank you. Steve McCabe.

Q29 Steve McCabe: I want to ask the airlines this question. If there is some doubt about the suitability of a passenger and whether or not they would be admitted to the UK, do you have conversations about that prior to the passenger getting on board, or do you make a judgment at some stage and say, "We are going to carry him or her anyway"? I ask because I am trying to understand the nature of inaccurate information. It could be that the passenger is mistaken for someone else-I understand that-but I am trying to understand why you would make a decision to carry a risk passenger to the UK.

Andrew Lord: We would not make a decision whether or not there is a risk in carrying somebody; we are responsible for ensuring that every customer we carry has the appropriate documentation and paperwork to enter the UK or the other country that they are travelling to. If we do not achieve that and the individual is not admitted into the UK, we are then responsible for repatriating them to their original destination. We do not take any judgment on the security of the individual and whether or not they are appropriate to enter the country if they have the appropriate documentation to do so. It is then for the Home Office and the UK Border Agency to decide whether to admit them into the country or not.

Q30 Steve McCabe: Would you discuss that with them before the flight takes off?

Andrew Lord: If there was any doubt around an individual of that nature, then yes, there would be a conversation. Again, the best example would be the advance passenger information system for the United States. We have to transmit all the data before the aircraft departs. The United States authorities come back and tell us if somebody is not suitable in their opinion, and we have to remove them from the flight.

Corneel Koster: To add to that, I agree with everything that Mr Lord said. Also, for many years, we have participated, as has BA, in an industry-leading scheme in which UKBA staff travel overseas to train our staff how to do extra-stringent visa and passport checks. We very much work on catching the person before he or she gets on board the flight. In case of doubt, people are not allowed to travel.

Q31 Chair: In fact, I travelled back from Orlando last week, and one of the passengers with me was profiled and was not allowed to board until they had been checked through. It happens at boarding, doesn’t it?

Corneel Koster: Yes, it does.

Q32 Bridget Phillipson: Mr Matthews, you have talked about the longer-term benefits of e-gates and the role that they can play in improving customer satisfaction and reducing queues, but at the moment, there is a problem with e-gates. Can I ask what the extent of that problem is, in terms of them being out of order, and how often that happens?

Colin Matthews: Well, there are two different sorts of e-gate. The ones that are in service already-and, I maintain, very effectively, with good levels of serviceability, good reliability and good passenger appreciation-are the e-gates for EU passengers who have a chip and biometric details in their passports. That works well. The take-up is so quick that we are going to need more gates very quickly.

There is a different category, though. There are some gates which we have acquired for dealing with non-EU passengers. That is a different process, and the Home Office has not yet fixed its IT strategy with respect to those. Those ones we cannot use yet, but the gates for EU passengers are working well.

Q33 Bridget Phillipson: What conversations are you having with the Home Office about getting more of those gates for EU passengers, if they are working so well?

Colin Matthews: That is a conversation that I had last week, and that I have had with the Home Office and Border Force over a period of time. We measure the performance of these gates every single month-I have the data here in front of me-and we have been pleasantly and agreeably surprised by the rate at which passengers are keen to use them, how much they like them and how well they work. I am glad. It is a good problem to have. We need more gates quicker.

Q34 Bridget Phillipson: Are you confident that that will happen? Will you get these new gates?

Colin Matthews: I think we must. I cannot see any other way of squaring the circle of needing to get more passengers through more comfortably and with less cost. It is evidently the route that we should take.

Q35 Chair: But the contracts end at midnight at Stansted. Even if you get these e-gates, if any passengers arrive after midnight, as a lot do at Stansted, they cannot go through the e-gates.

Colin Matthews: Well, that is infuriating. One of the great things about e-gates is that they can work 24 hours a day.

Q36 Chair: So why do they stop at midnight?

Colin Matthews: I don’t have a good answer for you. I will have to ask my colleague who is responsible for Stansted or get back to you, but they shouldn’t.

Q37 Chair: I can tell you the answer: the contract ends at 12. They all go home.

Colin Matthews: Well, that is a frustration. The e-gates have to be manned by Border Force people. It is not just that they stand alone and operate. Clearly, there needs to be the Border Force resource to make them operate.

Chair: Thank you. David Winnick.

Q38 Mr Winnick: Gentlemen, you said to Michael Ellis that checking and ensuring adequate security of <?oasys [pc10p0] ?>passengers arriving in the UK is a matter for the Government and the Home Office. No one is likely to dispute that. Do you have any views about the controversy that occurred with the suspension of Brodie Clark, the head of the Border Force? He worked on the basis of a flexibility of checking, which he believed to be more effective. Do you have any views on that?

Corneel Koster: We have a view that risk-based security can work and we believe very much that that is what the airlines and the DFT have also proved over time. We think that it is a direction that the UK Border Force could move in, but whatever happens, it needs to be based on evidence and fact, and we must be thoroughly decided that border security is never ever compromised.

Q39 Mr Winnick: There is a feeling arising from the suspension and, as some would say, the way in which he was disgraced-I am referring to Brodie Clark-that the personnel involved in checking passengers are very much on their guard in making sure that virtually every passenger is checked more thoroughly than previously. Again, I wonder whether that is a reason for some of the problems that have arisen, particularly at Heathrow.

Andrew Lord: It is absolutely our understanding that the stringency of the checks has increased since summer 2011 and, as a result, the processing time for every passenger arriving in the UK has increased, which in turn has obviously led to longer queuing times. The issue as to why the checks and the process times have increased is for the Home Office and the UK Border.

Q40 Mr Winnick: I am just wondering whether you have any comment on the piece that Brodie Clark wrote the other day. He said, "Almost every non-European person waiting in the three-hour Heathrow queue have already been checked against the UK watch list before they set foot on the plane." Does that make any sense to you?

Colin Matthews: There is a case, which my neighbour made a little earlier, that it makes sense to focus the resources on the passengers, or the categories of passengers, who are the highest risk. However, I do not have access to the sort of information that you are describing to be able to judge it. We do have to deal with similar questions when it comes to outbound security. Likewise, in the case of outbound security, there is a good case for focusing the best resources on the passengers who pose the biggest risk for whatever reason-the way they are behaving or the things that they are carrying in their bags. That is not my area of expertise when it comes to immigration processes.

Andrew Lord: There is absolutely the ability to go to a robust risk-based approach that would still maintain robust security at the border. British Airways, along with other airlines, has been involved in-or has been prepared to be involved in-what was called a smart zone trial, which includes the pre-clearance of <?oasys [pc10p0] ?>customers so that the UK Border has the full details of the passengers on a flight when it is due to arrive and assesses whether it wants to meet those passengers individually or whether they are clear to enter the country and go through a separate channel. That trial has been suspended.

Q41 Mr Winnick: We will hear in a moment from the union that represents many of the employees at the airports. I am just wondering whether you have any views about the staff position and whether the policy of reducing staff will cause particular problems in the Olympic year.

Colin Matthews: The data I have suggest that the border will be well resourced through the Olympic period, so I am not especially anxious about the Olympics. However, we have May and June between now and when the Olympics start, and the day the Olympics finishes is more or less when students start arriving in the UK. So I am concerned not specifically for the Olympics but on an ongoing basis about having the right number of desks manned on the right day. The point has already been made that that is not just a question of having the right number of staff. Even before that, it is a question of having the right pattern, the right plan to ensure that the right number of desks are open at 8am, 5am or 12 midnight where the Chairman was earlier this week. So, that ability to plan the resources according to passenger flow in my opinion is higher up the list of things to do. The second thing is to ensure that you have the right number of people in the organisation to match that.

Q42 Mr Winnick: In so far as those people-immigration officers-are obviously employed by the Home Office, if you have strong views about the numbers, do you make representations accordingly? Do you consider that part of your job-Mr Matthews, Mr Lord, Mr Koster?

Colin Matthews: I think we have to speak up on behalf of passengers, and passengers are frustrated when they stand in long queues and see a large number of gates unmanned. So the point is not necessarily to argue for more staff; it is to argue, though, for the right number of desks being manned at the right time of day.

Andrew Lord: I think I would add that it is not for us to determine how many staff the Border Force needs; but what we do, absolutely, want is the appropriate resource available to man the desks and be deployed flexibly when the airports require it, and our passengers and our customers need it.

Mr Winnick: I would not have expected you to say anything other than that.

<?oasys [cn ?> Corneel Koster: We very much agree with that, and please pass on the message that our passengers believe overall that UK Border Force staff are helpful. Of course the staff and the unions have a role to play in ensuring that resources get allocated and used effectively. So there are two questions: is the resourcing right; and are the resources adequately used? We would expect staff to support that.

Chair: Mr Koster, Select Committees cannot pass on messages, but you will meet the Minister in the corridor, so you can tell him yourself. We don’t want to keep him waiting too much longer, so this is the final question.

Q43 Mark Reckless: Airports, I understand, currently pay for the cost of their policing, and pass that on through landing charges. I wonder whether I can ask Mr Lord and Mr Koster whether they would perhaps support a similar approach to pay for extra immigration officers.

Andrew Lord: As an industry, we already pay significant fees to both the Government and the airports for the use of the services that are provided, and one of the key services that are provided by the airports through the Home Office is the UK Border. As an industry, we are taxed more than any other transport sector at the moment, and we believe that if more funds need to be found to provide resource then it should be by that means; the funds are already there.

Corneel Koster: The regular discussion we have with Mr Matthews is about airport charges, so we would imagine that possibly a larger contribution of airport charges could go into the Border, potentially. We would also suggest allocating part of the £2.7 billion receipts from air passenger duty, possibly to move in this direction.

Q44 Mark Reckless: Mr Matthews, I think, with respect to Heathrow, you are currently getting a landing charge that was designed to pay for a third runway that is not being built. Can you perhaps divert some of that money to support extra immigration officers?

Colin Matthews: That is not true.

Q45 Chair: Do you miss Brodie Clark?

Colin Matthews: We have had a good relationship with UK Border Force since I have been here, and Brodie Clark was a good opposite number for us; and his successors have been, too.

Chair: Thank you. Mr Koster, Mr Matthews, Mr Lord, thank you very much for giving evidence. Please keep in touch with the Committee. We want to monitor this until the Olympics.

<?oasys [pg6,cwe1] ?>Examination of Witness

Witness: Damian Green, Minister of State for Immigration, gave evidence.

Q46 Chair: Minister, good morning. My apologies for keeping you waiting. We had a number of witnesses to deal with.

In your very large article in The Times on Saturday, you said that British business was addicted to foreign labour. Do you think that there is an addiction on the part of the British public to queues?

Damian Green: I think I said that they were addicted to immigration, which is slightly different: it is a phrase I have used before. No: nobody likes standing in a queue. The British are, famously, on the whole, well behaved, but no-and the queue levels we see at some times of day, particularly at Heathrow and Stansted, are not acceptable. That is why we have taken all the measures we have all been discussing for the last couple of weeks, and will take more measures. This is a problem that we need to continue gripping.

Q47 Chair: Why did it take so long for the Home Office, and in particular the UKBA, to get a grip on the situation? It cannot be usual for the Prime Minister to ask you and the Home Secretary to come and see him about this issue; and I think Downing Street had briefed publicly that the UKBA had to take a grip of what was going on. Were you conscious that a grip was not being taken on this issue?

Damian Green: It is, of course, Border Force, not UKBA now, since the split of the two organisations. In not the most recent set of John Vine reports but the previous one on the pilot that we thought we were conducting last year, it was revealed that the way in which queues had been mitigated over many years-five years or so-was to relax some checks in an unauthorised way when the queues got too big. In effect, we were having not risk-based controls but queue-based controls. For all sorts of obvious reasons-notably, that in the end the priority must be security; I think that that is unarguable-that is unsatisfactory, so we have moved into a new era. We have split Border Force off, there is a new head of Border Force, and we are now taking practical steps to address the issue of queues, while at the same time-I will say this once more and not keep repeating it, as I am tempted to-making clear that the first priority absolutely has to be the security of our border.

Q48 Chair: I think that everyone agrees with that. You were not in the room when BAA, BA and Virgin gave evidence-they also agreed with that statement, but they said that this has been going on for two years. In the reply to the urgent question that I put to you in the House last Monday, you talked about lengths of time. You talked about average lengths, but of course the key thing is peak times. You went to Heathrow the next day, but you did not go at a peak time. I was at Stansted between 10 o’clock and midnight last Sunday, when 6,000 mostly British citizens came back to the United Kingdom after a weekend’s holiday somewhere in Europe. There was queuing all the way back to the aircraft, so it was not just the immigration hall; they were held in queues, because the immigration system was simply not working. The e-gates had failed to operate-no e-gates were working-and only five of the 10 kiosks dealing with British citizens and EU citizens were personed.

Damian Green: I am slightly surprised by that last point, because Stansted is different from Heathrow.

Chair: It is a different place.

Damian Green: It is organised in a different way. I know that you have been discussing with the airlines what happens when people arrive at Stansted. Essentially it is a holiday airport. Everyone wants to squeeze the last few hours out of their holiday, so, quite often at Stansted, planes arrive in a huge bunch from 10 o’clock on a Sunday night through to midnight or often 1 am. I have the figures here, and oOn a number of days recently-from the sound of what you saw on Sunday, that was one of them-when the targets were not met, but every gate was manned and everything was working. That is why I say that Stansted is different from Heathrow: you can have everything you want from Border Force, yet there are still unacceptable queues at Stansted. That is obviously a longer-term and wider point about the design of the terminal, how many physical gates you can get in there, and the amount of automation. To take your point about Heathrow, you were at Stansted on Sunday night and I was at Heathrow, privately, first thing on Monday morning-

Q49 Chair: Was that at peak time?

