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Lord Avebury: My Lords, I echo the thanks expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, to the Minister for the careful and thorough explanation she has given of the import of this order. I want to add to the list of complaints the noble Baroness made
We on these Benches are concerned by some of the implications of juxtaposed controls which deal with the adequacy of a person's documentation rather than the merits of his claim. As the Minister must acknowledge, many of the people ultimately granted asylum in the UK, whether on first application or on appeal, arrived here with false or inadequate documentation because dictators are not in the habit of facilitating travel arrangements by their opponents. We have made it progressively more difficult for asylum seekers to come here legally; for instance, by imposing visa requirements on all major refugee-producing countries and by making carriers liable to fines in respect of passengers who are refused entry. Therefore, it is inevitable that most people who come here seeking asylum will be travelling on inadequate or false documentation.
As the Minister explained, the extension of juxtaposed controls from Eurostar to the ports was part of the package which was agreed between the Home Secretary and his French opposite number, Mr Sarkozy, last July, which included the closure of Sangatte. I would point out that the UK recognised that 1,000 Iraqis and 200 Afghans from Sangatte had legitimate protection needs and, in the case of the Afghans, close family ties with the UK. So the implication is that many of the people who will be stopped by the juxtaposed controls would have had good grounds for a claim to asylum if they had been able to present that claim in the UK.
The Home Office, in its report on the juxtaposed controls consultation process sent under cover of a letter from Mrs Barbara Wilson of the UK Immigration Service, denies that the controls will affect the UK's commitment to the international protection regime. It states that the UK has no obligation under the convention to consider applications for asylum which are not made from within the country or at ports of entry.
The Home Office also claims that there is international acceptance of the asylum seeker's obligation to claim asylum in the first safe country she reaches. I differ from that because, as the Minister may be aware, a Lisbon meeting of experts, convened under the auspices of the UNHCR and the Migration Policy Institute last December, referred to a decision of the UNHCR's executive committee in 1979, which said the precise oppositethat there was no obligation to claim asylum in the first country that somebody
The Lisbon meeting acknowledged that an applicant's right to claim asylum in the country of her choice was not unfettered, but that her intention should be "taken into account". That is in paragraph 11 of the decision. The arrangements, they said, should take account of family connections and other close ties between an asylum seeker and a particular country. That is reflected in the so-called Dublin Two European Council Regulation, which establishes the criteria and mechanisms for,
The definition of "family member" is confined to spouse or unmarried partner, unmarried minor children, and parent or guardian, where the applicant is a minor and unmarried. However, under Article 15,
How do the arrangements proposed in the order comply with European law? There is no reference to the Council regulation, nor is any separate provision made for persons who claim that they have a family member in the United Kingdom. All those who present themselves to an immigration officer in Calais, Dunkirk and Boulogne, and who have incorrect documentation, or who are ineligible under the immigration rules, are to be handed over to the French authorities.
I shall take as an example the case of a Zimbabwean, Mr Moyo, travelling on a valid Zimbabwe passport, who arrives to board a ferry in Boulogne. He is refused on the grounds that he does not have a visa, and he then says that he is intending to join his wife in the United Kingdom, and that she has already claimed asylum there. Would the Minister please explain what happens next? Is he handed over to the French authorities, or does the European directive take precedence, and is he to be given the consideration that is allowed for persons who have close relatives in the United Kingdom?
One of the conditions of an effective European asylum system, under which responsibility is equitably shared between member states, is that not only are procedures for determining asylum claims harmonised, but the delays to the right to work and the support offered to claimants is no better or worse in
Those are the reasons why some people might wish to come to the United Kingdom rather than to remain in France. I point that out because many people talk about the pull factor of better conditions in the United Kingdom for asylum seekers, without at the same time underlining the fact that the conditions in France may not be as good as we would like them. That is one of the necessities of the juxtaposed controlsto try to align the conditions in both countries.
I accept that juxtaposed controls are here to stay; inevitably, they will have to be extended as asylum seekers and economic migrants look for other routes. In the case of the Channel Tunnel, they have already done so. The 90 per cent reduction mentioned by the noble Baroness was accompanied by an increase in the number of people attempting to gain entry to the United Kingdom by ferry. That is why the order is before us.
