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Channel Crossings

Volume 704: debated on Monday 22 November 2021

22. What steps she is taking to (a) prevent and (b) speed up the removal of illegal migrants using small boats to cross the channel; and what recent representations she has made to her French counterpart on intercepting attempted small boat crossings. (904282)

Our Nationality and Borders Bill sets out comprehensive measures to deter illegal crossings, tackle the criminal gangs responsible and protect lives. We are using all available options to bring crossing numbers down. The Home Secretary and the French Interior Minister agreed to accelerate the delivery of their joint determination to prevent all crossings and make this deadly route unviable.

Given that we have given tens of millions of pounds to the French, including in night-vision equipment, automatic number plate recognition technology and access to drones, is it not completely disgraceful for large groups of French police to be pictured on the beaches in France waving large boats of migrants across the channel, as we have seen in recent days? If we are giving the French this money, please can we insist that they use it to stop this illegal flow?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend and neighbour for his question. The Home Secretary had a constructive conversation last week with the French Interior Minister. He has repeatedly said that the determination is to stop 100% of these crossings. We entirely support that endeavour, and we must work towards that end. Clearly, the policing response on French beaches is integral to that, but it is also welcome that, for example, there has been a greater effort to disband some of the camps that we have seen around beaches.