Damian Green: Yes, absolutely-I was there for precisely that reason. What I think is really crucial, as the airlines and BAA agreed, is the provision of timely information about how many people are coming through. If you are going to staff the gates, you need to know how many people are coming through. What I was told, not by senior Border Force management but by the person who actually organises the rosters for the mobile teams, was that on Friday Border Force was told that 2,500 people would be arriving at peak time on Monday morning at Terminal 5. I have just checked and the actual number between 6 am and 9 am-the peak time-was 7,500, three times the amount. Over the weekend, presumably, tickets were sold on cut rates and things like that, so-

Q50 Chair: They did not know until the planes arrived-is that what you are telling me?

Damian Green: No, they knew.

Q51 Chair: Before?

Damian Green: He knew when he came on shift on Sunday night. I forget who it was, but somebody said in your previous session that Border Force gets between six and 12 hours’ advance notice. In this case, it was six hours’ notice. Indeed, he did not know that it was 7,500; he thought it was 5,000. Just in terms of practicality, if you find out at midnight on Sunday that twice as many people are going to be coming through from 6 am on Monday, in practical terms it is not the easiest thing in the world to deal with. I note you have the unions coming on after me. Ask them what their members would think if they were woken up at 1 am on Sunday to be told, "You’ve got to be on duty at 5 am on Monday morning."

Q52 Chair: Sure. I was not with you at Heathrow, so I just want to pursue the Stansted experience a little more. UKBA or the Border Force would have known a week before that 6,000 passengers were coming in between 10 pm and midnight at Stansted. All the e-gates were shut-they did not work because the contractor is only contracted to work until midnight, but actually they were not working anyway that night. Five of the 10 kiosks were not occupied and as far as the non-EU citizens were concerned, only three of the 12 kiosks were occupied. What you are talking about, which is very interesting, is predictability. You are saying that if the information came sooner, there would be more flexibility. Is that right?

Damian Green: There would certainly be more flexibility. I will go away and check what the figures were for Sunday night, because I have got the figures up to Friday, when there were indeed unacceptable queues, but, as I say, everything on Border Force was open, so Stansted, in a sense, clearly has structural problems. But absolutely, the further in advance Border Force gets the information, the more chance they have of getting the right number of people there. That is why we are in the last throes of building a central control room at Heathrow, which will have one place where all the information will come in and where you will have visual big screens, so that if you see a terminal starting to fill up you can deploy the mobile teams instantly. I think that will be a very considerable step forward.

Q53 Chair: These are your "green hit squads"? You will be able to move them between terminals? "Air Green."

Damian Green: I never used the term "hit squad". There are 16 teams of 10 people each, covering the airport 24 hours a day.

Q54 Chair: And are these new members of staff that you have taken on just to deal with this crisis?

Damian Green: No, they are not new members of staff for what’s happening now; they are redeployed people. Everyone agreed, and John Vine himself, commenting in his most recent reports on the problems last year at Heathrow and Gatwick, said rightly that Border Force has about 8,000 staff, and within that, you can deploy them to avoid this type of thing.

As we are talking about new staff I should say-the Committee ought to hear this first-that I am very conscious that, post-Olympics, people are very worried. We all know that we are putting in huge amounts of efforts, including 480 extra staff, to keep gates open at peak time for the Olympics. After the Olympics, people will take leave and so on. Terminal 2 is reopening in 2014; it has been closed for several years. We are bringing forward the recruitment of the first wave of new people who will be working at Terminal 2, so that eventually there will be in the first wave 70 extra people working at Terminal 2, who will be new members of staff. We are recruiting them now so that they can be recruited and trained from the immediate post-Olympic period.

Q55 Chair: So this is a new announcement you are making to the Committee?

Damian Green: Yes.

Chair: Well, thank you very much. Please come back often and give us more staff.

Q56 Alun Michael: Right at the beginning of your remarks, you referred to the split of the Border Agency into two bodies. I just wanted you to clarify that. The Border Agency, of course, is not an agency; it is a part of the Home Office and therefore accountable directly to officials, the permanent secretary and Ministers. So what does the split mean? As the Border Agency is part of the Home Office, is the Border Force a part of the Home Office? What is the governance of the Border Agency and what is the governance going to be in the future? What is the governance of the Border Force and what is the governance going to be in the future?

Damian Green: The governance of the Border Agency doesn’t change particularly. I take your point, it is-

Q57 Alun Michael: Semi non-existent.

Damian Green: You can have sort of theology about whether something is an agency or not. It is not a non-departmental agency; it is a Home Office agency, but it is run by a chief executive.

Q58 Alun Michael: But it is part of the Home Office. It is not even an agency of the Home Office.

Damian Green: It has a board, which has non-executives on it, and the board reports to the Home Office’s own strategic board, so it does have its own governance structures. Indeed as a result of the split and a desire to improve UKBA as well as Border Force, we have now split the roles of chairman and chief executive. The chief executive used to be chairman of UKBA as well, and we think that was wrong according to best corporate governance principles.

Q59 Alun Michael: Is the chairman a civil servant?

Damian Green: No. The chairman is a non-executive. He is outside-it is Philip Augar, who is one of the non-executives on the Home Office Strategic Board-precisely so that you do not have an inward-looking organisation.

Q60 Alun Michael: That is helpful. Could you write to us with clarification of the general governance issues?

Damian Green: Certainly.

Q61 Chair: When did you appoint this new chairman? I don’t think the Committee is aware of this.

Damian Green: He chaired his first board meeting a couple of weeks ago. You have Rob Whiteman coming up later on; he will be the ideal person to explain.

Chair: Yes, but it would be good if you could write to the Committee to tell us these things.

Q62 Mr Clappison: I know that colleagues have other questions about the Olympics. You have just made some revelations about what is going to happen, but in the light of what you told us about the provision of information and about not getting information in a timely way, is that going to be sorted out in time for the Olympics, so that you have an idea of how many people are arriving and we do not see queues of people waiting to get into the country hoping to see the Olympics?

Damian Green: As you would expect, we are in very intensive talks, not just with BAA but with other airport operators and, of course, the airlines, and in the end, as you know, Heathrow will be the host airport for the Olympics. That is where most people will be coming in.

The short answer is yes. As I said, we are building this control room, the central hub of which should be in operation within the next fortnight. It is not just a question of assembling all the people in the same place; we want that to have all the immediate feeds so that as soon as an airline knows something Border Force can know it as well. It will make the staffing more flexible.

Q63 Dr Huppert: I am slightly concerned about what you say about Stansted having a structural problem, given that it has lower usage than it did a few years ago and is at about only 50% of its capacity. The real question would be if it ever started using anything like its full capacity. But may I turn to this issue about resources-

Damian Green: May I just point out that I am not sure that there are? Stansted is a classic example of where, boy, does it use its full capacity for about three hours a night on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, so if it started using more of its capacity-as I am sure the airlines and the airport operator want it to-at three in the afternoon, that would not add to the pressures; it would just spread them out.

Q64 Dr Huppert: I hope that is the case, but misuse of resources clearly makes it harder, if the staff are doing tasks that are not productive. I was concerned to see the reports from John Vine, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration. His report on Heathrow Terminal 3, for example, says that when he examined search of person records, which presumably take some time out, "in 67% of cases, the search was neither justified nor proportionate", and in his report on Gatwick North he found, again for search of person records, that in 71% of cases the search was neither justified nor proportionate. Some "passengers were arrested even though person searches had not revealed any illicit goods" and the searches revealed persistent differences with ethnicities, with officers using their negative stereotypes, and so forth. Presumably, if officers are spending their time doing searches that they should not do and arresting people for no cause, they are not doing a more useful task.

Damian Green: By definition-clearly John Vine’s office is an extremely useful one and all his reports are extremely useful-Border Force is looking at the lessons that need to be learned, just as Ministers are. We learnt a huge amount from his previous report and have implemented a large number of the recommendations, and we will look at this one very carefully as well.

Q65 Dr Huppert: But this is a high figure: two thirds of the searches were not justified or proportionate. That is a very large number. What are you doing to change that? That was found in two separate airports.

Damian Green: We are looking at what they are actually doing. Don’t forget that those are not contemporaneous reports; they are reports of what was happening last year under the previous regime of Border Force. As you will have observed, the whole of Border Force has gone through an enormous, radical change since then; not least, it is now run by a former chief constable who obviously is hugely experienced at making sure that his officers do the right things and are conscious that they are observing proper protocols and so on-a lot of the things that John Vine complained about. People were behaving in ways that they could not justify because there was no clear guidance and protocol. Part of what Brian Moore is driving though very quickly is to make sure that everyone knows what they should be doing.

Chair: Yes, we have Brian Moore coming in to see us.

Q66 Michael Ellis: I raised the subject of accurate information with Virgin and British Airways a few minutes ago, and suggested to them that perhaps the airlines had some responsibility for providing accurate information and manifests and the like. Would you say that a lot of this is going to be helpful to organising accurate rosters, staffing requirements and personnel on duty, if we can get more accurate information, as well as get the airlines to space their flights out a bit more?

Damian Green: The airlines would take issue with spacing their flights out because they want to take as much-

Q67 Michael Ellis: They all want to come in at the same time.

Damian Green: They all want to come in at the same time, and quite often they all want to come in five minutes before the other person. That is a commercial matter for them. Absolutely, the general point is that the earlier and better information we in Border Force can have from the airlines, the more likely it is that the right number of people will be at the right desks at the right time. There is always more we can do. We are engaged in a very healthy private dialogue with the airlines about how to do that.

Q68 Michael Ellis: Is one of the things we can do, Minister, perhaps to say to the airlines that they might be sanctioned if they provide information too late in a way that is disruptive to the effective running of the airport? If they are supposed to provide information beforehand and they do so six hours before and there is not sufficient staff on duty, is there more that we can do?

Damian Green: There is more that we can do, but I am very keen not to go down any kind of sanctions route because this is a team game. Airlines, Border Force and airport operators need to be absolutely aligned. So I am very, very keen-this is one of the things I am devoting lots of time to at the moment-to make sure that we all try to work together, because it is clearly not in the airlines’ interests, Heathrow’s interests or BAA’s interests for these queues to happen and to become a big public controversy. It is in all our interests to sort this.

Q69 Mr Winnick: Minister, when the airlines and BAA gave evidence earlier, they said, understandably, that the question of checking passengers and the rest is obviously a matter for the Government-the Home Office. No one is going to dispute that. In its written evidence, Virgin Atlantic said that in order to deal with the congestion at Heathrow in particular there is a need either substantially to increase UK Border Force resources or to return to a sensible risk-based approach at border controls. Leaving aside staff, which you have mentioned, what do you say to that comment about risk-based border controls and checks?

Damian Green: As I say, it is about having the right staff at the right time. That is the key-the deployment of resources, rather than necessarily absolute numbers-but I have said before this Committee and in the House, as has the Home Secretary, that, in principle, I am not against risk-based controls. That is why, as I say, we had the trial we thought we were having last summer. What that revealed-or what John Vine revealed-was that, at the same time as we thought we were doing risk-based controls, we were actually in an unauthorised way doing queue-based controls as well, so clearly the evidence from the risk-based controls, which looked positive, was tainted.

The other point I would make about risk-based controls is that they would not be a panacea for queues because, in as much as one can rely on the data from last summer, it is not at all obvious that just having risk-based controls necessarily reduces queues. You will have seen from all the BAA data in particular that the problematic queues at Heathrow tend to involve non-EEA rather than UK and EU citizens. Even the figures published a couple of weeks ago show that, in April, there were no breaches for EU and British citizens under the terms of the current agreement.

The risk-based checks may well involve doing more checks or more thorough checks on some of those non-EEA passengers. That is when you really do get down to a level of granularity. Frankly, if a plane arrives from Lagos 10 minutes before a plane from New York, the American citizens may well take longer to get through risk-based checks than they would if those planes arrived the other way around. Whether they arrive before or after each other will depend on the wind, over which, with the best will in the world, the airlines and the Border Force do not have any control.

Q70 Mr Winnick: I quote from an article that states: "Almost every non-European person waiting in the three-hour Heathrow queue will already have been checked against the UK watchlist before they set foot on the plane." That comes from the person who was demonised, shamed and suspended, namely, Brodie Clark, who considered that he was doing his job effectively. Do you disagree with what he wrote?

Damian Green: Sorry, did you say "European" or "non-European"?

Q71 Mr Winnick: Non-European. He said, "every non-European person waiting in the three-hour Heathrow queue will already have been checked against the UK watchlist before they set foot on the plane."

Damian Green: Obviously, it depends where they are coming in from. We do now have-this is another recent achievement-100% coverage on the e-Borders system of all flights coming from outside the EU, but, obviously, non-EU people can fly from within the EU to this country, and until we get all other countries in the European Union, and the Commission and the Parliament, to agree to providing the information on intra-European flights as well, then people can come in who are not EU citizens, if you like, on an EU flight. So to that extent that remark is not necessarily correct.

