Skip to main content

Common Travel Area

Volume 707: debated on Monday 2 February 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the common travel area; how extensive it is; what its origin is; whether it has any status in domestic or international law; when the term was first used; whether it is codified in any way; and what assessment they have made of its future. [HL676]

The common travel area (CTA) comprises the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies (the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and the Republic of Ireland. The CTA came into being in the 1920s and was enshrined in legislation in the Immigration Act 1971. The CTA was a purely administrative arrangement until it was given full statutory recognition in the UK under Section 1(3) of the Immigration Act 1971, and the Immigration (Control of Entry through the Republic of Ireland) Order 1972. There is no formal agreement between the constituent territories which underpin the CTA.

The Government held a public Strengthening the Common Travel Area consultation between 24 July and 16 October 2008. This document outlined a number of proposed reforms of the CTA and the government response to this consultation and a full impact assessment were published on 15 January.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why they are seeking to reform the common travel area; which departments are responsible for developing the reforms; and whether their proposed reform will significantly affect the Republic of Ireland. [HL677]

The common travel area (CTA) came into being in the 1920s and was enshrined in legislation in the Immigration Act 1971. The principle of free movement for nationals of the UK, the Republic of Ireland and the Crown dependencies has delivered important economic and social benefits over the years.

It is recognised that the privileges bestowed on CTA nationals may be abused by others, thus increasing immigration risks within the area.

The UK Border Agency has been responsible for developing reforms in close partnership with the Governments of the Republic of Ireland and the Crown dependencies.

The Government will require all EEA nationals, including those that are British and Irish, to prove their identity and nationality with a passport or national identity card. Other nationals, including visa nationals, will be required to carry their passport on routes between the Republic of Ireland and the UK as with all other international routes to/from the UK.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Government of the Republic of Ireland regarding the common travel area; which Ministers and officials represented the United Kingdom in those discussions; what views were expressed by the Irish Ministers and officials; and what assessment they have made as to whether the Republic of Ireland favours the continuation, reform or abolition of the common travel area. [HL678]

The Government have developed the proposal for reform in close partnership with the Governments of the Republic of Ireland and the Crown dependencies. In addition to regular engagement at ministerial level, we have biannual senior official level meetings with the Irish to discuss immigration (and counterterrorism) issues in addition to ad hoc expert level meetings as required. We will continue to liaise closely with Irish counterparts on the development of our separate border management programmes and are committed to work together to optimise benefits for the common travel area (CTA).

The CTA is not being abolished and both countries are committed to preserving the common travel area and its benefits for legitimate travellers

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proposals they have for reform of the common travel area; when consultations on their proposals will take place; and when they propose to legislate. [HL744]

The Government published a public Strengthening the Common Travel Area consultation between 24 July and 16 October. These proposals for reform were developed in close partnership with the Governments of the Republic of Ireland and the Crown dependencies.

A number of industry-specific and regional stakeholder events took place over the 12-week consultation period. A total of 44 written responses (some of which were collective responses representing the views of a number of related organisations) were received. The respondents included airlines, ferry companies, port operators and associations, travel companies, public sector organisations, human rights groups and other interested parties as well as members of the public. The government response to the consultation feedback and the full impact assessment were published on 15 January.

The changes to the operation of the common travel area (CTA) arrangements will bring together the work of the former Border and Immigration Agency and HM Revenue and Customs' frontier responsibilities on CTA routes.

The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill, introduced to Parliament on 14 January 2009, will provide the power to routinely control all persons arriving in or departing from the UK, from or to another part of the CTA by air or sea. The commencement provisions enable this power to be brought in by order on a date to be determined.