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Immigration: Republic of Ireland

Volume 693: debated on Thursday 28 June 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In what way the movement of illegal immigrants into the United Kingdom is controlled at the land border between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland; and how many illegal immigrants entered the United Kingdom via the Republic of Ireland in each of the past three years for which figures are available. [HL4329]

The Common Travel Area (CTA), consisting of the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland, was put on a statutory footing by the Immigration Act 1971 which states that a person's arrival in or departure from within the CTA is not subject to control and a person does not require leave to enter. This is subject to exceptions provided for by Section 9(4) of the Immigration Act 1971 and the Immigration (Control of Entry through Republic of Ireland) Order 1972 which include where a deportation order has been made or where there are national security grounds. Travellers falling within one of these categories must obtain leave to enter despite travelling within the CTA. Guidance can be found at Persons subject to immigration control entering the Republic of Ireland from outside the CTA would be examined by the Irish immigration authorities and checked against watchlists, including data provided from the UK. The UK and Republic of Ireland work closely together at all levels to maintain the appropriate checks within the CTA and will continue to do so in the future. The Border and Immigration Agency, UK police and the Garda National Immigration Bureau work collaboratively and run regular intelligence-led operations to counter potential risks to the intra-CTA borders.

As the Home Secretary set out in his evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 23 May 2006, following the dismantling of embarkation controls beginning in 1994, no Government have been able to produce an accurate figure for the number of people who are in the country illegally, and that remains the case. The Home Secretary has set a clear goal of reintroducing systems to count everyone in and out of Britain.