Q72 Mr Winnick: Do you think that, arising from what happened to Brodie Clark-I don’t expect you, for one moment, to come to a different view before us: perhaps, privately you do, for all I know, but certainly not before us today-there is a greater feeling on the part of the Home Office, immigration officers and the rest, that they should be determined to put more questions to the passengers than otherwise, just in case they find themselves in the position of Brodie Clark?

Damian Green: No. My experience of immigration officers is that they are keen to stop bad people coming into this country. They are dedicated to the basic part of their job.

Q73 Mr Winnick: Well, we hope so. But what I am asking is whether you think it has put some fear into them, and that they think they had better be careful because of what happened to the head of the Border Force?

Damian Green: No, I do not think it makes any difference. I think they were careful beforehand. They were told by their managers, "We’re relaxing these controls because the queues are too long", and the managers, as we discovered, were doing that without authorisation. Immigration officers are no more or less careful than they were before. They have always been careful. They are keen on that aspect of their job; that is the basis of their job. That is why they like doing it.

Q74 Mr Winnick: Are you meeting the unions in the near future to discuss their grievances?

Damian Green: Not the last time I was at Heathrow-I was there yesterday-but the previous time, which was about 10 days ago, I had a quiet private session with the union representative in the terminal that I was in. We had a very useful exchange there. Incidentally, I read afterwards that the gates were all filled as a Potemkin village for the Minister’s visit. All I can say is that the union rep-PCS, as well-who was having a quiet talk with me did not mention it, and I cannot help thinking he would have done if that was actually the case.

Q75 Mr Winnick: It is very nice having quiet, private talks at Heathrow and the rest of it, but are you intending to meet the unions, if they so request, to discuss their present grievances?

Damian Green: I will talk to anyone. You say, "their present grievances". The strike that happened recently was about pensions. To be honest, it is not for me to negotiate with public sector unions that have members across the board about pensions. There is an offer on the table and I hope those unions that have not yet signed up to it do so; indeed, that would be in the interests of their members. You talk about their grievances, but that was their most recent grievance. It is not for me to negotiate about pensions.

Q76 Mr Winnick: No one is suggesting that, but relating to matters at Heathrow and the rest, if such a meeting was requested-

Damian Green: I talk to staff a lot. I visit airports and ports a lot.

Chair: Anyway, Minister, they are outside, so if you want to see them on the way out, you can.

Mr Winnick: Another private meeting.

Q77 Steve McCabe: Minister, on this question of authorised or unauthorised activities to deal with queues, has there been, to your knowledge, any reduction in the number of comparisons used at e-gate barriers at any airport in the United Kingdom since you became the Immigration Minister?

Damian Green: I have read these stories with fascination. It is impossible-there is a threshold level, because essentially you are trying to get the best match possible, and there is a threshold below which the gates cannot be reduced, and that is the base level. It is occasionally switched up above that level if there is some particular piece of intelligence, but it is never, I am told, taken below the threshold.

Q78 Steve McCabe: But absolutely not the case that it has been reduced.

Damian Green: No.

Q79 Steve McCabe: Thank you, Minister. May I also ask one other thing? I understand that you are planning to increase the size of the border staff at Heathrow to deal with the Olympics, which I think we probably all understand, but not surprisingly we have heard from others who are concerned that that might lead to a reduction elsewhere. One example is Eurostar, which fears a reduction in staff at peak periods, such as the August bank holiday when people are returning from the continent. Are you aware of this, and do you have any contingency plans to deal with it?

Damian Green: Obviously. What we have said is that we will keep the gates at the busy ports fully manned at peak times during the Olympic period, but the contingency pool of people who are coming in for the Olympics are not just taken from within Border Force, but come from everywhere else. Of course we are conscious that the summer is a busy period anyway for Eurostar and Eurotunnel, and indeed that they might well be getting extra passengers because of the Olympics. So yes, we are conscious that this is not just about Heathrow; it is about other ports as well, including the channel ports and Coquelles, the Eurostar port.

Q80 Steve McCabe: There is no danger that we will see queues building up there, or the reverse-people slipping through because they will not be properly staffed there?

Damian Green: No. The staffing levels are designed for all ports, not just for Heathrow and Stansted.

Q81 Bridget Phillipson: Minister, Border Force officials and unions are reporting that in order to deal with the passport queues issue, they are having to reduce the number of customs checks that they carry out for drugs, contraband and weapons. Is that the case?

Damian Green: No. One of the things that we are doing is deploying people. The mobile teams I have talked about are not just deployed for immigration purposes-on the primary control point, to use the jargon-but can be deployed on customs-related operations as well. In fact, in April 2012, the period when we know there were problems, there were 230,000 examinations for customs, anti-smuggling and revenue purposes. We will shortly be publishing the drug seizure figures, which I suppose are one of the measures. I have had run-ins with the National Statistician before for revealing drugs figures outside the normal cycle, so I will not do so again, but I am confident that the performance on interception of serious or class A drugs is strong.

Q82 Bridget Phillipson: How do the figures you have just mentioned compare with the same period in the year before?

Damian Green: The most recent figures, as I said, I cannot give to the Committee, for reasons that you will understand, but we absolutely do not denude customs to fill immigration desks. The whole point of the mobile teams is that they can be deployed at either immigration or customs. The best customs work is often done on an intelligence-led basis: we know an individual before he appears, and he has taken lots of trips from Colombia or something like that, so we will just check his baggage once or twice.

Q83 Bridget Phillipson: So were the figures you have just given higher or lower?

Damian Green: I do not have April 2011 with me, but I will be happy to write to the Committee about that, if that is okay.

Q84 Chair: Finally on the airports issues, before we move on to the other sections of your portfolio, the Government are very keen on new technology. I mentioned the e-gates being closed at Stansted and the contract ending at 12 midnight, when passengers were still landing. One of the points raised by the airport with me was the speed of the computer system when your passport is, basically, swiped. I watched this for half an hour on Sunday night. It took about 30 seconds for a passport to be swiped-this is not through the e-gates, but when it was done manually. I arrived this morning and put my Oyster card on the Oyster card reader and I got through in, literally, two seconds. If you look at other ways in which new technology works, it can actually be much quicker-if you google a name, Google searches through 2 billion pieces of information and gives you an answer very quickly. Is there scope for looking at the quality of our new technology at the point of entry-not the e-gates, I am talking about the manual checks-because each 30 seconds, as Mr Barton pointed out to me on Sunday, adds up to even longer queues. Could we look at that? Is that something you will be looking at?

Damian Green: We are permanently looking at technology, and it improves all the time, as we all know. I would enter the caveat that of course the Oyster card just registers the fact that you have an Oyster card and that there is money on it, which is a relatively simple thing to extract electronically. There is a lot of important information and hugely sensitive information that needs to be taken out of the passport. It is not just the chip itself; it is that the passport has not been tampered with, and that the biometric picture in it has not been interfered with.

Q85 Chair: But it could be quicker than 30 seconds.

Q86 Damian Green: It could always be quicker. There are plenty of ways. I agree that saving seconds on each transaction is the way to reduce queues, and a lot more could be done when you have a load of people and there are 12 gates in front of them. Three or four seconds saved by someone going through faster, in the way that banks and supermarkets do, sounds quite trivial, but when you have 1,000 people in an arrival hall, saving four seconds a time is important. We always look at technology, and the e-gates are getting better. They are still not perfect, as you observed-

Q87 Chair: When they are open, they are getting better.

Damian Green: When they are open, they are getting better. But also, the more we have, the better it is. At the moment, we have banks of three e-gates, which take two officers. We have someone looking at the pictures, and someone else for those whose are rejected. You can do exactly the same if you have five e-gates. You still need only two people, so the productivity gains there are huge.

Q88 Chair: Are you conscious of the reputational damage that our country has suffered because of the stories in the media and the fact that the Prime Minister got involved in the issue? The airlines are upset, and the public are very upset. I went on a website listing the world’s five-star airports, and there is no British airport in the top five-star rating. Those are Hong Kong, Seoul and Singapore, and the world’s four-star airports range from Abu Dhabi to Frankfurt and Dusseldorf-competitors of our airports. There is no British airport in the top four-star rating. Is that a worry for the Government, or is it seen as just a seasonal issue?

Damian Green: Of course, it is a worry for the Government. I am conscious of not wanting to stray beyond my brief, not least because the Transport Secretary is about to publish a consultation document on airport capacity in south-east England. I am aware, not least from reading yesterday’s London Standard, that BAA and BA are very seized of a wider issue than queues, and certainly a much wider issue than Border Force-

Q89 Chair: But you think your solution will bring an end to the damage?

Damian Green: Inasmuch as Border Force can contribute to this wider debate by making sure we have the right people in the right place at the right time, then we are doing everything we can to try to achieve that.

Chair: Thank you.

Q90 Michael Ellis: Minister, there has been a suggestion that money spent on new uniforms could have been better spent elsewhere. I understand that the uniforms for the Border Force were due for replacement. Can you tell us a little about that?

Damian Green: Uniforms wear out. The previous uniform was bought three years ago, so people are wearing worn-out uniforms at the moment. I read those reports as well, and went back and checked the details. The uniform budget for the Border Force this year is £1.1 million. The uniform budget for the Border Force last year was £1.1 million. That does not seem to me to be a huge expansion of spending on uniforms. They wear out, and they must be replaced.

Michael Ellis: I agree.

Q91 Dr Huppert: Minister, almost exactly a year ago, on 9 May, I raised a question with you in the House about the treatment of children born overseas to unmarried male British citizens before 2006, who are not eligible for citizenship by descent, whereas those born after 2006 are. You highlighted, correctly, that that is an odd hangover from previous legislation. I think you had argued against it two years previously to that. At the time, you said that it could not be changed because there was no appropriate primary legislative vehicle going through the House. Given that the Crime and Courts Bill deals with some immigration law changes, would you consider looking at whether that could be used to correct this anomaly?

Damian Green: I’ll obviously look at that, but I am not conscious that the long title would allow it. Off the top of my head, I cannot recite the long title of the Crime and Courts Bill.

Q92 Dr Huppert: But you will have a look.

Damian Green: Yes.

Q93 Alun Michael: We have been given some figures about foreign national offenders released on bail. Apparently, only 10% who are released on bail while awaiting deportation are released by the Border Agency; 90% are released by the courts. Are you happy with those figures, and what view do you take on the way that that issue should be dealt with?

Damian Green: By definition, I am not happy, because UKBA releases a small number, as you say. Those figures are exactly accurate: 10% by UKBA; 90% by the courts. UKBA does it having assessed that the risk of harm to the public is low and that there is no realistic prospect of removal in a reasonable period of time. That is the only time UKBA decides to release someone, but other people go to the courts and argue their case. UKBA challenges that and we lose those cases, which is frustrating. What we are trying to do about it is to extend and improve our returns procedures with as many countries as possible. I was in China a few weeks ago and had fruitful discussions there. It is often a question of providing documentation. These will be people who, characteristically, do not have it-they have destroyed their passports.

Q94 Alun Michael: Sure, but that 90% seems a very high proportion. Do you have concerns about the current framework of the law and the decision making that is taking place?

Damian Green: In all sorts of fields, as well. In a few weeks, we will be revealing the results of our consultation on the use and abuse of article 8 of the human rights convention by people whom we think probably shouldn’t have a right to stay in this country. So there are legislative things that we can and will do, and also practical things.

Q95 Alun Michael: Is that about the legislation, the court making a judgment, or a failure of the evidence that is provided to the courts? Do you see my point?

Damian Green: Yes, I do. On the article 8 point, it is a peculiarity that, since the Human Rights Act was passed in 1998, Parliament has not uttered anything legislative in any way about the balance between the rights of society and the rights of the individual under article 8-there has been a vacuum. That vacuum has been filled by judges as cases come before them. I dare say many members of this Committee would agree with me that the balance has not been struck in exactly the right place, so we will seek to give better and more precise guidance to the courts as to where Parliament thinks that balance should lie.

Q96 Alun Michael: So this would be subsidiary legislation, rather than primary legislation?

Damian Green: There will be a parliamentary vehicle for it. That is, I think, all I had better say at the moment.

Q97 Mark Reckless: Minister, if we are keen to have the judges defer to a degree to what you say Parliament will have said, and you have then said "we", would it not be better to put this in primary legislation rather than immigration rules? If it is just in a statutory instrument, surely there should be a positive procedure and a Committee to speak to it?

Damian Green: Immigration rules are not statutory instruments. Slightly oddly, they are a sui generis piece of legislation. As you observe, I am constrained in what I can say, but we will ensure that Parliament has had a say, so it is Parliament speaking and not just Government.

Q98 Steve McCabe: Minister, I know you do not like to rely too heavily on newspaper reports, but I wondered if anyone had brought to your attention stories that apparently come from the Heathrow Independent Monitoring Board report. They say that you are keeping children of all ages at Heathrow airport, sometimes overnight, without sleeping accommodation and only hand basins for washing, and often they are forced to share space with unrelated adults. Is that true?

Damian Green: I do not need to rely on the newspaper reports, because I have obviously seen the report of the monitoring board. I visited some of these holding facilities at Heathrow and they are not ideal. The report used language that I would not have used-it talked about "degrading" and I think that is too strong, frankly-but they are not ideal.

