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Oral Answers to Questions

Volume 611: debated on Monday 13 June 2016

Home Department

The Secretary of State was asked—

Border Force Personnel

1. What estimate she has made of changes in the number of Border Force personnel over the course of this Parliament. (905348)

4. What estimate she has made of changes in the number of Border Force personnel over the course of this Parliament. (905351)

I recognise that there is an urgent question on the tragic circumstances of Orlando later, but I am sure that the thoughts and prayers of the whole House are with the victims of this appalling terrorist attack and their families.

Over the course of the financial year, the number of full-time equivalent staff in Border Force is expected to remain flat. Budgets have not been finalised beyond the current financial year, so I am unable to provide an estimate of staffing levels for subsequent years.

I thank the Home Secretary for that reply and I endorse her sentiments about the appalling events in Orlando.

What impression of the UK does the right hon. Lady feel people get at our airports when faced with huge immigration queues, yet vast numbers of immigration officers’ desks are unoccupied? Does the Home Office not know what is going on, or does it not care? What is she going to do about it?

I am pleased to say that we have made a significant difference over recent years in how Border Force manages its workforce. When we came into power, we discovered that under the last Labour Government, the workforce schedules did not match the peak requirements of people arriving at the airports. We have changed that, and we have significantly increased the number of e-gates, which means that people do not have to go through the individually manned desks because they can go through the e-gates instead.

Ports such as Hull are being targeted by traffickers and illegal immigrants, as was shown in February when 18 illegal immigrants were found on the dockside in Hull. Many staff have contacted me to say that, as a result of the cuts, they are worried because they are unable to provide the level of service that they want to at the border. What extra resources will places such as Hull and other ports around the country get to help them to do the job they want to do?

We are very clear that Border Force has sufficient resources in place to carry out its mandated duties at ports across Humberside and to mount effective operations to identify and intercept smuggled contraband goods and clandestine migrants. What Border Force has done is to ensure that there is a greater flexibility in the workforce, so it can be managed rather better according to risk and need.

One thing that makes Border Force more effective in protecting the border in Kent is the ability to operate in Calais rather than in Dover as it used to do. Does my right hon. Friend agree that anything that gave the French the temptation to move our border back to Dover would serve to weaken our borders?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. As not only a former Immigration Minister but a Kent MP, he is aware of the importance of our juxtaposed controls in France. I am very clear that those juxtaposed controls are a significant benefit. They help us to secure our border and we wish them to stay in place.

Following on from the question put by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson), I welcome the greater flexibility in Border Force’s approach, but businesses and residents in the Humber region are extremely concerned, following the report recently issued by the National Crime Agency. I recently met the Immigration Minister, who provided some reassurance, but can the Home Secretary give an absolute assurance that additional resources will be put into Humber ports, if required?

My hon. Friend makes an important point and I hope I can reassure him. We have announced that Border Force will be provided with £31 million over the next four years to deploy more staff to undertake counter-smuggling work at ports across the country. This will lead to the deployment of more Border Force staff at maritime ports, including those on Humberside.

I congratulate the Home Secretary on passing another milestone and becoming the third longest-serving Home Secretary in history. The number three is very important, because it is the number of Border Force vessels available to patrol 7,223 miles of coastland, whereas the Italians have 600. Will she look further at the need to provide more resources? I know she has talked about the £31 million, but at this moment criminal gangs are targeting the English channel and going into small ports with their cargo. May we have action much sooner than in the few years that she mentioned?

I suspect that the right hon. Gentleman may very well be the longest-serving Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee. I apologise for not having looked in the record books yet, but perhaps that fact can enter them now.

In comparing the number of Italian vessels with the number of Border Force vessels, the right hon. Gentleman is not comparing like with like. In Border Force, we have given consideration to the suitability of vessels and what vessels are required, which is why there will be some changes. In the strategic defence and security review that was published last November it was announced that we would seek to ensure that all maritime assets could be deployed most effectively in dealing with risks and threats of this kind.

Will the Home Secretary publish the internal review by the National Crime Agency which highlighted the weaknesses in patrols at our small ports and marinas? My constituency contains the closest channel port to London. Will the Home Secretary now, as a matter of urgency, tell the House what she will do to reconfigure the way in which Border Force patrols beaches and inlets, particularly those in the south-east of England, which are now very vulnerable to people traffickers coming here directly from the continent?

It is important to bear in mind that dealing with the potential threat of people trying to enter the United Kingdom clandestinely through smaller ports is not just about physical policing of the coastline, but about understanding intelligence, and, in particular, about the work that is being done to counter organised criminal gangs. The National Crime Agency has set up an organised immigration crime taskforce, which is working not just here in the United Kingdom but with its French counterparts and elsewhere on the continent to ensure that we can stop those movements before they reach our shores.

