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Refugee Camp: Calais

Volume 622: debated on Monday 6 March 2017

Both countries are alive to the risk of new camps forming in northern France and are continuing to work together to combat the criminal groups that facilitate people smuggling. The UK Government are contributing up to £36 million to support the situation in Calais and ensure that the camp remains closed in the long term.

Many economic migrants dispersed from Calais refuse to apply for asylum in France, so they are not fingerprinted there: thus they can get smuggled to the UK and claim asylum here. Has the Minister urged upon the French authorities the desirability of all such individuals being fingerprinted in France and the records exchanged?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. The principle of first safe country is central to the asylum policy. If people are in France, they should claim asylum in France and have their fingerprints taken. We can then use those biometrics in the Dublin process to ensure that the people are dealt with properly. We certainly urge our French friends to ensure that that can be done, and we encourage asylum seekers in France to go through that process.

I urge the Minister to do all he can to make sure that a new “jungle” does not form at Calais this year. It is not just about the humanitarian squalor to which 10,000 people were shamefully condemned. It is also essential that we stop the terrible pull factors that draw people on these terrible and dangerous journeys across Europe.

The site of the former Calais camp remains clear and there is ongoing work, supported by UK funding, permanently to remove all former camp infrastructure and accommodation and to restore the site to its natural state. That work will help to prevent any re-establishment of squats or camps in the area.

I would not want those who use a “v” in the surname Stevens to feel disadvantaged by comparison with those who use the “ph” variant on the theme. I call Jo Stevens.

Thank you for the second opportunity, Mr Speaker. My constituent Bashir Naderi came to Cardiff as an unaccompanied child refugee aged 10. Two months ago, Bashir and I personally delivered to the Home Secretary my letter and a petition against his forced removal to Afghanistan signed by more than 14,000 people. I have had no acknowledgment from the Home Secretary, never mind a response to the letter or the petition. When will she reply to me?

I certainly hear what the hon. Lady says. Of course we care for people who come here as children, but they would then normally make an asylum application when they reach the age of 17 and a half, which is dealt with in the usual way.