Q99 Steve McCabe: But is it true that they do not have sleeping accommodation, that the only place they can wash is hand basins, and that they are sharing space with unrelated adults? Is that true?

Damian Green: What they do is create temporary sleeping accommodation, which I completely agree with the monitoring board is not ideal. For some time now, the Border Force and, indeed, before that, when it was part of the UKBA-UKBA has been in negotiations with BAA, because in the end, it is their airport, their rooms. If the UKBA wants to use a room for anything, it has to pay rent.

Q100 Steve McCabe: How old are these children, Minister?

Damian Green: They’re normally-there are not many children. They would normally be-if they’re unaccompanied, they will obviously be teenagers. There might be families. These rooms are designed for them to be held there for a couple of hours before being taken somewhere else. The only time they get held there for long periods is if they arrive, as they do-flights arrive at, I don’t know, 2 am on a Saturday morning. With the best will in the world, getting Hillingdon social services to send someone to collect them will take some hours. I don’t blame Hillingdon social services at all for that. That seems perfectly reasonable. So children are sometimes kept there for a number of hours, and these rooms are not ideal; I absolutely don’t contest that. We are trying very hard to negotiate a proper agreement with BAA that we can install shower facilities-proper facilities.

Q101 Mr Clappison: A few moments ago, you paid tribute-in my view, quite rightly-to immigration officers and their dedication. In view of the problems that we have been hearing about-people coming into this country with the wrong papers and people having to be held up at immigration checkpoints in this country-do you think there is a case for strengthening the discretion of immigration officers in post overseas?

Damian Green: Yes, I do. We are looking at ways of-in a properly targeted way-using interviews more, so that it’s not an entirely paper-based system. I can quite see why the previous Government went from what was purely an interview-based system to a much more objective system. Given the numbers applying, you have to have that degree of objectivity. But in a sense, I think the pendulum has swung too far into just automatic checks of documentation and that you’ve filled in a form correctly. A bit of credibility testing of individuals will actually improve the security of the border.

Q102 Mr Clappison: I think you mentioned Lagos a little while ago in your evidence. I visited Lagos in the last Parliament with this Committee, and an immigration officer made the point to me there that they had special local knowledge and discretion and insight based on their knowledge of local conditions, which enabled them to form a judgment, but that sometimes they were not able to give effect to that judgment in an exercise of discretion and prevent people from arriving at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted in the first place.

Damian Green: Yes, immigration officers have made the same point to me, and I should say, because you make the very important point that it’s better to stop them before they get on the plane, that we now have the RALON network, our airline liaison network, which is increasingly effective at doing precisely that. We stop more than 1,000 people a month getting on planes to come to this country. That’s cheaper and better. It’s one of the bits of the system that is getting distinctly better.

Q103 Chair: But that is what this Committee has been saying for the last five years-that we should have more face-to-face interviews. We warmly welcome what you are doing in Pakistan, but that needs to be extended. One concern that members of the Committee have and I have is about the Government’s proposal to abolish the right of appeal for family visitors. We conclude that the reason why this has happened is that the Government lose so many of these appeals-I think currently it’s about 50%-and the way to stop this loss is just to take away the right of appeal. Why are the Government proposing to do this when it is a system that works and gives people the opportunity of challenging decisions?

Damian Green: Because it’s not a system that works. It was introduced in 2000, having been abolished in 1993. In 2000, the projection was that there would be 20,000 appeals a year. There are now 50,000 appeals a year, costing £29 million, and of the cases that the UKBA loses-you’re right, Mr Chairman: it loses many of them-63% are lost entirely because of new evidence introduced at the appeal stage. So not only does it absolutely not work from the taxpayer’s point of view, but from the point of view of the individual, if you have made a genuine mistake on your application and you apply again, you will normally get a reply within 15 days. If you go through the appeal system, it can take eight months, so for the individuals it’s better just to apply again. If you have made a genuine mistake, that’s quicker, better and cheaper.

Q104 Chair: With the greatest respect, Minister, 90% of my case load is about immigration, but nobody has come to me and said that the best way to sort out the system is to abolish the right of appeal. They have, however, said that there needs to be a better system of administrative review. Those who oppose the abolition of the right of appeal would like to look at the alternative. If the alternative is just to place everything back into the hands of the entry clearance officer or the manager in the post abroad, you are not going to get a better system. You will get a system where ECOs and ECMs are going to be inundated with letters from Members of Parliament asking for cases to be reviewed.

I know that you weren’t in the Chamber when I put this to the Home Secretary last week, but in your absence she has offered a meeting between you and Members from across the House who are deeply concerned about the effect that this is going to have on settled British citizens. There is a way of checking whether people have gone back-I send my constituents who get to win an appeal back to the high commission and get them to show that they have returned.

Damian Green: The current system is an absolute gold mine for immigration lawyers. They are the people who benefit most from it and who will object most to it being taken away. However, it is not something that was written in the Magna Carta. No other country does it and we don’t allow it for other types of visa. There has been a lot of discussion this morning about Britain’s image with business people, but you don’t get this right of appeal if you come on a business visa. It is an anomaly in the system that is hugely expensive for the taxpayer.

Q105 Chair: Are you prepared to meet and talk to those who deal with a lot of immigration cases from all sides of the House?

Damian Green: Yes, of course.

Q106 Chair: I have to declare my interest because my wife is an immigration lawyer, but she does not benefit from this particular measure. Obviously, constituents would like a quicker system. If you have applied to bring someone in for a wedding, you don’t want to wait eight months.

Damian Green: Exactly; that is my point.

Q107 Chair: But are you prepared to look at a quicker system?

Damian Green: Any system would be quicker. I am quite happy to have the meeting.

Chair: Okay. Mr Winnick.

Q108 Mr Winnick: The appeals system was set up on 1 July 1970, and I believe that I was involved in one of the very first cases at Gatwick airport. Minister, you say that appeals are won because evidence is produced later, but surely immigration judges will judge the case as it was at the time of the application. If new evidence comes to light, usually the appeal will be dismissed and a new application will have to be made abroad.

May I emphasise the Chair’s point? For people who want to come and visit, will this not mean-as with the previous Conservative Government-that immigration officers who do the interviewing abroad will be the judge and jury? When the answer is no, the sponsors in Britain will inevitably go to their Member of Parliament, who will then write to the Minister, who will probably tell us, "Well, the person has been interviewed abroad. The immigration officer has come to such a conclusion, and that is it." What sort of justice is that?

Damian Green: I must point out as gently as I can that five minutes ago, the Chairman was applauding the fact that we are giving more responsibility to ECOs and ECMs abroad who are doing the interviews. Mr Winnick, you are now objecting to that system.

Chair: No.

Q109 Mr Winnick: No, not at all. I am just saying that the immigration officer will be judge and jury.

Damian Green: Let us look at what happens now. In 2011 we had 452,200 family visitor applications, 83% of which were granted. In more than four out of five cases there is no issue at all. Some 78% were granted on application, and 4% were granted after appeal. This is a small part of it. In no way are we trying to stop people coming to visit relatives in this country, and the vast majority of them will do so. Advice can be given; more and more applications are done online so that people can read the instructions while they are filling in the form and so on.

As I have said, with all due respect to respectable, good and competent immigration lawyers such as your wife, Mr Chairman, the people benefiting most from this are immigration lawyers. The system is not working.

Q110 Mark Reckless: Minister, you say that with the 82% who are accepted, there is no issue, but surely it is at least possible that some of those are wrongly admitted and may go on to overstay.

Damian Green: It is possible. That is inherent in the nature of issuing visas: you may issue a visa to somebody who then abuses it. What we pay entry clearance officers to do is minimise that risk. That is what we do. That is the way that any immigration system works.

Q111 Mark Reckless: But surely if immigration officers, like anyone else, are to do their job well in clearing people or otherwise, there should be scrutiny of that process. If the right of appeal is removed, does that not risk their doing the job badly but no one knowing about it, except the MPs who get the complaints?

Damian Green: The management will be able to see whether patterns emerge. As I said, this is not some new thing. This is how the system used to work. This is how every other country runs its visit visa system. This is how we run other parts of our visit visa system. This is not any great innovation.

Q112 Mark Reckless: On the issue of cost, if there are too many appeals-50,000 or so, rather than the 20,000 expected-and this is costing us £10 million or so a year-

Damian Green: It is £29 million.

Q113 Mark Reckless: You put out a briefing saying that it was £101 million over about 10 years, which I thought was an unusual way to deal with it, but whatever the precise cost, to the extent that it is too high or the taxpayer is having to pay for it, surely the solution is to increase the fee for making an appeal.

Damian Green: I think that that would have its own level of controversy.

Q114 Chair: Well, we will come and talk to you about it. Finally, on bonuses, are you happy with the fact that £3.58 million has been paid out in bonuses to the senior management of the UKBA?

Damian Green: It has not been paid out to senior management. This is another story that grew slightly in the telling.

Q115 Chair: Well, do clarify.

Damian Green: Actually, it is being paid out to many thousands. That £3.5 million includes all the merit payments paid to members of staff of both UKBA and Border Force. It is not, if you like, a few senior managers at the top being paid huge sums of money. Nobody got a bonus of more than £10,000. Characteristically, this money would have been a few hundred pounds paid to middle-ranking officials who were judged by their Ministers to be doing a good job. This is not a City-style bonus culture.

Q116 Chair: But why are we paying bonuses at all to people for doing their job in an organisation that this Committee, former Home Secretaries and present Ministers have already said is not doing its job to the satisfaction of the public? Why are we paying any bonuses to these people?

Damian Green: Individuals within any large organisation-if we put the two back together, as they were during this period, we are talking about an organisation with more than 20,000 employees, many of whom-

Michael Ellis: Are doing a good job.

Damian Green: Doing a good job. The pay system is negotiated so that people are rewarded in, as I said, a pretty modest way. It will be a few hundred pounds for the vast majority of those receiving bonuses. As a reward, it is relatively normal. It is not-

Q117 Chair: And you are happy with that? You are happy with the bonuses being paid?

Damian Green: There is a wider issue about bonuses in the public sector which is, I think, above my pay grade.

Q118 Steve McCabe: Minister, I want to come back to this. It is very convenient to play it down as a few hundred pounds, but most people would think that £10,000 is quite a lot of money for someone who is already being paid to do their job, in this day and age. Your staff say that they get £10,000 only if they have <?oasys [pc10p0] ?>demonstrated exceptional performance. Can you tell us how many people got £10,000, and what was the exceptional performance?

Damian Green: That is the sort of thing that is better done in writing, because some of it will be individual.

Q119 Chair: Two individuals got £10,000. It has already been told to us.

Damian Green: Well, it is the second half of the question, really, about what the exceptional performance was.

Q120 Chair: Would you write to us and tell us the grade of the persons? I think Mr Ellis is bursting for a final question.

Michael Ellis: I am all right, thank you very much. The Minister has capably answered the question.

Chair: Thank you. Dr Huppert is bursting for a question.

Q121 Dr Huppert: I want to come back, if I may, to the issue of appeals. Minister, I hope I heard you edging towards an improved review process, because I think we would all agree that the current situation does not work well. I certainly recommend that constituents put in a fresh application rather than appeal, because of timeliness. We could perhaps distinguish between cases where somebody has not provided the correct information in their approach-which raises questions about whether the information is being given to them correctly-but where I can see the Minister’s argument, and those where UKBA asks for unreasonable information. I had a constituent recently whose father wanted to come in. They had birth certificates, copies of the passports and various others things, and the ruling was that they were not sufficiently sure that they were all genuine or that he was genuinely the father, but I happen to know that he is. That strikes me as something that somebody could not realistically be expected to provide at the beginning. There should be some sort of review mechanism that can say, "We need a little bit more on this," rather than a complete rejection.

Damian Green: Senior managers-entry clearance managers-can always do that. Obviously, if you know an individual personally, that is a different slant. I am afraid that there are countries in the world where we insist that every document is approved by a lawyer and, instantly, corrupt lawyers appear, whose entire income appears to derive from forged documents. It is unsurprising that UKBA is institutionally wary in certain parts of the world, particularly of documents that are produced. I do not think that one should blame any entry clearance officer for that.

Chair: Minister, thank you very much for coming, as usual. We shall see you again in the not-too-distant future.

Damian Green: I am sure. Thank you very much.

Chair: Or at Stansted or Heathrow airport.

Damian Green: Or when we hit the same airport at the same time.

Chair: Thank you very much.

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Lucy Moreton, Head of Litigation, Immigration Services Union, and Paul O’Connor, National Officer for the Home Office, Public and Commercial Services Union, gave evidence.

Q122 Chair: Ms Moreton and Mr O’Connor, thank you very much for coming to give evidence. My apologies: we have been over-running because of the interest in this subject from members of the Committee.

Perhaps I could start with you, Mr O’Connor. What is morale like in the service?

Paul O'Connor: I think when you consider the question of morale, you have to think about the atmosphere that border officers are working in: they are suffering from chronic understaffing due to a jobs cut programme, from consecutive years of pay freezes and pay caps, and they are really struggling at the borders to provide the public service they want to provide. I spoke to one of our reps at Heathrow yesterday and asked him a direct question: "What is morale like at the coal face?" His response was that morale is not so much low as subterranean, so that gives you some flavour of how people feel.