Calais and Dunkirk Camps

2. What discussions she has had with charities and non-governmental organisations on conditions in the camps at Calais and Dunkirk. (905349)

While the management of the camps is a matter for the French Government, there is close engagement between the United Kingdom and France on all matters relating to the migration situation in Calais. Through the August 2015 joint declaration, the Home Secretary and the French Interior Minister set up a project that is being delivered by the French non-governmental organisation France terre d’asile to identify vulnerable migrants and direct them towards existing protection, support and advice.

May I associate myself and my colleagues with the Home Secretary’s earlier comments about the dreadful killings in Orlando?

The Red Cross has issued the following recommendation:

“The UK Government should be proactive in identifying unaccompanied minors with a UK connection and help guide them through the process of finding protection in the UK”.

What exactly are the Government doing to comply with that, and what have the results been so far?

As I have said, France terre d’asile, to which the United Kingdom Government is giving financial support, is doing precisely that. It is going into the camps to identify young people and to ensure that we have a good understanding of the work that is being done there. Separately, our own advisers are going into the camps to provide appropriate advice. What is of key importance, however, is getting those young people into the French asylum system.

On behalf of Labour Members, may I echo the Home Secretary’s comments about Orlando?

Research published this week by UNICEF shows that children in refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk are experiencing violence, sexual exploitation and abuse on a daily basis. Clearly, for those who are entitled to be reunified with their families, speed is of the essence, but UNICEF estimates that, at the current rate, it could take up to a year to process the children who are already in Calais and Dunkirk and who have a legal right to be reunited with their relations in the United Kingdom. What steps are the Government taking to address that, and can the Minister tell me how many Home Office staff are currently based in France and working to speed up the process?

I entirely agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman about the need to ensure that those cases are processed as quickly as possible. The most effective way to do that is to provide teams that link up with the best expertise on both sides of the channel, and that is exactly what we have done with the French authorities. The process will not take as long as he suggested. We are seeing cases being processed in a matter of weeks, which is precisely what we want.

Migrants: Illegal Working

The Government are committed to tackling illegal working. The Immigration Act 2016 makes illegal working a criminal offence in its own right, which ensures that wages paid to illegal migrants can be seized as the proceeds of crime, and assets may be confiscated on conviction. The Government are prioritising the implementation of that provision, which will take place on 12 July.

Does my right hon. Friend consider that tackling illegal working has been made easier or harder by the 2014 judgment of the European Court, which forbids the United Kingdom from requiring migrants to have documentation issued by the British Government, although a High Court judge has said that documents issued by other EU member states are systematically forged?

I can reassure my hon. Friend on the steps that Border Force takes to check documentation and the fact that under this Government we have 100% checks of all scheduled passengers arriving here precisely to identify where fraudulent documents are used. The most important thing is the join-up across government in identifying where these activities are taking place, which is precisely what is happening.

On 11 May I wrote to the Home Secretary regarding an illegal worker in the care sector in the UK. I have not received a reply to that letter, but over a month later can the Minister or Home Secretary explain why that illegal worker is still working in the United Kingdom and why anyone seeking to report illegal workers is referred by the Home Office to Crimestoppers rather than the Department dealing with it itself?

I can certainly assure the hon. Gentleman of the steps that immigration enforcement is taking in a number of sectors where abuse has been highlighted, including construction and the care sector. I will certainly follow up on the point he raised about the letter he has sent to ensure that it is being appropriately followed up.

Mark Garnier. Not here. [Interruption.] I have no idea about the whereabouts of the chappie, but we must move on.

Unaccompanied Children (Family Reunification)

6. What steps her Department is taking to accelerate the family reunification process for unaccompanied children in Europe with family in the UK. (905353)

Ministers and senior officials have formally opened consultations with Greece, Italy and France to identify and transfer to the UK unaccompanied refugee children where it is in their best interests. We are also consulting local authorities, non-governmental organisations and UNHCR. In addition, we have worked with France to improve the operation of the Dublin family reunification process.

May I associate myself with the comments of the Home Secretary and other hon. Members on the homophobic, hate-based atrocity that has taken place in Orlando this week?

International Red Cross has stated its concern for children in Dunkirk. It has highlighted the length of the asylum process, the lack of official information and the domination of smugglers as factors that prevent the Dublin system from even getting off the ground. What progress is being made in overcoming these challenges to ensure that children are swiftly reunited with family in the UK?

I can assure the hon. Lady that we are doing all we can to get children in the asylum system and, once they are in the system, to make sure the procedure happens as quickly as possible. We are having regular meetings with the relevant NGOs, including quite a big one on Thursday, to find out how we can speed this up. The records show that the system is operating much faster and with many more numbers than in 2015, and we are doing our absolute best to speed it up as much as we can.

