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Illegal Immigrants

Volume 472: debated on Monday 25 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent estimate has been made of the number of illegal immigrants in the UK. (180043)

No Government have ever been able to produce an accurate figure for the number of people who are in the country illegally. By its very nature it is impossible to quantify accurately and that remains the case.

Exit controls were phased out from 1994. As part of the Government's 10-point plan for delivery, by Christmas 2008 the majority of foreign nationals will be counted in and out of the country. This will build on the successes of our early testing of the e-Borders programme (Project Semaphore) which already covers over 30 million passenger movements and has led to 18,000 alerts and more than 1,500 arrests.

This is part of a sweeping programme of border protection which also includes the global roll-out of fingerprint visas, compulsory watch-list checks for all travellers from high-risk countries before they land in Britain and ID cards for foreign nationals.