That makes it all the more essential that we do not just stop up every means of entry to the UK for genuine asylum seekers, leaving the rest of Europe to look after them all, even those whose natural destination is Britain. Britain should also be taking a leading role in the development of a common European asylum policy, similar procedures for dealing with claims and comparable systems of support for asylum seekers. Only then will it be morally legitimate for us to extend juxtaposed controls, as we are doing under the order.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I shall now try to answer as many as possible of the questions asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, and the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. I may have a bit of a challenge, but I shall try to cover them all. First, in answer to some of the questions of the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, his description of the Government's current position as to a claim being made in the first country of arrival not affecting our commitment to the 1951 convention, and so on, is indeed an accurate reflection.
The noble Lord will also know that we have pushed hard for an EU position on asylum. The Commission has considered our proposals; it has said that they are sound and addressing the right issue. The UNHCR has been supportive of them. I accept what he said about the need for a more holistic European response that will be able to manage the whole migration issue in a more attractive and effective way in the long term. We are indeed considering the difficulties faced by
Having said that as a broad response to one of the questions asked by the noble Lord, I shall now deal with the detailed questions asked by the noble Baroness. She asked about extending the order to other ports. Perhaps I can reassure her that, if it proves necessary to apply this procedure to any other port, an appropriate order will be brought before the House and she, as well as other noble Lords, will be able to comment on it, as she can today.
On the question about the control zone, it is the area within a port designated in Schedule 1 to the order within which officers of the state of arrival are authorised to carry out immigration controls under the treaty. In Dover, that will be the area within which the Police aux Frontieres officers will be able to exercise their immigration controls and powers. The UK Immigration Service is still discussing the control zone with the PAF. We intend to place a map of the control zones in the Libraries of both Houses when the order is made. I hope to be able to do that. I cannot remember whether the noble Baroness asked whether the control zone incorporates port property; the control zone at Dover will only incorporate port property.
The noble Baroness pressed me on whether PAF officers would be liable to carry firearms and, if they did, what sort of controls would be imposed on them. PAF officers would be able to carry guns at Dover. This arrangement has long existed at other juxtaposed controls in the UK, at Waterloo, Ashford and Cheriton. As is the case at these railway terminals, the carriage and use of any firearms will be strictly regulated by a bilateral agreement. The terms of the Dover agreement are still being negotiated, but will be similar to those in the firearms treaty for Waterloo concluded on 4th February 2003. The changes that will be made on the position will flow from the passing of the order.
In relation to the comments made by my noble friend Lord Filkin, in response to the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill, there is a difference between the context in which the two should be seen. The noble Lord has given assurances during the various stages of progress on that Bill that French officers entering the UK involved in urgent border surveillance operations will not, as the noble Lord right says, be automatically allowed to carry firearms.
Juxtaposed control is entirely different. I am not aware of any assurance that my noble friend Lord Filkin, or any noble Lord from this side of the House, made about that during the passage of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. The French officers involved will not be actively following a suspect into the United Kingdom, but will be
The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay of St. Johns, also asked whether the treaty extends to other frontier controls and what parliamentary scrutiny there will be. I think that I have dealt with that to her satisfactionI see her nodding.
Under the treaty, a person can only be detained in the control zone for 24 hours, or exceptionally for 48 hours, by a French or UK officer in their respective control zone. This mirrors the provisions of the Sangatte protocol, which contains the same time limits for detention by the French at Cheriton and by the UK officers in Coquelles. It is envisaged that the French will only detain for the purposes of questioning, and either escort the person to Francefor example, if they have committed an offence under French law as it applies in the control zoneor hand them over to UK authorities if they have refused to enter France. Where, unusually, the French need to detain someone for any length of time, for example overnight, they will ask the British police to do it for them. That is referred to in Article 5 of the draft order. I invite the noble Baroness to look at it. The person would be detained in the police station. PACE would apply, including the right to seek legal advice under Section 58 of PACE, but they would have to be handed back to the French within the deadlines fixed by the treaty; 24 hours, or, exceptionally, 48 hours. The French would be required to release them at the end of that period if they were still in the UK.
Where the British police arrest and detain in Calais, the place where a person is detained is treated as a police station for the purposes of PACE, which is in Article 14(2) of the draft order. Where the French arrest a person in the control zone of the UK, it would be unnecessary for them to obtain a European arrest warrant to extradite the person back to France. The powers in the treaty avoid the need for that by allowing the French
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