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Illegal Immigrants: France

Volume 482: debated on Wednesday 5 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions she has had with the French government on camps for illegal immigrants. (231727)

On 30 September my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Byrne) met with Brice Hortefeux in Paris and discussed the problem of illegal migration in Northern France. They welcomed progress on strengthening border security, deterring irregular migrants from coming to the area and agreed to increase efforts to reduce the numbers of irregular migrants in the area. They restated their shared opposition to a permanent humanitarian centre. The UK looks forward to further cooperation with France on joint returns and information campaigns in countries of source and origin to deter migrants from remaining in Northern France.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many illegal immigrants were stopped trying to enter the UK through the Channel tunnel in (a) 2007 and (b) 1997. (231728)

Locally-collated management information shows that in 2007, the UK Border Agency prevented 2,974 illegal attempts to enter the UK through the channel tunnel. The UK Border Agency does not hold the relevant reliable statistical information for the period 1997.

The following table shows that since the end of 2001, there has been a 672 per cent. increase in the detection of illegal attempts to enter the UK through the channel tunnel.

Illegal attempts detected at ports serving the channel tunnel

Number

2001

1385

2002

963

2003

3,396

2004

2,969

2005

2,427

2006

2,160

2007

2,974

1 Coquelles only

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the number of (a) immigrant camps in operation on the French coast for people seeking to enter the UK, (b) people in such camps and (c) children in such camps. (231729)

There are no permanent camps in the Calais area since the closure of Sangatte in 2002. The French police regularly intervene to disrupt areas with high numbers of migrants or where such areas threaten to become durable. The number of people sleeping rough in Northern France is believed to vary greatly and are difficult to estimate. However between January and September 2006 there was an 88 per cent. fall in the number of clandestine entrants arriving in Kent compared to the same period in 2002. On the question of children, the French have in place specific procedures for protecting children, and provide particular support to children via their equivalent local authorities in the area.