What progress have we made in despatching the 75 experts to Greece, into the hotspots around Europe and also into Calais to ensure that there is robustness and confidence in the process of vulnerable children going into the system and then having their family reunion application processed, rather than going into the hands of the smugglers and traffickers?

On the officials due to go out to the hotspots, that is well under way. Many have already gone and a lot more will be going in the next few weeks. My hon. Friend has taken a keen interest in this and I am very pleased that, along with my right hon. Friend the Immigration Minister, we have worked together on many things. We take this very seriously. We are putting a lot of resource into it, and I hope in future to be able to report to the House the positive results that I know my hon. Friend wants.

The most recent figures published are that, I believe, more than 30 children from France have come over here—that is in the period up to April 2016—and I can assure the right hon. Lady that we are expecting this to increase very significantly. But we cannot take these duties lightly. For example, we have carefully read the survey, or census as it calls it, by terre d’asile on most of the Calais camp. It identified about 180 children of which 50 claim family reunion connections with the UK. We are doing everything we can to quantify exactly who are the ones with family reunification links with this country, and doing our best to speed up reunions. However, I am sure the right hon. Lady will agree that we have to take this seriously and make sure that they have proper connections with the UK, and if it is proved that they do, which is a very quick process, that they are brought over here very quickly.

20. Further to the question from the right hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart), does the Minister think that 30 is an adequate number? How quickly does he think he can get the children who have been identified reunited with their families?


As I explained to the right hon. Lady, I think the number will be increasing significantly in the future. The most significant thing is the speed this takes once a child claims asylum; it takes a short period— in many cases, it is two weeks—and I am hoping to improve on that.

Newhaven Port

Border Force officers in Newhaven maintain 100% checks of arriving passengers and undertake intelligence-led activity to tackle both people-based and commodity-based threats. They collaborate effectively with the police, the National Crime Agency and their French counterparts in Dieppe to identify and disrupt attempts to smuggle migrants and commodities into the UK illegally through that port.

I thank the Minister for his reply. I recently met Newhaven Port Authority to discuss the future of the Newhaven ferry, and I was told that last year was its most successful ever, with a 50% increase in passengers and freight. That is welcome, but it is putting extreme pressure on the existing Border Force officials. Will the Minister reassure me that this Government are doing everything they can to ensure that this vital travel and trade link is kept secure?

I congratulate the port operators on the work they have done to see the success that my hon. Friend has highlighted, and I am sure her work has given them support, too. I assure her that Border Force’s model operates not only to ensure that we have the necessary core team to tackle business-as-usual activity, but to surge additional resource, in line with intelligence, where we have identified particular threats.

Newhaven is a considerable distance from the constituency of the hon. Gentleman, but I am sure his ingenuity will avail him.

Principal ports—major ferry ports—such as Newhaven and Holyhead in my area are under extreme pressure because Border Force vessels are used in smaller ports in close proximity. May I help the Minister by suggesting that offshore vessels that are not used in the North sea on wind farms could be adapted by Border Force to close these gaps?

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his ingenuity in asking the question. The Home Secretary has already responded on the strategic review that is being undertaken, and we are looking at all available Government assets to ensure that we pull them together. The National Maritime Information Centre is designed to assist with that, and we will continue with that work.

The previous coalition Government removed the Border Force staff from my home port of Stranraer, in my constituency, a number of years ago. Given the increased threats that we face from contraband and puppy smuggling from the rest of the European Union, will the Secretary of State commit to re-examine that decision, so that we can have appropriate defences at our port in Stranraer?

The Home Secretary has already indicated that £63 million of additional resource is being made available precisely to focus on smuggling. I am happy to discuss further with the hon. Gentleman any particular issues he may have, but I can assure him about the intelligence-led approach that Border Force takes and how we will deploy resources dynamically to meet any challenges.

Police Reforms

9. What steps she is taking to ensure that police forces implement reforms to increase their effectiveness. (905356)

We have established and continue to strengthen the system whereby police and crime commissioners provide real local accountability on how chief constables’ forces perform. Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary inspects efficiency and the effectiveness of force activity, and the College of Policing creates an evidence base as to best practice and sets out professional standards.

Will my right hon. Friend please comment on the reform of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, whose processes have caused some issues for officers in my constituency and whose effectiveness is vital for public confidence in the police?

With the Policing and Crime Bill that is going through the House at the moment, we intend to instil that confidence in the IPCC not just by changing its name, but by strengthening its role. It is absolutely imperative that the public have confidence in the police, as the vast majority of them do a fantastic job.