Lucy Moreton: As I think you would expect-and the reason why you have asked the trade unions to speak with you today-morale is extremely poor. Yes, we are short-staffed, and yes, there are issues with consecutive pay freezes, but that could be seen across the civil service. Within UK Border Force specifically and UKBA more broadly, there is simply too much change too fast. The staff have faced four reorganisations in the past six years and four sets of uniforms. Largely it has been the same set of senior management throughout, but everything else has moved, and that is very fatiguing for them. They are facing a very rigid and difficult system of rostering, which not only doesn’t deploy staff when it’s supposed to, but makes it very difficult for them to achieve their work-life balance. They are facing shifts of 10 and 12 hours, and runs of shifts without a day off running into nine and 10 days. That is extremely fatiguing and very difficult to balance. If you want to have some sort of life outside of work-if you have child care, want to do further studies or volunteer-the fact that there is no leeway within that system makes that all impossible. Stress-related absence is rising-it was commented on in the Vine report-and I am afraid it will continue to rise throughout the summer.

Q123 Chair: We have been examining the queues this morning. How much of the queue build-up has been due to the fact that staff have been cut?

Lucy Moreton: It is a contributory factor. Passenger numbers would have risen at this time anyway. This was a relatively predictable rise running up to the Olympics. The staffing numbers that we have now were predicated on us being able to run a risk-based control and predicated on the delivery of certain sets of IT. We no longer run a risk-based control, for reasons that this Committee, particularly, will be very familiar with. The IT has not delivered what was hoped. Consequently we are trying to run the control that is rightly expected of us with the staffing designed to deliver a very different type of control. Yes, there are other elements around queuing: the bunching of flights by the airport authorities; issues with rostering-but, yes, a fair proportion of that is down to just staffing numbers.

Paul O'Connor: We would say that the queues that are being experienced at airports now are entirely due to staffing shortages, and the number of staff who have been laid off in the recent period. There has been a lot of talk about a risk-based approach to border control and whether that’s a better system than 100% checking, and I think some of the real story has been lost in the spat between Brodie Clark and the Home Secretary over who authorised what, where and when. The reality is that the risk-based approach-the entire rationale for its introduction was queue management, because there were not enough staff at the border controls to do the checks.

Q124 Chair: So you supported what Mr Clark was proposing to do-or did do, in fact.

Paul O'Connor: We think that there is room for a more rational debate about the whole issue of immigration, taking into account fully political, social and economic factors. Obviously we are not, as a union, privy to the type of information, in terms of intelligence, that the Home Secretary is privy to, but what we do say is that the Home Office has got to decide what level of checks it wants to perform, and then build a proper staffing complement around that. What it seems to have done instead is decide that it’s going to cut a quarter of the work force between now and 2015, and have absolutely no rationale about how it’s going to deliver the public services in the light of those cuts.

Q125 Michael Ellis: First of all, can I, through you, express my admiration for your members, who work very hard in what I appreciate are difficult and trying conditions, often with angry and tired passengers, to prevent the wrong people from entering the United Kingdom? I think we recognise that they are doing a difficult job.

Do you accept that the country cannot afford to go on the never-never? Savings have to be made. Do you accept that premise? You have just said that it is entirely due to staff shortages. The executive here from Virgin airways said that they attributed some of the problems at the airport to increased passenger numbers, difficulties with working patterns, and a move away from what he called risk-based security, as well as the staffing levels. So why is it that Virgin, among others, say there is a plethora of reasons why there are delays, but you want to attribute all the delays to the staff cuts?

Paul O'Connor: I think, on the first question, it is perhaps a question about the Government’s economic policy. I don’t know whether it is the right forum, but I’ll answer it none the less. Our view as a union is that the problem is being caused by a deficit to bail out the banking industry. We don’t see why ordinary workers in this country should pay for that, particularly when there’s £120 billion going uncollected, evaded or avoided in taxation every year. Instead of laying off workers in revenue-collecting departments we should be employing them to go out and bring that in. Then it would not be a choice between laying people off and having weak borders.

Q126 Michael Ellis: Those numbers are being increased, Mr O’Connor, not withdrawn.

Paul O'Connor: To answer the second part of your question, what we were told by the agency management at the time the cuts programme was being implemented was that the challenge for them was to deal with increased passenger volumes with reduced resources. So I accept that passenger volumes are on the increase, and that is part of the problem; but to suggest that the way to deal with that is to cut the number of staff who check those people coming through is nonsensical.

Q127 Michael Ellis: How about ensuring that all the staff are on duty at the right time and in the right place? We heard from the chief inspector of constabulary, in relation to policing, a couple of years ago, that only 11% of police officers were on duty and available to the general public at any one time. Is it not possible, therefore, as the police have been doing, to look at the correct management, rostering and flexibility of staff? We have heard about bunching of airline flights; we have heard about flexibility, from a number of different witnesses. How about, instead of the mantra of just employing more and more people, making sure that the people who are already employed are utilised effectively and efficiently? Surely, that is in your union’s interest.

Lucy Moreton: The UKBA could certainly roster staff significantly better than it is doing now, and that has been a constant theme throughout. A system of rostering was imposed, against the recommendations of staff and the trade unions, back in 2011, and it has failed. That has been found by the Vine report. It is not for us, as trade unions, to say, "I told you so", but we have a lot of experience, particularly in the ISU, because we represent such a narrow sector-we are only operational staff-and our members were saying, "It’s not going to deliver for the business." It is not resistance to change; it’s just about getting people in the right place at the right time.

We could roster a lot more carefully than we do, and that’s something we have been trying to take up with senior management for some time.

Q128 Mr Clappison: I shall ask this question of both of you. You may not be able to say-I don’t know, but I shall try it on you-but do you have any idea of the number of your members that would be required to deal with the problem of queues and to meet the challenge in the targets which we have heard about?

Lucy Moreton: That would depend on how you roster them: what sort of level of secure control you want. The closest I can get to an answer for you is that I understand that, at one point, an application to recruit a further 400 border officers was with the Home Secretary. I don’t know what has happened to that and I was not involved in the calculation of 400. But that’s as close as this union is able to come. I do not know if Mr O’Connor has more.

Paul O'Connor: I think if you look at the figures and the number of people who have been laid off in the past 12 months in Border, it is about 1,000. So, clearly, that is a huge gap for other people to make up. So we would want to see that sort of number re-recruited. It is no coincidence that the queues are on the increase since those people have gone.

What is worrying us, as well, is that this is not just a question about immigration control and passport control. Because immigration is the political priority, the vast majority of the Border Force’s resources are being deployed on to immigration, which means the customs operation is all but non-existent at Border.

Q129 Mr Clappison: On a separate subject, we understand that additional staff have been taken on to deal with the number of people expected during the Olympics period. Do you have a view on the training of those staff? From what you know of it, do you think they’ve been given sufficient training or not? And how would it compare with the training your people ordinarily receive, as full-time members of staff?

Lucy Moreton: The contingency training is two days to manage the EU element of the control and a further two days to manage the non-EU element. The learning and development unit, which is the section within UKBA responsible for delivering that, has made it clear that if you trained at a standard pace, that course would take 10 days to deliver. There’s a lot of pressure to get it through faster, so the delegates are given a lot of pre-course material to read and learn in advance.

In comparison, the proposed training plan for a border officer-we don’t actually have border officers at the moment: they haven’t been invented and we haven’t recruited any yet-is 15 weeks. The current training for a legacy immigration officer would have been six weeks classroom-based and a further four weeks’ practical, and I believe that, for a legacy Revenue and Customs officer, it would have been the same: six weeks and four. To squidge that into four days-I don’t think it’s rocket science to say that that cannot, under any circumstances, be adequate.

Q130 Mr Clappison: I hope they do better with their reading list than I used to do before my courses. But I’m sure they will do. Mr O’Connor, what do you think?

Paul O'Connor: We concur with that view. We think the training being offered is completely inadequate and is a recipe for disaster.

Q131 Mr Winnick: I asked the Minister at the Home Office whether he was willing to meet the unions. Understandably, he said it wasn’t his job to deal, for example, with pensions, although no one suggested that that would be his responsibility. But on the wider issues concerning what is happening at Heathrow, and the rest, have you sought a meeting with him and would he, in your view, be willing-in so far as you have had experience of these matters, have Ministers been willing to discuss issues with you, apart from what he referred to as some private meeting or gathering at Heathrow?

Paul O'Connor: I noticed, despite your pressing, that he was noncommittal about a meeting. Our experience has been that we are not able to secure a meeting. We wrote to the Home Secretary some months back to talk about all the issues that we are in dispute with the employer over. They include jobs, pay, privatisation and the imposition of draconian human resource policies. The Minister redirected us to the HR advisers who were in the Department to take forward discussions. Obviously, we have taken them up on that offer. We believe that we need a little bit more direct access to Ministers so that we can get across to them, face to face and in a quite forceful manner, what exactly is going on on the ground that they may not be hearing from their officials.

Q132 Steve McCabe: Ms Moreton, I wanted to ask about these e-gate barriers. You were quoted in an article in The Sunday Times, which claimed that the number of comparisons used at the e-gate barriers had been reduced in an effort to cut the number of queues. I asked the Minister about it earlier, and he said that that could not happen and that it was not technically possible to reduce the number of comparisons. He claimed that occasionally they were increased, but they were not reduced. Have you any comments to make on the article and on the suggestion that the Government have been reducing the number of comparisons in order to limit queuing?

Lucy Moreton: I think the Minister’s briefing might have been in error. It is certainly possible to reduce the level at which the checks are performed. The staff call it "the gain" on the machine, and that is the number of points of recognition. In fact, that was reported in John Vine’s report on Terminal 3. The fact of that reduction was recorded there. It is not something I have personal experience of-I am a full-time trade union official-but that is what our members are telling us. It is not so much about reducing queues, although that is very much part of it, but about reducing the number of false positives-the number of people for whom a comparison is not found, and they are held in a gate and an officer has to intervene with, "Well, actually they had glasses in the photo and they don’t now." But reducing the gain or the sensitivity does increase the risk at the gates.

Q133 Bridget Phillipson: To what extent are the airlines responsible for this? Do you think that the airline arrival schedules and flight and passenger information are causing problems with queuing, or are they not factors at all?

Lucy Moreton: Bunching is definitely a factor. It is commercially inevitable that everyone is going to want the most popular slots. If you are flying the business red eye from New York, you are going to want it in London between 7.30 and 8 because it will enable you to get into the City for 9. That is going to happen. The passenger data are not accurate. I have made inquiries to see if we can find out why they are not accurate. There is an organisation within UKBA called JBOC1-I presume the Committee is familiar with it-which is responsible for receiving the passenger manifests and checking the names against the varying databases that are held. It is estimated that at Heathrow, for a third of the JBOC alerts that are issued daily, the people do not turn up; they are not detected on arrival. Did they buy a ticket but not board the aircraft? Did they board that aircraft, but were connecting out of the UK again, in which case they had no cause to approach UKBA; or did they, as has happened on occasion, approach UKBA and get through? We simply do not know the answer. That indicates quite starkly how inaccurate the data are. I am not privy to what measures UKBA or even the Government would have to use to put pressure on a commercial operation, particularly one not based in this country, to improve that data.

Paul O'Connor: The issue is that it is commercial pressure for the airline. They want the peak arrival slots. Again, the Government have to ask themselves whether they are really serious about stimulating growth and bringing in investment. If they are, what they need to do is facilitate the arrivals at those times by having a properly staffed border operation to improve the passenger experience.

Q134 Bridget Phillipson: And you think that job losses and staffing is the single biggest factor?

Paul O'Connor: It is absolutely the single biggest factor.

Q135 Mr Clappison: I was struck by what you were telling us, Lucy, about the JBOC system and not knowing how many passengers would be coming through the border controls. Do they not know how many people are going on to connecting flights? Surely, in this computerised age, it should be possible to have information like that. One assumes that it is mostly people who are going on to connecting flights, not people who have wasted money on not catching flights.

Lucy Moreton: I asked the same question, because it seemed bizarre to me. There are networks of airlines that share data with one another-the Star Alliance is one of the larger ones. Other than that, I understand that it is a matter of commercial pressures and that they do not share the data with each other. So airline one bringing a passenger into the UK simply does not know that that passenger has a connecting ticket out an hour later if it is not on a related airline. It should be possible, but it is not.

Q136 Chair: Did you hear in the Minister’s evidence that, as far as Heathrow was concerned, there were only going to be 3,000 passengers arriving on Monday morning, but that 7,000 passengers arrived? I wonder how that is possible. If there are defined slots and it takes quite a while to fill an aircraft, how is it possible that between the information being received on Sunday, when this officer got in for his shift, and Monday, when the Minister arrived at the airport, another 4,000 passengers suddenly appeared? How is that possible? Because, as I keep telling everybody, I went to Stansted and when I looked at the AOS system, it had the details of every single airline, the number of passengers, the number of disabled passengers, when the plane had taken off and when it had landed. That information was given to UKBA. How is it possible for an extra 4,000 passengers to suddenly arrive?

Lucy Moreton: I can only speculate, but perhaps someone made a mistake. Once the flight is in the air, you know who is on it. That is a counter-terrorism issue. You know who is on board the aircraft once it is flying.

Q137 Chair: You say "once it is in the air", but the Committee has seen the way in which the American system operates in Miami. Once the flight is booked and once they board, you know who is on the plane. Is that not right? Am I getting this wrong?

