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Volume 115: debated on Friday 1 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the outcome of the recent meeting of the Ministers of the European Community responsible for immigration.

At a meeting in London in October, during the United Kingdom presidency, the Ministers of the states of the European Community responsible for immigration set up an ad hoc working group of senior officials. At our meeting in Brussels on 28 April, which was also attended by my noble Friend Lord Cockfield, a vice-president of the European Community, my ministerial colleagues and I, considered the first report from this group and agreed on a number of important steps to co-ordinate our methods of immigration control and our response to the growing abuse of the right to claim asylum, and the increased use of forged or fraudulent documents.The meeting recognised that the strengthening of immigration controls at the external frontiers of the Community was a necessary complement to the movement towards gradual abolition of border checks at its internal frontiers. Ministers instructed officials to pursue vigorously their work on the greater harmonisation of the visa policies of the different countries in the Community since this had an important part to play in the strengthening of controls.As regards claims to asylum Ministers agreed to recommend all member states to take a number of measures, in line with action that some countries, including the United Kingdom had taken, or were considering. These included making provision which would

make carriers responsible for removing someone brought by them into a Community country without the required documents and meeting the cost involved; make possible the impositon of penalties on carriers who bring passengers without the required documents; establish simplified procedures for reaching decisions where asylum was claimed but the application was unjustified because it clearly failed to meet the requirements of the 1951 contention.

Finally, my colleagues and I endorsed recommendations from officials to combat the use of forged and fraudulent documents. These included the preparation and circulation to the immigration authorities of all our countries of an information bulletin giving particulars of cases of fraud that had been detected.

The working group of officials will continue its study of the response that the countries of the Community can make to what are common problems, and will report again to Ministers later in the year.