Will these reforms help solve unsolved crimes? Nobody who grew up in Dudley will forget the shocking murder of 13-year-old paperboy Carl Bridgewater, and no one who watched last night’s documentary on the case will believe that the new evidence it revealed should not be looked at. Will the Minister and the Home Secretary ask the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to review the new evidence to see whether this case can finally be solved and whoever was responsible be brought to justice?

No one will forget that terrible case, no matter how long ago it was, and our thoughts are still with the parents. It is not the role of the IPCC to instruct the police how to investigate, but we will look at the case and at the ongoing evidence. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman and I could meet to discuss it further.

Having pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Justin Skrebowski claiming diminished responsibility, Trevor Joyce was sentenced last week to life imprisonment. Justin’s brave widow, Gulsen Alkan, has already met Ministers in her campaign against knife crime, but this case also raises questions about how well mental health services work with the police. What steps are the Government taking to improve that, and will the Minister please meet us once more to prove that lessons can be learned from this case, and that such a horrific case can never happen again?

I am pleased that the family has the courage to want to campaign on knife crime. It is very important that victims feel that they have the confidence to come forward. I am sure that either the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley), or I will be more than happy to meet to discuss this matter. The issue around mental health is at the core of the Bill that is going through the House at the moment. The police must be used as a last resort when it comes to safety. We must make sure that we have a better understanding of mental health issues. Street triage and other such work that is going on at the moment has really helped us with the type of policing that we want to see in the 21st century.

One thing that makes the police extremely effective is the co-operation that we receive from our European partners. What will the Minister say on 25 June if we are no longer eligible to be in Europol?

We will work with our European partners and other partners around the world to ensure that our criminal justice system works.

To be effective, the police need to be trusted by the community that they serve. Truth is built by being honest about the past. Will the Home Secretary finally do the right thing and grant the request of the Orgreave Truth and Justice campaign and nearly 100 cross-party MPs for a full inquiry into what exactly happened on 18 June 32 years ago in the battle of Orgreave?

The hon. Lady raises a very, very important point, and, as Hillsborough has proved, the Home Secretary has a track record of looking at that sort of thing with a very open mind and in a way that perhaps no Home Secretary has ever done. We will look at Orgreave—indeed we are looking at it at the moment. Confidence in our police can be there only if we have a transparent system for dealing with complaints, and that is exactly what the Bill that is going through the House is all about.


This Government take the threat of cybercrime very seriously, which is why, through the national cyber-security programme, we invested more than £90 million during the previous Parliament to build specialist capabilities and improve the law enforcement response at local, regional and national levels, and we will continue to invest. As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced last November, this Government have committed to spending £1.9 billion on cyber-security, which includes tackling cybercrime, over the next five years.

Leicestershire police, whose hard-working officers I shadowed on patrol last Friday, provide a range of cybercrime information on their website. Does my hon. Friend agree that effective partnership between the police and other agencies is key to maintaining adequate defences against the growing and real threats that cybercrime poses to our society?

My hon. Friend makes an incredibly important point. It is vital that we work with the police and others. Leicestershire police are a shining example of proactive working to ensure that people understand the threats, understand the risks and understand how to stay safe online.

Operation Vigo saw British nationals based in Spain who were mugging online British businesses and British pensioners brought to justice. Does the Minister agree that, whether it means combating rapidly growing cybercrime, counter-terrorism, human trafficking or the drugs trade, or ensuring that there is no hiding place in Europe for Europe’s most serious criminals, European collaboration, including with the European arrest warrant, is absolutely key?

I do agree with the hon. Gentleman. He is absolutely right. I visited Spain when that operation was tackling the boiler room fraud that was going on in Spain, and only because of that co-operation and bilateral work, using European Union mechanisms, were we able to have such success in that operation.

There are currently 30 pieces of legislation being used against online crimes. There is clearly a need to consolidate and simplify offences, so that the legislation that is effective is more likely to be used to ensure justice. Will the Minister meet me to discuss this further? Important amendments tabled for debate this afternoon would provide part of the solution. We need far more co-ordination, and I am sure that the Minister would benefit from further discussions with other stakeholders on this issue.

My right hon. Friend and I had a conversation about this earlier with reference to the debate that will happen later, and I am more than happy to meet her, with my noble Friend Baroness Shields, who has responsibility for digital security on the internet.

According to Childnet, 82% of children between the ages of 13 and 17 have seen hateful things on the internet. In addition, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is saying that children as young as 11 have been victims of revenge porn, so what more can the Minister do, and what assurances can she give to the House that children will always be protected from the worst aspects of the internet?

The hon. Gentleman raises an incredibly important issue. The internet provides a fantastic opportunity for us all, and it is amazing that my children can play games with friends hundreds of miles away and across the world. That is an amazing opportunity, but there are risks and threats to being on the internet. That is why we are legislating to insist on age verification for pornographic websites, so that children do not have access to them, and that is why we are working with colleagues across the Government—with the Departments for Education and for Culture, Media and Sport, in particular—to ensure that we do everything we can, working with industry, to keep children safe online.