Lucy Moreton: I believe that that is correct for the US. I am told that JBOC receives its passenger manifests 24 to 48 hours before departure, because it takes that long to process them. There is considerable tilling, then, with people who have brought last-minute tickets travelling at short notice and people ceasing to travel at short notice. That said, a discrepancy of 4,000 passengers is a bit big to be accounted for that way.

Q138 Chair: It is, and the Committee will want to investigate this JBOC further. Wherever it is located in the United Kingdom, we will find it.

Lucy Moreton: It is in Liverpool.2

Q139 Michael Ellis: I am also struck by what you have said about JBOC. It is something that I put to the airlines earlier this morning, and they did not seem quite so keen to accept that the information they provide is not always perfect 100% of the time. In your experience with your union members, that is one of the reasons for delays, presumably, in that the information is incorrect and therefore it causes a backlog.

Lucy Moreton: It wastes little time on the primary arrivals control, but if the alert is of a sufficient magnitude, either police or arrest-trained border officers may be dispatched to the aircraft to meet and then apprehend that individual-if there is an outstanding arrest warrant, for example. That can take a team of 12 away from the primary arrivals control. If that individual is not on the aircraft, that is a waste of time.

Q140 Michael Ellis: Are you able to say anecdotally how often that happens as a percentage? How often would it be? Would there be an erroneous piece of information on every other aircraft, or would it be more frequent or less frequent? How often are we talking about?

Lucy Moreton: The closest I think I can get for you is what I was given from staff at Heathrow yesterday. They estimate that of the 10 to 14 alerts they get per day at Terminal 5-the officer to whom I was speaking was based there-three or four per day never turn up or are not encountered. That is where I got my very rough figure of a third of JBOC alerts from. I am afraid that I cannot get closer than that.

Q141 Chair: At the end of the day, you have seen the public concern about the number of queues at Heathrow. Are you satisfied that the proposals the Minister has talked about-first to the House, and again today-are going to deal with the issue of the long queues at some of our airports?

Lucy Moreton: Regretfully not.

Q142 Chair: You do not think that that is going to happen.

Paul O'Connor: We think it has just papered on the cracks. What the Minister has done is to bring in a mobile team of 80 people, deployed from elsewhere in the country, flown in at great expense.

Q143 Chair: Flown in from where?

Paul O'Connor: Flown in from other areas of the country-places like Manchester and Belfast, according to reports we have heard. People are being flown in on shifts, so they are not even completing a full shift at Heathrow. That is costing the taxpayer an inordinate amount of money in extra expenditure for flights, hotels, taxis, car-parking fees, and everything else. It makes more sense to us to have a permanent work force at Heathrow dealing with that job.

Q144 Chair: And the peaks and troughs of people arriving, as I saw for myself, are entirely predictable, are they not?

Lucy Moreton: Largely, yes.

Q145 Chair: You cannot just get an aircraft arriving that nobody knows about-unless it comes from Mars.

Lucy Moreton: We try not to.

Chair: You know when it is coming.

Mr O’Connor, Ms Moreton, thank you very much for coming to give evidence. Please keep in touch with the Committee. We will remain interested in this issue. Thank you, and apologies for keeping you waiting.

Lucy Moreton: Not at all, thank you.

Examination of Witness

Witness: Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive, UK Border Agency, gave evidence.

Chair: Mr Whiteman, thank you very much for coming in. My apologies-it is not often you get an apology from me, but you do today, for keeping you waiting.

Rob Whiteman: I’ll savour it, Chairman.

Q146 Chair: I apologise-we have had the Minister and others in to talk about queues at airports. You are very fortunate that you are not responsible for the UK Border Force any more. Were you surprised, disappointed, shocked or relieved when the Home Secretary rang you up and said that a third of your job had disappeared?

Rob Whiteman: The UK Border Agency, as the country’s immigration agency, is a significant job, and as I covered with you last time and will doubtless cover today, a significant amount of improvement and transformation is needed to our immigration system. My job of running the immigration system is considerable.

Q147 Chair: So you did not mind.

Rob Whiteman: The Home Secretary’s decision to say that UKBA is responsible for the country’s immigration system, but the job of border control and customs and revenue should be a separate organisation, because one organisation should not carry out those two major roles-

Q148 Chair: At the time you were appointed, you were given the whole shebang, but you do not mind it going somewhere else, because you think that you can focus more on the stuff you are doing. Is that what you are telling the Committee?

Rob Whiteman: Yes, that is what I am saying, Chairman. What has happened to UKBA over the last year means that the agency should now be able to focus on its primary job. The decision over a year ago, after Ms Homer left, to put ministerial policy into the Home Office-it was very unusual for an executive agency to have that ministerial policy role. The decision of the Home Secretary to make a separate organisation of our border security function again means that UKBA should now focus on its job of running the country’s immigration system.

Q149 Chair: Good, I think that is a fair point. You did not say, "No, no, I want to keep it." You just said, "Yes, good idea."

Rob Whiteman: I did.

Q150 Chair: I am going to start with another bit of praise for you. Your last letter to the Committee-as you know, we are examining the UKBA every four months-was a model for a reply to a Select Committee, compared with your predecessor, who wrote in huge paragraphs, and we made no sense of her letters. You were actually replying to questions that had been put to you. I am not saying that there was all the information we need, but you are replying, and you did sort of reply within the deadline. You certainly rang me up and asked for a short extension. We are extremely grateful for that, and we hope that this will be the way in which UKBA continues to deal with the Committee.

Rob Whiteman: Thank you, Chairman. We are trying hard, and we will continue to work hard in order to give you the information in the form that you want.

Chair: Excellent.

Rob Whiteman: I appreciate your comments; thank you.

Q151 Chair: So, from a bit of praise to a tiny bit of criticism-I am sorry to tell you-over the issue of your computer system that crashed at Lunar house. Hundreds of people were turned away, and we hear that some were in tears at the fact that the system did not work. What went wrong? Have we got compensation from the IT company? Will it happen again, and have we rearranged all the appointments?

Rob Whiteman: We contacted people over the bank holiday weekend and rearranged appointments. Around 500 appointments that were cancelled were rearranged. The issues around IT are incredibly frustrating for my staff, as well as for our customers. When I meet staff, it is a constant frustration that systems do not work all the time and that some of the resilience issues do not conform to common standards. In terms of morale and other issues, it is absolutely vital that we get to the heart of these IT problems. They are complex, yes, but-

Q152 Chair: Yes, but we do not want to go into that now. Do we know why it broke down?

Rob Whiteman: We do know why it broke down. It was an error on the network that affected the way appointments were queued from the system, and therefore they could not travel properly around the network. It was an IT failure, but, to answer your question, I have discussed this several times with the Chief Executive of the IT company that is the primary IT provider.

Q153 Chair: What is the company?

Rob Whiteman: I would rather not say.

Q154 Chair: I am sorry, Mr Whiteman; this is a Select Committee of the House-

Rob Whiteman: It is Atos.

Q155 Chair: There is no need to be secret with us; we will find out. It is public money. It is not coming out of your pocket. The taxpayer is paying. What is the name of the company?

Rob Whiteman: Atos.

Q156 Chair: And what was his explanation as to why it broke down?

Rob Whiteman: The reason I was reluctant, Chairman, is that we have a contract with Atos. It is trying its best to resolve the issues, but obviously we are being a demanding client and saying that performance is not good enough.

Q157 Chair: As you should be.

Rob Whiteman: I would not want to cast aspersions on the effort that it is making. It has put an additional team in to try to analyse the problem, and I receive daily and weekly reports from them. The point I would make is that in terms of UKBA improving over the next couple of years-

Q158 Chair: Yes, we will come on to that in a minute.

Rob Whiteman: Some of the things are quick. IT is going to be a recurring theme, and at the moment we have to put in place some reviews and studies, because while we have now stabilised this position with the appointments-we have rebooked appointments and we have dealt with it-the systems are still prone to resilience problems. That will not be put right overnight.

Q159 Chair: So in English, as opposed to UKBA-speak: it’s going to go wrong again. We know it is going to go wrong again.

Rob Whiteman: It could. At the moment, systems are prone to falling over. I hope that that is in English.

Q160 Chair: The worry for this Committee-of course, this predates you-is that we have had a long running saga with the Home Office and UKBA about IT. Some £750 million was going to Raytheon, and they are now in litigation. You have said that you are going to scrap the iris scanners-£9.1 million of public money. Then there are the e-gates that I saw at Stansted that did not work after midnight, because people went home. We do not expect Ministers to be responsible for this, but we do expect senior officials to be able to do this. Who is taking grip of the IT problem at UKBA?

Rob Whiteman: I am, Chairman. As Chief Executive, it is my job to deal with some of the recurrent and underlying issues. Let me reassure you: every effort has been made to stabilise the problems that occurred. They have been put right and we rebooked appointments. We do not want the problems that you talk about to occur again, and it will take some considered work in the months ahead to review fundamentally the resilience of our IT arrangements.

Q161 Chair: How long is the contract with Atos? You did not sign that contract.

Rob Whiteman: No. I do not have that information to hand, Chairman.

Q162 Chair: Could you tell us that and the value of the contract?

Rob Whiteman: Yes.

Q163 Bridget Phillipson: Mr Whiteman, you referred to Lunar House and I thought that I would take this opportunity to raise this with you now. I have written to the Minister asking to visit Lunar House this summer-I have visited in the past-and no doubt that letter will come your way. I hope that it is possible to arrange that. Sometimes arranging visits with UKBA can be a little difficult. I hope that when I visit, we might see some improvement at Lunar House in how not simply UKBA staff but the staff employed on contract treat vulnerable people-that there is a little more care in future. I hope that we might have some improvement.

Rob Whiteman: I would be very pleased for you to visit, as, indeed, we always are. Staff enjoy visits and the opportunity to say how their work is going. If you have had trouble arranging a visit, I assure you that we will put that right.

Bridget Phillipson: Thank you.

Q164 Chair: Excellent. To conclude on IT and the breakdown of the system: it may well occur again, you have had meetings with the chief executive of the company, you are on to them all the time, they have put a team on to this, and you will let us know how long the contract has to run. Are there any other IT problems that you foresee that we should know about?

Rob Whiteman: Some of my comments are broader than just the biometric residence permit issue, because, of course, if we have problems with the network and the infrastructure, that could affect the operation of other applications, too. I hope I am being transparent.

Chair: Yes, you are.

Rob Whiteman: I think there is an issue there that could affect several applications and that will need proper resolution.

Chair: We will watch this space.

Q165 Mr Clappison: Going back to the famous situation that came to light in 2006 of foreign prisoners who had not been properly considered for deportation, 57 of them are still untraced. I know that that is only a small proportion of the original figure, but are efforts still being made to trace them and what is your view of them?

Rob Whiteman: Yes indeed, Mr Clappison. This is covered on page 2 of my letter to the Committee, where I point out: "Over 80% of the cases have been concluded". I would just say, by means of context, if I may, that this problem of people being released from-

Q166 Mr Clappison: Is that 80% of the 57?

Rob Whiteman: No, 80% of the 1,016.

Q167 Mr Clappison: Right. There are 57 who we know are untraced.

Rob Whiteman: The problem that occurred in 2006, which obviously got huge attention, of foreign national offenders who could be deported being released from prison without consideration for deportation, is a historic problem. This does not happen now. As people come to the end of their prison sentence, we can deal with that.

Mr Clappison: I understand that.

Rob Whiteman: For these 57 from 2006, we carry out extensive checks via the police national computer, we look at footprints, we look at DWP and HMRC, and we use financial tracing and Equifax, so every effort is being made to trace them.

Q168 Mr Clappison: Are you able to say, based on that type of approach, whether you think that some of them are still in the country?

Rob Whiteman: We will talk about the controlled archive later and we have some research that shows that the majority are not. I am more wary of saying that in relation to foreign national offenders because it is a much smaller sample. My view is that, given the amount of checks that we have carried out, a good number of them have probably left the country; but bearing in mind the small number and the nature of risk, it is still in the interests of the taxpayer and the country that we carry on checking for those 57. It is likely that a number of them have left the country.

With effect from 2015, when we will have e-Borders-the system that the Chairman has mentioned-we will be able to count people out as well as in, so we will have much better management information on flows in and out of the country. At the moment, we do not record people leaving the country in the way in which we record people coming in. It is a matter of tracing them. I think that a number of them will have left, but it is a small number and we will carry on our efforts for the immediate future to trace them on a regular basis.

Q169 Mr Clappison: On a different point on the same subject, we understand from what you have told us that no central record is kept of the time within which the National Offender Management Service refers foreign national offenders who are liable to deportation by the Border Agency. Are you satisfied with that?

Rob Whiteman: Of course, NOMS systems will show their data with regard to when somebody has entered its system. Our computer system shows when people have been referred to us. Our system does not take the information off NOMS. We believe that in the vast majority of cases the referral is made to us within five working days, as per the memorandum of understanding. We do not have a computer interface to confirm that, but we believe that the vast majority of cases are referred to us. We consider people for deportation 18 months before the end of the sentence, so between that five days and getting to the 18 months before, we could offer early release or facilitated release. In my view, that works satisfactorily. I do not come across cases in which NOMS is routinely referring cases to us later than five days. We believe that the memorandum of understanding is working well in terms of identifying people in the prison system as early as possible.

It helps, of course, that we have some FNO-only prisons. Indeed, the Minister continues to discuss the matter with the Ministry of Justice. Through our partnership working, if we can have another FNO-only prison, with our staff based there, the likelihood of people being referred to us within five days would be all the greater.

Q170 Steve McCabe: I wonder whether I can ask a quick follow-up on that point. Obviously, UKBA is responsible for deporting foreign offenders, but did I understand correctly that you told Mr Clappison that you are entirely reliant on NOMS advising you that someone is in the system? Therefore, if, by any chance, it does not happen to notify you, you would not be able to fulfil your responsibility to deport them. Is that right?

Rob Whiteman: Yes, and that is what happened in 2006, isn’t it?

Q171 Steve McCabe: I am not trying to get you into a corner, but I really want to understand this. Am I right in thinking the position is that you are responsible for the deportation, but you wait and hope that NOMS will advise you that a candidate is available? That system is inevitably prone to risk. Mr Clappison asked whether you were satisfied with it-I cannot understand why you are.

Rob Whiteman: The reason why I am satisfied with it is that it is working.

Q172 Steve McCabe: How can you possibly know?

Rob Whiteman: It is working, because we have a memorandum of understanding with NOMS to identify people.

Q173 Steve McCabe: But if NOMS forgot to notify you or if there were a breakdown at NOMS, you could not possibly know that, because you are entirely reliant on it. I am asking whether you are satisfied that that is the best system for you to be able to fulfil your responsibilities?

Rob Whiteman: We would know if it were failing.

Q174 Steve McCabe: How?

Q175 Chair: How would you know?

Rob Whiteman: Because NOMS would have management information. NOMS would know that a foreign national offender had reached the end of their sentence without being referred to UKBA.

Q176 Steve McCabe: And you would be entirely reliant on its advising you of that. That is the point I am making. You have no way of knowing.

Q177 Chair: I think the point that Mr McCabe is making is the same as the one that we made in our last report-that this should be notified directly at sentence. When a foreign national prisoner is sentenced, to a sentence that merits removal at its end, the notification should be made immediately. In your letter to me, you have no way of checking how many times the five-day target was met.

Rob Whiteman: Yes.

Q178 Chair: That’s the point that Mr McCabe is making. You were very clear. That is unsatisfactory. You, as the head of the UKBA, ought to know whether or not the memorandum that you have signed with the NOMS people-whoever they are-is working.

Rob Whiteman: Well, I do.

Q179 Chair: But you don’t know, because you have told us you cannot give us any information.

Rob Whiteman: Remembering, Chair, that in 2006, it was known that foreign national offenders were reaching the end of their prison sentence and could be deported-

Q180 Chair: Sorry, this is not about the end of the sentence; this is on sentencing. What you said in your letter, and what Mr McCabe is getting at, is that referral by NOMS within five days of sentencing-that is when you have to be under your memorandum of understanding. But in my letter to you, I asked how many times the target had been reached, and you cannot tell this Committee.

Rob Whiteman: That is the case, Chairman. I can tell this Committee that in the view of my staff, we are being given notification in sufficient time to be able to work with offenders before they come up for deportation. I can also say that people are not finishing their sentences and are not facing deportation.

Q181 Chair: Mr McCabe is saying, wouldn’t it be better that at the time of sentencing you were notified so that, rather than waiting for someone in NOMS to tell you, you could be told what was going on?

Rob Whiteman: Yes. If we could be notified at the time of sentence, we would welcome that. There are resource issues for NOMS, or resource issues for UKBA.

Chair: I think that is a simple fact, actually. Mr Michael is bursting to get in. We are all trampling on Bridget Phillipson’s question, but trample away!

Alun Michael: No, with respect, 21 comes before 22.

Chair: Yes, take it from here, Mr Michael.

Q182 Alun Michael: Can we just unpack this a little bit? We may be in danger of misunderstanding what is being said, listening to the responses. If there was a notification at the point of sentencing, that would presumably have to be done by the court through some automatic system. Am I right in saying that there is no communication to you from the court?

Rob Whiteman: It could be done two ways, Mr Michael. One would be a communication from the court to us. That would have a resource implication for NOMS. The other would be that we have staff in court to hear every sentence. That would have a resource implication for us.

Q183 Alun Michael: So, the period of five days is set to ensure that you know early in the sentence that there is somebody who requires your attention.

Rob Whiteman: Yes.

Q184 Alun Michael: So is the five days important, or is it the balance of the sentence that is important?

Rob Whiteman: It is the five days that is important. If, by the balance of the sentence, you mean the length of the sentence-

Q185 Alun Michael: If somebody is sentenced for two years, you get the notification within the five days. You have then got the remnant of that two years to do what you need to do.

Rob Whiteman: We have got enough time.

Alun Michael: Or the remnant of six months, or whatever it happens to be.

Rob Whiteman: We can automatically deport people, on the whole-two years for EEAs, two years for non-EEAs. So as long as we are notified within five days, we have time, within that year or two years, for the length of the sentence. It is the sentence that allows the automatic deportation. It reaches the threshold of what is called a criteria removal where, because of the nature of the sentence-the length of the sentence-we can automatically deport on expiry of the sentence, or we can encourage people to finish their sentence early so that we can deport them. In fact, one of the points that I make in the letter is that nearly half of deportations now finish before the expiry of the sentence. So, because we are notified within five days and we work with the offender, actually half of the cases now don’t reach the end of their sentence before we deport them. We are deporting them under the early release scheme, or the facilitated release scheme, and that is a success. We are pushing up the number all the time of prisoners we are deporting early.

Q186 Alun Michael: Can we just go to the other side of what the Chair was asking you about, which is being sure that cases aren’t missed? If a case was missed and notification early in the sentence-whether it is five days, six days or seven days when they told you-hadn’t happened, how would it pop out of the system that somebody had been overlooked?

Rob Whiteman: It would pop out of their system, because NOMS keeps a record of where it has identified that somebody is a foreign national. Where we get-the Committee has been made aware of this in the past-three or four cases in some years in which the system does not work, it is because, on very short sentences, the court sentences and releases on the same day because people have been held on remand. You will be aware, Mr Michael, that remand counts as double time towards the sentence. So, sometimes we get a small number of cases in which we don’t have people at court-which would not be in the interests of value for money-and they receive short sentences. In those cases, we obviously put people into our tracing arrangements and try to find them as absconders as quickly as possible.

Q187 Alun Michael: But is there a mechanism now whereby NOMS is looking out for that sort of case, so that you are pre-advised when somebody is getting towards court?

Rob Whiteman: There is. Again, I would say that the arrangements are working. People are being deported on expiry of their sentence.

Chair: Excellent. If we could have some figures, that would be very helpful. Thank you, Mr Whiteman.

Q188 Michael Ellis: Mr Whiteman, your own figures show that 3,900 foreign national offenders-criminals-are subject to deportation action who are living in the community, as of six weeks ago; the beginning of April, I think. I accept that two and a half thousand of those-2,467-were released over two years ago, and 817 were released over five years ago, but people are getting fed up with this.

The fact of the matter is that, despite previous incompetence that you have inherited-I appreciate that that is the case-too many foreign nationals who have committed criminal offences are here who, surely, should be deported, and it is taking too long. Why is it taking such a long time, and what is being done to address the backlog?

Rob Whiteman: I agree with you that it is taking too long. We do not want foreign national offenders to be in the community for several years before they are deported. I would remind you that, as we say in the letter, in 90% of these cases people are in the community because of a decision of the court and not a decision of the UKBA. Our view is that while people are facing deportation, those who are offenders should be held in detention.

People are released into the community because the court deems that we do not have a realistic prospect of quick removal, and therefore the offender has the right to be in the community rather than held under immigration powers. The reasons for that are the lengthy time it can take for a case to go through our judicial system. People have multiple rights of appeal on different points of law, and sometimes that can take several years to go through the system, particularly if it goes to a higher court.

There are some countries from which we have difficulty receiving documentation. We cannot just put somebody on a flight and send them home; they have to be documented in order that that country accepts them. Indeed, some people really try to frustrate the system and, even when they are documented, when they get to the other end they say, "I’m not really your nationality; I come from somewhere else" in an attempt to be sent back. In fact, we had a case of that recently; somebody had frustrated our attempts to deport them nine times and we finally got them out.

One point is documentation and the other, of course, is the legal issues that I spoke about-the appeal process. Some case law now makes it fairly difficult to remove-

Q189 Chair: European case law or British case law?

Rob Whiteman: Both. ZH (Tanzania) is a case-a Supreme Court case-that says that the interests of a child outweigh the interests of deporting a foreign national offender, so we have cases in which we would-

Q190 Michael Ellis: What about the interests of the general public?

Rob Whiteman: If I could just add to that? Just in terms of what we are doing about these issues, first of all-

Q191 Chair: I think Mr Ellis is keen to know from you that the 3,900 figure is going to come down-rapidly.

Rob Whiteman: Yes. I do not think I can guarantee that it will come down rapidly. I can guarantee-

Q192 Michael Ellis: Is it mostly due to foreign countries not co-operating? I take the point that you make about the appeals process, but usually there is a time limit of perhaps 21 or 28 days after the conclusion of a case for the defendant to appeal. After that time has elapsed, it ought to be assumed that their appeals process is not going to be utilised or that they have exhausted their appeal. Where there is obviously an appeal in progress, I accept that you have to wait, but where there is not, that should not be the case. Would you say it is mostly foreign countries not co-operating?

Rob Whiteman: It is a mixture of the three. First, getting to the stage of appeal rights being exhausted can take a long time if there are complex points of law around the family, for example, which will be contested through the courts. Secondly, on documentation, some Governments are not there. We need to have a functioning Government in order to be able to get documents. There are a few places in the world where, in effect, we are not able to make returns because no Government are in operation from whom we can get documents. Thirdly, there are some countries with which we ought to be able to document cases more quickly, and we are using a whole-Government approach so that all Departments are lobbying those countries on quickening up the documentary process.

Chair: It would be helpful, Mr Whiteman, if you let us have a list of those countries, and we will see what we can do to help.

Michael Ellis: Yes, that would be helpful.

Chair: Let us move on to the archive. I am sorry to hurry people along but you have been waiting a long time, Mr Whiteman, and I am conscious that you have important business to conduct.

Rob Whiteman: There is nothing more important than being here, Chairman, as you would expect me to say.

Chair: Good answer.

Q193 Steve McCabe: Clearly, we have time, Mr Whiteman. You said in your information to the Committee that you had been able to reduce the controlled archive, but it still stands at more than 100,000. Those are effectively cases that we have lost track of. Is that a fair way of describing it?

Rob Whiteman: The real issue about the controlled archive is that the majority of the cases have gone home.

Q194 Steve McCabe: But the fact is they are cases that are not completed. You may have your impression, but we do not totally know that, do we? We know you cannot account for what has happened in 100,000 cases. That is what it really means, is it not?

Rob Whiteman: Again, I hope in my few appearances here that I have been open and transparent.

Chair: Yes, you are. We keep saying that.

Rob Whiteman: I think that there are a small number of cases in the controlled archive that should not have been in there.

Q195 Steve McCabe: That is what I want to come to next. I am just trying to establish what it is. It is cases that are not completed. They may have gone home, but we do not actually know that. You say that the case assurance and audit unit is now going to carry out a manual audit of the controlled archive. Has that started, how will it proceed and what do you expect the result to be?

Rob Whiteman: We do know-

Q196 Steve McCabe: Has it started?

Rob Whiteman: It has started and it will be completed in the next couple of months. As I show on page 9 of the letter, we are making good progress on the asylum controlled archive. You will see that that has come down from a high of 98,000 to 80,000. I remind you that these are all cases that pre-date 2006. Many of these are cases that are six, eight, 10 years old and the reason they could not be concluded was that we could not contact the person at the time the legacy was closed. Where we carry out some sampling-as I said to the Committee earlier we do not have full e-Borders coverage of people leaving-we have strong evidence that shows that people have left. That is where we have been able to research a sample. We also know that these are people who have not left a footprint in terms of DWP, HMRC and Equifax tracing for more than six years and often longer.

We have to do two things. First, where there are cases that should not be in there-I know from the correspondence that MPs send me that there are cases, a minority of cases, that should not have been in there-or where information comes to light, we will put them in the live cohort, that top line of page 9. Where we do not have any evidence and where it is a significant amount of time, it is in the interests of the taxpayer to close that case because we are employing staff to carry out checks on people who have left a decade ago.

Q197 Chair: Yes, I think we would all accept that. However, looking at the table that you sent us, as Mr McCabe said, the asylum controlled archive has gone down by 13,000, but your live asylum cohort has gone up by 4,000.

Rob Whiteman: Yes.

Q198 Chair: The point is that in a sense, it is going from one tray to the other. The net figure that you have reduced it by is actually 7,000, but the migration controlled archive, which is a new archive that you created within the master archive-the main Tardis, as I like to call it-has gone down by 500. All in all it is a net decrease of 7,000. When the National Audit Office employed people to look at cases that you said could not be traced, it found a number of people that your organisation could not find.

Rob Whiteman: No. It employed a tracing agent in order to look at names. It found addresses but-I covered this in this Committee Room yesterday afternoon during the Public Accounts Committee-it did not find people. When we looked at those addresses, we didn’t find-

Q199 Chair: They weren’t there. They just had the footprint, but there was no foot, is that right?