Extremism and Radicalisation

We have improved our understanding of extremism and radicalisation. We have built partnerships with over 350 community groups and introduced the Prevent duty, and trained over 450,000 people since 2011. I have excluded over 100 hate preachers and worked with social media providers to remove over 180,000 pieces of terrorism-related content online since 2010.

I am grateful to the Home Secretary for that response. Ofsted admitted to me in a letter that it failed properly to inspect the Zakaria Muslim Girls High School in Batley in October 2015, run by a conservative Muslim sect, because the inspector felt unable to speak to pupils or staff—apparently, the inspector was told that it was Eid, when it was not actually Eid—despite the fact that the report commented on the school’s policies on radicalisation. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we need to ensure that all Government agencies use every means at their disposal to drive out extremism from every corner of society?

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend, and the point of putting the Prevent duty on a statutory basis is to ensure that people in the public sector recognise their responsibility in dealing with extremism, in identifying extremism and ensuring that action is taken. We have seen from the Trojan horse example in education how important it is that all those responsible for ensuring that what is happening in schools is right and proper and that British values are being taught take that responsibility seriously and can fulfil it.

Will the Secretary of State explain why the Government have placed female genital mutilation, forced marriage and honour-based violence in the UK counter-extremism strategy?

Yes. It is because we have looked at ways in which people can operate within communities to try to create an attitude, particularly towards women in those communities, that effectively treats women as second-class citizens, which is counter to the British values that we have in our society as a whole. We take issues associated with forced marriage, so-called honour-based violence and female genital mutilation extremely seriously, and we have taken action against these issues. We want to see more action being taken in order to bring more prosecutions in these areas, but it is important that we recognise that there are some attitudes that help to create divisions in society. We do not want those divisions; we want to ensure that there is proper respect, regardless of gender, faith, background, class or ethnicity.

One of the best ways to stop extremism and radicalisation is to keep radicals and extremists out of the country in the first place. Often these people have a criminal record, although they may not necessarily show up on lists of terrorists. Can the Home Secretary confirm that when an EU citizen arrives at one of our borders, their passport is checked against the criminal record check bureau of their own country? Is that happening?

I have made it plain to my hon. Friend on a number of occasions that the information we have at our borders through our membership of Schengen Information System II in the European Union is an important strand of information which enables our border officials and others to make decisions about individuals who are coming across the border. I am sure that, as my hon. Friend says, he does not want people who are preaching extremism to come into the United Kingdom, so I hope that he will congratulate the Government on the fact that as Home Secretary I have excluded more hate preachers from this country than any previous Home Secretary.

First, may I join others in condemning the despicable acts in Orlando? We should be clear that these are homophobic and criminal acts.

There is ongoing concern that rather than defeating Daesh, the military action in Syria has merely displaced criminals and terrorists to other parts of the region and in many ways encouraged people to engage in acts closer to home. What action has been taken to address these developments? Can we be reassured that action to tackle such behaviour will not wholly eclipse the good efforts of many to prevent extremism at source in this country?

The hon. Lady is right to say that there are many good efforts being made in communities to prevent extremism within communities. The Government want to support that and to give voice to those mainstream voices working to promote the values that we share across our society. In relation to the threat from Daesh and the threat from Islamist terrorism, we of course watch carefully how matters are developing. It is the case that the threat arises from specific groups, from people who are inspired by groups, not just Daesh but al-Qaeda as well, and people who may be inspired online on the internet. That is why it is so important that we deal not just with physical presence, but with the bigoted ideology that underlies the terrorist threat, because it is only by dealing with that ideology that we will be able to deal with the terrorist threat.

In the light of last week’s conviction of the man who launched an unprovoked knife attack at Leytonstone tube station, and some unverified reports that the Orlando shooter suffered from bipolar disorder, we should be mindful of the Royal United Services Institute’s estimate that in 35% of cases of lone wolf terrorism, there was an indication of a mental health disorder. What action has the Home Secretary taken, and what information and guidance have been issued to GPs and other health professionals on assessing the risks of radicalisation of their patients?

I referred earlier to the Prevent duty, which covers the whole of the public sector. That is why we have been conducting significant training within the public sector, including in the health service, about issues associated with radicalisation. Alongside that, I am sure that, given her question, the hon. Lady will welcome the parity of esteem that the Government are now giving to mental health and physical health inside the NHS.

Violent Acid Attacks

I am very aware of the life-changing impact and distress to victims caused by acid attacks, and I am currently working with retailers to identify the best means of restricting sales of products with a high acidic content.