Rob Whiteman: That is right. Over the next year we want to apply more widely the approach that we have adopted of intensively checking the controlled archive or tier 4. We want to be seen-it is important for UKBA to be seen to take action against overstayers, and we will do more of it.

Q200 Chair: Let us be clear for the record. Since our last report, the live asylum cohort has gone up by 4,000. The asylum controlled archive has gone down because you are pushing cases from one section to the other. The migration controlled archive has gone down by 500, and of the 7,600 cases dealt with by the CAAU, indefinite leave to remain has been given to 4,450.

Rob Whiteman: That is correct.

Q201 Chair: So of the 7,600 cases you have cleared, you have allowed 4,450 to stay and removed only 650.

Rob Whiteman: Yes. Can I just say in relation to the live cohort that although-

Q202 Chair: No. Are those figures right for the CAAU? Of the 7,600 cases, you have given leave to remain to some 4,000 and removed only 650.

Rob Whiteman: That is correct. This is at the top of page 8 of my letter, and it deals with original cases in the live cohort.

Q203 Chair: Of course. We like to know about these things.

What we call the legacy cases, which Mr Winnick talked about last time and the time before, were supposed to be cleared by July last year. How many have we got left in the CAAU as of this morning?

Rob Whiteman: I don’t have the figures as of this morning. I am allowed to give you our latest published figures as in the letter.

Q204 Chair: Okay. What are they?

Rob Whiteman: I will say that for the 80,000, we now have an extra resource team working on that in Liverpool, and the Committee is always welcome to visit should it wish. We are making intensive efforts, and my view is that we will close that 80,000 this year.

Q205 Chair: So by 31 December this year, that 80,000 will have gone.

Rob Whiteman: Yes. Where we come across that minority of cases that should not be there, those will add to the live cohort. Although it looks as if the live cohort has not really moved a lot, we have put extra cases in there and cleared a lot as well. We have cleared 4,500 cases in the live cohort, but we have added more to it.

Q206 Chair: I have not discussed this with the Committee, but that is a good timetable to stick to. By 31 December, everything in the asylum controlled archive will have closed.

Rob Whiteman: Of the 80,000, yes.

Q207 Chair: Good. How many are left in the CAAU?

Rob Whiteman: In terms of staff or work?

Chair: Work.

Rob Whiteman: Well, the cases that are presently in the live cohort or that will go in there-

Q208 Chair: But that is asylum. I mean migration cases.

Rob Whiteman: Of the migration cases the figures are as published here-21,500.

Q209 Chair: So there are still 21,500 that haven’t been cleared-of live people you know with footprints and feet-and 21,000; so it’s about 42,000.

Rob Whiteman: The live people with feet is that top line-21,000.

Q210 Chair: Asylum?

Rob Whiteman: Asylum. The asylum controlled archive is people that we haven’t been in touch with for many years.

Chair: These are the dead people. Fine.

Rob Whiteman: The migration controlled archive-the non-asylum one-is, again, people that we haven’t been in touch with since at least 2008. They are going to be similar to the controlled archive, in that we will carry out checks on them, but the majority of those cases have probably gone home.

Q211 Steve McCabe: That’s actually quite useful. I just want to try to clear up one point I am slightly confused by. Is this manual audit that you talk about something new-something in addition to the work you’ve been doing that’s got rid of the 13,000?

Rob Whiteman: Yes.

Q212 Steve McCabe: So what were you doing that reduced it by 13,000 and what’s the new thing that you’re going to do, that’s going to reduce it a bit more?

Rob Whiteman: First of all, in terms of the accuracy of the figures, we are counting the work. We are actually counting the work itself, rather than relying on previous totals from computer systems. One of the things that the Committee has complained about in the past is that the figures went up and down. We have therefore carried out an audit, manually seeing what is there and going through it. What we are then doing is carrying out-

Q213 Steve McCabe: I don’t mean to interrupt you, but maybe I am just losing the plot here. Does a manual audit simply mean you are going to count the number of cases manually? Is that all it means?

Rob Whiteman: No, it means that-

Q214 Steve McCabe: Does it mean something else? I am just trying to figure out what it is that is different, and I am struggling, because I am not quite getting it; but you’ve done some work on analysing some of these cases, and that’s reduced it by 13,000; and you’re going to do some additional work. I am just wondering what that additional work is. It is not just counting them manually. It’s something else.

Rob Whiteman: It means that we are working on the case itself-the file itself-rather than always using a system solution.

Q215 Chair: What does that mean in English?

Rob Whiteman: You could take a large number of cases on a computer system and match them against another system, to see what matches you get on tracing, for example. So it’s what we do. We’ll say, "Let’s take 10,000 or 20,000 cases, match them against HMRC, DWP, Equifax": we do that, but the manual audit is that a member of staff is actually looking at the case, seeing if there are other things that would help us trace or understand the footprint.

Q216 Steve McCabe: Would that be things like a letter from an MP, for example?

Rob Whiteman: Yes, or it may be, "What if I play around with the name a bit?", and of course they play around with the name a bit and find a duplicate file. Remember, I have again said to the Committee that these are cases, not people. One of the other things we find by that more detailed manual work is that people will sort of do fuzzy matching-they’ll try and look at names, and they’ll find duplicate entries. So although it takes longer, we think that that manual intervention, as well as the type of systems work that takes place, is more thorough.

Q217 Chair: We must move on. One final question on this. The end product is, of the 7,600 cases that you’ll have dealt with, only 650 people have been removed.

Rob Whiteman: Yes.

Q218 Chair: That’s a very small figure.

Rob Whiteman: It is; and of course it is given the age of the cases. If these come to light after many years-and again I thank the Committee for encouraging MPs to write to us-very often, given that length of time, it is more difficult, because barriers to removal around establishing family, and rights to a family life, would have increased.

Q219 Chair: Does this amount to something of an amnesty? Out of 7,600 you are just allowing 4,500 to stay.

Rob Whiteman: It is anything but an amnesty. We will remove any case where we can.

Q220 Mr Winnick: My questions relate to this. I write, as I am sure colleagues do, on behalf of people who have seen me and have been here quite a number of years. There is no secret where they are. The chances that they will be removed are remote, because of the number of years and the fact that they have had children born here and the rest of it. It seems odd that virtually all the replies, Mr Whiteman, that I receive, either signed by you or one of your senior officials, do not say anything other than, "In due course a decision will be made on these cases." They could have been here-and in some instances people have been here-12 or 13 years.

Rob Whiteman: Yes, Mr Winnick. I think that, for the future, the quicker we do work, the better it will be for the longer term solution. We are dealing with an issue where, I am afraid, backlogs of work built up. Where cases are raised with us-as I said earlier, some of the cases should not have been in here; it is genuinely not that, when replying to you, I am trying to be unhelpful-it does then take a while to go through the agency, establish all the different files that we may have and make a decision that is binding on that case.

For the future, we will introduce a new immigration casework system, which will link all the legacy systems. There is a facility on it called iSearch, which means we can search different systems and databases around a common name; but at the moment, in trying to conclude a very old case, it does take a considerable amount of work and time to pull together the files from different parts of the agency. I am sorry about that. We are doing our best to get through this work. We will conclude it, and I hope that for the future we <?oasys [pc10p0] ?>do not allow it to happen again. I of course recognise, as I sign these letters to you, that those older cases can take a while to resolve.

Q221 Mr Winnick: These controlled archives-an almost Orwellian term: are they in the main based in Croydon? Will there be an opportunity for members of the Committee, if we so wish-we are going to Croydon, aren’t we, Chair-to see actually what is happening?

Rob Whiteman: They are in Liverpool, and you are very welcome to go, Mr Winnick.

Q222 Mr Winnick: They are all in Liverpool, are they?

Rob Whiteman: Most, yes. The controlled archive is in Liverpool.

Q223 Alun Michael: Just to be clear on one point, over the period from 1 December to 31 March, approximately 4,500 tier 2 cases were identified as being liable for curtailment action from notification sent by their sponsors, but you reviewed only some 1,400 of those. What is the reason for that? Why were not the other 3,100 investigated?

Rob Whiteman: When we receive notifications from sponsors it can be changes of circumstances; changes of address. We look at those and say, "How many of these may be that the person is no longer working there?" The 4,500: we did review 1,400 of these, which has led to identifying 400. The remainder of those, Mr Michael, will be worked on over the summer.

Alun Michael: I see; so this is just what you-

Rob Whiteman: This is what we have done so far.

Q224 Alun Michael: And is the priority given to those where there is a sense of a judgment that perhaps there is some priority?

Rob Whiteman: Yes, it is; and also, over the last few months we have given priority to student curtailment, so just like we deal here with how many curtailment notifications we received, in relation to students we received some 120,000 curtailment notices during the history of the points-based system. We have now been through all of those. We have got back down to some 26,000, where we have issued curtailment notices, because of the nature of the information. We have prioritised that work. We have done some of the rest, but by the end of this month we will be fully up to date, so that as we get new student curtailment notices we deal with them as they come in. By the end of the summer we will be up to date with curtailment notices for other tiers.

Q225 Chair: On students, in our letter to you we asked how many of the 62,000 notifications received between February 2010 and October 2011, of students no longer attending college, had resulted in the students being removed, and you didn’t have an answer for us. Do you now know how many of those notifications have been acted upon?

Rob Whiteman: In relation to tier 4, we are up to date with regard to curtailment notices, as I have just said to Mr Michael.

Q226 Chair: I’m sorry, but that does not mean anything. Of the 62 notifications, how many have been removed?

Rob Whiteman: What has happened with those, Chairman, is that we are now up to date with curtailment notices and we have given a number of those to arrest teams for our summer enforcement campaign. We have an operation called Operation Mayapple. Based on our national tasking and co-ordination intelligence board, we take information that we have on student curtailments, employment curtailments, sham marriages, foreign national offenders-different operations. We have now tasked a number of those students from those curtailment notices to be arrested over the summer, through our Operation Mayapple, and at the next Committee I will be able to brief you on how many arrests and removals we have made.

Q227 Chair: Excellent. Finally, I have just been informed that there are at the moment 1,000 people waiting to clear immigration at Heathrow airport. People are very concerned out there and they are very upset about the delay. We have heard what the Minister said earlier and we have also heard what the airlines have said. It is surely not acceptable, is it, that thousands of people should be waiting in this way?

Rob Whiteman: Obviously, this is something you will wish to ask my colleague, Brian Moore, about at the next hearing. I am not responsible for passport control, since 1 March.

Mr Winnick: You must be grateful that you are not.

Q228 Chair: I understand why you said that, Mr Whiteman, but you are the head of the UKBA. Presumably, Mr Moore’s office is not far away from yours at Marsham Street, you talk to him and you do not live in silos. You must agree with the Minister and others that this is not acceptable.

Rob Whiteman: I do, Chairman. I am sorry, but I took too long on my sentence and never got to the end of it. The issue of Heathrow, which I know from my time managing Border Force, is that every day there is a spike in activity. We have some weekly spikes and seasonal spikes. The issue about getting border control right and security right is making sure that we have all the desks manned at those busier times.

Q229 Chair: Which is not the case. You had management of this until six weeks ago.

Rob Whiteman: Until 1 March.

Q230 Chair: This did not just happen six weeks ago. It was happening then and we have heard that it has been happening for two years. You want to see all the kiosks manned, do you?

Rob Whiteman: What we all want to see is, first of all, from my own experience, the work to introduce a command room, which is important. You heard from BAA earlier at your Committee about real-time information in order that the nature of flights coming in is understood. It is important that we improve rostering, and it is important that we have all desks open at the time. That is a shared responsibility between the Home Office, Border Force and UKBA. The Home Office will have arrangements, through better rostering, a new command suite and other actions, to have all those checkpoints manned at busy times.

Q231 Chair: Yes, but it is clearly not happening at the moment, is it, Mr Whiteman?

Rob Whiteman: The airlines need to ensure that they do not do what is called bunching. If you get a number of very heavy, large planes from a destination where you are going to carry out a lot of passport checks, and if they all come at the same time rather than as scheduled, every desk opened in the hall will not be able to deal with the throughput.

Q232 Chair: Indeed, but this crisis that we have seen over the past few weeks has not just been over the past few weeks; it happened under your watch. You are saying that these changes will deal with the problem-is that right?

Rob Whiteman: Yes. I believe that the changes that are being made-

Q233 Chair: They were announced by the Minister last week. So the queues will go.

Rob Whiteman: The service standard with BAA is that EEA passengers should not have wait for longer than 25 minutes. For non-EEA, it is 45 minutes. Those standards are very rarely breached. In 95% of cases, those standards are maintained. It is absolutely the intention that they are maintained all the time and that, where we see these cases of queues for longer than that service standard, through better rostering and better management information, we should see the back of them.

Q234 Chair: Apparently, it is happening at Heathrow as we speak. Perhaps when you go back to Marsham Street, you could pop into Mr Moore’s office and tell him that we will ask him about this next week.

Rob Whiteman: It will be a pleasure, Chairman.

Chair: Mr Wiseman, thank you very much indeed. That concludes our session.

[1] Joint Border Operations Centre

[2] Note by witness: JBOC is in Manchester .

Prepared 20th July 2012