Attacks involving acid are, by their very nature, particularly nasty offences. Will the Minister please assure the House that she will work with the Ministry of Justice to ensure not only that adequate resources are made available to tackle the problem, but that deterrent sentences are imposed that properly reflect the life-changing nature of these offences?

I assure my hon. Friend that I do work closely with the Ministry of Justice. In fact, my right hon. Friend the Policing Minister, who is also a Justice Minister, is on the Front Bench, and I can assure my hon. Friend that we work very closely on this issue. He is right to say that not only do we want the perpetrators caught and stopped but we want appropriate sentences for this behaviour.

Juxtaposed Border Controls

13. What steps the Government have taken to improve checks at juxtaposed border controls in preparation for the summer. (905360)

We have invested tens of millions of pounds to reinforce border security at the juxtaposed ports, including through the installation of security fencing, floodlighting, anti-intrusion detection technology, and additional freight-searching contractors, dogs and security personnel. This has been complemented by increased French police numbers.

I welcome the UK border enhancements over the coming summer period. Will there be an exchange of information about those leaving the UK as well as those entering it?

My hon. Friend makes an important point about the sharing of information and intelligence between the UK and France, and it is an essential point to stress in the context of organised immigration crime that may be taking place across the channel. We have significantly stepped up our activities with the French authorities, and that will have a continuing impact in the fight against those who are simply seeking to traffic people into this country.

The school summer holidays are also known to some as the “cutting season”, when young girls can be flown from the UK to have female genital mutilation forced on them in other countries. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that Border Force is equipped to stop young girls being flown out of the UK to be mutilated?

The hon. Lady makes a compelling and important point—indeed, I understand that it may well be debated in this afternoon’s consideration of the Policing and Crime Bill. I will certainly continue to discuss the issue with colleagues across the Home Office, but I can assure her that steps are being taken to ensure that Border Force officers are trained and that we recognise this really appalling crime to a much greater extent.

Given England’s inevitable progression towards the Euro 2016 final, will the Minister reassure me that the juxtaposed border controls will have the resources they need to deal with the number of fans who want to go to France, and to work with the French authorities to deal with the morons who have shamed our country over the last week?

I am sure that all of us would absolutely condemn the actions of anyone who has gone not to watch football but to become involved in violence. We also want to see all the home nations do well in the days and weeks ahead. However, my hon. Friend makes a point about security, and security is being maintained. We have stepped up security screening externally as well as internally, and the French authorities have maintained security at the juxtaposed ports at this increasingly challenging time for the French Government.

Please will the Minister join me, as a Member from Wales, in commending Wales as the first home nation to win its first game at the European championships? Does he believe that the exchange of information with our allies will be improved or worsened by Britain voting to leave the European Union on 23 June?

I think I commended all the home nations in my initial contribution. The point the hon. Gentleman makes is important: we benefit from being able to use European systems to screen people at the border and from being able to have Europol working with joint investigation teams and with police and law enforcement agencies across Europe. I absolutely believe that our position in terms of safety and security is strengthened by being part of those mechanisms and being part of the EU.

Immigration Rules (Constituent Parts of the UK)

14. If she will make an assessment of the potential merits of applying different immigration rules to Scotland and other constituent parts of the UK. (905361)

Our immigration system is designed to work for the whole of the United Kingdom. Applying different rules would lead to migrants applying in one part of the UK and then moving to another, as happened—as the Scottish Government’s own research shows—with the “fresh talent” scheme.

That is the scheme that the Government abolished. I thank the Minister, but that was an inadequate answer, quite frankly. I draw his attention to the fact that Australia and Canada have introduced substate immigration rules to ensure that migrants are encouraged to live where they are most needed. Will the Government look seriously at how this can be implemented in the UK, as the Justice Secretary has suggested today in Scotland?

Experience of the “fresh talent” scheme indicated that only 44% of applicants had remained in Scotland at the end of their two years’ leave on the scheme. We asked the Migration Advisory Committee to look at whether differentials would work in terms of the overall salary thresholds, but it advised that that would not be appropriate and, indeed, that it would lead to the setting of higher salary thresholds in Scotland as contrasted with the rest of the UK, therefore not achieving the objective for which I think the hon. Gentleman is trying to argue.

Scotland needs different immigration rules because it faces very different demographic challenges from those in London and the south-east, yet the needs of London and the south-east determine British immigration policy. Why will not the Government exclude Scotland from the net migration target and work with the Scottish Government to pursue policies that are tailored for Scotland’s needs?

I do not agree with the hon. and learned Lady’s analysis. The shortage occupation list recognises the different skills shortages that may need to be addressed in Scotland. Under the Scotland Act 2016, the Scottish Government have new powers to make Scotland a more attractive place to come to, live in and work in, in order to boost the tax take and grow the population. I encourage the Scottish Government to use those powers.

As the Minister very well knows, immigration is still a reserved matter. I am interested to hear that he accepts the principle that different rules can apply to different parts of the UK by highlighting differences in the shortage occupation list. Having accepted that principle, why will he not work with the Scottish Government to pursue other policies that are designed to meet the specific demographic challenges that Scotland faces?

I did not say what the hon. and learned Lady suggested. We always welcome the opportunity to continue discussions with the Scottish Government on these issues, recognising that immigration remains a reserved matter. We will look carefully at the Scottish Affairs Committee’s report and respond to it shortly. We are very clear that there needs to be a policy for immigration across the UK, and that is what this Government will continue to adopt.

Topical Questions

The violence in Marseilles surrounding England’s match against Russia was deeply disturbing. Seven English fans are still in hospital, two with very severe injuries, and our thoughts are with them. The French authorities had to deal with trouble involving England supporters on Thursday, Friday and Saturday around the city, and there were alarming clashes inside the stadium at the end of the match. The French and UEFA will rightly be asking themselves searching questions about how the segregation of fans within the Vélodrome stadium broke down. There will be lessons to be learned surrounding the wider policing operation. I am in no doubt that co-ordinated groups of Russian supporters bear a heavy responsibility for instigating violence.

We must also ensure, however, that we have our own house in order. Some among the England contingent in Marseilles behaved inexcusably. Anyone who has travelled to France to cause trouble has let down their nation and does a disservice to all genuine England fans. In co-operation with the French Government, we are going to do all we can to ensure that such scenes are not repeated. I have spoken to the Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve. Plans are in place to ensure that there are more British police spotters in Lens for the match between England and Wales. We have prevented nearly 1,400 people with a history of football-related violence from travelling, and an extension of the ban on alcohol sales around key matches announced yesterday is a positive step. Above all, I appeal to the English and Welsh fans travelling to Lens this Thursday. UEFA has made it clear that the penalties for bad behaviour for individuals and for the teams they support will be severe. I have every confidence that the fans will respond in the right spirit and we can all get back to enjoying the tournament.

As a former barrister who specialised in insolvency law, I understand the civil remedies available to make recoveries from those involved in fraud. The economic crime prevention group has recovered £1.1 million and led to 10 disqualifications of directors since the insolvency pilot began in 2013. Does the Home Secretary plan to continue the pilot?

My hon. and learned Friend is right to point to the work that has been done so far by the ECPG, which is a joint public and private sector group across various agencies; indeed, the National Crime Agency is one of its sponsors. A report on the insolvency scheme to which she referred is due shortly, and the future of the project is being considered. The outcome of that report will be part of those considerations.

I gently remind Front Benchers that we must accommodate Back Benchers. I am not having the time eaten up by Front Benchers.

The Home Secretary is right: the terrible scenes of violence in Marseille this weekend have soured what should have been a great celebration of football. As ever, the vast majority have been let down by a hard-core minority, and their actions are all the more inexcusable given the serious terror threat hanging over the tournament. Although, as the Home Secretary has said, the England fans are not blameless, it is also the case that they were the subject of extreme provocation and that there were severe failings inside the stadium and concerns about policing. Given that this is a complex matter and that we need to establish all the facts ahead of the England-Wales game on Thursday, will the Home Secretary commit to making a fuller statement at her earliest opportunity, to ensure people’s safety and that there is no repeat?

The right hon. Gentleman is right: we obviously want to ensure that there are no repeats of the scenes we saw in Marseilles. That is precisely why work is ongoing between the UK Government and the French Government to look at the steps that need to be taken, particularly in Lens, where the England-Wales match will take place, and Lille, where Russia will play very close to that time, and that work will continue.

Let me turn to Hillsborough and mention that I wrote to all parties in the House, asking for their support in making it a moment of real change. One of the reasons that the Hillsborough injustice stood for so long was the inadequacy of the original inquest, which imposed the 3.15 pm cut-off and at which families had to scrabble around to raise funds for their own legal representation. The truth is that similar injustices are still happening today. Bereaved families are all too frequently thrown into courtrooms, raw with grief, to face adversarial questioning from highly paid QCs hired by the police and other public bodies. Later today I will put a proposal to this House to create parity of legal funding for families on the simple principle that public money should fund the truth, not the protection of vested interests. Will the Home Secretary say why she is opposing that move and whether she is prepared to work with us to establish that important principle?

The right hon. Gentleman has rightly raised an issue that has been a matter of significant concern to the families who were victims of the terrible tragedy in Hillsborough. He is right to say that the original inquest system did not serve those families well. I am pleased that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), the former Attorney General, was able to reopen the inquest, with the results and verdicts that we have seen. I have asked Bishop James Jones, who chaired the independent panel that looked into the Hillsborough incident and who has also been chairing the family forums and has been my adviser on this matter, to work with the families, to hear directly from them their experiences. I expect experiences about the inquest process to be part of that, which is why I wish to look at this issue once we have the full picture from the families as a result of the review by Bishop James Jones. The right hon. Gentleman has raised a very important and valid point, but I think that we need to look at the issue in a wider sense and get all the experience from the Hillsborough families before we look at the inquest process.

T2. The four agriculture students from Cirencester who were accused of rape prove that one does not have to be a celebrity to suffer the trauma of a case going on in the full glare of publicity. What protection can the Home Secretary give defendants, as is the case with the accuser, so that there is some sort of equality? (905340)

My hon. Friend raises a very important point that he has raised with me personally on a number of occasions, and the case to which he refers has brought it into sharp focus. The usual practice is that the police do not identify people before charge. However, we had a long debate on this issue about five years ago and there are cases where the identification of somebody can bring forward other victims and enhance the case against them, so this is not an easy area in which to operate.

T3. There have been grave reports by asylum seekers detained in immigration removal centres of sexual assault. What risk management measures have been put in place for vulnerable detainees, who may already have histories of trauma but who are detained alongside foreign national offenders who have histories of violence? (905341)

We take our duties in relation to the operation of immigration removal centres extremely seriously. That is why, under the Home Secretary, we engaged in the Shaw review and report on how we can better identify those who are vulnerable. We will implement further changes in the months ahead to ensure that those issues are very much brought to the fore.

T4. The internet has brought with it great opportunities but also, sadly, a much darker side and threats. What work is being done to ensure that paedophiles who operate anonymously online are brought to justice? (905342)

My hon. Friend raises an incredibly important point. We need to make sure that there is no safe place for paedophiles to operate. I am sure she knows that all 43 forces have signed up to the child abuse image database that this Government introduced and that the Prime Minister instigated. It is really starting to get results in identifying and safeguarding child victims, finding perpetrators and making sure that they can be brought to justice.

T8. Yesterday saw even more newspaper revelations about serious problems with COMPASS asylum accommodation contracts in Glasgow, yet emails from senior G4S staff and minutes of Home Office meetings suggest that these contracts are to be extended come hell or high water. Will not the Home Office at least have enough respect to wait for the Select Committee on Home Affairs to complete its inquiry before making any such decisions? (905346)

We are carefully considering the extension of the existing contracts in accordance with their terms. The introduction of the COMPASS contracts has improved the standards of accommodation, but where there are failings we will take action.

T5. Last Monday, my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Crispin Blunt) asked how many EU citizens had been deported during the last four years. Now, as I understand it, the question has been answered and we are told that only 102 EU citizens have been deported. Does the Minister acknowledge that the deportation of such a small number is rather poor? (905343)

I remind my hon. Friend that the Government have removed more than 30,000 foreign national offenders since 2010. The number of offenders from EU countries who have been removed has more than tripled from 1,000 in 2010-11 to more than 3,400 in 2015-16.

The Home Secretary will have seen the recent reports that Eliza Manningham-Buller, when she was head of MI5, wrote to the then Prime Minister protesting about MI6 involvement in rendition. This becomes particularly concerning in view of the reasons given by the Crown Prosecution Service last week for declining to prosecute a senior officer of MI6. Will the Home Secretary confirm that that letter was written by Eliza Manningham-Buller, and will she commit to having it put into the public domain?

The right hon. Gentleman will know that we do not comment on documents that have apparently been leaked from Government. That is the position, as it always has been.

T6. I have been contacted by a number of my constituents who have expressed concerns about the balance between privacy and security in the Investigatory Powers Bill. Will the Home Secretary explain how the implementation of the Bill will provide that balance but will also provide essential protections against terrorism? (905344)

My hon. Friend is right to mention this very important Bill. The measures in the Bill are essential to enable both law enforcement and our security and intelligence agencies to protect us from not only terrorism but serious and organised crime, paedophiles and others. I assure her that we are putting in place world-leading safeguards and oversight arrangements, which will ensure that the balance between privacy and the need to exercise these powers is properly kept.

Will the Secretary of State work with organisations such as the Red Cross to explore alternative ways of submitting family reunion applications, to avoid dangerous journeys to third-party countries?

I am extremely grateful to the Minister. This shows what we can do when we try.

In respectful memory of the victims of the homophobic terrorist slaughter in Orlando, I should like to request of colleagues that at 3.30 we observe one minute’s silence. Thank you.

The House observed a minute’s silence.

Colleagues and all of those observing our proceedings—thank you for that display of respect.